In recent years the British government has been making major efforts to persuade city dwellers to ditch their cars and take advantage of a rapidly developing public transport system. Congestion and parking difficulties have anyway made car driving an unattractive option in the major cities. The UK’s public transport system has received comparatively (compared to other Western European countries) little state investment in infrastructure and services over the last three or four decades. Many services still run on old equipment and suffer from delays. There are improvements being made and in some urban areas, public transport services have been massively improved. Options include dense urban bus networks, underground railway systems (in London, Glasgow, Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle) and taxis.
London has by far the most far-reaching public transport system. The ‘Tube’ (metro/underground railway system) can be used to get to most parts of the city. There are a range of travelcard options available, which can save money if you are travelling daily. The city’s bus network is similarly extensive, and (unlike the tube) some routes have service throughout the night. For those disliking pre-defined routes and crowded conditions, London’s infamous black ‘cabs’ (taxis) can be found in every part of the city and for the right price will take you pretty much anywhere you want.
Further information on London’s transport system, including a map of the tube and bus routes, can be found by clicking here www.tfl.gov.uk.
There are a lot of people living in and around London, so getting around can be a bit ‘painful’ at times. Public transport on many routes is highly congested at peak times, the Tube and commuter trains suffer from frequent delays to services and traffic on some road routes can often come to a standstill. An option that more and more people are taking (especially with the growing amount of dedicated cycle lanes) is to bike to the office. Drivers are generally more considerate to cyclists than in other European countries (save the Netherlands, Germany and Scandinavia), but you might want to consider wearing a ‘brain-bucket’ (cycle helmet).
London by Car
London has recently introduced a congestion charge which means you need to pay to drive into the centre of London during the week. This has reduced traffic in the centre of the city. You can find information about the scheme here: www.cclondon.com
Getting from one place to another in Britain can take many hours. The national public transport system consists principally of trains, buses and planes.
The national rail network is fairly comprehensive (although routes become fairly sparse in more rural areas). You can choose to travel either first class or standard class, and there are many discounts available for certain groups (e.g. children, students and old-age-pensioners (OAPs)). To find out about nation-wide routes and fares click here: www.nationalrail.co.uk.
National bus routes are less popular for long-distance travel and mainly only travel between major cities and towns. The major bus companies include National Express (www.nationalexpress.co.uk) and Citylink (www.citylink.co.uk).
The UK now has the following commercial airports: Aberdeen, Belfast City, Belfast International, Birmingham, Blackpool, Bournemouth, Cambridge City, Cork International, Dublin, East Midlands, Edinburgh, Exeter, Kent International Airport, Glasgow, Humberside, Inverness, Isle of Man, Kirkwell, Leeds/Bradford, Liverpool, London City, London Gatwick, London Heathrow, London Luton, London Stansted, Manchester, Newcastle, Norwich, Sheffield City, Southampton. Information, including live flight arrival information, for the major airports can be found here: www.baa.com