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Guide to Greater London
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City Travel in London

City Travel in Greater London Getting around Greater and Central London can be a fun part of your trip or holiday to the capital. As with many cities around the world the most accessible and reliable way to get around is on foot, however, if you don’t fancy working on your fitness just yet then there are alternatives.

If using public transport fills you with dread or otherwise puts you off then you can use your car. However with the amount of traffic that is on London’s road you may find this a futile and frustrating exercise. As well as traffic London car commuters also have to deal with the congestion charge. This is a charge of £8 for anyone who drives in the centre of London between the hours of 7am-6.30pm. The only road users who can avoid this charge are taxi drivers and motorcyclists.

However, those planning a big night out to a West End theatre might like to take advantage of the MasterPark Theatreland Parking Scheme. This gives you an incredible 50 per cent off parking when you are visiting the theatre within a selected area. These areas include China Town, Leicester Square, Park Lane, Pimlico and Soho. To qualify, simply get your car park ticket stamped at the theatre and present it with your theatre ticket stub (dated the same day) and vehicle registration number to the cashier at the time of payment. You may park for an unlimited period and receive a 50 per cent discount off the standard casual rate.

If you want to get around on four wheels without having to incur the fines then using one of London’s many taxis would be the best bet. There are two types of taxis, which operate across the capital, the black cabs, which can be hailed as they pass and private hire cabs that need to be booked in advance.

The London black cab continues to be a famous sight and catching a cab in Central London is easy but always make sure that whoever is stopping on the kerb is licensed to do so. If you can’t see a photo ID card, ask to see the licence and if one can’t be produced, don’t step inside.

Fares within Greater London depend on the time of day, distance travelled and the taxi speed, and are displayed on the meter. If you book your taxi by telephone there is an extra charge which is currently set at £2 (subject to change).

Cab drivers still have to pass “The Knowledge” exam before commencing employment. This means that they have an in-depth knowledge of a six-mile radius around Charing Cross, which is perfect for Central London travellers who are unsure which sights to see first.

If you use a wheelchair or have difficulty getting around and feel that an ordinary taxi won't meet your needs Croydon and Lewisham, amongst many other London boroughs, operate a Taxicard scheme for people with serious mobility problems. Those wishing to use this service order their taxi and mention their Taxicard, they will then only be charged a nominal fee to travel with up to four companions. More information on this is available from the Taxicard website.

The underground tube service is probably the best way to get around as it is easy understand and gets you where you want go quickly. Tube trains come along every few minutes. However, you need to make sure you read the overhead boards carefully as although trains run on the same line they can sometimes take one of two routes. This is especially significant if you intend to travel to the end of the line.

For example, the Metropolitan Line will take you to the City (EC1) via Liverpool Street and getting to the best shops is easy for tired feet if you take the Piccadilly Line that drops you off close to Harrods in Knightsbridge. There are plenty more tubes available to all the best tourist locations in London.

Tickets can be purchased for single journeys and you can also buy travel cards which allow you unlimited travel on your chosen form of transport for a certain time period (day, weekend, week). Children under the age of 11 can travel for free on London transport.

London has been split up into six transport zones, Zone One being central London with Zone six being closer to the outskirts of Greater London. Combined ‘travelcard’ tickets are sold in Zones and allow you to travel freely within these zones on buses, trains, tubes and the DLR. The DLR (Docklands Light Railway) is a driverless over-ground service that also operates in east London and is the main connection to many key east London locations.

One of London’s most recognised sites is that of the red open top bus that takes tourists around the city at a cost that is probably treble the price the locals pay to get from A to B. It’s nice to get a commentary in 10 languages once but after several days in the capital the charm wears thin. So if you want to avoid the tourist buses – although these can sometimes offer a fascinating historical guide to London for first-time tourists – there’s plenty of ordinary buses that can get you from Kings Cross to just about anywhere in London and further afield.

For example, bus route N91 will take you to the famous landmarks of Trafalgar Square and Whitehall and bus route 17 will take you right into the heart of some very familiar monuments as it stops at London Bridge.

People with disabilities can take advantage of the Dial-A-Ride facility offered by London Transport, which offers transport to short destinations within London. Click here to find out more about Dial-A-Ride and your eligibility.

Plan your journey on foot, by rail or tube at the Official London Travel website. National Rail Enquiries on 08457 484950 (24 hours) provides information for all rail services throughout Great Britain.


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