SOAS University of London


Travelling in London

Marjan Esmaili Londontransport

London has a brilliant integrated public transport system

Different types of transport:
  • Underground (“the tube”): Quickest and most frequent method of getting around and covers most of London north of the river.  It is more limited south of the river. Gets very crowded at peak times (between about 7 - 9 in the morning, and 5 – 7 in the evening). Some of the trains are more modern than others.
  • London Overground: The overground network has been upgraded recently and provides a good service to non-central areas.  It is good for travelling across London without going through the centre, so can be cheaper, but overground trains are not as frequent as the tube. The trains are modern, airconditioned and don’t have separate carriages.
  • Bus: Cheaper but not really advisable for long journeys due to traffic congestion, unless you are happy sitting in slow-moving traffic for an hour.  Best for local journeys.
  • Cycling: definitely worth considering if you are an experienced city cyclist – but London is not as bike-friendly place as some other countries.  The new citybike hire scheme is worth investigating – there is a docking station on Malet St near Russell Square so they are good for travelling between sites.  It costs £90.00 for the year and journeys under 30 minutes are free, or £1.00 for 24 hours.
Which ticket type to buy:

If you will be using London transport regularly (e.g. 3 – 4 times a week), you should buy a weekly or monthly Oystercard, covering the appropriate number of zones.  As a student you are eligible for a Student Oystercard, which gives you 30% off season tickets on London buses and tubes. If you will be living within cycling or walking distance, it’s still worth getting a pre-pay Oystercard for occasional use (much cheaper than buying individual tickets).  Both types of Oystercard are available from tube stations, and are valid on the tube, overground and buses.  Once you have registered on your programme at SOAS you can apply for your student discount (30%) on the TFL website, which is valid on weekly and monthly Oystercards but not on pay as you go fares. 

16-25 Railcard
All students who study full time, including mature students, are eligible for a 16-25 railcard, entitling you to a third off all off peak rail journeys across the UK. These cost £30 for one year or £70 for three years, ideal for visits back home or to explore more of the UK. Apply online or visit your nearest station. Additionally, you can link your railcard to your Oyster card to receive a 30% discount on off peak underground fares – ask in your nearest tube station for more information.

Useful links:

Transport for London: Everything you could possibly need to know about London transport. Use the Journey Planner to work out the best route between places (if you need the School’s postcode, it’s WC1 0XG). Includes tube maps (showing the different zones), all London bus routes, and London overground map.