London transportation questions

May 1st, 2005, 09:41 AM
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London transportation questions

I am leaving for my first trip to London in about 2 1/2 weeks! I have 2 transport questions: I read on another web site that it can be difficult to get a taxi at Victoria Station. Is this true? I will be there on a Wednesday morning. Any suggestions for getting one? Second question: I plan to use the buses while in London, because I want to see the city, not the underground. Does anyone know if they call out the name of the next stop, or do you need to know where you are at all times?
Thanks for your help! I'm really excited!
jeffrx is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 09:46 AM
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I've never had a lot of luck with busses, because I didn't know where we were at all times nor what the next stop might be -- which could be closer to our location. We usually end up going beyond our place hoping we've seen it from the bus, then get off at the next stop and walk back.

I can't imagine getting a taxi at Victoria being difficult as they normally line up for blocks. Sometimes when a big train has come in, the might all fill up at once and disappear, but it should only be a matter of a minute or two before more start lining up.
Patrick is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 09:53 AM
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You need to know where you are going on the bus, but I found that the ticket seller will often oblige and notify you if you tell him or her in advance.

The other option is to ask the other passengers. Londoners are a friendly lot in my experience and will gladly help out a bewildered Yank. I never had any trouble at all finding my way by just asking around.

As for the taxi situation at Victoria, that place attracts taxis like a magnet attracts iron filings. If there is not one, just wait, there are dozens coming.

We came in on the train from Gatwick, emerged into the daylight, and went to the taxi rank. We had to stand in line to get a taxi, but we soon had our turn.
No big deal.
brookwood is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 10:24 AM
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We use buses and the tube...really depends on the time of day and how hurried we are. We also like the hop on hop off buses. You pay a one day fare and can get on and get off these tour buses at any time. The tours are guided but get on a bus that has a personal guide vs. one that just has a tape recording. We hopped on again late in the day and found that the city looked very different with less traffic and less people. We found Londoners to be very helpful. We have NEVER had any problem asking people on the bus for help. We have actually got a few great suggestions for places to eat from people riding the bus.
allanc is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 11:07 AM
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Bus stops have diagrams in straight-line form to show you where the bus goes. The diagrams are vertical, with each bus route having a different colour and, of course, number. From such a sign, you will be able to see just where any bus goes and which other bus goes all or part of the way. Bus drivers will help you, but they sometimes forget to call out. Buses are getting better. Use your any-Zone travelcard to use the bus. Eg. a Weekly Zone 1 travelcard is good for tubes in Zone 1, overland rail in Zone 1, and ALL buses in ALL zones (apart from the private buses offering tours and the Airport Express.)
Nigello is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 11:40 AM
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Some of the stops are pretty far apart to walk back to a missed stop easily, but...

An appealing feature of traveling on a pass is that if you miss your stop, you can cross the street and take the next bus going back the way you came.
Robespierre is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 01:09 PM
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Just to confirm that taxis are plentiful at Victoria. Just follow the signs. Although you will have to join a line it doesn't take long for the line to go down unless it is raining...!
You can buy a pass for buses only. A single ticket (nowadays these must be bought before getting on the bus - there are machines at most if not all central London stops) costs £1.20 whilst a one day pass costs £3.00 and a 7 day pass is £11.00. The wonderful old routemasters that have a driver and conductor are being phased out in favour of bendy buses. In some cases you won't even see the driver but don't hesitate to ask for help from the passengers - we are a friendly lot!
A one day travelcard for buses and tubes for travel after 9.30am is £4.70 so if you take just one tube journey, the travelcard for both is better value.
More at
adamhornets is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 01:40 PM
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The old fashioned type of bus would've been more useful as they had a conductor who was usually rather vocal and helpful, however, these days there are modern things introduced by Red Ken, and quite frankly their aesthetics and practicality is lacking.

Your best bet is to walk or if you're in a rush - and as a tourist you shouldn't be - take a taxi, or if you really must, take a tube then walk. I never ever use public transport when away, I take taxis, but I will nearly always always walk, and I can assure you that I don't miss anything that I want to see!
m_kingdom2 is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 01:45 PM
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Thanks for the helpful answers! I won't worry about a taxi and I do plan to buy the 7 day bus pass. I'll just have to pay close attention when riding the buses and ask for help if I need it.
jeffrx is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 01:56 PM
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I am so with you on the bus thing. I hate the tube because I hate not seeing where we are. Every ride in London is a mini-tour. Enjoy!
Grasshopper is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 01:58 PM
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Print out this map of the tourist destinations:

...and the "Spider Map" of the routes around your hotel from here:
Robespierre is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 02:40 PM
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"...these days there are modern things...their aesthetics and practicality is lacking."

Are you saying the Routemasters were more practical? Kindly explain what is practical about supernumerary personnel drawing wages and benefits to perform functions that can be taken over by the drivers.
Robespierre is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 02:45 PM
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How wonderful to be headed to London for the first time. Have a wonderful trip. I was there last week and found no difficulties locating a cab at Victoria Station. I highly recommend walking as much as possible, London is made for walkers and it is the best way to see the city. Enjoy yourself.
cmcfong is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 03:29 PM
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I like personal attention, doesn't everyone prefer waiter service to a buffet type affair?

The routemasters have a certain retro-chic about them, the conductors serves the passenger. The driver's job is to drive, not become a fare collector as well. Also it's far safer for women travelling alone to have a conductor who patrols the vehicle. Also, if I'm stuck in traffic, it's far easier on the eye being able to see into the lower saloon of a bus than stare at a rear windscreen.

m_kingdom2 is offline  
May 1st, 2005, 04:45 PM
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I've used both the tube and the bus over the years and now find I much prefer the bus for all the reasons stated. However one caveat: Do not take a bus that runs through Oxford street during rush hour. You can walk faster.

You may have to queue for a bit but there should not be any problems getting a taxi at Victoria Station.
historytraveler is online now  
May 1st, 2005, 04:58 PM
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A friend and I had a "learning experience" on a bus in London a few years ago.

We didn't realize that we needed to tug on the wire above our heads to let the driver know we wanted to get off at Earl's Court. And, of course, we were on an unfamiliar route and had no idea we were near Earl's Court until we looked out the window and saw it gliding past...

It was fairly late on night, on a Saturday in November (Thanksgiving weekend here in the US), very dark and pretty chilly.

We went up and asked the driver how we could get back to Earl's Court without walking (it was a ways to the next stop, on unfamiliar streets, etc., etc.).

He advised us to get off then do as someone suggested above - walk across the street and wait for the next bus to come from the opposite direction.

We obediently did exactly that.

And, 10 minutes later, the EXACT SAME bus and driver came along from the other direction, picked us up, and dropped us off a few minutes later at Earl's Court.

We've laughed about this ever since.

So, yes, ask someone, or notify the driver about where you'd like to disembark.


I also second the suggestion to avoid Oxford Street buses at busy times - slow, slow, slow!

leonberger is offline  
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