Transport in London
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London's transport forms the hub of the road, rail and air networks in the United Kingdom. It has its own dense and extensive internal private and public transport networks, as well as providing a focal point for the national road and railway networks. London also has a number of international airports including one of the world's busiest, Heathrow and a seaport.
London's internal transport system is one of the Mayor of London's four policy areas, administered by its executive agency Transport for London (TfL). TfL controls the majority of public transport in the area, including the Underground, London Buses, Tramlink, the Docklands Light Railway, and London Overground rail services within Greater London; other rail services are franchised to train operating companies by the national Department for Transport (DfT). TfL also controls most major roads in the area, but not minor roads (see below).
In May 2010, the Mayor issued his transport strategy, which he described it as being "a key part of a strategic policy framework to support and shape London's social and economic development". That framework also includes the London Plan, the Mayor's spatial planning strategy.
- 1 History
- 2 Metro and light rail and trains
- 3 Heavy rail
- 4 Ticketing
- 5 Roads
- 6 Cycling
- 7 Buses
- 8 Taxis
- 9 Airports
- 10 Water transport
- 11 Aerial lift
- 12 See also
- 13 External links
- 14 Notes and references
|1933-1947||London Passenger Transport Board||London County Council|
|1948-1962||London Transport Executive||British Transport Commission|
|1963-1969||London Transport Board||Minister of Transport|
|1970-1984||London Transport Executive (Greater London only)||Greater London Council|
|1970-1986||London Country Bus Services (Green Line only)||National Bus Company|
|1984-2000||London Regional Transport||Secretary of State for Transport|
|2000-||Transport for London||Mayor of London|
Early public transport in London began with horse-drawn omnibus services in 1829, which were gradually replaced by the first motor omnibuses in 1902. Over the years the private companies which began these services amalgamated with the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) to form a unified bus service. The Underground Electric Railways Company of London, also formed in 1902, unified the pioneering underground railway companies which built the London Underground; in 1912 the Underground Group took over the LGOC and in 1913 it also absorbed the London tramway companies. The Underground Group became part of the new London Passenger Transport Board in 1933; Underground trains, buses and trams began to operate under the shorter London Transport brand name.
The London Transport name continued in use until 2000, although the political management of transport services changed several times. The LPTB oversaw transport from 1933 to 1947 until it was re-organised into the London Transport Executive (1948 to 1962). Responsibility for London Transport was subsequently taken over to the London Transport Board (1963 to 1969), the Greater London Council (1970 to 1984) and London Regional Transport (1984 to 2000). Following the privatisation of London bus services in 1986, bus services were spun off to a separate operation based on competitive tendering, London Buses. In 2000, as part of the formation of the new Greater London Authority, responsibility for London transport was taken over by a new transport authority, Transport for London (TfL), which is the publicly owned transport corporation for the London region today.
Metro and light rail and trains
Transport for London operates three different railway systems across London. The largest is the London Underground, operating on sub-surface line and in deep-level "tube" lines. TfL also operate the automated Docklands Light Railway, an automated light rail system in the east of the city, and the Tramlink system in south London, centred on Croydon. In addition to these systems, TfL also run London Overground, a suburban rail network (see Heavy Rail below).
As with the road and mainline rail networks in London, the Underground lines radiate out to the suburbs from the centre. While this is useful for transporting a huge volume of commuters between the city centre and the suburbs, it means that travelling across London suburbs can be slow, using bus services.  The newer light rail developments and the introduction of London Overground's orbital rail route have gone some way to alleviating this problem.
Colloquially known as the Tube, London Underground is the first metro system in the world, having begun operations in 1863. More than 3 million passengers travel on the Underground every day, amounting to over 1 billion passenger journeys per year for the first time in 2006.  The Underground has 11 lines, most of which connect the suburbs to Central London and provide a distribution role around the city centre, particularly from major railway terminals.
The Underground serves North London much more extensively than South London. This is the result of a combination of unfavourable geology, historical competition from surface railways and the historical geography of London which was focused to the north of the Thames. South London is served primarily by surface railways (although it should be noted that the majority of London Underground's route length is actually on the surface rather than in tunnel.).
Docklands Light Railway
The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is an automated light rail system serving the Docklands area of east London. It complements the Underground, largely sharing its fares system and having a number of interchanges with it. It is focused on the Canary Wharf business district, although this was not its initial objective upon its opening in 1987.
Partly thanks to the success of Canary Wharf, the system has expanded several times and now has five main branches connecting the Isle of Dogs and Royal Docks to each other and to the City of London, Stratford, Woolwich and Lewisham south of the river. It also serves London City Airport and Stratford International. A further extension to Dagenham Dock is being proposed.
The former tram system in London was the oldest in the world dating back to early Victorian time and still remains the largest tram network at its peak. The extensive tram lines disappeared from the streets of London by the mid-20th century, but a new tram system was opened in 2000 to serve the large employment centre of Croydon on the southern edge of London. Named Tramlink, it connects Croydon and its surface railway stations to surrounding suburbs and to the town centre of Wimbledon to the north-west. An extension to Crystal Palace is being planned. Two other tram schemes in London were proposed: the West London Tram along the busy Uxbridge Road bus corridor in west London (postponed indefinitely on 2 August 2007), and the Cross River Tram through central London between Camden in the north and Brixton and Peckham in the south (cancelled in November 2008 due to funding problems).
The Kingsway tramway subway, an underground route along Kingsway, is the only remaining evidence of the old tram system. The London Passenger Transport Board was formed in 1933, taking over the London County Council trams. It was decided soon after to replace all trams in London by "more modern vehicles." The abandonment programme began in 1935 with trams in South-West, West, North-West, North and East London mostly being replaced by trolleybuses. The replacement programme proceeded swiftly until 1940 when the last pre-war conversion occurred, leaving only the "South London" trams and the "Kingsway Routes" 31, 33 and 35, the only tram routes left operating into North London to survive the war. Prototype "Kingsway Trolleybus" no. 1379, with exits on both sides of the vehicle, was constructed for feasibility tests through the Subway, but these were unsuccessful as trolleybuses would have had to run on battery power through the subway, headroom restrictions making it impossible to use overhead current collection. In 1946 it was decided to replace all London's remaining trams "as soon as possible", this time by diesel buses. The first Kingsway subway route to be withdrawn was Route 31 on 1 October 1950 with the remaining two routes, 33 and 35, being withdrawn after service on Saturday 5 April 1952, the last public services being 'specials' shortly after midnight on the Sunday. During the early hours of the next morning the remaining vehicles still north of the subway were run through to the depots south of the Thames.
Three of London's airports provide varieties of automated people mover along guided tracks to shuttle passengers between terminals. These small-scale transport systems operate independently of London's main transportation network.
The Gatwick Airport inter-terminal transit, originally built in 1983 and refurbished in 2010, was the first airport driverless train system outside the USA; a similar system, the Stansted Airport Transit System, was opened in 1991 at Stansted Airport to provide airside terminal transfers. At Heathrow Airport, a personal rapid transit system called ULTra has been in operation since 2011.
London is the focal point of the British railway network, with 18 major stations providing a combination of commuter, intercity, airport and international services; 14 of these stations are termini and 4 are through stations. Most areas of the city not served by the Underground or DLR are served by commuter heavy rail services into one of these stations. These suburban rail services are not part of Transport for London (apart from London Overground) but are owned and operated by a number of private rail firms.
The terminal stations are Blackfriars, Cannon Street, Charing Cross, Euston, Fenchurch Street, King's Cross, Liverpool Street, London Bridge, Marylebone, Moorgate, Paddington, St. Pancras, Victoria and Waterloo. The through stations are City Thameslink, Old Street, Vauxhall, and Waterloo East
London is also linked to Paris and Brussels in mainland Europe by High Speed 1 via the Channel Tunnel. High-speed Eurostar trains connect the UK's high speed network to Europe's. The Eurostar's London terminus is at St. Pancras International after previously residing at Waterloo International. Along the way, it will serve Stratford International (also in London) and two stations in the neighbouring county of Kent, Ashford International (which it currently serves already) and Ebbsfleet International.
Local and Regional
London is the centre of an extensive radial commuter railway network which, along with Paris, is the busiest and largest in Europe, serving the surrounding metropolitan area. Each terminus is associated with commuter services from a particular segment of this area. The majority of commuters to central London (about 80% of 1.1 million) arrive by either the Underground (400,000 daily) or by surface railway into these termini (860,000 daily).
For historical reasons, London's commuter rail network is arranged in a radial form, and as a result the majority of services entering London terminate at one of the terminal stations around the edge of the city centre. In contrast to the more developed regional RER network in Paris, only two long-distance National Rail lines currently go across London: the Thameslink route runs between the more distant towns of Bedford in the north and Brighton on the south coast, passing through the City of London, Gatwick Airport and London suburbs; and in west London, the West London Line passes through Shepherd's Bush, with cross-London services operated by Southern running between Milton Keynes in the north and East Croydon in the south. A major expansion of the Thameslink route is planned 2013-18, in which a number of existing regional rail services will be redirected via the cross-London Thameslink corridor.
Constantly increasing pressure on the commuter rail systems and on the Underground to disperse passengers from the busy terminals has led to the multi-billion pound Crossrail scheme. When completed, Crossrail will add a further cross-London line by linking services into Paddington in the west with Docklands and services out of Liverpool Street in the east, and to the suburbs beyond. Construction work is currently underway, and twin 16-km tunnels are being bored underneath the city centre. New stations will be provided at key city centre locations, linking to the Underground.
While most stations in central London are termini, there are a few notable exceptions. London Bridge has several through lines to the more central termini at Cannon Street and Charing Cross, and trains to the latter also call at Waterloo East, linked to Waterloo by a footbridge. London Bridge's through platforms are also used by the Thameslink services of First Capital Connect, which cross the city centre, calling at Blackfriars (another terminus with through platforms), City Thameslink, Farringdon and St Pancras (via dedicated subterranean platforms, replacing King's Cross Thameslink).
In addition to London's radial lines and cross-London routes, there are also several orbital National Rail lines connecting peripheral inner-London suburbs. These lines have been under the management of TfL since November 2007 and are operated by private contract under the London Overground brand. This commuter transport is operated as a metro system with high-frequency services around a circular route with radial branch lines and is designed to reduce stress from the inner-city Tube network by allowing commuters to travel across London without going through the central Zone 1.
Although it is a new system, London Overground has been formed by joining a series of existing railway lines to form a circular route around the city and incorporates the oldest part of the Underground's history, the Thames Tunnel under the River Thames, which was completed in 1843. The routes comprise the North London Line, which arcs across North London from Richmond in the west to Stratford in the east; the Gospel Oak to Barking Line which links inner North London to the northeastern suburbs; the inner-suburban Watford DC Line from Euston to Watford Junction; the suburban metro services on the West London Line as far as Clapham Junction; the East London Line, a former London Underground line which was converted to heavy rail operation in 2010; part of the Outer South London Line as far as Crystal Palace; and the Inner South London Line which was added to the London Overground network in December 2012, completing the circuit across South London suburbs to Clapham Junction.
Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted airports are served by dedicated train services, and are also served by standard commuter services. The Heathrow Express service from Paddington is provided by the airport operator, BAA plc, whilst the Gatwick Express from Victoria and Stansted Express from Liverpool Street are provided by train operating companies.
|Heathrow||Heathrow Connect||Paddington||Serves terminals 1, 2 & 3, then terminates at either terminal 4 or 5|
|Heathrow||Heathrow Express||Paddington||Serves terminals 1, 2 & 3, then terminates at either terminal 4 or 5|
|Heathrow||London Underground||Piccadilly line|
|Heathrow||South West Trains||Waterloo||to Feltham, then bus connection to Heathrow|
|Gatwick||Thameslink||St Pancras/Blackfriars/London Bridge|
|Gatwick||Southern||Victoria||Stopping service via Clapham Junction|
|City||DLR||Bank/Tower Gateway/Stratford International|
|Stansted||Stansted Express||Liverpool Street|
|Southend||Greater Anglia||Liverpool Street|
|Luton||Thameslink||St Pancras/Blackfriars/London Bridge|
Heathrow Airport is also exclusively serviced by National Express' Dot2Dot, a door-to-door airport transfer service.
Unlike the Underground, which is a single system owned and operated by Transport for London, commuter railways in London are run by a number of separate train operating companies (TOCs). This results from the privatisation of British Rail in the 1990s which split the former state railway operator British Rail into a number of smaller franchises in order to increase competition and allow railways to operate in a free market. Among the rail firms operating passenger services in London, a number are owned by foreign companies or by state-owned railways of other European countries. London Overground is contracted in a different way to other franchises in that it is operated by a private company under contract to Transport for London. Heathrow Express is also unusual in that it is not officially part of the National Rail franchising system.
|Train operator||Franchise/services||Nationality||Parent company/owner|
|c2c||Essex Thameside - services in East London and Essex||National Express Group (UK)|
|Chiltern Railways||London to Aylesbury Line - regional services via north-west London||Arriva, a subsidiary of the German state-owned Deutsche Bahn|
|First Capital Connect||Great Northern Route via North London and the cross-London Thameslink route||FirstGroup (UK)|
|Gatwick Express||Express service to Gatwick Airport||Govia - joint venture of Go-Ahead (UK) & Keolis (majority owned by SNCF/Government of France)|
|Greater Anglia||Greater Anglia Rail Franchise - Regional services via North-east London||Abellio/Nederlandse Spoorwegen (state-owned by the Netherlands Government)|
|Heathrow Connect||Stopping service to Heathrow Airport||Heathrow Express/First Great Western joint venture|
|Heathrow Express||Non-stop service to Heathrow Airport||Heathrow Airport Holdings Limited (Spain)|
|London Midland||North London suburban services regional services to Hertfordshire & Buckinghamshire||Govia (Go-Ahead/Keolis)|
|London Overground Rail Operations (LOROL)||London Overground metro service||Arriva/MTR - joint venture between Deutsche Bahn's Arriva (Germany) and MTR Corporation (Hong Kong) under contract to TfL|
|South West Trains||Waterloo to Reading line, south-west London suburbs, Surrey & Berkshire||Stagecoach Group (UK)|
|Southeastern||Metro services across south-east & south London
Southeastern High Speed
|Southern||Metro services in South London & Surrey; stopping service to Gatwick Airport; the cross-London route to Milton Keynes||Govia (Go-Ahead/Keolis)|
|Stansted Express||Express service to Stansted Airport||Greater Anglia (Abellio/Nederlandse Spoorwegen) subsidiary|
Long-distance intercity services do not depart from all termini, but each terminus provides trains to a particular part of the country. The major intercity termini are:
- Euston for: the West Midlands, North Wales, North West England and Scotland including Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.
- King's Cross for: the East Midlands, Yorkshire, North East England and Scotland including Peterborough, Cambridge, Leeds, York, Newcastle and Edinburgh.
- Liverpool Street for: East Anglia including Colchester, Ipswich and Norwich.
- Charing Cross for: South East England and the South Coast, including the Medway towns, Canterbury and Dover.
- London Bridge for: the same destinations as Charing Cross Station.
- Paddington for: South West England and South Wales including Oxford, Bristol, Plymouth and Cardiff.
- St. Pancras International for: the East Midlands and Yorkshire including Leicester, Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield. Additional services to Kent including Faversham, Dover, Ashford and Canterbury via High Speed services along High Speed 1. Eurostar services also operate from here to Paris Gare du Nord, Lille Europe, Brussels Midi, as well as Ashford International and Ebbsfleet International stations on the HS1 line. Deutsche Bahn are planning potential services to destinations in Germany, including Frankfurt and Düsseldorf.
- Victoria for: South East England and the South Coast, including Brighton, Canterbury and Dover.
- Waterloo for: South West England and the South Coast, including Southampton, Portsmouth, Bournemouth and Weymouth.
- Marylebone for: the Chiltern Mainline, including Aylesbury, High Wycombe and Birmingham Snow Hill
Some intercity services carry significant volumes of commuters between their stops nearest to London and the termini. For example, long-distance commuting has been evident from Swindon to Paddington since the introduction of High Speed Trains.
International services are provided by Eurostar from St. Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord and Brussels Midi via the Channel Tunnel, with intermediate stops at Ebbsfleet International and Ashford International in Kent and Lille Europe in Nord/Pas de Calais. This new link, brought into service on 14 November 2007 cuts journey times by some 20–25 minutes compared with services previously routed to Waterloo Station, putting Paris 2 hours 15 minutes from London and Brussels 1 hour 51 minutes away.
As well as the Eurostar's international services, Southeastern now operates high-speed commuter services using the HS1 line. It runs new 140 mph, Class 395 trains, from London St. Pancras to Faversham, North Kent and the Medway towns via Ebbsfleet, as well as to Folkestone and Dover Priory, to Canterbury and to Margate via Ebbsfleet and Ashford International. The highspeed trains serve all stations on HS1, including Stratford International (the only station on HS1 not to be served by Eurostar) and will in 2012 provide the Javelin shuttle service for visitors to the Olympic Games' main venue in Stratford.
London commuters mostly gain access to public transport services in London by using one of the inter-modal travel tickets provided by Transport for London. Oystercard is a credit-card-sized electronic ticket which offers almost unlimited use on the London Underground, London Overground, Docklands Light Railway, Tramlink, London Buses and National Rail services in the Greater London area. Commuters entering London from further afield may rely on the older paper Travelcard (combined with a National Rail ticket) which offers the same inter-modal access but is valid at the regional railway stations not yet equipped to offer electronic ticketing. Oystercard is generally not valid outside the London fare zones or on certain airport express services.
Both Travelcard and Oystercard fares are calculated by using a system of fare zones which divides London's transport network into concentric circles numbered 1-6. Individual transport operators may also offer their own ticketing and fare tariffs for travel on one mode of transport.
The London Pass offers tourists visiting London a combination of the Travelcard and admissions to a number of tourist attractions for a set fee in advance.
London has a hierarchy of roads ranging from major radial and orbital trunk roads down to minor "side streets". At the top level are motorways and grade-separated dual carriageways, supplemented by non-grade-separated urban dual carriageways, major single carriageway roads, local distributor roads and small local streets.
Most of the streets of central London were laid out before cars were invented and London's road network is often congested. Attempts to tackle this go back at least to the 1740s, when the New Road was built through the fields north of the city; it is now just another congested central London thoroughfare. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, new wide roads such as Victoria Embankment, Shaftesbury Avenue and Kingsway were created. In the 1920s and 1930s a series of new radial roads, such as the Western Avenue and Eastern Avenue, were constructed in the new suburban outskirts of London but little was done in the congested central area.
A 1938 report, The Highway Development Survey, by Sir Charles Bressey and Sir Edwin Lutyens for the Ministry of Transport and Sir Patrick Abercrombie's 1943 County of London Plan and 1944 Greater London Plan all recommended the construction of many miles of new roads and the improvement of existing routes and junctions but little was done to implement the recommendations. In the 1960s the Greater London Council prepared a drastic plan for a network of London Ringways including the construction of the London Motorway Box which would have involved massive demolition and huge cost to bring motorways into the heart of the city. Resistance from Central Government over the costs and campaigns of objection from local residents caused the cancellation of most of the plans in 1973. By the end of the 20th century policy swung towards a preference for public transport improvements, although the 118-mile (190 km) M25 orbital motorway was constructed between 1973 and 1986 to provide a route for traffic to bypass the London urban area.
Due to the opposition to the Ringway plan and earlier proposals there are few grade-separated routes penetrating to the city centre. Only the western A40, the northeastern A12 Leyton By-pass, eastern A13 and southeastern A2 are grade-separated for most of the way into central London. There is also the eastern A1203, a dual carriageway tunnel around the Docklands area, which directly links onto the A13.
There is a technical distinction between the motorways, operated by the Highways Agency, and other major routes, operated by TfL as the Transport for London Route Network (TLRN). Many of London's major radial routes continue far beyond the city as part of the national motorway and trunk road network.
From the north, clockwise (and noting a key commuter location served by each rather than the final destination), the major radial routes are the A10 (north to Hertford), the M11 (north to Cambridge), the A12 (northeast to Chelmsford), the A127 (east to Southend), the A13 (also east to Southend), the A2/M2 (east to Chatham), the A20/M20 (east to Maidstone), the A23/M23 (south to Gatwick Airport and Brighton), the A3 (southwest to Guildford), A316/M3 (southwest to Basingstoke), the A4/M4 (west to Heathrow Airport and Reading), the A40/M40 (west to Oxford), the M1 (northwest to Luton & Milton Keynes) and the A1 (north to Stevenage).
There are also three ring roads linking these routes orbitally. The innermost, the Inner Ring Road, circumnavigates the congestion charging zone in the city centre. The generally grade-separated North Circular Road (the A406 from Gunnersbury to East Ham) and the non-separated South Circular Road (the A205) form a suburban ring of roughly 10 km radius. Finally, the M25 encircles most of the urban area with roughly a 25 km radius. The western section of the M25 past Heathrow Airport is one of Europe's busiest, carrying around 200,000 vehicles per day.
Distributor and minor routes
The major roads mentioned above are supplemented by a host of standard single-carriageway main roads, operated as part of the afore-mentioned TLRN. These roads generally link suburbs with each other, or deliver traffic from the ends of the major routes into the city centre.
The TLRN is supplemented by local distributor roads operated by the local authorities, the London boroughs. These non-strategic roads only carry local traffic.
In February 2003, TfL introduced a radical scheme to charge motorists £5 per day for driving vehicles within a designated area of central London during peak hours, the congestion charge. The politicians behind the scheme claim that it has significantly reduced traffic congestion and hence improved reliability of bus and taxi services, but this is strongly contested by the scheme's critics. The charge was increased to £8 per day on 4 July 2005. In 2007 the zone was extended into west London. On 4 January 2011 several changes were implemented based on the public consultation conducted in 2008, which included the removal of the Western Extension and a charge increase from £8 to £10,
Road casualties in London
Cycling in London has enjoyed a renaissance, particularly since the turn of the millennium. Cyclists find that they enjoy a much cheaper, and often quicker, way around town than those travelling by public transport or car.
Over one million Londoners own bicycles but as of 2008[update] only around 2 per cent of all journeys in London are made by bike: this compares poorly to other major European cities such as Berlin (5 per cent), Munich (12 per cent), and Amsterdam (55 per cent) and Copenhagen (36 per cent). Nevertheless this is an 83 per cent increase compared to that in 2000. There are currently an estimated 480,000 cycle journeys each day in the capital.
The red double-decker London bus has entered popular culture as an internationally recognised British icon, and while the design and operation of London buses has changed over the years, the vehicles still maintain their traditional red colour.
London's bus network is extensive, with over 6,800 scheduled services every weekday carrying about six million passengers on over 700 different routes making it one of the most extensive bus systems in the world and by far the largest in Europe. Catering mainly for local journeys, it carries more passengers than the Underground. In addition to this extensive daytime system, a 100-route night bus service is also operated, providing a 24-hour service.
The bus system is managed by TfL through its arms-length subsidiary company, London Buses Ltd. As a result of the Privatisation of London bus services in 1985, bus operations in London must be put out to competitive tendering and routes are operated by a number of private companies, while TfL sets the routes, frequencies, fares and even the type of vehicle used (Greater London was exempted from the bus deregulation in Great Britain). Transport companies may bid to run London bus services for a fixed price for several years, with incentives and penalties in place to encourage good performance against certain criteria. The tendering system is open to transport operators from a global market, with the result that some London bus services are now operated by international groups such as RATP Group, the state-owned operator of the Paris public transport system.
|Abellio London||London & Surrey||Abellio/Nederlandse Spoorwegen|
|Abellio Surrey||London & Surrey||Abellio/Nederlandse Spoorwegen|
|Arriva London||London||Arriva/Deutsche Bahn|
|Arriva Shires & Essex||Essex, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Buckinghamshire & London||Arriva/Deutsche Bahn|
|Arriva Southern Counties||London, Surrey, West Sussex, East Sussex, Kent & Essex||Arriva/Deutsche Bahn|
|Carousel Buses||Buckinghamshire||Go-Ahead London|
|CT Plus||Greater London||HCT Group|
|First Capital||East & central London||FirstGroup|
|First Centrewest||West & central London||FirstGroup|
|First Berkshire & The Thames Valley||Berkshire||FirstGroup|
|Go-Ahead London||Blue Triangle, Carousel Buses, Docklands Buses, East Thames Buses, London Central & London General||Go-Ahead Group|
|Green Line Coaches||Express services to Berkshire & Hertfordshire||Arriva/Deutsche Bahn|
|London United||West & central London||RATP Group|
|Metrobus||South and south-east London, and parts of Surrey, Kent, West and East Sussex.||Go-Ahead Group|
|Metroline||North & west London||ComfortDelGro|
|Quality Line||South London & Surrey||RATP Group|
|Red Rose Travel||Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire & outer London||-|
|Stagecoach London||South east London & Kent||Stagecoach Group|
|Sullivan Buses||Hertfordshire & north London||-|
|Tower Transit||Greater London||Transit Systems|
|London Sovereign||North London||Veolia Transdev|
|TWH Bus & Coach||Essex, Hertfordshire & Greater London||-|
|Uno||Hertfordshire & north London||University of Hertfordshire|
Many services are operated with the iconic red double-decker buses, virtually all using modern low-floor accessible vehicles rather than the traditional open-platform Routemasters, now limited to two city centre "heritage routes" after a phase out in 2006.
The bus system has been the subject of much investment since TfL's inception in 2000, with consequent improvements in the number of routes (particularly night services), their frequency, reliability and the standard of the vehicles used.
Black cabs and hire cars
The iconic black cab remains a common sight. They are driven by the only taxicab drivers in the world who have spent at least three years learning the city inside out to gain 'The Knowledge'. All London taxicabs are licensed by TfL's Public Carriage Office (PCO), who also set taxicab fares along with strict maximum vehicle emission standards. Black cabs can be hailed on the street or hired from a taxicab rank (by all the mainline railway stations and around the major business, shopping and tourist centres). Taxicab fares are set by TfL and are calculated using a Taximeter in the vehicle (hence the name 'Taxicab') and are calculated using a combination of distance travelled and time.
Private Hire Vehicles (PHVs or minicabs) are cars which are not licensed to pick people up on the street. They must always be booked in advance by phone or at the operators offices. Anyone asking you if you want a 'Taxi' who is stood next to a normal looking car is a tout who is not insured or licensed to carry passengers.
More than 70 years after horse-drawn carriages were restricted from the West End, Westminster City Council has announced that it will consider supporting applications to reintroduce them for sightseeing tours across the city. The first horse-drawn vehicles in London were licenced in 1662, as Hackney carriages.
Bicycle taxis and pedicabs
Pedicabs are a fairly recent addition, being mostly used by tourists and operating in the central areas. Unlike the black cab, no test of knowledge is required to operate a pedicab or bicycle rickshaw.
Cambridge Trishaws Ltd moved from Cambridge to London in 1998 as the first such company to work within the city. There are now 5–10 such companies providing competing services. The Licensed Taxi Drivers Association (LTDA) went to the High Court to try to force them to become licensed, but lost their case in 2004. This led to the PCO overseeing nearly all, but not all, cabs in London.
There has been a move, led by Chris Smallwood, chairman of the London Pedicab Operators Association, to bring in more relevant legislation. Smallwood helped to draft an amendment to a bill to be put before the House of Lords that would introduce these 'lighter' pedicab regulations. This was followed in 2005 by Transport Committee scrutiny to determine the future of the then nascent industry. This led in turn, to a 2006 TfL consultation "for the introduction of a licensing regime that is appropriate for pedicabs and their riders".
London is the best served city by airports in the world with almost 150 million passengers using its six airports in 2005. In order of size, these airports are Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, London City; and London Southend Airport.
Heathrow and Gatwick serve long-haul, European and domestic flights; Stansted, Luton and Southend cater primarily for low-cost European and domestic services, whilst London City caters for business passengers to short-haul and domestic destinations.
The closest airport to the city centre is London City, approximately 10 km east of the City of London financial district in the Docklands area. A branch of the Docklands Light Railway links the airport to the City in under 25 minutes.
Two other airports are at the edge of the city but within the Greater London boundary: Biggin Hill, around 23 km southeast of the centre, and London's principal airport, Heathrow, 20–25 km from central London.
Heathrow handles nearly 70 million passengers per annum, making it Europe's busiest airport. On the western edge of the city in the London Borough of Hillingdon, it has two runways and five passenger terminals, with the £4bn fifth terminal opening in 2008. It is connected to central London by the dedicated Heathrow Express rail service, the Heathrow Connect local rail service and London Underground's Piccadilly line, and is connected to the M4 and M25 motorways.
Gatwick is just under 40 km south of central London in Sussex, some distance outside London's boundary. With a single runway and two terminals, it handles approximately 32 million passengers per year from domestic, short-haul and long-haul flights, and is linked to London by the Gatwick Express, Thameslink and Southern rail services, and by the M23. It is the busiest single runway airport in the world.
Southend is to the east of London, and has undergone rapid development to be usable by short-haul passenger flights in time for the 2012 Olympics. It is connected to London via the A127 road, an on airport station with services through Stratford to London Liverpool Street. Passenger numbers have risen significantly from April 2012 when low-cost flights commenced to 13 European destinations.
Stansted is London's most distant airport, approximately 50 km north of the centre, in Essex. With a single runway and terminal, it handles approximately 20 million passengers annually, mostly from low-cost short-haul and domestic leisure flights. It is connected to London by the Stansted Express rail service and the M11 motorway.
Luton Airport is about 45 km northwest of London, connected to it by the M1 and First Capital Connect trains from nearby Luton Airport Parkway station. It has a single terminal and a runway considerably shorter than the other London airports, and like Stansted it caters mainly for low-cost short-haul leisure flights.
RAF Northolt in west London is used by private jets, and London Heliport in Battersea is used by private helicopters. There are is also Biggin Hill and Farnborough Airfield. Croydon Airport was originally London's main airport, but was replaced by Heathrow, and closed in 1959.
An airfield at Lydd has been rebranded London Ashford, but currently have little traffic. In August 2009, Oxford Airport, some 95 km from London's City Centre, re-branded itself London Oxford Airport in a controversial move, while Kent International was briefly called London Manston; it is 120 km from London.
The River Thames is navigable to ocean-going vessels as far as London Bridge, and to substantial craft well upstream of Greater London. Historically, the river was one of London's main transport arteries. Although this is no longer the case, passenger services have seen something of a revival since the creation in 1999 of London River Services, an arm of Transport for London. LRS now regulates and promotes a small-scale network of river bus commuter services and a large number of leisure cruises operating on the river. Boats are owned and operated by a number of private companies, and LRS manages five of central London's 22 piers.
London also has several canals, including the Regent's Canal, which links the Thames to the Grand Union Canal and thus to the waterway network across much of England. These canals were originally built in the Industrial Revolution for the transport of coal, raw materials and foods. Although they now carry few goods, they are popular with private narrowboat users and leisure cruisers, and a regular "water bus" service operates along the Regent's Canal during the summer months.
Some bulk cargoes are carried on the Thames, and the Mayor of London wishes to increase this use. London's port used to be the country's busiest when it was located in Central London and east London's Docklands. Since the 1960s, containerisation has led to almost all of the port's activities moving further downstream and the ceasing of port-related activity at the extensive network of docks (which were built in the 19th and early 20th centuries). A purpose-built container port at Tilbury in Essex, around ten kilometres outside the Greater London boundary, is today the busiest part of the port, though activity remains along stretches of the Thames, mainly downstream of the Thames Barrier. Fifty riverside wharfs have been safeguarded from development in Greater London. Today the port is the UK's second largest by cargo handled (53 million tonnes in 2008). The Port of London Authority is responsible for most port activities and navigation along the River Thames in London and on the Thames estuary.
- List of bus routes in London
- History of public transport authorities in London
- List of heads of public transport authorities in London
- London fare zones
- Transport for London
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Public transport in London.|
- Transport for London, executive agency in charge of most transport operations
- Department for Transport, central government department overseeing the national railway network
- Transport enthusiast's site with details of current projects
- London Cycle Network
- London Campaign for Better Transport, campaigns on local issues, and supports the national organisation in pressing for sustainable transport. A current project is a possible "Brent Cross Railway" in north London.
- Comprehensive list of current Greater London bus timetables
Notes and references
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- "The French connection: What's a picture of the River Seine doing on our iconic London buses?". Daily Mail. 25 April 2011. Retrieved 11 April 2013.
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- London City Airport train timetable, www.tfl.gov.uk. Retrieved 16 June 2005.
- Transport for London. "London River Services". Retrieved 1 April 2008.
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