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Monday, August 13, 2012

LONDON - Transportation During the Olympics

Typical London Red Bus - that is a sweet ride in the top front seat.

Typical London Black Cab - seats 5 in the back.

From London Transport - During the Games - the subway Tube carried over 60 million passengers - an increase of 30 per cent compared to last year - that’s more passengers than at any time in the 149 year history. The local DLR trains carried over 6 million passengers - an increase of over 100 per cent compared to last year and London Overground trains carried almost 6 million passengers - an increase of 47 per cent compared to last year. Again - that’s more passengers than ever before. Traffic on the roads kept flowing and buses coped well.

Harry - we rode both the bullet train and the subway from our apartment to the Games - 8 miles away. In our case - the subway seemed faster because to take the bullet train we had to go to St Pancras Station which was a one mile walk from our door or an additional bus ride. Once in the bullet train - its was quiet - comfortable - fast. The red line subway from Holborn Station was only .3 miles away. Although the subway made 6 stops to Olympic Park - it seemed faster. After the Opening Ceremony - the red line coming home was packed - not for the slight of heart. But most of the time it was easy to get seats.

All in all - London Transport did a fantastic job. The kids loved the taxis - buses - and subways. It was the only time they have ridden without seats belts or car seats - a very liberating thing.

Taxicabs - I am amazed at the quality of the London cabs. They are short diesel cars with very small steering circles - that can be turned on a dime. The cars are super clean - inside and out. The drivers are well-trained - speak clear English - have excellent manners - and do not expect a tip. When you pay for your ride - they quickly make you exact change. Even a small tip rounded up to the next pound is greeted with surprise and appreciation. Cabs seat 5 people in the back - facing each other. When not in use - the two jumps seats fold up by themselves. We squeezed an extra kid in to make 6 in the back.

Buses - The buses in London are in their own league. They are the standard of the world. They are so clean that people go to the theatre in their best garb in the bus. You buy a bus card and then you can add money to it at a machine or online. You simply swipe your card when you enter the bus - no need to do it when you leave. All rides cost the same.

Subways - They are clean and have excellent signage. You can get anywhere across town without worrying about being caught in traffic. If you check online - you can tell exactly how long it will take you to get from place to place. The computer takes in time of day and traffic to figure your arrival time. With the subway you swipe the same bus car when you get on and off. You pay more on the subway when you cross from zone to zone. When you go on the bus - each ride is a flat rate of about 2 pounds. If you transfer - the computer automatically adjusts your bill.

Your entire riding history can be viewed online if you choose to give you account a name. If not - you can be anonymous. Of course you can use someone else's card - even put money on their card.

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