Transportation in London

(VOVworld) - London has one of the largest urban transportation networks in the world, with integrated bus, river and road systems. It’s estimated that more than 3 million passengers travel on the Underground each day. Today we’re talking with Stella Ciora of the UK to learn why London people prefer to travel by tube.

Q: Hey Stella, it’s nice to have you back again on VOV. Last time you told me that you have been in Vietnam for 21 years, working as a volunteer. What do you miss the most about Britain?

A: I miss London rather than a particular thing. There is something about London - the buildings and the atmosphere - that every time I go back, if I stay there longer than a week, I want to move back. So London is special.

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The Oxford Circus is one of the most crowded shopping area in London. (Photo: compass.ptvgroup.com)

Q: What is the most special thing about London in your opinion?

A: The Underground. We are the first in the world to have the underground. It was built in the Victorian era and still runs and still transport thousands of people a day. Both London and its underground are split into zones, from Zone 1 to Zone 6. For example, Heathrow Airport is in Zone 6, which is a long, long way from the center. London also has London overland. It’s like the Underground but above the ground, like normal rail lines. It links with the Underground so it helps to expand the network. The Overground and the Underground in London are huge. I would say it’s the biggest in the world. Sometimes, it would take you one hour to travel from one side to the other side of an underground line.

Q: How many tube lines are there in the London’s underground network?

A: Oh gosh… How many lines? I can’t remember them all. Central, Piccadilly, Circle, District, Northern, Victoria, and Jubilee - that’s seven lines already. And then on the top of that, you got’ve the Overground.

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London owns the oldest underground system in the world. (Photo: sites.psu.edu)

Q: So most people in London travel by tube everyday?

A: I think most people do. But there are people who may not live near a tube station; they would probably travel by bus or taxi. But I would say most people use the tube.

Q: So it must be crowded?

A: Yes! During rush hour time, like in Hanoi, which is from 7:00 to 9:00 in the morning and in the 5:00-7:00 in the evening, the underground is packed. That’s horrible. You’re just squashed on the tube with too many people hanging on and not much air.

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A tube station in London was packed with passengers during rush hour. (Photo: citymetric)

Q: Then why don’t they upgrade or expand the system?

A: Because it’s old. Unlike other new underground systems in other countries, there are so many things that you can’t change, for example, the air conditioning system. They have vanes on each side of the carriage to let the air in but they are quite dirty. So, it’s very difficult sometimes to keep cool in the summer when you have to squash on the carriage. And sometimes, you can’t get on the train and have to wait for the next one in a station, which is quite narrow and packed with people.

Q: Is it expensive to travel by tube in London?

A: I don’t know what the cost is now but everybody uses Oyster card, which you can top up with money. Now you can also pay by your phone by swiping it at the gates. But I think it’s expensive.

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The iconic red bus of London (Photo: Transportation for London)

Q: What about other forms of transportation in London? Do you travel by bus?

A: Yes! I also like the bus because it’s cheaper but it takes longer. Sometimes they close a line for maintenance and upgrades. If you imagine half of the District line is suspended while they work on the track, that’s hundreds of people who must find another route. The infrastructure for the bus is not as old as the Underground. While the tunnels for the Underground were built during the Victoria era, most of the buses are new. The old buses, which you could jump in through the back door, are gone. There are more double-deckers.

Q: I know that buses in London are painted red. Do you know why?

A: Good question! But I have no idea! Only in London are the buses red. In my hometown, buses are yellow.

Thank you, Stella, for this interesting talk! For this week’s Culture Rendezvous, I’m Dieu Ha. Good-bye!


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