Tube: Or Not Tube Saturday, April 25, 2009

Those little one-pound coins. So small. What’s a couple of them thrown into a box? So you progress through your day tossing coin after coin away, skipping down into the bowels of the underground, past a shivering saxophone player to another ‘must-see’ attraction. And it’s not until you’re in Brixton selling your passport to a gold-toothed gangstah that you suddenly realize that perhaps you should have been keeping track of all those transactions.

The Tube is expensive. Full stop.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take the Tube. London buses are slower than frozen, reverse-time-traveling molasses. Walking any great distance in London is great but impractical. To save money on the Tube you need to plan.

You probably need to buy an all-day Travelcard. For a mere £5.50 you are allowed unlimited use of the Tube from 9:30am onwards. Considering that even a single journey costs nearly as much as the card, it’s a smart bet. The only catch is that your travel is restricted to certain zones. Plan out which sites/place you want to visit before paying for the card. Odds are good that if you’re visiting London you need only to get Zones 1 and 2 for the first little while. If you’re figuring that you’ll be using Travelcards for a full week then grab yourself a 7-day Travelcard for the discounted sum of £25.80.

Having said all this, do you really need to take the Tube? If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Tube map does not correspond to reality. The map was created for visual simplicity. Stops that appear to be outrageously far from one another can practically be run to within minutes.

Check your zones, check your weight on the scale, and considering walking.