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Officer Tips: Transport

As a UAL student you will likely be spending several hours a week travelling and more so if you are a commuter student. It is not advised for students to drive around London for money, practical and climate issues.

non-bannerofficer tips

As a UAL student you will likely be spending several hours a week travelling and more so if you are a commuter student. It is not advised for students to drive around London for money, practical and climate issues. Many halls of residence and private accommodation don’t have permits for cars in inner London. Cycling and walking are often your best options, but of course not everyone is able to get to campus through these methods.

There are places on campus to store bikes if you have your own, but cycling can be risky in London, especially on main roads and there are frequented by vulnerable road users alongside buses, lorries and motorbikes. There are strong recommendations for cyclists to wear helmets, have lights and wear bright visible colours. Bikes can also be hired for short periods of time, they don’t need to be booked in advance or involve person-to person interactions. They can be paid for via contactless card. Santander Cycles and Lime bikes are some of the most common options. They are not run by TFL so cannot be used with a TFL travelcard.

There are a few mobile apps to help navigate your journeys around London and beyond. These are all free.

For public transport:


Google Maps/ Apple maps

Bus Times

It’s also worth having a pocket map of the London Underground, which can be picked up at underground stations, or this map exists as a mobile app.

For private transport:



Other private cab companies

London taxis (black cabs) can be booked in advance or hailed down on the street, unless the light at the top of the vehicle is on, which indicates that the taxi is unavailable. There will be queues of taxis outside busy train stations so they are generally more reliable than other taxi services, their drivers also rely on their knowledge on London roads rather than maps! However, their fees are often the highest.

Fares on TFL transport change every spring, usually rising by 5-10p for each journey. This is frustrating and it happens every year so it’s good to plan ahead for. Occasionally the fares have reversed and prices have been slashed- buses a few years ago were £2.40 for each journey, the prices then slashed to around £1.50. TFL also introduced the Hopper Fare system, which means you can take as multiple buses and/ or trams in an hour for the cost of 1 journey. This is especially useful if your journey requires 2 buses. For example you could pay the standard fare £1.65 and if you get off after 20 minutes and catch a different bus 5 minutes later, you won’t be charged extra.

Zones are important! London is divided into zones of travel, from 1-9, with 1-6 being in the standard TFL London fare system, and 6-9 being beyond greater London, still a part of TFL but additional fares and travel card extensions will apply.

Tube or Bus? Generally, if you are only travelling 1-3 stops on the tube, it may be cheaper and possibly even quicker to travel by bus- current fares are £1.65 (as of Autumn 2022).



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There is always a daily cap on prices and for more specifics on prices, head to the TFL website or ask a tube worker at an underground station. Often at entrances to tube stations, there will be a list of travel prices from particular zones, showing peak and off-peak fares. You can also find out which zone that station is in. Buses don’t have different prices for the different zones they travel through.

Prices will always be cheaper in non-rush hour times. This won’t always be able to help students out, especially if they need to come onto campus for morning lectures but it’s worth bearing in mind that tapping your card at 9:31am will make a price difference to your journey.

Unfortunately 18+ student oyster photocards only give you discounts if you purchase a travelcard, which then gives you a student discount, if you buy a student 18+ oyster card, load money onto it and pay as you go, it will not give you a discount! It’s worth noting that you can add a railcard onto any oyster which will provide a discount. To gain these discounts you also need to be studying full time and live in a London borough.