Transportation – London

After moving to London, you’ll need to be able to get around to get your new life rolling. This will happen on a train of some sort, usually the London subway known as the Underground. Your Volvo stationwagon will not come into play here.

A subway pass for Zones one to four on the London Underground will cost you $218 US per month (June 2014 rates). The zones on the underground are arranged as an oddly shaped bulls-eye, with zone one being the innermost circle. Zone one is central London, where the most magic happens.

But $218 US per month is expensive!

Or maybe not.

Although the London Underground is one of the more expensive public transit systems in the world, it represents a significant savings – in both time and money – over owning a car in the United States.

To wit: the average monthly cost of owning a car in the United States breaks down like this:

$471 car payment, $135 insurance, $108 fuel = $714 total per month.

That’s about $500 US per month more than getting around in London.

And that’s just the cash savings. There’s far more savings in time and opportunity. As many are aware, most commutes in the major United States cities suck. They mostly suck in a car on the freeway.  If your commute is an hour each way, you literally spend 21 solid days per year in your car. That’s opportunity lost to do the things you love.

If you have to do the commute, download some decent podcasts.

Anyway, if you were instead spending that commute on the Underground, you could do any of the following instead:

  1. Read a book. You’ll see plenty of this on the Tube.
  2. Listen to music. You could do that in a car, too, but here there’s no honking.
  3. Flirt with someone on the train. Be careful whom you pick on this one. Could be the greatest thing that ever happened, or not as much.
  4. Catch up on e-mails. The underground has free Wi-Fi at most stations already, and will have full Wi-Fi across all stations by 2015.
  5. Pay your bills (with the Wi-Fi).
  6. Listen to musicians playing live on the subway and in the stations.
  7. Sleep.
  8. Buy movie tickets (with the Wi-Fi).
  9. (You get the picture on the Wi-Fi).
  10. Write a travel book.
  11. Watch a movie on your Ipad or Kindle.
  12. And so on.


The point is, you turn an unproductive commute into a relaxing and productive one.  The relaxation part will depend on the time of day and destination. Rush hour is 7:30AM-9:30 AM, and 4:30PM-6:30PM, with the busiest stations being the central city connectors, such as Waterloo, King’s Cross, and Victoria. At these times, it’s best to go above ground.  There you get to hop on a big double-decker bus with a cool view. Again, so much better than a US commute.

It’s worth mentioning that you are not responsible for getting new brakes on the Tube, or new tires either. And you don’t need to stop for gas. Or wash and vacuum your subway car. Or put cool rims on it. You also don’t need to worry about getting pulled over for speeding, or worse yet, drunk driving after leaving the pub. Throw in these factors, and the $500 savings mentioned before gets a whole lot bigger.

And one more: you don’t have to pay to park the subway at the airport.

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