Because I am, by all accounts, entirely unused to metropolitan living, I thought I had better do some research with regard to navigating the Tube – especially since I may not have a functional smartphone immediately upon my arrival (also known as “the period of time in which I will be most confused about public transportation”).
After searching the internet for all the best tips and tricks and listicles, this is what I’ve come up with. Think of it as a Greatest Hits lists of advice about the Tube, accompanied by some truly awful or amusing articles for counterpoint.
This listicle was nicely comprehensive, written such that I wasn’t bored stiff reading it, and actually informative. It’s not just basic “this is how to get on a train” but also provides instruction on cultural norms, AKA how not to be the least-liked person in your carriage.
My main issue with most advice was that it assumed a basic level of knowledge I cannot claim. I’m looking for whatever comes before 101 here, folks. This article was a particularly heinous offender.
Here is a handy little modified Tube map showing which stations are actually faster to walk between rather than taking the Tube. Because if there’s one thing I’ve learned about London today, it’s that nothing is logical.
Somewhere along the way, I began to wonder if perhaps my problem was not that they all started at too advanced a level, but that they were all too basic – that my particular questions and confusion were beyond what is reasonably expected of a tourist (clearly the intended audience of most of these resources). After all, that’s not entirely implausible – I am, after all, not a tourist by the general definition.
There are a variety of YouTube videos, if the idea of reading article after countless article threatens a headache. This one is perfect for “I’ve never in my life partaken in the joys of any form of public transport”. Unfortunately, I went to NYC a few years ago with a school group, so it was a little simplistic for my tastes.
This is by far the best video I found. It was explanatory, answered questions it seemed like no one else had even considered, and kind of adorable. Also, the only time anyone has ever even attempted to tell me why Oyster cards are called Oyster cards. Still not sure I believe him, but.
After being sidetracked by a couple of Bustle listicles about good boyfriends and several snarky comment threads on Tube articles, I stumbled upon It. The One. The Tube 101 to end all my desperate researching. It not only tells you the things all these other sites informed you about, but also how to tell where you can switch lines! How to identify a baggage entrance! How to estimate travel time!
Something else I’ve learned today is that there’s nothing quite as unintelligible as people familiar with an area giving platform- and architecturally-specific directions to those who have no idea what they’re referencing. I’m sure all your amazing tips and tricks for saving five minutes are perfectly functional, but you could be making all this up for all I know. I certainly can’t assign any meaning to the series of letters and phrases you seem so attached to.
A surprising amount of people warned me not to masturbate or grope people on the Tube.
Sorry, is this an especially big issue?
One article featured a television ad on reporting sexual harassment on the Tube. I’m a little torn. I mean, great that I can text you about a guy harassing, groping, or photographing me, but meh that it’s such a big problem there’s a line dedicated solely to that.
On handpicked.org I found the single most informative piece of information in this entire search: “on the platform, look for where the yellow paint is most worn – this is where the doors open.”
Honestly, this one‘s just really funny. Zero percent helpful, 100% hilarious.
Look for part II of this post after I’ve actually had to put this hard-won knowledge to use.