Let’s dig into the real things. Something London is really famous for.
I have many times praised TFL Transport for London as being the most efficient transport company I ever came across: up to date information, very helpful officers that are even keen on reimbursing the extra fare you paid when you forgot to touch in or out – thus saving you the correspondent cost of a ticket to the outskirts of London.
TFL tells you about their improvement works in advance (I mean months!) so that you can plan accordingly, and you only get stuck the first time.
Then you learn, or at least you should!
As the big company they are, TFL are also big employers and in the past months there have been strong protests by employees against job cuts and the decision to abolish manned ticket booths in favour of automatic machines. The talks were relatively successful and the strike was partially called off but this whole decision still creates much concern.
Also, disruptions to the tube are part of commuters’ lives and nothing can be done. If tube service delays your trip considerably and you are planning to meet a friend, your business partner or your boss just tell them and they will understand. People just accept this, without many complaints. They will not blame you.
Buses offer a great way to see the city especially from the higher deck and they are also a viable solution for the late owls. I know everybody at least once has hoped for a longer tube service that would ferry lost souls across town after a late night out. People, even this praise has been fulfilled! From 2015 some lines will be running 24h over the weekend! My heroes!
Back to the night buses, although you need a great deal of patience, and allow a very long time to get home, buses usually deliver. I have never felt unsafe, because the nightlife in London is so incredibly buzzing that people travel up and down the city at any time. Something that is not conceivable for example on public service in Milan, in London you simply cannot travel without paying the fare. The driver controls each and every person that gets into the bus and ensures that they either touch their card or they pay their (much higher) ticket. Why ATM, the public transport company in Milan, cannot adopt a similar system to ensure a better return on its buses and therefore a better service to the population?
Generally I think the network is very efficient. It is true, fares are really expensive, butthere is one fundamental rule to open the gates of London (underground): electronic tickets save you money more than paper ones, so NEVER get around without one of these: