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Oyster cards

An essential reference for travellers in London is the Transport for London website. The TFL Oyster card is London's travel smartcard. It can store your season ticket or Pre Pay (pay-as-you-go travel), or a combination of both. You simply touch it on the card readers at Tube and DLR stations, on buses and at tram stops.

Oyster cards are reusable. When your season ticket expires, simply buy another one on the same Oyster card. When your Pre Pay runs out, just top it up.

Paying for transport in London with cash is much more expensive than using an Oyster card so, since you are certain to use the Tube or buses while you are in London, we strongly recommend that you get an Oyster card.

If you have guests in London they can buy single tickets for cash, or get a Daily Travelcard which can be used all day.

You can get an Oyster card at an underground station or at certain shops when you arrive.  However, you can also order your Oyster card before you come and have it sent to you in your home country (note, this is not possible for all countries).  This means you can walk straight off your plane or train and straight onto the transport network in London.  Click here for more information on getting an Oyster card sent to your home country.

If you are studying with us full time for more than 14 weeks you will be eligible for a student Oyster card, which will give you further discounts (usually around 30%).  You can only apply for a student Oyster card after you have arrived at the school.

Click here for more general information on Oyster cards.

The Underground/The Tube

The Underground is divided into six zones. Zone 1 being central London and increasing the further out you travel from the centre. Most of the homestay we arrange is in Zone 2. Last trains run at around midnight.  For more information on Transport for London's Tube pages.

Buses

Remember to put your arm out to stop the bus! The last buses and tubes leave central London at around midnight but there is also a network of night buses. All night buses have a letter 'N' before the number on the front of the bus. Daily travelcards can be used until 0400h the following day on these night buses. On some routes you have to buy your ticket before boarding the bus, so check if there is a machine at the bus stop. When travelling on a London bus, you must ring the bell once to indicate that you want to get off at the next bus stop. More information on Transport for London's Bus pages.

Taxis

There are two sorts of taxis in London: black cabs and minicabs. Black cabs stop if their light is on and you wave at them. Black cabs have controlled prices which are shown on the meter inside. There is a maximum of 4 people and 10 kilometres distance but as long as your journey is below 10 kilometres the driver is obliged to take you wherever you want. More than one person and very large luggage are charged extra - also journeys at night. Black cab drivers are experts in London geography and are usually very reliable.

A good place to get a taxi is a railway station or a large hotel. Alternatively you can book a black cab in advance (24hrs notice is usually required) on the following numbers: Dial-a-Cab (020 7426 3420 or Dail-a-Cab Website), Radio Taxis (020 7272 0272 or Radio Taxis Website), London Black Cab Service (07957 696673 and between the hours 10.00 pm and 3.00 am: 7904 805508 or London Black Cab Website).

You may wish to tip the driver about 10-12 per cent of the fare although this is not essential.

Minicabs are private and are usually called by telephone. They are generally cheaper than black cabs, especially at night and weekends. However the drivers are not licenced in the same way as black cabs and may not know London so well.

To avoid any possible problems we recommend that you use a reliable local minicab company. Ones near the schools include Sunshine Cars (020 8740 1200), Kings Cars (020 8563 9100) or Abbey Cars (020 8748 7474). You can also ask your homestay family for advice about one in your area.  If you are leaving a bar or club late at night we recommend that you either take a black cab or call a minicab from a taxi company that you know is safe and reliable.

We recommend that you ask the price when you book and confirm it with the driver.

Trains

The UK rail network covers all towns and cities and some smaller destinations. Different London stations serve different parts of the country - depending on where you want to go, you may leave from Paddington, Euston, St Pancras, King's Cross, Liverpool Street, Marylebone, London Bridge, Charing Cross, Victoria or Waterloo.

Visit the Nation Rail website for timetables of all UK trains and destinations. If you want to buy your train tickets in advance try the booking service available using Qjump.

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