London Transport: The Bus Vs The Tube, Which Is Better?
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London Transport: The Bus Vs The Tube, Which Is Better?

Ella Kipling October 16, 2022

If you live in London it’s likely you’re going to use public transport to get around but the decision is which to use. The bus or the tube?

The city is made up of extensive bus, tram, and train routes, and the pretty hefty congestion zone charges mean that driving is usually out of the question for most people living and working in London.

For people who have just moved to London, The Tube seems like the obvious choice as a means of getting around, while the bus gets overlooked. But with 700 bus routes in London, should you be considering this instead?

What to choose London Bus or Tube?

The Tube

The Tube. A staple of London and the beast that hoards of commuters must tackle every day on their way to work. For some people, the tube isn’t that bad. But for me, a regular on the Jubilee and Northern lines, I disagree. First, there’s the temperature.

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I find myself stepping onto the tube in the morning, wrapped up warm as it is usually freezing outside (it is winter, in England after all). The second I am on the tube I find myself frantically peeling off layers like a tragic onion, desperately overheating. Then the second I get off and walk outside again, I become at risk for frostbite. It doesn’t matter that The Tube is in London, it has a whole climate of its own, and I, for one, don’t enjoy turning up to work dripping with sweat from head to toe. 

There is also the cost. It is SO expensive. Take The Tube for the day and you’ll see what I mean. 

Rush hour on The Tube is Not Enjoyable. The usually terminal politeness every British person seems to be born with is chucked out the window at 8.30 am on weekdays and it becomes a free-for-all. Have you ever found yourself elbowing a businessman in a pristine suit on one side, and a construction worker on the other simply to make it through the impending closing doors of the train? As I said, Not Enjoyable. 

However, The Tube does have its perks. Namely, the speed, and the extensive network it runs on. You can get to pretty much everywhere in London on The Tube, and quickly too. 

The Bus

While the bus may be slower, it has immeasurable advantages in other areas, the first being climate control. By this I mean that you usually don’t want to overheat the very second you get on the bus, unlike on The Tube. It is also a lot calmer, and you nearly always can find somewhere to sit. There is a phone signal, so you can listen to music or message your friends on your commute, or even get some work done. 

Photo by JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

I have found that my commute has gotten so much easier since switching from the tube to the bus. Instead of getting two tubes, which involves walking within the stations to change lines, standing in a condensed metal tube whilst sweat pours down my back, and often fighting for a space on the train, I now get the bus. This means I walk on, sit down, and don’t have to worry about anything (such as changing lines) for the rest of the journey.

However, buses aren’t often as regular as tubes, and can sometimes be more unreliable due to traffic, particularly during rush hour. They can also be slower, but I have personally found that the extra five minutes is worth it for a smoother, less stressful commute. 

Another advantage to the bus is the price, which is much cheaper than The Tube. Instead of being charged by how far you travel, you tap in when you get on the bus and that is it- one payment of £1.65. If you are changing buses, you will need to tap in when getting on your next bus, but if it is within the hour of when you got on the first bus, you won’t be charged. 

The TFL website is pretty comprehensive, so if you want to get the bus you can see all the stops, how long the journey will take, and how regularly the bus runs. 

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Ella Kipling is an Entertainment and News Writer at GRV Media. She regularly writes a mixture of news and features for HITC and has been part of the team since 2020. After graduating from the University of Birmingham with a BA (Hons) in English Literature, Ella is currently studying for an MA in Magazine Journalism at City University. She has a keen interest in current affairs and can usually be found reading the news, with her nose in a book (and updating her Goodreads), talking about women’s rights, or listening to Showtunes.