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L is for London Transport
In every other part of the country distances are measured in miles. In London, however, distances are measured in minutes*.
* Visitors to London should note that distances on the Underground are measured in ‘Tube minutes’. These are approximately 40% longer than normal minutes so that, for example, when the train indicator board suggests that the next train is due in 3 minutes, it will more probably turn up in 5.
Five miles along a motorway in the Midlands may take less than five minutes, but five miles across London can take a lifetime of traffic jams, one-way systems, waiting on platforms and changing trains. In London no form of transport, be it train, bus or car, is permitted to travel for more than two minutes without stopping at a station, in a tunnel, at a bus stop or at traffic lights.
Thankfully these endless delays create less stress for London residents rather than more. Should you arrive at your office 45 minutes late in the morning after a catalogue of travel disasters, everyone else just nods and goes back to their work, because exactly the same thing has happened to them 3 times in the past month. In offices outside London however, where there are no traffic jams and people are deemed to be in total control of their travel options, there is far more pressure to be at work on time.
Is your journey really necessary? If so, here are some of the alternative options:
Aeroplane: Rather inconveniently, London’s main international airports aren’t actually in London, except for London City Airport, which isn’t actually in the City. No wonder tourists always look lost.
Bicycle: Ideal for slipping between the traffic, but also unfortunately underneath it as well.
Eurostar: The new Channel Tunnel Rail Link will decrease journey times but, more importantly, ensure that foreign visitors’ first view of the capital will no longer be rows of grim South London slums.
Helicopter: The only way to travel about town when one’s chauffeur requests the day off.
Motorcycle: A great way to beat the traffic, except that the insurance costs more than the bike.
Platform 9¾: A highly successful bandwagon leaves Kings Cross from here once a year. Well, maybe next year.
Rickshaw: A new addition to some West End streets, ideal for Peking out of.
River: The excellent Thames riverboat service goes right through the middle of the capital, the views are excellent and there are are no jams, but sadly there are also no passengers.
Skateboard: The ultimate ‘kewl’ mode of transport, but only for 13-year-olds, only from the concrete on one side of the Royal Festival Hall to the other, and only if Mum lets them out for the afternoon.
Taxi: Cabbies have to train for years gathering an intimate knowledge of the back streets of London, so that on gaining their licence they know how to take tourists the long way to their destination. With it being impossible to learn every single London street name in less than ten years, the ‘Knowledge’ only covers streets north of the Thames, which is why cabbies always refuse to take you south of the river.
Tram: Once a familiar sight in central London, trams have just made a big comeback in Croydon. Following this success, await the introduction of the Hounslow Horse and Cart, the Chingford Chariot, the Stratford Stagecoach, the Woolwich Coracle, the Hackney Carriage and the Clapham Omnibus.