Skip To Content

    25 Essential Tube Hacks From Londoners

    Make the hell that is your daily tube journey that little bit more tolerable.

    by ,
    Patrick Smith / BuzzFeed

    1. If you're wondering whether it's quicker to walk – it often is.

    Transport for London/Tom Phillips/BuzzFeed

    This is a map of tube journeys in central London showing journeys of more than one stop that it's probably quicker to walk, depending how quickly you walk.

    Diamond Geezer has a comprehensive list of all the central London journeys, and this by Rod McLaren has several larger maps which cover the whole tube network (such as Paddington to Lancaster Gate and Bayswater to Queensway).

    2. If you ever find yourself on a VERY busy platform and it looks like you'll never get on, there is an answer...

    Flickr: qsimple / Creative Commons

    3. It's a good idea to know where the toilets are.

    Transport for London / Via tfl.gov.uk

    TFL has a handy map (PDF) of every tube station that has toilet facilities either inside it or in the same complex (e.g. the toilets in a National Rail station). Remember, though, that it might still take you a while to find them once you've got off the train.

    4. And to know where the stairs are.

    Transport for London / Via tfl.gov.uk

    Using the tube is often a nightmare for anybody with limited mobility – but if you do need to avoid stairs, TFL has this guide to stations that are accessible without using stairs.

    As a general rule: East London is better served than west, the more recently built Jubilee line and DLR stations are almost all accessible, and you're forced to avoid most of the Central line. There are more accessibility resources from TFL here.

    5. If you ever thought tube station signs were lying to you... you're right, they are! This video from Tom Scott and Matt Parker shows how and why.

    View this video on YouTube

    youtube.com

    As the video points out, it's to avoid overcrowding at the busiest times.

    6. If you're in a rush or you don't have an Oyster card...

    Flickr: anniemole

    So don't bother queuing at the ticket machine – if you use contactless over seven days you'll pay the same as a weekly travelcard.

    7. If you need an audio description of tube maps and routes – TFL has them.

    w.soundcloud.com

    8. Be wary of the worst stations to change at.. and avoid them.

    Flickr: 29108968@N06 / Creative Commons

    These are classic stations to avoid changing at. And Diamond Geezer (again) has a list of the tube's shortest and longest interchanges.

    9. Know your tube line speeds: The Piccadilly beats the District between Acton Town and Earl's Court, and the Victoria beats the Piccadilly between King's Cross and Finsbury Park.

    Flickr: garrettc / Creative Commons

    This great blog post from Geoff Marshall (creator of the Station Master app – see more on that below) has more details on these routes and more.

    10. If you're pregnant, make sure you get a badge.

    Flickr: acme / Creative Commons

    You can get a special, TFL-branded "Baby on board" badge for free by emailing them – it can help counter the awkwardness of asking people to give up a seat (although the rest is up to the good manners of Londoners, obviously).

    Patrick Smith / BuzzFeed

    11. If you want to get off the tube at EXACTLY the right exit for your onward journey, there's an app for that.

    Flickr: londonmatt / Creative Commons

    Not much beats the satisfaction of getting off the tube right by the exit you want. Luckily, the Tube Exits app for iOS will tell you exactly which carriage and door you need to get on at for this to happen, as does the even more comprehensive Station Master app. If you're on Android, the London Tube Assistant app is a good alternative.

    12. If that's not enough, there's an app that tells you all the best tube station shortcuts.

    Flickr: tompagenet / Creative Commons

    Again, the Station Master iOS app has even has 3D maps of the stations, so you can spot the shortcuts that the signs don't want you to take.

    Patrick Smith / BuzzFeed

    13. If you get the Victoria line to King's Cross and you need a national rail connection, you might be tempted to follow this "Trains" sign. But don't!

    Instead, go towards the "Way out"/Euston Road exit and you'll find a much quicker route that way.

    youtube.com

    And if you're going to the Victoria line from the mainline station, don't follow the signs – instead head for the Circle, Metropolitan, and Hammersmith & City lines, then take the escalator straight down from the ticket hall.

    14. And still at King's Cross, if you want a quick way to the Northern line, break the rules and use the northern ticket hall.

    Flickr: tompagenet / Creative Commons / Via Twitter: @tswyatt
    Patrick Smith / BuzzFeed

    15. For a quick way to get to the DLR at Bank, follow the Northern line signs.

    Flickr: tompagenet / Creative Commons / Via Twitter: @davelee

    16. That tip works when changing to or from the Central and Circle/District lines too.

    Tom Phillips/BuzzFeed

    Outside peak commuting hours, it's much quicker to follow the Northern line signs and then head to your desired line (but don't use it during rush hour, as it goes via the platforms and so you will both cause and be slowed down by overcrowding).

    Patrick Smith / BuzzFeed

    17. This fabulous tip will save you minutes of agonising feet shuffling.

    Flickr: jaggers / Creative Commons / Via Twitter: @geofftech
    Patrick Smith / Holborn

    18. If you want to change from the Central to the Piccadilly at Holborn, be a rebel.

    flickr.com / Creative Commons / Via Twitter: @andypars
    Patrick Smith / BuzzFeed

    19. If you're changing at Camden Town, make sure you use the tunnel at the south of the platform (so, back of the train if you're going north, front if you're going south).

    Flickr: dgmckelvey / Creative Commons

    As Geoff Marshall again points out, this is faster than the main interchange between branches, with the platform indicator, where there's always a huge crowd of people.

    Patrick Smith / BuzzFeed

    20. DO NOT be tempted by the stairs at Russell Square.

    Flickr: grange85 / Creative Commons / Via Twitter: @Ned_Donovan
    Patrick Smith / BuzzFeed

    21. If you're waiting for a Bakerloo train to go from Edgware Road to Baker Street, it's quicker to walk.

    google.co.uk!4m14!4m13!1m5!1m1!1s0x48761ab42be4c56b:0xea21dc822667c51c!2m2!1d-0.16781!2d51.51986!1m5!1m1!1 / Via Twitter: @ellenRstewart
    Patrick Smith / BuzzFeed

    22. If you need to get the Northern line all the way across Central London... just don't. The Victoria line is quicker.

    Flickr: osde-info / Creative Commons
    TfL/BuzzFeed

    If you're going all the along the Northern line without getting off in Zone 1, change at Stockwell and Euston and take the Victoria line instead – it covers the same distance much faster. Then just change back to the Northern line at the other end.

    23. And if you're travelling north-south, the Thameslink is very handy (and quick) too.

    Flickr: clayton_douglas / Creative Commons / Via Twitter: @joncstone
    Patrick Smith / BuzzFeed

    24. Sometimes it's faster to get a regular train than the underground.

    Flickr: jaggers / Creative Commons / Via Twitter: @Ned_Donovan

    25. And if all else fails, just give this a try.

    @psmith elbowing/punching all others out of the way #tubehack

    Via Twitter: @Julia_White

    BuzzFeed Daily

    Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!

    Newsletter signup form