Monday, April 8, 2013

London's Transportation System: Introduction

As with many large cities the transportation system of London is multi-faceted. The Transport of London (TfL) is the executive agency tasked with overseeing and managing the publicly owned transportation lines including, the Underground (London’s subway system) or the ‘Tube’, the London buses, Tramlink, Docklands Light Railway (which provides primarily east London), and the London Overground Transport.

Regarding connectivity and use, the Underground serves to connect the city center with surrounding suburbs. With 11 lines radiating out from the central city it provides access to an estimated 3 million passengers a day. The London Buses are largely responsible for inner city connections and while they are under TfL management they are operated under private five-year contracts. The Tramlink chiefly provides connection from southern London to the central city. Docklands Light Railway mostly serves the Docklands areas of east London. Lastly, the London Overground works to provide direct relief to the Underground system. A heavy rail system which, like the bus network, is under TfL management but operated by a number of private contracts is predominantly a large circular route around the City with a few radial branch lines to adjacent suburban areas.

The TfL also manages the aerial tram system connecting North Greenwich and the Royal Docks as well as the bikes for hire scheme allowing greater access to the extensive bikeway infrastructure.

All of these options work in concert with the 2003 enactment of the Congestion charge, also introduced by the TfL. The intention of the Congestion charge is to ultimately, via charging (originally 5, then 8 and now 10 pounds) motorists for access to designated areas of central London during peal hours, dissuade continued increases in motor-vehicle use within the city center, and strengthen alternative transportation uses.


  1. I'm fascinated by the Overground network. Can anyone think of other examples of suburban "ring" transit? I'll look forward to hearing more about it and how it's performing when we get to the transit section.

  2. Paris is moving forward with a historic addition to its already impressive Metro - 200 km of new wholly-automated metro lines with 72 new stations that connect the outer suburbs of Paris with the Ile-de-France. It's an amazing (possibly fiscally unwise) twenty-seven billion euro investment in the poorer areas of the French capital. This is believed to significantly reduce congestion and give these areas a decent alternative to the car as well as the overtaxed line 14.

    Yonah Freemark from, commented that some of these lines seemed like they would encourage more exurban development than urban connectivity due to their very rural nature. Indeed, in reading about this, I was shocked to find out the densities that some of these Parisian suburbs have: 17,000 per square mile and the city center has upwards of 78,000! That's incredible. This won't open until 2030, but it will be fascinating to watch.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.