diamond geezer

 Wednesday, April 22, 2015

As a stalwart user of TfL services, you probably don't give a second thought to people using them for the first time. But visitors to our capital often find travel daunting, and TfL has a special wodge of tips, advice and special offers to help them get around.

If you're new here, TfL very much hope you'll find their Visiting London webpage before you arrive. As well as an embedded journey planner, the page leads with five prominent features that might be of interest to London Transport virgins. First off is a big splash announcing that buses in London are cash-free. This won't be news to you, but to those who've not been here in the last twelve months (or have never been) it may come as a surprise. Also, the emphasis on cashlessness allows TfL to push their important offer in panel number two - the Visitor Oyster card.

The Visitor Oyster card is just an ordinary Pay-as-you-go Oyster card, with the same daily caps and everything, but with a prettier pattern on the front. And it has two big advantages over a bog standard blue one, the first of which is that TfL will post it to you before you arrive. Decide how much cash you want on the thing (they recommend £15 for a weekend), stump up a £3 non-returnable 'activation fee' and it'll be on its way. This'll save you queuing up at the first station you reach when you arrive, which is important now that every ticket office is being terminated.

And secondly a Visitor Oyster card allows you to partake in special offers carefully curated by the folk at TfL Towers. These vary, but the current list (available here) includes 20% off your bill at Planet Hollywood, a free hot fudge sundae at the Hard Rock Cafe and 15% off at M&Ms World in Leicester Square. And OK, so these are tourist horrors to be avoided at all costs by discerning folk, but some of the other offers might have much more relevance to ordinary Londoners. 15% off purchases at the Foyles bookshop on the South Bank, for example, that could be damned useful. Or 25% off a Vinopolis tour, assuming you can get in before they close down. Or how about free entrance to a weekend night at the dogs at Wimbledon Greyhound Track (this also available to ordinary Oyster card holders, before you decide to trade yours in).

Panel 3 on the Visiting London webpage leads to a page for "Visitors and Tourists", with a choice of useful two pdfs. One of these is a special tube map I've never seen before. It's called the 'Small theatres tube and rail map', and shows all the railway lines in London along with all the theatres with under 400 seats. There are no West End classics here, but instead dozens of smaller independent venues which deserve our wider attention. There's the Cockpit near Marylebone and the Tricycle near Brondesbury, as well as the Compass near Ickenham and the Chickenshed near Cockfosters. The use of dotted lines to link each theatre to its nearest stations makes for a total mess in places, and is frequently entirely illegible. But I'd say this map (if done properly) is the sort of thing TfL ought to be promoting more strongly to a more local audience, because surely it's Londoners who'd be frequenting these small suburban theatres rather than fly-in fly-out tourists.



The second pdf is an 18 page visitor guide, called Hello London, and brings together all the tourist travel essentials in one place. It explains zones (the Harry Potter Studios are in Zone 9, apparently), gives start/finish times for various services, and urges you to use the Journey Planner to plan your journey. And there's a tube map, a riverboat map and a simplified bus map too, indeed if you downloaded this onto your tablet before you arrived in London you'd be in good shape. But although the brochure's dated 2015 it still manages to mention "Barclays Cycle Hire" on page 2, oops, so presumably it's not updated all that often.

Dig down and the 18 pages are littered with self-promotion. TfL are advising visitors to travel with them, sure, but also to consider travelling more widely on TfL's premium services. Boris's introduction on page 2 doesn't mention tubes and buses, for example, but does mention riverboats, the sponsored cablecar and sponsored hire bikes. The London Transport Museum gets a plug on page 3, as it should, and the capital's new bus gets a glamorous spin ("The New Routemaster bus featured in the James Bond flm ‘Skyfall’ and runs on routes 9, 11, 24, 38 and 390"). Meanwhile the cablecar and river boats get umpteen mentions throughout the document, including a starring role in a sample tourist itinerary on page 15, because the cablecar and riverboats are essentially tourist services so this brochure is their natural home.

Tucked further down the Visiting London webpage, beneath further panels promoting the cablecar and riverboats, are details of London's Visitor & Travel Information Centres. There are currently five of these, and by the end of the year they'll be the only places to go to find a TfL member of staff offering services behind a desk. Their focus isn't really travel, it's more being helpful and flogging stuff, like tickets to Madame Tussauds, coach tours, the London Eye and the top of the Shard. You'll find them at Piccadilly Circus, various central London termini and Heathrow, with VICs at Paddington, Euston and Gatwick Airport opening in the summer. The newly refreshed VIC at King's Cross is open now, in the entrance to St Pancras, replacing the ticket offices that closed down there at Easter. This gleaming facility has the look of an Argos collection point about it, all plastic panels and bright colours, with smiling staff poised at computer terminals, and the opportunity to browse a selection of gifts while you queue.



So as the summer season prepares to kick off, remember the humble London tourist. They get better Oyster cards than us, they get better-presented information than us, and they get secret maps the rest of us never see. They get ticket offices and we don't, because they spend more money than we do on expensive visitor attractions. And they get cablecars and riverboats rammed in their face, because we tend not to use them so there are plenty of seats. You may curse when one stands on the wrong side of the escalator in front of you, but their money probably helps keep your fares down, so be nice.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

What's on this weekend?
Sun 4 December (8am-10pm)
Tower Bridge fully closed
For one day only, cross the river by free passenger ferry!

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
city metric
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
london museums
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
The DG Tour of Britain
Comment Value Hierarchy

read the archive
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2015 index
diamond geezer 2014 index
diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv