London is a very big place, even for someone who lives in London I sometimes feel overwhelmed with the amount of different routes to get around whether that be by bus or the London Underground. For a tourist I can image this looks very complicated with all different colours of the rainbow signifying the different lines that connect different parts of London to each other as well as regions just outside of London such as Essex and West Sussex. Throughout the many years of travelling using all different kinds of transport, from a taxi to a train, I have made an essential list of apps to download for people visiting London. However, it can be also be used as a helping hand for people already living in London.
Price: Free (Uber is free to download, with first time users being able to get some discount or money off their first ride, but there is a charge when actually booking a taxi)
Uber is one of my favourite apps to use but my bank account would tend to disagree since it seems to be the reoccurring theme on my bank statements. Uber is primarily a taxi service but over time has developed into a food delivery business and has recently allowed users to rent an electric bike. The popularity of Uber isn't just in London but all parts of England as well as other countries across the globe including Finland, Germany and India. The main reason as to why I mention Uber in being a useful app to travel around London is because it's a cheap private taxi service which shows you a rough estimate as to what your price would be. However, it's important to note that during weekends and over public holidays there is an increased fare called a "surge". Surge pricing means for the user that their ride will cost increasingly more since there is a strong demand for an Uber at that time. On Christmas Eve I travelled from London Bridge to West Ham using Uber and was left with a £45 bill since there was a surge placed on my ride as it was Christmas Eve and lots of people were trying to get home in time for Christmas. Uber prides itself on safety, in which I can vouch for, when ordering an Uber I'm told who my driver will be as well as their number plate. When ordering an Uber from home I have a map on screen through the Uber app and can see when the Uber will be coming down my road, I can then check the license plate and then the driver will then go on to ask "Is this an Uber for Emily?". Additionally, there are different types of Uber's that you can get, the cheapest is called Pool, in which you share the ride and fare with other people and the most expensive being Executive with the price tag and model of car representing this. The most common and reasonably priced choice of Uber is UberX in which is a standard Uber that is for the individual only. While in the Uber you can see a map of where you're going and also see your estimated time of arrival, this changing depending on traffic but it's updated in real time. Through the app you can see your drivers rating as well as his profile. which include any compliments from other users and any achievements.
Price: Free (Santander Cycles is a free app to download but charges the user when they hire a bike)
Santander Cycles was introduced by Boris Johnson, a previous Mayor of London, which was a cheaper and healthier alternative than using public transport. It's also a way to tackle and reduce the rising level of pollution in London, with it being expanded continuously with more bikes and docking stations being built. At the moment there are nearly 14,000 Santander Cycles in London which are left at over 800 docking stations all around London. The app allows the user to plan their route and find any bikes nearby with docking station information such as how many bikes are there at the moment. Through the app the user can also set up a form of payment towards using the bikes, which can be done at the docking station, but this saves time and is more efficient. To hire a bike it costs £2 for the first 24 hours, with journeys up to 30 minutes being completely free, if a journey goes over this time then it is an extra £2. It's important to remember that any damaged bikes or if the bike isn't returned at all then you could be faced with a hefty bill which can be up to £300. Through the app the user can also see their distance and activity, which also includes the price of each specific journey. When booking a bike through the app the user will be sent a code in which in turn will be used to unlock the bike when they arrive (each code only lasts 10 minutes and is specific to the docking station picked by the user).
Price: Free (Tube Map is a free app on the condition that the user allow adverts to be on the page, if they want to remove adverts it's £3.99. Additional features such as showing which carriages to get on to be next to the tube exits for each individual station is £3.99)
Tube Map is a navigation app in which allows the user to plan their journey around London by using the London Underground. It's proven useful since it's had over 15 million downloads by users, including myself, that praise it for being helpful and efficient. It can be used online and offline, with the usefulness being when on the tube it can be used without any service or WiFi - something that London Underground have yet to implement. The app allows the user to select what time of the day their using the tube, with the standard tube routes being available during the day but restricted routes at night due to the night tube. Tube Map finds the quickest route to get to your chosen destination as well as offering a route with fewer changes. The two options allows the user to pick their own route based on factors such as time and if the user wants to do part of their journey on foot. Other options are featured through the app such as if the user would like to get a bus instead as well as offering the option of an Uber, with the price and time of journey included. Tube Map has now implemented an option to see the rail services throughout London, making this an app that really does have everything you need. The best part is that this app is completely free, for everything you get this is a obvious choice of app to download.
Price: Free (Bus Times is a free app on the condition that the user allow adverts to be on the page)
Bus Times is an app that explains itself, it shows the different bus times for each individual bus stop in London. It goes beyond just this though, with each individual bus stop showing when each bus will arrive as well as the different stops it will go to on its journey. If I'm waiting for a bus that is in 2 minutes, I can click on the option to see how long it will take to get to a specific stop, with the app being updated within real time and considering traffic and if there are any diversions or delays. By allowing the app to use my location it means that I can see bus stops in my area as well as being able to see where their destination is. If the user uses a certain bus stop frequently, such as using it to travel to work or for leisure purposes, they can save that specific bus timetable for a specific bus stop, making it easy to find if in a rush. Bus Times, like Tube Map, shows different transport methods and their status. If I was planning to get a bus to a certain station and then to get a tube then I would be able to see if the line has any closures as well as the status of the service at that current time. While playing around with the app I found a feature called Traffic Cams in which allow you to see the different cameras facing towards a specific street around you. This is updated every 45 seconds and I assume that this is used for people to see how much traffic there is at that very moment. Regardless, for an app that is completely free how can anyone complain.
Price: Free (RingGo is completely free to use but when you select to park in a specific location the user will then pay through the payment section of the app)
Even though I don't drive this app has been used by numerous family members and even some of my friends. Parking in London is a literal nightmare to the point where I've probably spent an embarrassing amount of time being in the passenger seat shouting "THERE'S A SPACE!" to then be humiliated when someone else takes it. Using this app myself has helped myself and others plan where to park since when coming up to a destination the app will tell me if the area is quiet, moderate or busy. In most cases if a parking zone is busy then we will completely avoid it to save time and money rather than driving around to try and find a space to park. Through the app the user can also pay for their parking by their debit or credit card, this saving the effort of getting out and going to a meter to then fumble around your pockets to then realise you don't have the last 20p needed. This app is primarily for users in London but has started to branch out to over 400 towns and cities across the UK. A really useful feature is a notification on the users phone when their parking is about to end, since in some cases some people may only park at a certain location for only a few hours. Furthermore, if I received a notification saying my parking was about to run out then from the comfort of my own phone I'd be able to extend my parking session.
TFL Oyster and Contactless
Price: Free (TFL Oyster and Contactless is free to use but if the user wants to top up their Oyster then this will cost the user depending on how much they would like to top up with)
When travelling in London the main form of payment is by using an Oyster card since buses don't take money anymore and to get onto the London Overground you would either need a ticket or to use an Oyster card that has money on it. TFL Oyster and Contactless allows the user to see their balance on their Oyster card and from there and allows the user to top it up from their bank card. This can then be able to collect 30 minutes after the initial top up (which is done by tapping the Oyster card on a yellow card reader when travelling). An Oyster card can also be topped up with different forms of passes which could be a 7 Day Travelcard which covers Zone 1 or an Annual Travelcard with Zones 1 to 5 covered. The app shows you your current balance, which notifies you if your balance falls lower than the cost of a journey, with the option to top up through the app. My favourite part of the app is the feature which shows recent journeys taken and the time in which these were taken. The app goes into further detail by even telling the user what their start balance was and then what they spent on that journey. Not only can I see my most recent journey but go back weeks to see what journeys I've taken throughout the month, this helps me plan how much to budget on travel for the next month (according to what I spent on the previous month).
Tips and tricks for what to do in London as well as travelling around it.