The United Kingdom has a developed and varied transport network. It also has a long transport history, with the first steam locomotive invented and developed in Great Britain in the early 19th century.
In 1952, Britain saw a huge increase in car use and resulted in buses declining and train transport innovation moving more slowly, which is why Britain’s public transport is currently falling behind some of Europe’s public transport leaders such as France or Germany.
However, in recent years, a huge investment has taken place in public transport infrastructure, most notably in big cities, such as the Manchester tram network. In the 1980s much public transport was privatised and means that prices can vary per company you use and per city.
Britain currently offers a wide range of transport choice, most notably in its big cities, public transport includes:
- Boats and Ferries
- Car hire
- Newer forms of transport such as public bike hire
Aircrafts in the United Kingdom
The United Kingdom hosts many national and international airports. Most British cities have their airport, which serves local, regional, and international flights. Aircraft is one of the fastest means of transport and the most convenient if you are on a business trip in the UK. Some airlines offer discount prices on air tickets during certain periods.
Good to know: local or international flights must be booked in advance.
Ryan Air www.ryanair.com
Easy Jet www.easyjet.com
British Airways www.britishairways.com
Atlantic Airways www.atlantic.fo
Eastern Airways www.easternairways.com
Virgin Atlantic www.virgin-atlantic.com
Thomas Cook Airlines thomascookairlines.com
Trains, trams, and the underground in the UK
The United Kingdom's railway network is highly developed, connecting different cities to one another. Several private companies run the national and regional trains, offering comfortable and regular trains. For cheaper tickets, advance booking is required, but you can buy tickets on the day of travel. Prices are affordable but vary hugely between regions and companies.
If you are under 26, you can apply for a young person’s travel card to travel for a discounted price across the country. Pensioners also enjoy free travel within their region and discounted travel nationally.
If you are commuting daily to the same location, a monthly or yearly travel pass is recommended to save you money. Travel pass rates depend on the area and the company you are using. For example, in London, the Oyster card includes all forms of public transport, however many other cities and towns have monthly cards for one form of transport only.
The Eurostar links the United Kingdom and France (Paris and Lille) and takes approximately three hours to arrive at the heart of each respective city.
Buses in the United Kingdom
The bus is the most economical means of transport in the United Kingdom, but not necessarily the fastest. The country has many private bus companies serving different cities as well as nationwide. British buses are comfortable and regular. Rates vary per city and distance. Tickets can be purchased on board, at the bus station, or online.
For long journeys, you can check out the bus schedules, and proceed with advance booking.
List of Local bus service providers www.traveline.info
National Express www.nationalexpress.com
Easy Bus www.easybus.co.uk
City Link www.citylink.co.uk
Cook Coaches www.cookscoaches.co.uk
Boats and ferries in the UK
You can travel to England from most European cities (and vice versa) by ferry. The most regular services are from France to the Southern England. You can travel by ferry to visit Northern Ireland or to reach the northern parts of Scotland.
You can also travel by boat from one region to another along the many canals, which is a holiday form of transport and not advised if you need to arrive somewhere quickly.
Rates vary but tend to be more expensive than other means of transport. If you decide to travel by ferry, you can also ship your car or motorcycle.
P&O Ferries www.poferries.com
Britanny Ferries www.brittany-ferries.co.uk
Condor Ferries www.condorferries.co.uk
LD Lines ldlines.co.uk
Canal travel www.canalcruising.co.uk
Taxis in the United Kingdom
You will find many different taxi companies in different British cities, ensure that when you hire a taxi that the company is registered. If you hail a taxi in the street, ensure that they have a tax registration number which is usually located in the passenger area of the vehicle.
Although only a precautionary measure, it is always prudent to ask for an approximate price based on where you are travelling to, this means a taxi driver is less likely to hike up the price because you are not local to the area.
Uber is a new form of transport, basically a transport app for your smartphone that is a lot cheaper and easier than the more tradition taxi companies. The taxi drivers also come with ratings and you receive a price estimate before you accept any journey.
Rent a car in the United Kingdom
You can also rent a car if you prefer to travel alone or with family. However, you must be in possession of a valid driver's license. You will find car rental companies in all British cities, including airports. Note that the rental agency will ask you to subscribe to damage insurance. Moreover, most of them provide emergency assistance.
Carpooling is also becoming a popular way to commute to work or travel in the United Kingdom.
Good to know:
You must be at least 23 years old to be authorised to rent a car in the United Kingdom.
Bike hire in the United Kingdom
Many UK cities are now creating new bike lanes and paths, to make cycling a safer and more enjoyable travel choice and to encourage people to cycle more and ditch their cars where possible. You can rent or buy bikes from companies throughout the country at relatively affordable rates.
London is leading the way in eco-friendly public transport and, like most European capitals, has set up a public bike rental service across the city, affectionately called ‘Boris Bikes’ after the Mayor who set up the system. The bike sharing culture has been growing and is currently present in several other UK cities, but is growing a lot slower than in places such as Denmark or Belgium.