Transport

Getting to visit all the tourist attractions in London is made easy by the capital's famous red buses, black taxis and the London Underground - also known as 'the tube'. The first 'tube' railway in the world opened in 1870 and was a cable-operated car which ran through a subway between Tower Hill and Bermondsey. From this small beginning the nine lines and 275 stations of the present system now make up one of the largest electric underground railways in the world. The Underground is the quickest and most efficient way to get around the capital and there is almost always an Underground station close at hand throughout London.

Following on from the Parisian precedent, a regular omnibus service was first seen in London in 1829. The first horse drawn omnibuses seated 22 passengers and they were finally withdrawn in 1916 after the first gas-driven bus was introduced in 1910. The large tram network of the late 19th and early 20th centuries was succeeded by trolley-buses, then eventually gas-driven buses gave way to today's diesel engine vehicles. The indomitable London red bus is not only one of the most famous in the world but also one of the safest, having to undergo very rigorous safety tests.

Like the New York yellow cabs, the black London taxi with its distinctive shape is instantly recognizable. Taxis are a salvation for those who get lost and are a godsend in the early hours when the main transport systems have shut down. London cabbies are very experienced and know their way about - they have to undergo 'The Knowledge', a test to make sure they know London inside out before they can obtain their licence. Taxis can be called by telephone but they can also be hailed in the street if they are displaying their illuminated 'For Hire' sign.

Another way to travel in London is by water transport. Thames riverboat services are becoming ever more popular with visitors and commuters alike. The Thames perhaps isn't exploited in this way as much as it should be, but a very pleasant stretch of water is the Regent's Canal, which was opened in 1820. Starting from Little Venice, which forms the junction of the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal and the Regent's Canal, it runs into Limehouse Basin. Passing through Regent's Park, the stretch between Little Venice and Camden Town follows the Outer Circle round the park's northern and western perimeters and is always busy with leisure traffic in the summer. Pleasure boat trips are available from the Zoological Gardens to Little Venice.