How to navigate London during a tube strike

Driving in London during a tube strike might sound intimidating, but with a bit of planning, it can be surprisingly efficient.

london underground sign

If you, like millions of other Londoners, rely on the Tube to get you to work or your evening plans, you may need to find an alternative method of travel for the upcoming TfL strike. The recently announced strike will affect all London Underground lines on October 4 and October 6, causing massive disruptions across the city.

While there may be some added logistics required, you can still get in and out of the city through various other modes of transit. Consider the below for your commutes that week:

1. Consider carpooling with colleagues

Driving in London during a tube strike might sound intimidating, but with a bit of planning, it can be surprisingly efficient.

a. Plan your route and know what to expect:

  • Use GPS apps like Waze or Google Maps to find the quickest routes.
  • You might not be able to avoid congestion charge zones, but be aware extra charges may apply; especially when commuting in central areas.

b. Reap the benefits of carpooling with colleagues, friends or through a ride-sharing app:

  • Sharing a ride with colleagues or fellow commuters is a good way split costs and reduce on-street traffic, but you won't want to leave it until the night before to start asking for favours or planning morning pick-ups.
  • There are a growing number of apps like BlaBlaCar that allow for easy coordination between passengers and drivers. Be aware that since this is only just starting to be adopted in the UK, there may be limited options available during your specified time slots or city needs.

2. Book your parking ahead of time and drive in

Hunting for a parking spot in London can be a not-so-fun adventure, with massive congestion and a lack of availability in traditional car parks. But reserving a space ahead of time will guarantee you a spot and likely save you time and money as well.

a. Pre-book your parking space:

  • Avoid having to wake up extra-early to nab one of the last spaces near your office and simply reserve a space ahead of time through JustPark. Booking in advance only takes a few seconds and you can do it through the website or app on iOS and Android.

b. Customise your search for whatever you need:

  • Besides the ability to book your space for a set time, you can also filter for more specific needs:
  • large vehicles
  • disabled access
  • gated security
  • longer-term or monthly rolling spaces
  • electric vehicle charging capability

3. Use other forms of public transit — although they will be busy

While the tube might be down, London's extensive public transport network still has plenty to offer through other train networks, buses and the Overground.

a. Tap onto your nearest bus route:

  • London buses can be a reliable and cost-friendly option during tube strikes.
  • Apps like CityMapper or London Live Bus Times can also be a lifesaver when trying to get real-time updates on routes.
  • Remember, you don't need an Oyster card to ride buses (although you might get a discounted ride with one) — contact-free payments on most major cards are accepted.

b. Get on the Overground:

  • The Overground network covers many parts of London and can be a tube strike lifesaver. It's worth noting these will be busier than normal and will likely have longer wait times than normal.

c. Rent a bike and cycle:

  • Consider using one of London's bike-sharing schemes like Lime, Santander, or e-scooters to bridge the gaps.

4. Try your best to stay flexible

During a tube strike, you're going to have to accept that some routes will take much longer or will be less accessible during that time period. You can take a few approaches to reduce the stress of the inconvenience:

a. Work from home (if you can):

  • If your work allows for it, discuss remote work options with your employer for the applicable days. While this may not be an option for all, it may help to alleviate congestion and free up other options such as busses and Overground services for those who need it.

b. Explore alternate routes:

  • Be ready to adapt and test out different combinations of routes based on what's available. You may have the be prepared for longer walking times between bus stops, or paying a little bit extra for other train networks. You can easily view which trains are running on Trainline, or can consider parking at a train station and completing your journey into London by rail.

c. Keep informed from official sources:

5. Prepare for longer commutes

Lastly, prepare yourself for busier buses, longer walks or possible reroutes.

a. Pack essentials:

  • Charge those AirPods and bring your go-to snack for the journey since wait times and walking distances will likely be longer than the usual commute.

b. Know where to go:

  • You probably have your journey mapped out relatively well at this point, but you might also find yourself in an unexpected situation of needing to use a public toilet when on your journey. When Tube stations fail and there isn't a nearby coffee shop, use this crowdsourced map to find what you need.

Whether you're carpooling, using public transport alternatives, or pre-booking parking with JustPark, you'll conquer the obstacles of a closed tube network with no problem.

Now you're ready to journey ahead in navigating London's hustle and bustle, even when the tube takes a breather!

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Journeys are simpler with a dedicated space, just for you.

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