Lesson 1 : Patience
You never know when you will be stuck at a bus stop...waiting... stuck on a train platform ...waiting.... stuck underground on a hot, muggy tube ...waiting ... diverted to a different station in order to wait for another route to open up. A strong public transport system definitely has its upsides but it also has its downsides as well and you have to learn very quickly to roll with the punches and be flexible with your schedule at all time. London has always been a leader in the public transport arena with the oldest underground train network in the world that was first built in 1863 and while that makes them pioneers, it also makes their network REALLY old.
Lesson 2 : Silence
There is nothing stranger then being packed on a commuter train with hundreds of other people so tight that you can't even move and it being so quiet that you can hear a pin drop. No one talks or makes any noise on these trains and it is so strange to be in such close proximity with so many people and not hear a single word spoken from any of them.
Lesson 3 : Never take the stairs up from the Covent Garden tube
I always try to opt to take stairs when there is an option versus taking a lift. I made this crucial mistake at the Covent Garden tube station once when I saw a sign that said there were 193 stairs to street level from the underground. Honestly, it didn't sound like that much at the time but about halfway up you realise the horrible mistake you have made! Later I found out that climbing these 193 stairs is the equivalent of going up a 15 storey building. Well, trust me, that is good information to have so I'm sharing with all of you.
Lesson 4 : Always stand on the right
Nothing drives locals nuts more then tourists who stand on the left hand side of the escalators in the tube stations. Standing is on the right and the left is to be open and available for those who chose to keep walking up/down the steps. This is a well oiled machine for commuters who are on these transports every day and God help you if you get in their way.
Lesson 5 : Free reading materials
There are no lack of free papers in the stations throughout London and you will find them everywhere. I'm also becoming a fan of the magazine that they are shoving at you each week called the Short List.
Lesson 6 : Do not press your ticket against your phone
So those that know me, probably know I'm one of the most clumsy people on the planet and I'm not great at juggling my bag, my phone and my tickets on the best of days so they often end up all in the same hand. Unfortunately, if you put your ticket against your mobile phone it de-activates the strip for the electronic readers in all the stations. For the rest of the day, you'll be flagging down the workers to show them your ticket manually and begging them to open the gates so you can make your train. I still do it every time I travel, so I guess this lesson is still a work in progress.
Lesson 7 : Mind the gap
Mind the gap was adopted in 1969 as the warning for the Transport for London at all trains / tube stops to warn passengers to watch their step getting off and on the trains. How do I know this fun fact? I goggled it of course! I googled it originally not because I was curious what year the phrase was adopted but because I was curious how many people fell into the gap before the warning had to be posted EVERYWHERE you go! I guess some people just need to be reminded that it's not a good idea to put your foot into an empty space between a train and platform that will cause you to fall several feet onto a track below a fast moving train.