What Are London's Best And Worst Value Public Transport Journeys?

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 22 months ago
What Are London's Best And Worst Value Public Transport Journeys?
Photo by Miss LH McKelvey from the Londonist Flickr pool

We all complain about how much it costs to get around London. But some journeys are better value than others — we've tried to work out which are the best and worst.

Worst value tube journey

We all know that Covent Garden to Leicester Square is the shortest journey on the tube network, a distance of 260m. A single cash fare between the two stations costs £4.90, working out at £18.84 per kilometre or £30.32 per mile if you haven't gone metric yet. Even if you use Oyster Pay As You Go it's £9.23 per kilometre (£14.85 per mile). What this tells us is that:
a) everyone really should have an Oyster card
b) for heaven's sake, just walk between Covent Garden and Leicester Square.

Best value tube journey

The longest journey between two tube stations is up there in the north west, between Chesham and Chalfont and Latimer on the Metropolitan line. The distance is 6.3km, which, if you travel off peak with your Oyster card, costs just £1.50. That's 23.8p per kilometre (38p per mile).

(Note: there are some journeys that you'd think would offer better value. For example: Beckton to Canning Town on the DLR costs £1.50 off peak and covers nine stations. We can't find an official distance for that route — we're sure someone knows, and will leave a comment. Google Maps reckons that to walk the approximate path is 6.3km, but that's with some detours. To keep it simple, we're looking at distances between single stations.)

The smart ones among you might have figured out that the longest possible journey would give you the best value. Epping to West Ruislip on the Central line is the longest direct journey on the tube network at 54.9km. To do that in one go, off peak, would cost £3.10 on your Oyster card. That's a bit over 5p per kilometre (8p per mile).

Bus stop on Putney Bridge.

Worst value bus journey

Tricky to come up with a definitive answer to this one, because we're looking for the shortest distance between two bus stops serving the same route. There are a series of stops on the southern end of Lewisham High Street we thought might be contenders — specifically the distance between Lewisham Park and Lewisham Hospital stops, at 139m apart.

But then we found a reference to two bus stops on Putney Bridge, which Google Maps measures at less than 100m apart. That's the equivalent of £15 per kilometre (£24.13 per mile).

Special mention goes to all the people who get the bus across London Bridge. We've seen you. We hope you're proud of yourselves.

Best value bus journey

The longest bus route in London is the X26, which runs from Heathrow to West Croydon station. Diamond Geezer puts the distance at 24.1 miles (38.8km), and we're not going to argue with him. Given that a bus fare is £1.50, that's 4p per kilometre (6p per mile).

Of course, now the one-hour bus hopper has arrived, allowing passengers to catch a second bus for free within an hour of touching in, this has all changed.

Redditor Harberton also says the longest bus route in London is the X26, which runs from Croydon to Heathrow.

Here's their plan: "Get on the second last N9 of the night at 04.45 from the Royal Albert Hall. This arrives at Heathrow Central Bus Station at 05.44. Quickly tap onto the first X26 at 05.45.

"This would be 23.75 miles on the X26 to Croydon plus about 13 miles on the N9. So that's almost 35 miles [56km]."

That works out at about 2.5p per km (just over 4p a mile).

There you have it — the best value public transport journey in London is by bus.

Last Updated 28 October 2016