London is a city that spans 1500 square kilometres and 32 boroughs, having grown over almost 2000 years into the city it is today. With 32 boroughs countless more districts, it’s unsurprising that locals and tourists alike have to rely on a variety of different transport networks to get around. Guests of the Montcalm Royal London House will be used to the tube stations and buses scattered across the city, and many locals are used to the rumble of railways not far from their homes.
These transport networks and government funded vehicles serve the city community and make sure that no guest is late to check in to their hotel or reach their reservation at Finsbury Square restaurants. Many of these modes of transport are historic, whilst others are relatively new to the scene. This blog will explore the one of a kind transport and vehicles that you’ll only find in London.
Double Decker Bus
Though you do find double decker buses in other cities across the globe, there’s something unique about the Routemaster series in London. For starters, most of them are red in colour, and have become an international symbol of London. The double decker has in fact been ins service since before cars even existed - double decker horse carriages ferried locals around London as far back as the 1820s. Nowadays, fleets of hybrid electric buses are taking precedence over the traditional petrol-guzzlers, but the aesthetic of the famous Routemaster is still much the same.
The London Underground consists of 12 lines and hundreds of miles of underground railway. The first underground rail network to ever be made, the London Underground dates back to 1863 with the launch of the Metropolitan Line. This original underground railway was built between Paddington and Farringdon, meaning that if the Montcalm hotels near London City had existed back then, you’d be able to reach it via this coal powered train line. That being said, the air quality ion the underground stations back then was far more unpleasant than it is today.
Docklands Light Railway
Though reserved for east London and dockalnd travellers, guests of the Montcalm spa hotels in London might have used this electric, driverless monorail service if they were travelling from London City Airport. Running through areas like Canary Wharf, the Isle of Dogs and as central as Bank in the City of London, the Docklands Light Railway was introduced in the late 80s and runs above ground over railway arches in the east of the city. It’s height above building level means that users will be spoilt with stunning views over the receveloped eastern districts.
IFS Cloud Cable Car
IFS Cloud Cable Car, formerly known as the Emirates Air Line, is a cable car service that again runs through the docklands area of East London. Though billed as a scenic and quick mode of commuter transportation, the areas it serves, the Royal Victoria Dock and the Greenwich Peninsula have less business districts around it and are more expensive to use than the DLR Line. That being said, the IFS Clud Cars are a brilliant way to see the cityscape from above the Thames, providing views over the O2 Arena and the Canary Wharf business district.
Founded in 1999, the Thames Clipper is a Thames ferry service that runs from east to west London, between Barking and Putney and passes much of Central London. In 2020, the company began operating its boats under sponsorship with taxi company Uber, rebranding the boats as “Uber Boat”. The Thames Clipper includes an observation platform and an inside seating area, and are an ideal way to see the riverside landmarks across London. You can pay for a trip on the Uber Boat using your contactless payment card or Oyster card, much like you would for the London Underground.
If it’s something a little faster you’re after, the Thames Rockets, specially renovated rescue boats-turned tourist boats are Rigid Inflatable Boats (RIBs) that you can book for sightseeing tours across the city. The Thames RIBs are mostly used as rescue and emergency boats on the Thames, but several have been repurposed to provide tourists with adrenaline fuelled sightseeing opportunities between the London Eye and the Thames Barrier.
London’s rent-a-bike service is available across Westminster and the City of London’s many docking stations. Numbering more than 700, these docking stations provide £2 per half hour city bikes that you can use across the expansive cycle path network. Just remember to return the bike to a docking station, or you may rack up a hefty bill!
The name of the London Borough and the taxi service itself are actually intertwined in their language roots. Some argue that Hackney comes from the French for a medium sized horse - a “haquenee”, and Hackney carriages were originally horse drawn carriages for hire. The term and the borough are synonymous with one another. It’s worth noting though, that Hackney Carriages today refer to the black coloured private hire ride services that operate around London and have done so since the late 19th century.
The Hackney Carriage differs from the Uber service that is also prevalent in London (it’s also pricier), and its drivers are famous for learning “the knowledge”, which requires them to learn all the routes around London without the use of satnav or maps.
Learn More At The London Transport Museum
You cna learn more about London’s transport history during a visit to the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden. This engaging museum consists of a warehouse teeming with vintage London vehicles, and offers insight into the history of London’s transport engineering, driving and infrastructure.