The 4th post in our Moving around London series, this time all about the tram. You can also read the previous articles about the tube, the train and the bus.
First some interesting triviaTrams started in London in 1860 and they were used all over. At first they were drawn by horses, and slowly they began being replaced by electric trams until there were no more horse trams in London by 1910. Trams were soon very popular, but with time and as the underground system and roads for buses got better their popularity went down. In 1952 they were taken out of circulation. In 2000 trams were started again by the council of Croydon. Some old tracks were repaired, some were created and others were modified. Over time the tram system (Tramlink) has expanded beyond Croydon to include Bromley, Merton and Sutton. Expansions to other places are in the works.
Tickets and faresLike all other forms of public transport, you always need to pay for the tram. If you don’t pay you can be fined or even end up in jail. Paying on the tram works the same as on the bus. Cash fares are not allowed, all trips cost the same and you need to touch in but not touch out (unlike the train or the underground). You can use an oyster card or a contactless card. If you have a travelcard that includes zones 3, 4, 5 or 6, or a buspass, the tram fare is included. If you pay with a contactless card the best fare will be worked out for you automatically. Children can travel for free (with or without an adult) until 11, and they don’t need to ‘touch in’. From 11 to 15 they can pay full fare or travel for free with a special Oyster photo card. From 16 to 18 they can pay a reduced fare with an Oyster photocard.
Opening timesTrams start at around 5 am and finish at midnight Monday to Saturday. On Sundays and holidays they start at different times depending on the route, some start as early as 4.55 am and others as late as 7.40, but they finish at the same time. There’s less frequency on Sundays and holidays as well, and planned engineering works usually take place on these days.
Top 5 tips for using the tram
- If you start your trip at Wimbledon you need to tap your card to enter the station and then again before entering the tram. If you don’t the system will think you used the underground or train and didn’t touch out and you will be charged the maximum fare.
- All tram stops and tram trains are accessible, so expect wheelchair users, elderly people and baby buggies on board. And give them the space they need.
- There are only 4 routes and they share many stops. Make sure you get on the correct route or you could end up going the opposite way.
- Don’t forget to touch in before you board. You can’t do it inside the train.
- Make sure you check the day before if you’re travelling on a Sunday or bank holiday. Times and frequency change, and sometimes there is no service.