T’is the season for cheap tickets as airlines struggle on in these economically fraught times. British Airways, the latest airline to slash ticket prices, is offering return fares from Jo’burg to London for R5602, for travel between 24 – 27 December outbound and back by 31 January. If you have kids, they qualify, apparently, for a 75% discount. Pity it’s mid-winter, but you can’t have everything, now can you?
London’s Circle Line railway, which for years has been notorious for slow running and endless service delays, will soon be history. Read More…
Britain’s airport operator BAA has sold Gatwick Airport south of London for £1.51 billion to Global Infrastructure Partners, an investment fund that also owns London City airport.
Six thousand miles away on the balmy coast of KwaZulu-Natal, another international airport is also up for sale, only the buyer probably won’t be interested in flying planes. Read More…
It’s been an entertaining week for the London Underground, what with all the broohaha over the central planners dumping the River Thames from the Tube map and then Lord Mayor Boris Johnson ordering them to put it back.
While this was all going down, so to speak, The Telegraph has been having a bit of fun by collecting all the alternative Tube maps , ranging from maps that show which stations have toilets (above) to one in which curses and filthy invective replace the original station names. There’s one of anagrams and another which shows you where it would be quicker to walk.
One of the best, though, is how the map would have looked if Germany had won the war (and not just the peace).
Boris Johnson has ordered Transport for London to put the River Thames back on the map of the London Underground when the new maps are printed at the end of the year.
Johnson, who came back from the US to a furore after transport planners dropped the river and zone information from the new maps to make them less cluttered, said on the London mayoral Twitter feed: “Can’t believe that the Thames disappeared off the tube map whilst I was out the country! It will be reinstated…”
According to The Telegraph, TfL confirmed that the river would re-appear on the next batch of maps but that the organisation remianed “committed” to de-cluttering the map.
In what looks like a textbook case of meddling for meddling’s sake, the River Thames and the various zones have been dropped from the new London Undergound maps, the biggest revision since draughtsman Harry Beck first created the map in the 1930s.
The omission has caused a predictable flurry amongst Londoners and the Tube’s faithful and ardent admirers, of whom there are many more than one might have expected.
For one thing, without the Thames on the map, it’s going to be much harder for those new to London to say exactly where they are in the city, although as one poster on Flickr drily notes, how many Tube stations can you see the river from?
In fact, you’re on a hiding to nothing if you try and use the Tube map as a reference to your above-ground wanderings, as anyone who’s tried will tell you. Harry Beck designed the map to show the Underground lines, not London’s surface, which may be one reason why every day one finds tourists hopping off the Northern Line at Picadilly Circus to catch a Picadilly Line train to Covent Garden, a distance of a few hundred feet and one which would be infinitely quicker to walk.
Losing the zone information is more of an issue because these determined the fares. Of course, most Londoners are travelling on pre-paid Oyster cards these days which sort of makes the zones irrelevant as well.
Which leaves us with the original question unanswered: why did the transport people do it?
Is this the end of the world as we knew it?
Those who have iPhones (or Nokias or Samsungs…) say ‘yes’. Those Luddites who like the printed word say ‘forget it’. I used to lean toward the latter because I love the heft of a big book in my hands.
These days, though, I am beginning to yearn for the speed and portability of something like a sweet and fast and deadly travel app on a slim, little phone.
A British jounalist took the iPhone on a jaunt around London last week and tried out a couple of the travel apps on his iPhone. I could be a convert.
Whatever else you might think, this is the future of travel guides. And we need it here, now.
London is a city made for cycling. There are few hills of any consequence, there are cycle paths everywhere and, thanks to the congestion charge on visiting motorists, which helped reduce traffic clogging the heart of the capital, it’s a little bit safer these days to get around on a bicycle. Read More…
Some, no, many Londoners hate it. The British press is quick to stick their knives when they can. It’s hot. It’s crowded. The trains burrow like moles under the earth, wheel flanges shrieking against the rails on tight curves. It stinks. The air is fetid. Or cold. Or damp.
And it works. Try and catch public transport across Johannesburg to see just how bad it could be. Read More…