Getting around the UK

Public transport

The UK has a fantastic public transport network that serves most areas during both peak (rush hour; normally (6:30 am to 9:30 am and 4:30 pm to 7:30 pm) and off-peak times. Using public transport is usually a lot cheaper than travelling by car or private taxi.

What types of public transport are there in the UK?

Types of public transport in the UK include buses, trains, tube (subway/metro), planes, boats and coaches. Buses and the tube usually operate within localised areas, whilst trains and coaches run nationwide services. Boats and planes can be used internally, but most of the time they run internationally.

Do all UK cities have the same public transport?

No, London has the best transport links and is the only UK city with underground trains. Most towns and cities will have a bus network and train station. From London, you can reach most places in the UK, and everywhere in England, within six hours. Internal flights run between UK cities with airports.

How do I know which type of public transport to use?

It depends on how far you are going and what budget you are travelling on. Trains and tubes are often more expensive than buses because they are quicker. Look at the London Underground (tube) map by visiting the Transport for London website at www.tfl.gov.uk and find out about train services at
www.nationalrail.co.uk.

Top tip: Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for discounts on public transport. Students, Senior
citizens, Disabled citizens and many others are entitled. Contact the relevant transport authority for more information.

Driving a car

Although they are expensive to run and maintain, most UK families have at least one car. Here is some information that you will need to know before you look into buying a car.

How can I obtain a UK driving licence?

Apply to the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) for a provisional license. You can find out how by visiting www.direct.gov.uk. This license will allow you to take lessons with a driving instructor. You can find a driving instructor through a company, like AA or BSM. If you would like help with your driving license visit www.helpcentreuk.com/uk-driving-license.

What do I need to know about driving in the UK?

In the UK, drivers must travel on the left hand side of the road. This is different to most other countries so it is important to make sure you are prepared for these changes. Driving in the UK is controlled very strictly, so it is imperative that you pay attention to road signs and markings

Car rental

car rentalIf you need to use a car but cannot afford to buy one then there is always the option to rent a vehicle. This method works best if you need to use a car on a one-off basis and cannot use public transport.

I don’t want to buy a car is it possible to rent one?

Yes. There are many companies that hire cars which can be found by performing a simple internet search. You have to be 21 years of age to rent a car in the UK, and you must have held a driving licence for at least one year.

How much does it cost to rent a car in the UK?

Rental costs vary according to the company and the duration of time that you wish to keep the car for. To get an individual quote, contact a car rental company. Common companies include Enterprise, Sixt, Hertz and Avis.

Buying a car

If you want or need to buy a car, then you should begin making enquiries in your local area. Before you do so, set yourself a budget and decide whether you want to buy a new or a used car.

I want to buy a car. Where should I start?

Start by looking for cars in your local papers, and in new and used car showrooms and outdoor forecourts. This should help you to establish what you want from a car and to find a vehicle that matches your requirements.

What do I need to do once I’ve found a car I like?

Once you’ve found a suitable car, arrange a viewing and ask to test drive the car. Make sure that you ask questions about the vehicle’s reliability,
petrol and insurance costs and mileage. Once you are satisfied, agree a price and decide how you are going to complete the exchange.

What do I need to do before I can drive my new car?

Before you can drive your car, it must be taxed, insured, and have a valid MOT certificate. These are legal requirements;
without one of these components, you will be breaking the law. Passing your theory and practical driving tests You must have a driving licence before you can drive a car alone. Find out how to get a provisional licence in ‘Driving a Car’.

What tests do I have to take to get a driving licence?

Once you have a provisional licence and have taken some driving lessons, your instructor will advise you on how to book both the tests you need to pass before you obtain a full driving licence. The first test you will need to pass is a Theory Test, which consists of a set of multiple choice questions and a ‘hazard perception’ task. The second is a Practical Driving Test, where an examiner will conduct you around a short route to ensure that you can apply the skills you have learnt in a real environment. Only when you have passed these two tests will you be able to obtain your driving
licence.

How do I know when I am ready to take my tests?

Your driving instructor will advise you when you need to take your test.

Can I retake my tests?

Yes, you can retake your tests as many times as you like, however the tests can be costly. You must complete your Practical Test within two years of
passing your Theory Test.

Car insurance

Getting your car insured need not be difficult. Here are some handy tips:

Do I need to insure my car?

Yes. Insuring your car is a legal requirement. You must declare your car off-road by applying for a Statutory Off-Road Notice (SORN) if you do not intend to drive it.

How should I go about insuring my car?

You can perform an internet search to find insurance companies and then get quotes from a selection. Once you have a range of suitable quotes, choose the one that is most suitable for you. All cars must have a minimum of third party insurance.

What can I do to get low-cost insurance?

Car insurance is most expensive for those who are most likely to have an accident. To this end, building up your no claims bonus is the best way to get cheap insurance. Young people with little driving experience pay the most for car insurance.

Cycling

cyclingYou needn’t spend hours driving through rush hour traffic or travelling on a public bus. Cycling is a great alternative to using cars and public
transport.

Is cycling popular in the UK?

Yes. Within cities, many people use a bike as a healthier and cheaper way to get around. Many roads have bike lanes and the transport system allows bikes to be recognised users of the road, albeit with their own set of rights and responsibilities. Local councils run cycling proficiency
courses, so if you don’t feel confident cycling on the road then these courses will teach you what you need to know.

Do you have to wear protective cycling clothes?

Yes. In order to keep cyclists safe, bike riders are required to use lights at night and it is recommended that they wear helmets at all times.

Fines

finesUsing the road can be a dangerous activity if not done properly. There are many penalties that can be applied if you do not abide by the law whilst on the road or in a vehicle.

Can motorists and cyclists be fined in the UK?

Yes. The amount you can be fined depends on the seriousness of the crime. There are also speed cameras on British roads, which are designed to ensure that drivers adhere to the speed limit. There are fines if you are caught breaking the speed limit by a speed camera.

Can motorists and cyclists be imprisoned in the UK?

Yes, but it is rare, and depends on the severity of the offence. Only when the crime warrants a more serious penalty than a fine will a custodial sentence be considered, such as heavy drink driving or death caused by dangerous driving.