The organization of the public transport in London is about as complex as the network itself. Since 2000, Transport for London (TfL) is responsible for most aspects of the city’s transportation network, including the London Underground (the Tube), London Overground, Docklands Light Railway, Croydon Tramlink, and London Buses.
The Underground is the world’s oldest subway, with its first segment opening in 1863. Today, the Underground has 11 lines serving 270 stations and 250 miles of track. There are two types of lines on the underground. The sub-surface lines feature wider, taller, and longer rolling stock and their underground segments tend to be just below the street surface. The deep tube lines have smaller, shorter trains and run through deep bored tunnels.
The Docklands Light Railway is an automated light rail system that opened in 1987 that serves the Docklands area of London. It also serves Greenwich, the London City Airport, Stratford, and other destinations in east London.
London Buses is responsible for managing and overseeing the city’s extensive bus network, which consists of 573 lines and over 8,000 buses. This includes route planning, setting frequencies, and managing the bus stops. However, the actual operation of the bus routes is tendered out to private companies who pay to operate the service and have financial incentives to provide reliable service.
TfL is responsible for setting the fares for all the various transport modes in London. Since July 2003, the Oyster Card has been the city’s smartcard system and is available on all TfL operated services. It is capable of handling both “pay as you go” transactions as well as weekly and monthly travelcards for unlimited use, and cash transactions have decreased dramatically since its introduction.
In addition to running the buses and trains of today, TfL also operates the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden, which has exhibits about the past and present of the city’s transportation network.
The London Underground 1992 "Vintage" Stock was ordered for the Waterloo & City Line in 1992. Although at the time it was ordered it was very similar to the 1992 Stock on the Central Line, over the years, modifications to each set of cars have made them incompatible with each other. The 1992 Stock was originally owned by British Railways and known as Class 482 Stock. It was transferred to the London Underground when British Railways was privatized in 1994, though it retained its original "Network SouthEast" paint scheme until a rehab in 2006.
The Docklands Light Railway has been served by three different types of rolling stock over the years, two of which are in service. The original P86 and P89 stock was in service from the system opening in 1987 (1989/1990 in the case of the P89 stock) until 1995; they are now in service in Essen, Germany following an extensive rebuild. The B90 and B92 stock entered service in 1992 and 1995, respectively. These cars featured a new interior design to facilitate increased ridership. The newest cars, the B07 Stock, entered service in 2009 in order to facilitate network expansion. All the rolling stock types are bi-directional, single-articulated electrical multiple units. They typically operate in two or three car sets under automated operation. A staff member is on board who can take over operation if necessary.
The Docklands Light Railway currently has 45 stations. Most are elevated, but others are at street level and a few are underground. All the underground stations are staffed for safety reasons, but the other stations are mostly unstaffed. All stations have been handicapped accessible since the DLR opened.
The iconic "Routemaster" double-decker buses are among the most well known British icons. They were delivered between 1954 and 1968 and remained in regular service until December 2005. Two "heritage routes" were started shortly after the official retirement of the Routemasters to keep them in service, primarily as a tourist attraction, but only one of those routes remains operational today. These buses were retired due to the fact they required a conductor to monitor the open, rear platform and were not accessible to those in wheelchairs. An updated Routemaster model, officially known as the "New Routemaster", entered service in February 2012.
Mercedes-Benz O530 Citaro were introduced on routes 507 and 521 on June 2, 2002. These were the first articulated buses to run in service on a regular basis, as opposed to merely being part of a trial. Following temporary removals from service due to fires on board and other criticisms, it was decided to retire these buses earlier than originally planned. The last one operated on December 10, 2011. The buses have since been transferred to other parts of the UK and even to Malta.