Expat Musings Life & Love

A Comparison Between US & UK: Public Transportation

Hi-ya my lovely blog readers!  A few weeks ago, I launched a monthly blog post where I dive into the cultural and social differences between living in the US and now my home in the UK.   My first post was describing the differences between UK and the US in the health care system, and today I want to talk about public transportation.

Getting from here to there, is something that many Americans don’t really think about.  I mean the majority of Americans own a car or have access to a vehicle, and since our country is massive driving (or flying) typically makes the most sense for getting around.  Sure, you can hop on a bus or grab a subway in a major city but that isn’t always the case for everyone, especially more rural parts of the country.  (Have you heard of a metro in Kansas?)

This is where the UK is completely different than the US.  The transit system here is very developed, with plenty of accessibility from bus lines, trains or the metro in London, you can get around without having a car.  Even to remote areas of the country, there are bus lines to get you there.  (It may take a while, but they exist.)

To give you an idea, here is the National Rail map for 2013.  For being such a small land area, this country is really connected with mass transit. 

National Rail Map

National Rail Lines


Is it perfect? Hell no.  I can attest to that.  I take the bus each day to commute to work.  My bus is supposed to arrive promptly at 7:13 am.  Does it?  Not all the time.  Meaning I am standing in the cold waiting for the next bus, or if it’s early then Neal has to literally chase  after the bus towards the next stop (in our car of course).  But missing a bus, or it being late could be said of any transport system.

Without the consistent bus system, I wouldn’t have been able to work in my current job in Chester, England (about 35 minute bus ride from home) as I can’t drive legally in the UK yet.  (All in good time though!)

Yeah, I am the girl who takes a double decker bus to work everyday.

Yeah, I am the girl who takes a double decker bus to work everyday. (I also enjoyed the sign on the bus.  Well played.)

The impressive part is how interconnected it is, while transporting up to 500 people per train at any given time.  It is a logistical nightmare, but somehow it works.

2012-10-23 17.20.06_EDIT


What about you? Have you experienced the transit system in the UK?  What did you think? Efficient?  Reliable?  Better than America?  Love to hear what you think!



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  • Love this post since we moved to Sweden we are car free and I love being able to rely on public transit! When I lived in London I used a tube bus combination depending on bank funds 🙂 but always found myself feeling safe and on time!

    • belinda

      I think it is so amazing how the European transport systems. Getting form here to there, with a bit of planning… it is possible!

      Thanks for leaving a comment, have a great weekend.



  • Jen

    I took the Tube EVERYWHERE every single day or the 6 mos I lived in London. It was AMAZING. I seriously wish every single day I could still take the train to work.

    • belinda

      Hi Jen!

      I’ve only use the metro for a bit in London, I was impressed by how interconnected everything was.

      Hope you are well… happy Friday!



  • Compared to some parts of the US the public transport system in the UK might be good but if I compare it to e.g. Germany (where I live half the year) it is overpriced and unreliable. Inside London, fine, but outside it can be a nightmare to get a bus on sundays, late in the evening or simply to find a timetable with all the different companies running services.

    • belinda


      I think you make really good points about timetables and schedules on Sunday. I am lucky to never have to worry about grabbing the bus on a Sunday. It would be a bit of a nightmare. I do think the UK is leaps and bounds ahead of parts of the US.

      Thanks for leaving for leaving me a comment. Have a great weekend!



  • Monica Reardon

    I just found this old post and I am glad you made a post on this topic–this is something I discuss often! Whenever my British friends or my husband complain about public transport I tell them how lucky they are! When I was doing my dissertation I had to travel to day centres and care homes in fairly rural parts of West Wales and I was shocked to be able to do so relatively easily by bus and train! You captured it well here–the US is decent in terms of transportation within decent sized towns/cities, but getting from one town/city to another by public transportation is often not even possible!