Not to be divisive, but the London Underground, or the Tube, is the best mass public transportation system in any city. It puts SEPTA to shame. If they were hoagies, the Tube would be from Wawa and have the works, and SEPTA would be a piece of rye bread, untoasted, that’s been sitting out for a few weeks.
That being said, even on the Tube, all lines are not created equal. That’s why I’ve decided to rate them, from worst to best. An important note: This is heavily based on the fact that I lived in Earl’s Court and communicated to school in Holborn every day. Now, shall we?
DLR: the DLR is mostly fun because you could be that lucky person sitting in the front seat, feeling like you’re on top of the world.
Overground: the Overground is fun for a couple of reasons. One, it’s a much easier way to get to Hampstead Heath, my personal favorite place in the city, than the Underground. Two, if you don’t have cell phone data because you’re a foreigner (me), you automatically connect to the free wifi at every station, so riding on the Overground is a wireless experience like no other.
10- Central: Say what you will about the Central line’s perfect location right in the midst of the city. I hate it. The way the ceilings slope inward and the windows are tinted makes it easily the most claustrophobic of the lines. Central trains are always hot and crowded with large men in suits. You say convenience, I say hellish. I would rather walk.
9- Hammersmith & City: The Hammersmith & City line ranks so low only because I don’t believe it exists. I’ve heard whispers that someone I know knows of someone who once saw a Hammersmith & City line train disappearing down the tunnel as they emerged onto a platform, but until I’ve substantiated these rumors, I cannot confirm the existence of this particular line.
8- Waterloo & City: Honestly, I’m a little concerned about this line. Has anyone ever seen it? Can you point it out to me on a map? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
7- Metropolitan: To the good people of the northwest, the Metropolitan line is the only vein bringing them the lifeblood of the city. Unfortunately, fat lot of good it does the rest of us, which is why it gets a fairly low ranking in my book. If you want to travel from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Moorgate then go ahead, but if you want to get anywhere important, you’re going to have to connect several times, because Metropolitan doesn’t connect with many useful central London lines.
6- Jubilee: I have very rarely ridden on the Jubilee line, in all my years (read: months) in London. In fact, looking at it, I’m kind of wondering why it exists. All it does is connect stations that are already connected by other lines, or services stations that could easily be serviced by another line. In fact, I think that we could bring the Metropolitan line some useful importance by combining the Jubilee and Metropolitan lines. That way, the Jubipolitan line (name open to workshopping) could connect with the all-important Bond Street, Green Park, and Westminster stations, as well as some of the smaller stations in the northwest. This would solve both lines’ major issues.
5- Bakerloo: The Bakerloo line has the ugliest color on the tube map, for which I did dock a few points, but the location is good – it takes you to key stations like Baker Street, Regent’s Park, Marylebone, and connects to all-important lines like Central, District & Circle, Northern, and Piccadilly. While the Bakerloo line may not be a destination line, it’s always there with the assist, and for that, we thank it.
4- Victoria: The Victoria line has never personally wronged me, unlike many other lines. These cars are spacious and the upholstery is unobtrusive. The line connects some key central London stops with the south and northeast.
3- Northern: The Northern line is, in my opinion, kind of an underdog. Connecting the south and the north and stopping at only a few of the most important Central stops, the Northern line is the one that’s there when you’re lost in north central London and you’ve been walking for what feels like days when you finally see it: Goodge Street. Dumbest name, most welcome sign. You can take the Northern line to Hampstead Heath, as well as Camden Market. Personally, I most often took the Northern line to Brick Lane, getting off at Old Street. (I know you can take the Circle to Liverpool Street from Earl’s Court, but as mentioned before, the Circle line is hardly the most reliable line, for which we will dock zero points from Circle and instead add points to Northern for being a reliable backup, along with an assist from the Piccadilly.) Another positive Northern line experience: you can take the Northern line to Angel, where you get to ride on the longest (and best) escalator in the city.
2- District & Circle: While I know this opinion may be unpopular due to the massive amounts of delays on both the District and Circle lines, I can’t help but let my soft spot for these two lines interfere with my better judgment about practicality. The District and Circle lines have, hands down, the best train cars in the entire system. (Tying with the DLR and Overground but only because they’re essentially exactly the same.) You sometimes get to sit in the coveted “loner” seat, sometimes you get to sit facing forwards or backwards, you can look out the window if you’re overground… It’s more of an experience than a Tube ride.
1- Piccadilly: The Piccadilly line is reliable and has arguably the best location in the city. It goes through all of the key central London stops: Knightsbridge, Hyde Park Corner, Green Park, Piccadilly Circus, Leicester Square, Covent Garden, and Holborn. It connects you with virtually any line you could want, not to mention its connection to Heathrow. It can be fairly crowded during commute hours, but they come often enough that if one train is too full, you can easily wait for the next. Overall, 10/10, would ride again.