Navigating Public Transport: Embracing the English Way

Everything about public transport in English

No matter where you are in the world, public transport is an integral part of our daily lives. Traveling by public transport is not only convenient and environmentally friendly, but also a great opportunity to improve your English language skills. In this article, we will look at the main terms and expressions that will help you navigate the world of English-speaking public transport more easily.

1. Bus

The bus is one of the most popular types of public transport. It provides a convenient and affordable opportunity to move around the city. Here are some useful phrases and words you may need when using buses:

  • Bus stop: A designated location where buses pick up and drop off passengers. It is a specific point along a bus route where people can wait to board a bus and where passengers can request to get off.

  • Bus route: The path or course that a bus follows to reach its destination. It is the specific route that the bus takes, which typically includes multiple bus stops along the way.
  • Bus fare: The price of a ticket or payment required to use the bus service. It is the cost that passengers need to pay in order to ride the bus and travel from one location to another.
  • Ticket: A small piece of paper or electronic card that shows that a passenger has paid for a journey on public transport, such as a bus. It serves as proof of payment and allows the passenger to travel on the chosen mode of transport.
  • One-way ticket: A ticket that allows a passenger to travel from one location to another without the option of a return trip. It is valid for a single journey in one direction only.
  • Return ticket: Also known as a round-trip ticket, it allows a passenger to travel from one location to another and then return to the starting point using the same mode of transport. It includes both the outbound and inbound journeys.
  • Is this the right bus for…?
  • How often does this bus come?
  • When is the next bus?
  • Does this bus go to…?
  • Please, let me know when we reach my stop

2. Underground

The subway is a fast and efficient way to get around, especially in big cities. Here are some expressions you will need when using the subway:

  • Underground / Subway: An underground rail system that runs beneath the streets of a city, providing an efficient mode of transportation for commuters and travelers. In some regions, it may be referred to as a “subway” instead of “underground.”

  • Metro station: A location where trains in a metro system stop to pick up and drop off passengers. Metro stations are usually located at various points throughout the city and are often accessible from different entrances.
  • Platform: The raised area at a train or metro station where passengers wait for their train to arrive. It is a safe area designated for boarding and alighting from trains.
  • Mind the gap: A warning announcement or sign commonly used in underground systems to caution passengers about the space between the platform and the train. It reminds passengers to be careful when boarding or disembarking to avoid potential accidents.
  • Direction: The route a train or bus is traveling. It indicates the destination or the next major station that the vehicle will reach.
  • Change / Transfer: The act of switching from one line or mode of transport to another at an interchange station. Passengers may need to change trains or buses to reach their final destination.
  • Oyster card / Travel card: Electronic smart cards used for contactless payment on public transport systems, particularly in cities like London. These cards can store credit and are tapped on card readers to pay for journeys.
  • Swipe the card: The action of touching or tapping an electronic card (e.g., Oyster card) on a card reader to gain access to the transport system or pay for a journey.
  • Peak hours: The periods of the day when public transport experiences the highest demand and may be more crowded, usually during morning and evening rush hours when people commute to and from work.
  • Mind your belongings: A reminder to be aware of and take care of personal belongings while traveling on public transport to prevent theft or loss.

3. Tram

The tram is one of the methods of public transport, especially common in some cities. Here are some useful phrases:

  • Tram: A tram is a form of public transport that runs on tracks embedded in the street or on a dedicated tramway. It typically operates in urban areas and carries passengers along a fixed route, making stops at designated tram stops.

  • Tram stop: A designated location where trams pick up and drop off passengers. Similar to a bus stop, a tram stop is where passengers wait for the tram to arrive and board it.
  • Tram line: A specific route or path that a tram follows. Tram lines are marked with numbers or letters and represent different routes throughout the city.
  • Ticket inspector: An official or staff member responsible for checking and validating tickets on public transport, including trams. Ticket inspectors ensure that passengers have valid tickets for their journey and may issue fines to those without proper fare.

  • I need a ticket to…
  • How often do trams come?
  • Is this tram going to…?

4. Train

The train is a convenient and fast means of public transport, especially for long distances and intercity transfers. Here are some useful expressions and terms related to trains:

  • Train: A train is a form of public transport that runs on tracks and is designed to transport passengers or goods from one location to another. Trains can be long-distance, regional, or local, depending on their route and purpose.

  • Train station: A train station is a facility where trains stop to pick up and drop off passengers. It serves as a hub for train operations and often offers various amenities for travelers.
  • Platform: The raised area at a train station where passengers wait for their train to arrive. Platforms provide access to trains and are often marked with signs indicating the train’s destination and departure time.
  • Train schedule: The timetable or list of departure and arrival times for trains at a particular station. The train schedule helps passengers plan their journeys and ensures they catch their train on time.
  • Ticket counter: A service counter at a train station where passengers can purchase train tickets from a ticketing agent. Ticket counters may also offer information and assistance to travelers.
  • Ticket machine: An automated vending machine at a train station where passengers can purchase train tickets using cash or credit/debit cards. Ticket machines offer a convenient and self-service option for buying tickets.
  • Express train: A train service that operates with limited stops, providing faster travel between major destinations. Express trains are designed for long-distance travel and reduce travel time compared to local trains.
  • Local train: A train service that stops at most or all stations along its route, catering to short-distance travel within a city or region. Local trains offer frequent stops and are often used for daily commuting.
  • Reserved seat: A ticketed seat on a train that is pre-booked or assigned to a specific passenger. Passengers with reserved seats have a guaranteed spot on the train.
  • Unreserved seat: A seat on a train that is not assigned to a specific passenger. Passengers with unreserved seats can sit in any available seat within the designated class or section.

5. Taxi

Taxis are a convenient and private way to travel, especially in places where public transport is not available or in the evening hours. Here are some phrases that can help you interact with a taxi driver:

  • Taxi: A taxi, also known as a cab, is a mode of public transport that provides on-demand transportation services to passengers. Taxis are typically cars or vehicles with a driver that can be hired to take passengers to their desired destinations.

  • Taxi stand/rank: A designated area or location where taxis line up and wait for passengers. Taxi stands, also called taxi ranks in some regions, are commonly found at transportation hubs like airports, train stations, and busy city centers. Passengers can approach the taxis at the stand and hire them for their journey. Taxi stands help ensure an organized and efficient flow of taxis and provide a convenient way for passengers to find a taxi when needed.

  • Could you take me to…?
  • How much is the fare to…?
  • Please, take me to this address…
  • Follow that car

6. Bicycles, electric vehicles and scooters

Some cities offer bicycles, electric vehicles (such as electric scooters) and scooters for rent or use for short distances. These environmentally friendly and convenient means of transport are becoming more and more popular. Here are some phrases to help you use these services:

  • Bike-sharing station: A bike-sharing station is a designated location where bikes are made available for public use through a bike-sharing system. Bike-sharing allows users to rent bicycles for short periods and return them to any bike-sharing station within the network. These stations are equipped with docking points where users can pick up and drop off bikes.

  • E-scooter: An e-scooter, short for electric scooter, is a scooter powered by an electric motor. E-scooters have become popular as a convenient and eco-friendly mode of transport for short trips in urban areas. They are often available for rent through various e-scooter sharing services.
  • Kick scooter: A kick scooter is a non-motorized scooter propelled forward by a rider kicking off the ground. Unlike e-scooters, kick scooters rely on the rider’s physical effort to move. They are commonly used for short distances and are popular among children and adults alike.

  • How do I rent a bike/scooter?
  • Where can I return the bike/scooter?
  • Is there a bike/scooter lane in the city?

7. City transport on water

Some cities may have special types of public water transportation that provide a unique way to travel and see the city’s attractions. Here are a few points related to urban water transport:

  • Ferry: A ferry is a boat or a ship used to transport passengers, vehicles, and goods across bodies of water, such as rivers, lakes, or seas. Ferries typically operate on fixed routes and schedules, providing an essential means of transportation between two points.

  • Water bus: A water bus, also known as a vaporetto or water tram in some regions, is a form of public transport that operates on waterways, similar to a regular bus on land. Water buses are often used to move people efficiently across bodies of water in cities with water networks.
  • River taxi: A river taxi is a small, motorized boat that offers transportation services on rivers, especially in urban areas. River taxis can carry a limited number of passengers and operate on-demand or on fixed routes, offering a more flexible alternative to larger ferries.
  • Harbor cruise: A harbor cruise is a recreational boat trip that takes passengers on a sightseeing tour around a harbor, bay, or waterfront area. Harbor cruises are popular in tourist destinations and offer scenic views of the city skyline and landmarks from the water.

Examples of questions and expressions:

  • Where can I catch the ferry/water bus?
  • What time is the next ferry/water bus?
  • How much is the ticket for the harbor cruise?
  • Is there a river taxi to the city center?

8. Public water transport in Venice

Venice is a unique city known for its canals and romantic gondoliers. In this city, the main means of public transport on water is the “vaporetto” – water bus. Here are some terms and expressions related to public transport in Venice:

  • Vaporetto: A vaporetto is a type of water bus used for public transportation in Venice, Italy. It is a waterborne vehicle that operates on fixed routes along the city’s canals, serving as an essential mode of transport for locals and tourists.
  • Water bus stop: A designated location along the canals of Venice where vaporettos pick up and drop off passengers. Similar to bus stops on land, water bus stops are marked and provide access to vaporetto services.
  • Vaporetto route: The specific path or course that a vaporetto follows through the canals of Venice. Vaporetto routes are marked and identified by line numbers or letters, indicating different routes with multiple stops.
  • Vaporetto schedule: The timetable or list of departure and arrival times for vaporettos at various stops in Venice. The vaporetto schedule helps passengers plan their journeys and catch the appropriate vaporetto on time.
  • Single ticket: A one-time use ticket for a single journey on a vaporetto. Passengers can buy a single ticket for one trip between two points in Venice.
  • Day pass: A ticket that allows unlimited travel on vaporettos for a specified period, typically one day. Day passes are convenient for tourists who plan to make multiple trips during the day.
  • Alilaguna: A private company that operates water bus services in Venice, particularly connecting the city with the Venice Marco Polo Airport and nearby islands.
  • Gondola: A traditional Venetian rowing boat with a flat-bottomed hull and high-pitched ends. Gondolas are famous symbols of Venice and are often used for tourism and leisure rides along the canals.
  • Gondolier: The person who rows and navigates a gondola. Gondoliers are skilled in handling these boats and often provide commentary and entertainment for tourists during gondola rides.

Examples of questions and expressions:

  • How do I get to St. Mark’s Square by vaporetto?
  • Where is the nearest vaporetto stop?
  • How much is a single ticket to the Rialto Bridge?
  • What time is the last vaporetto from Murano to Venice?
  • Can I take a gondola ride from this location?

Public transport in the city can be varied and exciting, and knowing English will help you make the most of it. Learn the terms and expressions that apply to the mode of transport you use and don’t be afraid to communicate in English with drivers and passengers. Have a nice trip and pleasant experiences!

Public transport in English: Test your knowledge

1. What is “vaporetto” in Venice?

a) Electric scooter

b) Water bus

c) Tram

d) Gondola

2. What is an “Oyster card” in London?

a) Bicycle rental card

b) Ferry ticket

c) Metro fare card

d) Water bus

3. What types of tickets are available for bicycles, electric transport, and scooters?

a) Single ticket

b) Day pass

c) Monthly subscription only

d) Yearly subscription only

4. What is the warning about the gap between the platform and the train in the metro?

a) “Mind the gap”

b) “Watch your step”

c) “Caution: gap ahead”

d) “Attention: mind the distance”

5. What types of water transport exist in some cities?

a) Water bus

b) Gondola

c) Tram

d) All of the above


  • If you answered 4 or 5 questions correctly, your knowledge of public transport in English is quite profound.

  • If you answered 2 or 3 questions correctly, your knowledge needs some improvement, and you may want to reread the article.
  • If you answered fewer than 2 questions correctly, we recommend revisiting the article and familiarizing yourself with the material on public transport in English.


  1. b) Water bus
  2. c) Metro fare card
  3. a) Single ticket and b) Day pass
  4. a) “Mind the gap”
  5. d) All of the above

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