English Transport Vocabulary

Here are some useful words and phrases to talk about travel and transport in English.

Means of transport

In the UK, there are different types of public transport:

Buses and coaches (a bus travels in towns and cities, with people getting on and off at bus stops, while coaches travel further, often from city to city and people travel the entire distance).

Pronunciation tip: “bus” is pronounced /buhs/ and “busses” is pronounced /buhsis/ (not /boosis/).

The underground (or tube) in London

Trains (often “intercity”)

Trams (in some places) – a sort of bus run on electricity

Taxis (for example the famous black cabs in London)

Ferries (boats that cross water such as rivers and seas)

There’s also private transport such as cars, bikes, motorbikes and scooters.

In addition, lorries (truck in American English) transport goods, and vans (large cars) are used by small businesses to transport goods, or work equipment such as ladders or tools.


You get on and get off a bus, train, plane, bike, boat, etc. This is because you need to take a step up to get on the means of transport.

You get in and get out of a car, or taxi.

You can travel or go by bike, train, car, tube. But you travel on or go on foot (=walk).

You can drive a car, taxi or train.
You ride a bike, motorbike or horse.
You fly a plane.

Common error

Don’t say “I take my car to work”. Say “I drive to work” or “I go to work by car” or “I travel to work by car”.

Other words to describe transport and travel

a journey = the trip between the start and end.
“My journey to work / school takes twenty minutes.”

a commute (to commute) = the journey to work
“He commutes to work by train and tube.”
“His commute takes him half an hour.”

bus route = the journey the bus does
“The bus route follows London Road as far as the cinema, then turns left.”

a bus lane = special part of the road only for buses
“Don’t drive in the bus lane!”

traffic jam = when there are too many cars, buses etc and everything goes slowly – or stops.
“I’m in a traffic jam – I’ll be late for work.”

a bus stop = where the bus stops for people to get on or get off (also tram stop)

a railway station = where you get on or off a train (also tube station)

a single or a return (ticket) = a bus, train or air ticket to go only (single) or to go and come back (return)

a one-day return (for the train) = when you go and come back the same day

a travel card = a card where you can make multiple journeys in one day, for example on the London tube

a season ticket = a train ticket where you can go by train every day for a month, or a year

Now go on to the next page, where you can learn phrases for buying tickets and practise your listening: Learn How to Buy Tickets in English