Buskers on the London Underground!
I recall when I first arrived in London I was terrified of travelling on the Underground; convinced I was going to get horribly lost.
Now after 9.5 years, I love travelling on the London tubes system, going from here to there in the blink of an eye (ok well that is a bit of an exaggeration) but, hey it's faster than walking and easier than driving!
But, lets face it, a journey on the London Underground can be a hot, sweaty and crowded affair, especially at peak times.
However, there is something that makes up for it: as you ascend the escalators and suddenly hear the strains of a guitar, or violin or even a didgeridoo, all the frustrations and irritations are forgotten.
An added element to any journey on the Underground has to be the Buskers that are found on selected stations.
You can enjoy anything from The Beatles to violin strings to the primeval Digeridoo.
In May 2003, L.U. won the right to change the laws and the bylaws to make busking legal on the Underground. Starting as a 16 week trial the scheme was an overnight success and has gradually expanded through the years. The LU busking scheme was sponsored by Carling when the scheme began. The London Underground Busking Scheme was originally implemented as a result of customer demand for talented musicians to be licensed to perform on the Underground.
The scheme now counts over 356 buskers entertaining millions of commuters each day on 33 pitches in 22 stations and providing over 3,000 hours of entertainment each week. Licensed buskers are chosen on talent, with emphasis strongly placed on meeting the wide-ranging musical tastes of Tube passengers. The licensed buskers have a unique audience of around 3.5 million Tube passengers every day.
Buskers are not paid by LU and rely on the generosity of Tube passengers.
London Underground's passengers have made this scheme a success through their generosity and support of the buskers who are not paid to play on the Underground.
All buskers have to pass an audition in front of a judging panel and are vetted for any police convictions before they are issued a London Underground Busking Licence.
For more information on how to apply to become a LU busker please visit: tfl.gov.uk/tube/arts/busking
So next time you are in London and travelling on the tube system, look out for our buskers, tarry a while and enjoy the music. :)
Many passengers show their appreciation by dropping a few coins in the hat, knowing that the buskers performing are licensed and legitimate, on one of London Underground's branded pitches.
Travel tip written and contributed by Cindy