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-- advertisement seen at the Quidditch World Cup (GF8)
Witches and wizards use magical means to move from place to place. They can use spells, specifically Apparition, and personal devices such as brooms. However, various forms of public transit are also available. All forms of magical transportation, both personal and public, are regulated and controlled by the Department of Magical Transportation.
Personal forms of Transportation
(esp. GF6, OP7)
An advanced spell that allows the caster to disappear from one spot and reappear in another almost instantly. Apparition is regulated by the Ministry. Use of the spell requires a license, which is granted when a witch or wizard passes a test, demonstrating their mastery of the technique. The Apparition Test Center is part of the Department of Magical Transport at the Ministry of Magic. Apparition over very long distances is unreliable (QA1).
After Voldemort and his minions assassinated Minister of Magic Scrimgeour during the Second Wizarding War and took over the Ministry of Magic, Apparition in and out of the Ministry of Magic was stopped (DH12).
Although flying carpets are used in other countries, currently they are banned in Britain, since they appear on the Registry of Proscribed Charmable Objects – that is, they’re defined as Muggle artifacts, and are thus illegal to enchant. Historically, however, flying carpets have been legal in Britain within living memory (GF7).
Wizarding fireplaces may be connected to the Floo Network through which magical folks can move from place to place by the use of Floo Powder.
The most widely used and accepted form of magical transportation in Britain, although this is a cultural thing. In some countries, the flying carpet appears to be the preferred form of transportation instead (QA1). See broomstick entry for more.
To reach the deep underground vaults of Gringotts’ Wizarding Bank, a goblin whistles for a small cart in which they and the visitor ride. The cart is self-propelled and apparently steers itself along the underground passages, because the goblin doesn’t steer as it winds its way along railway tracks in the floor. The cart has only one speed: “breakneck” (PS5).
Students attending Hogwarts travel too and from the school aboard the Hogwarts Express, a Muggle-style steam train which makes the run between Hogsmeade Station in Scotland and King’s Cross Station in London.
The Knight Bus travels erratically around Britain, picking up witches and wizards for journeys anywhere except over water.
A Portkey is an enchanted object, often a piece of supposedly worthless junk, which when touched will transport a person to a preprogrammed location. An object can be transformed into a Portkey by the Portus spell, but the caster must be authorized to do so. The Portkey Office is part of the Department of Magical Transportation at the Ministry of Magic (GF6, GF10, GF32, GF34, OP7, OP36).
The arriving first-years travel across the Lake to the castle in a flotilla of small boats, propelled by magic (PS6).
The students from Durmstrang arrived at Hogwarts aboard a magical ship which surfaced in the center of the Lake. “It had a strangely skeletal look about it, as though it were a resurrected wreck, and the dim, misty lights shimmering at its portholes looked like ghostly eyes (GF15).”
Beauxbatons Flying carriage
A huge powder blue flying carriage as big as a house was used by the Beauxbatons students to attend the Triwizard Tournament at Hogwarts. The carriage was drawn by twelve gigantic Abraxans, which Madame Maxime (the headmistress of Beauxbatons) breeds (GF15, OP20, HBP30).
(PA, GF, OP)
About a hundred carriages wait for arriving Hogwarts students along a rough, mud road near the railway station on September first each year, and take them back to the station at the beginning of the summer holidays. They are pulled by what Harry as a third- and fourth-year student assumed were invisible horses; this was verified at the beginning of his fifth year, when he first became aware of his ability to see thestrals. The thestrals who pull the carriages are very well-trained, since they make the journey unassisted past the wrought iron gates and around the Lake to the castle. The coaches smell of mold and straw (PA5).
A carriage was waiting for Lupin “at the gates” when he was ready to leave Hogwarts. It is unclear whether this was one of these same stagecoaches or why it would be stopped way back at the gates (PA22).