If suddenly you must think about an iconic image of the streets of London, which would be this image? The famous red buses for sure, someone can imagine this city without this venerable machine?
There are two ways to ride on, the proper public transport (efficient net, I should say), and the city tour to know a bit more of the metropolis without any effort (several different circuits to choose), and in both ways it is an enjoyable experience.
I never use the buses where I live but I actually like using the buses in London. With a little advance planning it is very easy to get around London - the buses have a public address system and a recorded voice constantly updates the journey. Price for a single journey is £2.25 but the best value is a day ticket ( see the website for details). If you have a day ticket and you get on the wrong bus it does not really matter as you can get off and just get on another bus.
The buses are generally clean and safe even at night in central London (perhaps not some suburbs) but the drivers are not helpful - ask another passenger if you need travel help. They are certainly slow due to the heavy traffic but if you are not in a rush it does not really matter and the view from upstairs is certainly worth the price of the ticket. Buses seem to run every few minutes in the central area and bus maps are free from travel centres.
I'm a fan of using the subway when I visit foreign cities, it always seems more straightforward than using buses, especially in a place you are not familiar in. Now that I'm more familiar with London, I enjoy riding the bus. The London bus stops are very well marked with the routes, pointing out which tube stations that route passes as well as major landmarks. If you are from a country that drives on the right side of the road, remember to stand on the opposite side of the road than you are used to!
The main advantage to using the bus in London is that you obviously get to see more above ground than you do below ground. The best spot is upstairs on the double decker buses in the front seat if you can get it.
Check out the excellent London toolkit website that maps out routes for the key attractions in London and also the TFL Visitor Guide, especially the map for key bus routes in Central London. Much cheaper than taking the pricey Big Bus Tour
Another advantage to using the bus is that it is cheaper, for example a 7 day bus pass that covers ALL of London as of 1/1/13 is only £19.60, a 7 day zone 1-2 (central London) tube/DLR pass as of 1/1/13 is £30.40 (although it also covers bus travel in all of London in addition to the tube and DLR). Single fares are £2.40 (£1.40 with an Oyster), tube fares are higher and depend on the zone.
The downside? It's likely to take longer on the bus than the tube and during rush hour you will almost always have to stand but that's also true of the tube. And I wouldn't even attempt to take luggage on the bus if it was rush hour!
Throughout the capital you will always be near a bus stop, usually with a small shelter with seats available while you wait for your bus. There will normally be a timetable of the buses that pass by the stop and also a list of areas which will inform you of which bus would be suitable for your journey, and there will also be a post displaying the bus numbers that stop there.
Travelling from our Hotel into London city, we mainly caught the Tube, which is quite ok, except that it's underground.
One day, we decided to go into the city on the double decker Red Bus. We sat up the top, and saw heaps from the top level. I was glad we did this as we got to see the sights in our area, what the areas were like on the outskirts of London, and just how busy the roads were.
To update soon
Buses run generally from 5.00am to 12.30am and some routes (including the No. 10) operate 24 hours. Please note cash is not accept on bus journeys in Zone 1 and will either have to obtain a travel ticket or Oyster card before getting on a bus.
Heritage Routes: Perfect for sightseeing: Nos. 9 , 10 and 15.
10 Sightseeing - Kings Cross, Oxford Street, Marble Arch, Park Lane, Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Palace, Kensington High Street and Hammersmith (To update soon)
During our stay, we frequently used the double decker bus, one symbol of London.
Of course with the traffic, traveling by bus is slower, but offers an irreplaceable view of London.
The icon routemaster still in use on lines 9 and 15 provides a retro charm
A guide of central London bus is available at the information center in major metro stations.
Price: cash single $ 2.30
with oyster card $ 1.35
Take advantage of public transportation, namely the famous red double-decker buses. This is absolutely a cheap and fun way to tour London! Use an Oyster card and it costs only 1.30 pounds per ride (as of October 2011). The buses are very frequent, so you rarely have to wait for a long time. I recommend taking Buses #11 and #15 (find route information and timetables on web site below). On the upper deck. try to grab the front-row seat and you will have a great ride!
Here is a suggested route on how to see most of Londons famous sites using ordinary buses - sit upstairs and enjoy the views at a fraction of the price a tourist bus would charge. It starts and ends at Trafalgar Square.
15 Trafalgar Square to Tower Gateway (you will see The Strand, Royal Courts,Fleet Street, St Pauls and the Tower of London)
RV1 to Waterloo (you will see Tower Bridge , Tate Modern, National Theatre and the London Eye)
139 to Baker Street (you will see Picadilly Circus, Regent St, Oxford St and Marble Arch)
74 to Park Lane (you will see Hyde Park)
73 to Victoria (you will see Wellington Arch and on the left the back of Buckingham Palace)
11 to Trafalgar Square (you will see Westminster Cathedral, New Scotland Yard, Westminster Abbey, Houses of Parliament, Horse Guards and Admiralty Arch)
If you need further advice look at the website for where various bus stops are.
London is an old city which was built long ago. The roads in most places are narrow and moving around in buses can be very time consuming because of the limited road.
In the main city of London, the roads are wider and more buses are available. When I took a bus from Baker Street, the buses waiting for each other to clear the bus stops seems to be the one holding up what would otherwise have been a pleasant ride.
But on the whole, the bus rides are better, in terms of views, as compared to taking the underground tube. With our Traveller's day pass, we were able to decide and change our route based on sights and scenery on-the-go taking into consideration traffic condition.
However, I do have to state that our bus rides where on weekends and quite alot of time the buses were held up at bus stops waiting for the buses ahead to move on. Not too sure how the situation would be like on weekdays.
The red buses are famous and a landmark of London. They are almost all double decker (two floors for passengers). Old buses (second picture), with the small open deck at the back, are still operating on some routes.
Though London streets are crowded and the tube is perhaps more efficient, taking a red bus is a nice way to travel around for short distances. For longer distances use the tube.
It's tempting to rely exclusively on the Tube because it's so easy to get all around London that way. Try the bus as alternative occasionally, because there is so much more to see of London above ground than below. Your Oyster card will work on the bus, and the bus system is very extensive. See link for map below.
Although you no longer see the iconic Routemaster buses on London’s streets, you see plenty of others, mostly in the traditional bright red. In recent years there has been a policy of introducing more buses, and encouraging a reduction in the number of cars through the congestion charge. This makes travelling by bus in the city an attractive option – it’s reasonable value and unlike the tube you can see where you’re going and enjoy the sights along the way. But you’re still likely to encounter traffic jams, so I wouldn’t choose the bus if in a hurry.
If you do want to catch a bus in central London, look out for the bus stops where you should find plenty of information about the routes that pass that spot, and often about others in the area too. For complete route information though, download a map from the website below.
Once you know what route you want to take, you’ll need to buy a ticket, and in central London that means buying one in advance (in the suburbs you can pay the driver). There are machines at each stop but they don't all give change so make sure you carry some coins. It’s cheaper to buy an all-day pass if you’re going to be making lots of journeys, or even better, if you’re in town for more thana couple of days and plan to use the tube as well, get an Oyster (see my tube tip).
By the way, some of the routes pass so many famous sights they make a good value alternative to the sightseeing buses. Try the number 11 – you can start in the west in Chelsea, travel the famous Kings Road, hop off in Victoria for a short detour on foot to see Buckingham Palace, then return to the bus and head east past Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament, to Trafalgar Square. From there the route follows the Strand and another famous street, Fleet Street, to St Paul’s Cathedral and the City of London, where it finishes.
People often miss their last tube as it usually closed around midnight and nightbird need to travel too (first tube begin operation around 5:30 AM or even 7:30 on SUN).
Do not panic...
The London bus network is one of the largest and most comprehensive urban systems in the world. Each weekday 8'000 London buses carry 6 million passengers on over 700 different routes. On night you won't be alone as 27 million Night Bus passenger trips was taken in 2003/04 – up 82 per cent from 2000/01. The London bus revolution is driving the Capital’s growth as a 24-hour city. Night Buses can be recognised by the prefix ‘N’ in front of the route number. CCTV (security cam) are widely present in buses so if Big Brother is watching you or your neighboor you are supposed to be safe... and cost cheaper than cab.
Have a look to the link to find your night way ;-)
Since the demise of the much loved London Routemaster buses in November 2004, the Nos 9 and 15 have been declared Heritage Routes, and restored to their 1960's style.
Heritage route 9 Stops are:
Royal Albert Hall
Heritage route 15 stops are:
St Paul’s Cathedral
The TfL website states:
Standard fares will apply on both services, and all valid Bus Passes, Travelcards, Freedom Passes, Oyster cards and Saver Tickets will be accepted. Both routes will operate every fifteen minutes, between 0930 and 1830, seven days a week."
Sounds great! I shall definitely be taking a ride next time I am in the city!