Public Buses, London
The London buses are equal to the phenomenon of the Red Bus and the Double Decker.
Those red double decker buses were unique to the Capital, already in the horse drawn carriage period there were double decker omnibuses. The best known models were the Routemasters. From 1954 until 1968, 2876 AEC Routemaster double-decker buses were build by the Associated Equipment Company.
In 2005 the last Routemasters were taken out of service; but on two heritage routes (selected parts of lines 5 & 9) the Routemasters returned.
Nowadays more environmental friendlier buses of the Enviro 400-series ride the streets of London.
The London bus map is something you have to study. It's not as easy as the Tube map and it all starts with the Central London key routes:
8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 23, 24, 38, 43, 59, 73, 74, 139, 159, 188, 274, 390, 453 and RV1.
Next to the key routes are:
1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 16, 17, 18, 19, 21, 22, 25, 26, 27,28, 29, 30, 31, 35, 36, 40, 42, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 49, 52, 53, 55, 56, 63, 67, 68, 70, 76, 77, 78, 82, 87, 88, 91, 94, 98, 100, 113, 115, 133, 134, 135, 137, 141, 148, 149, 153, 155, 156, 168, 170, 171, 172, 176, 185, 187, 189, 190, 196, 205, 211, 214, 228, 242, 243, 253, 254, 259, 271, 319, 328, 332, 333, 341, 343, 344, 345, 360, 363, 381, 388, 391, 393, 394, 414, 415, 430,436, 452, 468, 476, 507, 521, 812, C1, C2, C3, C10, C11, P5 and X68.
The following buses serve the city at night:
N1, N3, N7, N8, N9, N10, N11, N13, N15, N16, N19, N22, N28, N29, N35, N38, N44, N55, N63, N73, N74, N76, N87, N91, N98, N115, N133, N137, N159, N171, N253, N343 and N381.
Next to the Central London map, there are four more maps covering Greater London:
For travel at night: Night bus map
Tickets can be bought at the driver or just use the same tickets you probably have for riding the tube.
My 2014 Year of the Bus - Travelogue.
The 205 bus route is very useful as it travels from Paddington in the West and Bow in the East. It is useful as it also passes several north London Railway termini stations. Paddington is the terminus for the erstwhile Great Western Railway, then it passes baker Street and passes Marylebone, which is a former Great Central (now Chiltern Trains) terminus. Further along the route we pass Euston (now served by Virgin Trains from the North West and Scotland), then the Eurostar and East Midland terminus St Pancras, and almost next door Kings Cross (where trains from the North East, East Anglia and Scotland. The bus route continues through to Islington and passes the famous Angel, and also stops at Old street and Liverpool Street stations and finishes its journey in Bow in the East End
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. The information at bus stops is the best in England.
You cannot buy a ticket on a bus or even at the bus stop - you must use an Oyster card, travel card, OAP bus pass or pay by contactless card.
The buses are generally clean and safe even at night in central London (perhaps not some suburbs) but the drivers are not always 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.
London has plenty of Icons, red phone boxes, the Beefeaters, Policemen in blue, Black taxi-cabs and the red Routemaster bus. These red buses with a cheery conductor, banter and an open rear platform enabling people to hop on/hop off were all over London in the 1950's-1980's.
Now saved by being allowed to run for the "tourists" on just one routes. Unfortunately in July 2014, Route 9 finished as a Heritage Routemaster route, it is a shame as the route passed the Albert Hall, and West London to Trafalgar Square. I would recommend anyone visiting London to take the 15 while it is still running.
Route 9 Trafalgar square to High Street Kensington, passing the shops in Oxford/Regents Street.
Route 15 Trafalgar Square to Tower Hill (and St Pauls Cathedral), passing Theatreland, The Strand, Aldwych to the City and Fleet Street (former home of our daily/Sunday newpapers).
Get on board, head for the front seat and take in the sights, all for the price of one bus ride. If you have an Oyster card, this will save you money or buy a one day rover ticket.
Victoria Coach Station is London's principle long-distance bus terminal, situated in the very centre of the metropolis, along Buckingham Palace Road...
Almost all NATIONAL EXPRESS London services are boarded from here, & the far end bay is the check-in for EUROLINES (Germany & Czech Rep...)
You might think from the fact that all 22 coach bays are often occupied entirely by NATIONAL EXPRESS services, that this company own the vast site, but in fact, VCS has belonged to LondonTransport, since 1988
0ther operators which use VCS, include; MEGABUS; OXFORD EXPRESS; & iDBUS...
Facilities for passengers within the main departure hall, include; ATM's; left-luggage lockers; toilets (which you have to pay to use!); ticket hall; & self-service ticket machines, (which are useless - see separate tip...)
Coach travel is supposedly the 'budget travel' option, but not if you book in person from the VCS ticket hall - just a 1-way fare will cost more than a return, booked in advance online...
When I checked my information for this tip on 'wikipedia', I read that VCS has freelance luggage porters, who will assist carrying your luggage for a tip - all I can report is that I have never seen this happen in all the countless times I have been there!
I also read that VCS provides shelter for homeless folk seeking warmth & somewhere to sleep, but again, I have never witnessed this...
I have seen pigeons using the public seating as perches, though, & though you are forbidden to feed them, these birds are a part of London & it would not be the same city without them...
As well as being a coach station, the terminal has refreshmant stalls & newspaper vendors, with a strong security presence, combining private staff, police & cctv...
Update April 2014: ticket information updated, link to Oyster tip added
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 these days that means buying one in advance (you can't pay the driver as you used to be able to do). 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 than a couple of days and plan to use the tube as well, get an Oyster (see my separate 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.
Saw these for the first time in March 2014. They run on electric batteries, but when they get to a certain speed, the diesel motor cuts in. Innovative, clever way to keep living in huge cities at a pollution minimum.
The bad news is : The design Icon of the 1950's, the routemaster bus has been withdrawn from normal service.
The Good news is : at least for the present, ten of the buses have been saved to run on the central London section of routes 9 & 15. The further good news is that they are intergrated into the network with normal fares and travelcards being accepted.
Heritage Routemasters will run every 15 minutes, every day between about 09:30 and 18:30 on the following routes:
Royal Albert Hall
UPDATE 2014 : This route is now under threat, stand clear of the last doors please !
St Paul?s Cathedral
You will probably recognise the iconic red London buses. But do you know why London Buses are red?
Route numbers were introduced across London in 1907, and competition for passengers was fierce among the capital's numerous small bus companies. As private firms, they were allowed to paint their buses any colour they chose, and the largest of them, the London General Omnibus Company, wanted to make their buses stand our from those of their rivals, so they adopted bright red paint and a new logo. The new logo, LGOG, was a spoked wheel design, that eventually evolved into the world-famous London Transport and later Transport for London logo.
By the time the on-going process of consolidation and rationalisation had led to the creation of the London Transport organisation in 1933, the predominant colour for London buses was red and has been ever since.
There are 8,500 London buses in service today, covering around 700 routes and calling at more than 19,500 bus stops on the way. With more than two billion passenger journeys made every year, it is estimated that 90% of Londoners live within 400 yards of a bus stop.
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'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