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View bus route timetables:
Whilst we make every effort to keep the bus timetables up-to-date, bus route timetables are always subject to change. We therefore advise you to check the times directly with London Transport.
You can pick up bus timetables and route maps from the Travel Information Centres located in the following stations: Euston, Heathrow Airport, King’s Cross St Pancras, Liverpool Street, Piccadilly Circus and Victoria. You can also try telephoning the London Travel Information service on 0843 222 1234 (24 hours), or visit them online at tfl.gov.uk.
Most of the buses in central London are fairly busy, and will probably pull up at every single stop to let off some passengers. But drivers are not actually obliged to stop at all – so don’t be surprised if they just drive past!
There are two types of bus stop in London. The ones with a white background are called compulsory stops, and the drivers are supposed to stop every single time, without being hailed. But the ones with red backgrounds are called request stops, and they will only stop if you make it clear that you need it. If you don’t, then they will drive past.
If you want to be sure that the bus stops, then you are supposed to stick your hand out horizontally into the street to grab the driver’s attention. Make sure that you do it in plenty of time though, to give the driver time to stop safely. (To be honest, most Londoners don’t know the difference between the two types of stop, and will usually stick their hand out every time – which is what we recommend you do too.)
Tourists and first-time travellers will probably be unaware of the various rules and regulations whilst travelling on a London bus, so here are a few tips to get you by…
If you want the bus to stop, then stick your hand out into the road in plenty of time, so the driver can see you as he approaches. Otherwise he will drive past if he doesn’t have anyone onboard who wants to get off.
If you don’t already have a ticket, and need to pay the fare in cash, then it is expected that you will have the correct fare ready as you board. Expect the driver to grumble if you hand over a large note. For some strange reason, paying a two-pound fare with a ten-pound note is considered a big no-no!
Keep hold of your ticket until you get off, as inspectors may board the bus at any time to check them.
When you want the bus to stop, make sure that you press the bell in plenty of time. If the bell doesn’t sound then don’t worry – it has probably already been pressed by somebody else (and become mute) – look for a lit ‘Bus stopping’ sign near the front.
Night buses (prefixed by the letter ‘N’) run between midnight and 4.30 AM. Most routes converge on Trafalgar Square, Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road, and only stop when you put your hand out.
Whilst children travel for free during the day (as long as they have the appropriate travelcard), they will be expected to pay an adult fare after 10 PM.
There are numerous coach companies that offer routes in and out of London:
Eurolines: Tel 0870 514 3219, or visit eurolines.com
Green Line: Tel 0844 801 7261, or visit greenline.co.uk
Megabus: Tel 0900 160 0900, or visit megabus.co.uk
National Express: Tel 0871 781 8178, or visit nationalexpress.com
If you’d like to try and recover items lost on a bus, call 0207 222 1234 to get the number of the bus depot at the end of route.
An Oyster Card is just like a travelcard, but it looks like a blue credit card, and it can be topped up with money. It also stays valid forever. You can therefore fill it up with money at the start of your holiday and use it wherever and whenever you like, topping it up as you go along. We heartily recommend that you invest in an Oyster Card, as not only does it work out cheaper, it’s also the quickest and most convenient way to travel.
Once you have the card, all you have to do is touch it against the big round yellow reader at the front of the bus, and you can go through to the other side. The fare will automatically be deducted from your card, and the remaining credit in your account will be listed on a small screen nearby.
The main advantage in buying an Oyster card is because of the cheaper fares. Prices are always higher if you pay cash.
If you do decide that you’d rather pay cash, then be warned that not all bus drivers sell tickets – some routes require you to buy one before boarding the bus. The way that you can tell is by looking at the bus-stop sign – those with a yellow background have machines nearby where you can purchase a ticket.
If the machine is broken, then the driver is supposed to take you to the next stop where you can buy a ticket.
You can see how much you will have to pay by looking at our London bus fares page.
There are numerous bus companies in London offering sightseeing tours. You can find a selection of the most popular ones on our Walks, tours and cruises page.
We heartily recommend taking a bus tour at the start of your holiday, as it will give you a good overview of the city. London is a very large city, and a bus tour will allow you to quickly pick out the places that you want to visit later.
The two main companies are The Original Bus Tour and The Big Bus Company. Both of them offer multiple routes with live commentary, or recorded commentary in different languages. You should be able to hop-on and hop-off the buses, allowing you to pause at various points and pick them up later. You should be able to buy a ticket as you board the bus.
Both companies have plenty of bus stops around the city, but you might find the following ones the most convenient: Trafalgar Square (to the left of the National Gallery), Haymarket (near Piccadilly Circus), Green Park (near the Ritz Hotel), Speaker’s Corner (near Marble Arch), Grosvenor Gardens (near Victoria Station), Baker Street (at the underground station), and Brompton Road (near Harrods).
Route No.11 -- London's cheapest sightseeing bus
From: 31st December 2012
If you can't afford to spend 25 quid on a sightseeing bus then do not fret, because there's a much cheaper alternative... No.11 bus! For just a couple of quid you can take in most of the sights that you'd see on the tour bus, without all that... more
The Original Bus Sightseeing Tour
From: 1st January 2013
The Original Tour is much more than an essential introduction to London, it is also a great way to travel around the capital. The price includes a flexible hop-on, hop-off ticket, and a choice of live English speaking guides or a multi-language h... more
The Big Bus Company
From: 1st January 2013
This traditional open-top bus tour will take in all the best landmarks and attractions in the capital. You can choose between a live commentary or a recorded one. The ticket allows you to hop-on and hop-off the bus whenever you like, and explore... more
Heritage routes: Ride an old-style double-decker bus
From: 1st January 2013
The traditional old-style red double-decker bus (with a conductor and an open platform at the back) was a much-loved part of London's furniture, so when they were phased out in 2005 for the new-style bendy buses, lots of people were aghast. Lucki... more
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