London: A Visitor’s Guide
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Buses typically operate between 5 AM and 00.30 AM. Night buses kick in from midnight to 5 AM. Night buses are prefixed by the letter ‘N’.
The frequency of buses slows down between 11 PM and 6 AM. You only get 3 or 4 every hour after midnight, and after 3 AM you will probably have to wait a whole hour.
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 a red background are called request stops, and they will only stop if you make it clear that you need it.
If you want a bus to stop, then all you have to do is stick your arm out horizontally into the street. Make sure that you do it in plenty of time though, to give the driver time to stop safely.
Night buses are a bit different: they only stop if you request them, regardless of which kind of stop you’re standing at.
Just find a bell and press it. If you can’t hear the bell go ding then don’t worry—it has probably already been pressed by somebody else and become mute. Just look for a ‘Bus stopping’ sign near the front.
Most passengers will get off at the middle or the back doors, but sometimes you will see people getting off at the front. There is nothing wrong with this, but some drivers can get a bit moody about it (especially if the bus is empty, and there is no one trying to get on).
You can print off paper timetables at tfl.gov.uk/travel-information.
You can also get paper timetables at a Travel Information Centre. There are six of them in London: Euston station, King’s Cross station, Liverpool Street station, Piccadilly Circus station, Victoria station and Heathrow airport.
Bus travel is free for wheelchair users, and all modern buses are equipped with ramps.
They are situated beneath the middle doors. The driver will usually let the existing passengers disembark first, and then close the doors again. He needs to do this in order to work the ramp. Just wait patiently and you will see the ramp descend onto the pavement.
If you have a big pram that won’t fit down the central aisle then you should start at the front doors, pay your fare, and then ask the driver to open the middle doors.