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Category Buses

"The way to see London is from the top of a bus - the top of a bus, gentlemen."
- William Ewart Gladstone, to some American tourists.

London has a large and efficient (although slow) bus network that should, in theory, be able to take you almost anywhere in the city. At night the system switches over to the night bus network, which is often the only cheap way to get home at 4 in the morning since the Tubes stop running at around midnight.

Each route is numbered, and the larger bus stops with shelters bear maps showing the routes of all buses that stop at them. However, the old realistic bus shelter maps showing a large area with all the bus routes are now being replaced with so-called spider maps which is not such a good thing if you don't know how you're getting to your destination. Most if not all stops should also have notices showing the frequency of the service throughout the day and night, and some even have electronic displays showing how long a wait you have until the next bus.

The red Routemaster bus is one of the enduring symbols of London, along with the black Taxis.

Bus Routes and Timetables

  • Amateur but extremely useful bus route sites:
    • London's Busroutes - "designed primarily for people who travel around London on Public Transport but do not have an in depth knowledge of the system."
    • London Bus Routes - "to provide comprehensive information on bus routes in the greater London area, principally that network operated under contract to London Bus Services Limited".
  • The Greater London Bus Map is a very useful (if unofficial) publication showing services in Central and Greater London (including a quick-reference route list for every London bus route). PDFs are available from the website for free, or you can buy your own copy to carry around with you for only 1.50 (secure online transactions available). New editions roughly three times a year. I have the latest (No. 19, August 2002) and find it very handy. Buy one! It's great!

Bus Fares

Anyone under the age of 11 can travel free on buses at any time. Children aged 11-16 have reduced fares.

You can pay for a bus journey in one of several ways: by cash on the bus itself, by buying a book of bus saver tickets, with a bus pass, with a travelcard, or with Oyster Card pre-pay.

As of January 2005 all cash fares for single bus journeys within London are £1.20. This is to encourage you to use one of the other methods of payment, hence making it quicker to board.

With pre-pay the cost is 80p per bus journey, and with bus saver tickets the cost is £1 per bus journey. Note that if you need to use more than one bus to complete your journey, you will be charged more than once, and this still applies if your bus is halted short of its final destination and you need to swap to another of the same number.

At some point this year, pre-pay fares will increase to £1 during peak hours (6:30am-9:30am weekdays). This was meant to be implemented in January 2005, but the infrastructure wasn't ready in time.

Any travelcard is valid across all zones for bus travel. This very useful fact seems not to be very widely known.

Since 2004, central bus routes require that tickets are bought before boarding. If you wish to pay for your journey with cash, you'll need to buy a ticket from the machine beside the bus stop. "Pay Before You Board" routes are indicated by the route number on the bus stop sign having a yellow background.

Last edited 2005-01-05 19:01:38 (version 13; diff). List all versions.