Buses and trams


TK (Image © Transport for London)

How to get around London by bus and tram

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London has a fleet of 6,500 red buses serving a staggaring 19,500 stops along 700 routes across London and carrying an average of six million people... per day.

Although you can use the Tube and its many transfer stations to tunnel your way just about anywhere in London, I suggest you ride the bus a few times—though not during rush hour—because at least for once you get to see where you’re going.

Riding the bus gives you a much better feel for the city layout than when you travel underground—and for the flavor of London street life, shops, and neighborhoods. (This is especially true if you snag a seat up front on a double-decker bus.)

How much does does a bus ticket in London cost?

That is a trickier question than it seems at first. But first, a recommendation: Get an Oyster Card and either pay as you go (for stays of 1–4 days) or get an unlimited-ride Travelcard (for 5+ days).

Most visitors will be hopping on and off the Tube and buses so frequently, it will more than pay for itself, and you'll never have to worry about the actual cost of fares, daily price caps, and the like.

(Yes, there is a weekly pass good only on buses and trams, but that's meant for commuters. Just get the all-services Travelcard that's also valid on the Tube, light rails, etc.)

That said, you have multiple options when it comes to paying bus fares:

  • £2.40: Single ticket (bought from the automated kiosk at many bus shelters—or, if there is no machine, paying cash to the driver on board)
  • £1.45: Oyster Card; daily price caps: £7 off-peak, £8.40 peak (best for 1–4 days)
  • £31.40: Unlimited-ride 7-day Travelcard; (best for 5+ days)
  • £9/day (£54/week): London Pass Travelcard
  • Kids under age 11 ride for free.
  • £26: All-day Hop-on/Hop-off bus pass (these tourist buses trundle around past most major sights on three lines—Red, Yellow, Blue—with unlimited-ride privileges all day).

Note: If you plan to buy from the driver on board, don't expect him to have change for anything bigger than £5 note.

When do the buses in London run?

It varies by route. Most London bus lines start sometime between 4am and 6am, and end sometime between 11pm and 1am.

Frequency of buses, again, varies by line and time of day, but is roughly every 4–12 minutes during the daytime and evening, tapering off to 2–6 times per hour in the wee hours.

There are also nnight buses—some of which follow popular daytime routes, though often with fewer stops, others of which are special nighttime routes—start between 11pm and 1am and end between 4am and 6am.

Tips & links

Details

Transport for London
Tel. +44-0343-222-1234 (not a free call)
www.tfl.gov.uk

ADDRESS

Catch a bus anywhere!

Train stations act as main terminuses for many lines, and central Trafalgar Square is handy for its plethora of route choices, including the only 2 lines still running classic Routemaster buses.

OPEN

Varies by route: 4am/6am–11pm/1am
(Night buses: 11pm/1am–4am/6am)

COST OF BUS RIDE


BUS TOURS


RESEARCH RIDES

Journey Planner

Where can I ride double-deckers & old Routemaster buses

Those red two-story buses are an icon of London—and a fabulous way to take a quick sightseeing tour, a bird's-eye tour of the city at the price of a bus ticket.

There are three kinds of double-deckers plying the streets of London these days. You will mostly see the late 20th century boxy models, and the sleek, rounded New Buses.

The only public bus routes now plied by classic old 1950s Routemasters are "Heritage Routes" 9H (Trafalgar Square to Kensington High Street/Holland Road) and 15H (Trafalgar Square to Tower Hill). Most others you will see have been repurposed as sightseeing tour buses.

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All stops are now "request" stops

Used to be there were "compuslory stops" and "request stops" for London buses, marked by different colors. Since 2007, however, TFL has made pretty much every stop "by request."

If the bus drivers sees you standing at a stop (and you wave at him, indicating it is his bus number you are waiting for) he will pull over to let you on.

If you are on the bus and wish to get off at the next stop, ring the bell by pushing the red "STOP" button on one of the poles.

Get the London Pass

The London Pass grants free entry to more than 60 sights across London, including such top attractions as St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London, the Churchill War Rooms, Shakespeare's Globe Theatre Tour, Hampton Court Palace, Windsor Castle, Kew Gardens, and London Transport Museum—as well as some nifty tours by bike, canal boat, and foot.

If you upgrade to the Travelcard option (an extra £9—or $16—per day) you also get unlimited rides on all public transportation (Underground/Tube, bus, and light rail).

» more

 

Useful London links & resources
London bus tours

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London buses & trams
Transport for London
Tel. +44-0343-222-1234 (not a free call)
www.tfl.gov.uk

ADDRESS

Catch a bus anywhere!
(Train stations act as main terminuses for many lines, and central Trafalgar Square is handy for its plethora of route choices, including the only 2 lines still running classic Routemaster double-decker buses.)

OPEN

Varies by route: 4am/6am–11pm/1am
(Night buses: 11pm/1am–4am/6am)

COST OF BUS RIDE


BUS TOURS


RESEARCH RIDES

Journey Planner