London Buses….

This article is about London buses in general. For the organisation responsible for running most buses in London, see London Buses.
A symbol of London: theRoutemaster bus (Retired)

The London Bus is one of London‘s principal icons, the archetypal red rear-entrance Routemaster being recognised worldwide. Although the Routemaster has now been largely phased out of service, with only two heritage routes still using the vehicles,[1] the majority of buses in London are still red and therefore the red double-decker bus remains a widely recognised symbol of the city.

Organisation[edit]

Buses have been used on the streets of London since 1829, when George Shillibeer started operating his horse drawn omnibus service from Paddington to the city. In 1850 Thomas Tilling started horse busservices, and in 1855 the London General Omnibus Company or LGOC was founded to amalgamate and regulate the horse-drawn omnibus services then operating in London.

LGOC began using motor omnibuses in 1902, and manufactured them itself from 1909. In 1904 Thomas Tilling started its first motor bus service. The last LGOC horse-drawn bus ran on 25 October 1911, although independent operators used them until 1914.

In 1909 Thomas Tilling and LGOC entered into an agreement to pool their resources. The agreement restricted the expansion of Thomas Tilling in London, and allowed the LGOC to lead an amalgamation of most of London’s bus services. However, also in 1909 Thomas Clarkson started the National Steam Car Company to run steam buses in London in competition with the LGOC. In 1919 the National company reached agreement with the LGOC to withdraw from bus operation in London, and steam bus services ceased later that year.

Busses in London…

Tour buses

A partial open top tour bus

A common sight in central London are tour buses, the majority being open-top buses. These are double-decker buses with a fully or partially open upper deck, which provide tourist services with either live or recorded commentary. Most of these services allow passengers to embark and disembark at any of the company’s stops, continuing their journey on a later bus.

There are several competing operators of such services which do not form part of the London Buses network and do not issue or accept London Buses tickets, although at least one paints its buses in the same red as London’s local buses. Fares are set by the operators, usually a flat fee for a day’s (or multiple days’) usage; there is no need to pre-book and tickets can be bought from the driver or bus-stop ticket sellers.

Other more formally organised tours use luxury coaches and generally need to be booked in advance through travel agents.