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Sunday, 20 April 2014

Tour Buses or London Transport Buses for sightseeing?

Well if you’re travelling to London for a short stay or a day trip, you would encourage yourself to ride on the double decker buses to see the sights of Central London.  But I help you on comparing the differences between the open top tour buses and normal commuting London Buses.

Prices on sightseeing tour buses and London Buses
Oyster Card
Creative Commons Image
Using the tour buses is expensive for the day trippers, it cost nearly £30 for the adult ticket to ride on the open top tour buses. If your short staying in London, depends on your budget it might be ideal for you. So I have drawn up a table to compare the prices from the main tour bus companies and the Transport for London services.

Big Bus tour
City Sightseeing/The Original Tour
Golden Tours
London Transport services
Adult £32.00
Online £24.00
Child £12.00
Online £12.00
Family £76.00
Online £60.00
All 24 hour ticket
Adult £29.00
Online £25.50
Child £14.00
Online £12.00
Family £86.00
Online £72.00
All 24 hour ticket
Adult £27.00
Child £12.00
Family £70.00
All 24 hour ticket
Oyster Pay as you go or contactless bank card £1.45
Oyster Price cap* (for buses only) £4.40
Oyster off peak* price cap (Buses, London Rail, Underground & DLR on zone 1-6) £8.50
* Off peak starts after 9:30am
The price caps and Travelcards valid till 4:30 am on the following day.
City sightseeing prices (does not show discount  online prices)
More information from TFL fares page. Tourists can also get Visitor Oyster card which provides discount prices.

So it depends if you’re a regular commuter for London Transport services, which the prices would be suitable for you for a day trip to Central London from zone 5 or 6.
The Original Tour provides local cash fares for tourists or day trippers on its selected routes. Adult single fare is £8.00 and child fare is £4.00 for T3 Green Route. T5 Black route and T6 Purple route adult single fare is £2.00 while child fare is £1.00 but it’s during their permitted hours. Holders of the London Borough Freedom passes can pay half the rate for the Original Tour buses on its permitted routes and hours. Clickfor more information

Maps
The tour bus service in London provides maps as the route(s) may differ from other companies.
Map of Big Bus tour
Map of Golden Tours
You may need Acrobat PDF reader in order to view the map.

London Buses Spider Diagram Map from the Visitor guide
London Buses do have maps featured on their site, one is the tourist spider map which shows you the routes that serve Central London from page 11 of the Visitorguide. Also there is a mapof all routes that serves the Central London, the map is in high resolution and it shows the West End of Central London.

Sightseeing on London Buses
Sightseeing on the London Buses is one of the cheapest ways to tour around London. But the buses have closed roofs and you be sheltered in so when the weather is bad you stay dry and you won’t get a cold as well. But you do require to change routes with the London Buses, so I give you information on the selected routes.

Hydrogen bus on RV1
Creative Commons image
Route RV1 uses single decker hydrogen buses. It starts from Tower Gateway Station and goes past the Tower of London, then it goes through the iconic Tower Bridge where you can see the tremendous views of the River Thames. Then it goes past London Bridge Station and travels you along the South bank of London, the route goes past the London Eye and loops past Waterloo Station. Then it takes you over the bridge named Waterloo Bridge and the route ends at Covent Garden. 

New Routemaster on route 11
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Route 11 uses the Double Decker NewRoutemasters, it is one of the cheapest sightseeing routes for tourists and day trippers. Start at Liverpool Street station and then it takes you through the City of London where it goes past the sights of Bank of England, St Paul’s Cathedral and Ludgate Circus. Then it carries on through Strand, Aldwych all the way through the sight of Trafalgar Square then South towards Palace of Whitehall, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey then to Victoria station. The route ends towards Fulham Broadway via Chelsea in West London.

Iconic AEC Routemaster on route 15 Heritage
Creative Commons image

Route 15H is a short working route of standard Route 15, it uses the Iconic double decker AEC Routemaster, it starts from Tower Hill and goes via the City of London where the sights of Bank of England, St Paul’s Cathedral and Ludgate Circus. Then it carries on through Strand, Aldwych Trafalgar Square. Please note that the Heritage Routemaster is not wheelchair accessible and times it operate between 10am till 7pm. Waiting time is every 15 minutes, Standard London Buses fares and TFL ticketing applies.

Differences between Sightseeing buses and London Buses


Sightseeing tour bus companies
London Buses
Open Top/semi open top buses where you can see the sights of London. With the climate of England you may get wet or cold because of the open top buses. Also when the weather is hot in London it may be suitable to be on the open top deck.
Closed top buses which you can sit on the top deck and avoid getting wet during the rain and cold weather. London Buses have white panels on the roof to reflect the sunlight and keeps the bus cooler. Some London bus routes have Single deckers like routes 507. 521 & RV1…etc
Prices can be expensive like around £30 for a single adult to have a tour around London in an open top bus, plus the ticket is valid for 24 hours.
Under £5.00 for the £4.40 London Bus price cap, depends if you travelled from Zone 6 into Zone 1 after 9:30 am during weekdays which cost £8.50 for the zone 1-6 (equivalent to Travelcard) price cap on Oyster.
Recorded commentary in various languages, you will be supplied by your tour bus guide to have earphones to enable you to listen to the commentary. Some of the routes have live commentary by the guide which tells you the sights.
Onboard iBus announcements which tells you the name of the bus stops, sometimes it says “alight here for…” to show that the stops serves tourist attractions. Also the announcement is shown on the iBus display. Some routes served by the New Routemaster would have a crew member that gives you travel advice. Same applies to the Classic Routemaster on route 15 Heritage.
Operates during the day, but other sightseeing bus companies like London By Night operates during the evening.
The bus network is 24 hours, some routes like 23, 24 and 25 operates during the night, some routes like N11, N9 and N15 are night routes which gives links to towns in the Outer London areas.
If lean off the top deck of the bus and you drop your camera or smartphone, when its dropped it will be broken and you will lose your photos.
There are windows on the bus so it’s impossible to lean off the bus and break your camera or smartphone.
With waiting times, you got to check with the tour bus company to check when the next bus arrives at the stop. 
Some bus stops have the countdown system which shows you when the next bus arrives. Plus the frequency of London Buses is usually 5 to 15 minutes wait for the next bus to arrive.

Conclusion
Well it depends if you prefer paying a fortune on a open top sightseeing bus or cheaper on a warm closed top double decker bus for under £5.00 from the £4.40 price cap, so it depends on your budget for sightseeing in London.


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