Bus transport services in London
For all information about London buses visit http://www.tfl.gov.uk
Buses generally run from 5.30am till 12.30am, however, many bus lines operate night buses which run all night. Check http://www.tfl.gov.uk to find out whether the bus you need operates all night.
Different bus routes run at different frequencies. You generally do not have to wait more than 10 minutes for a bus in London. Some buses, like Route 19, arrive every 3-4 minutes. London roads have bus lanes so buses do not have to wait in ‘regular’ traffic.
Oyster and Travelcards
The best thing to do is to purchase an Oyster card for £5, refundable when returned. Once you have this card you can add as much or as little credit to the card as you need (pay as you go). The Oyster Card gives you lower prices than if you were to pay for a single fare (£1.40 for a bus ride vs. £2.40 without an Oyster). Unlike in the tube, on buses, you touch the reader with your Oyster only on the way in. “Pay as you go” is capped to a daily maximum equivalent to the price of a day-Travelcard or a little less depending on the zones. Cards can be charged on line, in any shop displaying the Oyster sign on their window or at any station.
It’s best to get a daily or weekly Travelcard if you intend on taking any number of journeys. Costs vary according to zones, please see the Subway Section for detailed pricing information. If you simply want to use the bus only, you can get a 7-day pass for the bargain price of £19.60. Purchase tickets at any tube station or top up your Oyster Card online at http://www.tfl.gov.uk.
When it comes to etiquette, Londoners are known for totally avoiding eye contact while riding the bus. People don’t acknowledge one another and tend to read the paper and ignore all other passengers. However, always give your seat to someone in need. Board the bus in the front and exit in the back, unless the bus is a one-story extended version which accommodates passengers wishing to board in the rear. While the driver can often provide small change, never try to give him or her a bill larger than a £5 note. If you see a ticket machine outside the bus stop and are intending to pay for your journey in cash, purchase a ticket from the machine and hand this ticket to the driver. When at the bus stop and you see your bus coming, you should motion your hand out towards the road to signal that you will be boarding the approaching bus.
For long distance journey or week-end trips it is a better value to take the coach. You find coaches in King’s Cross Coach Station and Victoria Coach Station. The largest company is National Express: http://www.nationalexpress.com. If you plan well ahead you can find a seat for a pound! Visit: http://www.megabus.com/uk/. Coaches criss-cross the country and there is no medium size town which is not part of a coach route. Coaches are very frequent – up to 5 an hour on busy routes. They are often used to and from London airports. Some London workers commute daily by coach from places outside London such as Cambridge or Brighton, in which case they tend to use a local company which will offer them discounts.