London Toolkit (Spanish Pages)

A Practical Guide to London Buses With 2014 Fares & Maps

Be Informed And In Control Using London's Famous Red Buses

London Double Deck Buses

Official Web Site of London Buses


London's famous red buses form a big part of getting around in London. Although the London Underground is the fastest and for newcomers the simplest way of getting around London, the buses play their part and are an experience you should try at least once on your visit. Unlike the London Underground, perched up on the top deck of the bus you get a great sightseeing experience of London as well.

Key points about London's buses are:

  • The authorities penalise you heavily for buying single journey tickets. (62% more expensive than paying by Oyster for example)

  • Although there are separate bus operating companies, the regulation, fares and ticketing for buses, Underground, DLR and London suburban trains are managed by a central government body called Transport For London chaired by the mayor of London. The transport passes that nearly everyone uses, Oyster and Travelcard, allow you to travel seamlessly across all modes of transport, bus, Underground, train and DLR using the same ticket/pass.

  • Children under 11 travel free on red London buses (and the Underground) at all times. Child fares are available for those under 16 and it is possible to get discounted fares if you are under 18 or studying in London with an ID card.

  • There are no seniors fares for visitors. If you reside in London and are over 60 you can get a pass that makes free bus travel available and anyone with an English National Concessionary bus pass can use that on London's buses too.

  • Many of London's bus routes run 24x7. When the Underground closes between about midnight and about 5 a.m. extra night buses are put on. In the centre of London you only wait a few minutes for a bus whatever time of day or night.

London Public Transport Journey Planner

London Bus Journey Planner

Use the TFL (Transport For London) journey planner linked from icon on the left to plan your journeys. The journey planner covers all public transport.

London Bus Maps

For first time visitors to London who can invest a little time pouring over the Central London Bus Map (right) you can quite easily put together your own tour very cheaply with just a few well chosen routes.

London Bus Fares

The days when there were conductors on each bus that issued a ticket depending on where you were going and you paid cash are long gone. On the buses there are flat fares whether you go one stop or to the end of the route.


In central London, you'll need a ticket before you board some services. If your bus number is displayed with a yellow background at the bus stop you'll need to buy a ticket from the machine at the stop before you get on if you don't already have a valid ticket or pass. If you plan on riding a London red bus, assume you will not be able to buy a ticket on-board the bus.

The vast majority of people using buses will be using Oyster Cards.


London Adult Bus Fares & Ticketing In 2014

(Childrens Fares See Below)

- Single Ticket Flat Fare Per Journey

Single Journey Fare £2.40

- Fares Available Paying By Oyster Card

Single Journey Fare £1.45 (Daily Oyster Fare Cap* £4.40)

7 Day Bus Pass £20.20

1 Month Bus Pass £77.60

Annual Bus Pass £808.00

* Daily Oyster Cap - the maximum you pay in a calendar day no matter how many bus journeys you make. e.g 4 journeys made in one day at £1.45 cost £4.40 (the daily cap) not £5.80.

Oyster Card London

Oyster Cards

As you can see from the above fare structure the authorities do not want you to buy single tickets, they want you to purchase an Oyster Card.

The Oyster card is a permanent reusable electronic ticket which is topped up from time to time by its owner. Londoners also have their season tickets loaded onto Oyster Cards as well and there are passes for one weekly and monthly durations. All can be loaded onto the one electronic Oyster card.

You can use Oyster Cards on all of London's public transport, not just buses but the Underground, Overground, DLR, suburban rail services and some river services.

You can purchase and subsequently top up Oyster cards from Underground Stations and a wide variety of other outlets throughout London including neighbourhood stores.

Oyster Cards - More Details


London Oyster Card and Travelcards For Sale On-line

Seniors Concessions

There are no seniors fares for visitors. If you reside in London and are over 60 you can get a Freedom pass or 60+ Oyer ID Card that makes free bus travel available. You can apply on-line or get a form from your local Post Office.

Anybody with an English National Concessionary bus pass can use that on London's red buses too.

Child Concessions

This is a very complex subject and is covered in detail at the foot of the page.

In crude terms a child is defined as under 16 years old, but in the last couple of years it has been possible to get child fares after jumping through a few hoops up to the age of 17.

On the buses there are no child cash fares, just a 50% discount on Oyster and Travelcard tickets if there is no free travel available.

Children under 11 can travel free on the London Underground, DLR and buses without a ticket. If a child is between 11 and 15 years old you require an Oyster 11-15 Photocard (which has a fee see below). This allows 11 to 15 year olds to travel at child fares on the Underground, DLR, Overground and some trains, free on the buses.

Child Fares - More Details

Paying For Single Bus Journeys

If your bus number is displayed with a yellow background at the bus stop you'll need to buy a ticket from the machine at the stop before you get on, if you don't already have a valid ticket or pass.

You can get single tickets from Underground Stations. Underground Stations accept credit and debit cards as well as cash. You cannot purchase single tickets from Ticket Stops, outlets that sell just about every other public transport ticket and pass.

Contactless Paymeny Symbol

If you have a credit, debit or charge card that has been issued in the UK and displays the contact less payment symbol (pictured on the left), you should be able to use it on buses to pay for single journeys. You use it just like an Oyster Card. The passenger display on the driver's ticket machine will show the message 'Payment card £1.45 charged'.

However, using this method you don't get the daily price cap facility you do by paying by Oyster.

Swiping Your Oyster Card

Boarding The Bus

If your bus number is displayed with a yellow background at the bus stop you'll need to buy a ticket from the machine at the stop before you get on, if you don't already have a valid ticket or pass, otherwise you can pay cash for a ticket from the bus driver.

When you board the bus with an Oyster Card you will see a yellow pad like the one pictured right.

Swipe your Oyster over the pad and the machine will confirm your fare has been taken. That's it, you don't get a ticket and you don't swipe it again on exiting the bus.

Children's Fare Concessions
- Children Under 5

Children under five can travel free at any time on the Tube, DLR, buses and trams as long as they are accompanied by an adult with a valid ticket. You do not need a ticket for free travel. Children in this category do not need Oyster ID Cards*.

- Children 5-10

Under-11s can travel free at any time on buses and trams without the need for a Oyster ID Card*. You do not need a ticket for free travel.

They can also travel free at any time on the Tube and DLR when they are travelling with an adult who has a valid ticket. Up to 4 children under 11 years old accompanied by a paying adult travel free on the London Underground.

Unaccompanied children between 5 and 10 must have a valid Oyster ID Card*.

- Children 11-15
Child Fares On London Public Transport

Children aged 11 to 15 years must get an 11-15 Oyster ID Card* to travel free on buses and trams and at child-rate on Tube, DLR and London Overground services. You do not need a ticket for free travel, just the ID Card.


You can get around the Oyster ID card requirement by purchasing a 1 day Travelcard for the child, (longer length Travelcards do require an Oyster ID Card) or paying the cash fare or purchasing your Child Travelcard on-line in advance from the TFL Visitor Shop.

You cannot get a child rate Oyster Card without an Oyster ID Card.


You can buy 7 day child Travelcards at railway stations (not Underground or Overground) with a railway ticket office. The railways will issue a railways photocard free of charge if you bring along a passport size photo of your child. You can only use this for buying tickets from the railways which in practise for visitors means Travelcards.

Children 16-17

All 16 to 17-year-olds can travel at child-rate on bus, Tube, tram, DLR and London Overground services with a 16+ Oyster ID Card*.

However, you can only use this concession on Oyster cards and 7 Day Travelcards or longer, not 1 day Travelcards.

Students 18+

If you are 18 or over and enrolled with a participating education establishment registered on the TfL scheme and are resident in London whilst studying there is an Oyster ID card that gives a 34% discount on Oyster Pay As You Go.

*Oyster ID Cards

Visitors to London from overseas can order an Oyster Photocard in advance for their children and collect on arrival at a travel centre. (There is a Travel Centre at Heathrow Airport as well as in Central London). If you are resident in the UK but live outside London you can again order on-line but the Oyster ID Card is sent to your home address.

Note you need to apply (online) at least 4 weeks prior to arrival.

Note: There is a non-refundable £10 administration fee for each Oyster ID Card

Advance application for Child Oyster ID Card


London Oyster Card and Travelcards For Sale On-line
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