The Routemaster is still operating in London
If you travel to London, you'll undoubtedly see the cheesy, roofless tourbuses that potter around the city to show you all the sites. From personal experience, I think you should avoid them!
When I first came to London, I naievly shelled out £15 and hopped on one of these tourbuses. About 5 minutes into the journey I got off the bus, never to return again.
Let me clear the air: these buses are overpriced, tourist-traps that cause you to miss the experience of the real London.
Hop on Line 9 or 15, and you're certain to see just as much, costing you only a fraction of the price. Not to mention, if you wait around for one of the old Routemaster buses, you'll step back into old London for the price of £1 each journey. The conductor at the rear of the bus accepts your Oyster Card just like the newer buses (Read my upcoming article on the Oyster Card before hopping on a bus, though).
It might take more careful navigating than hopping onto a tour-guided bus, but being adventerous is worth it! Don't worry; I'll guide you through this process.
Notice the Routemaster (foreground) and the new bus style (background)
Your Cheap Checklist:
1. Get an Oyster Card (available at any London Underground Station or London Train Station for £3, which is refundable when you surrender the card before you leave London). The Routemaster buses accept cash fare, Travel Cards and Oyster Cards.
2. Go to Travel for London (TfL) to see the bus route, times, and stopping points
3. Take Bus 9 or 15 to/from any of the stops
4. Climb the steep steps to the top deck of the bus. The view is much better from the top (and thankfully covered!).
5. Get out your camera - take some photos or video
6. Ring the bell when you'd like to get off the bus (carfeul going down the skinny staircase!)
Heritage Route 9: Royal Albert Hall — Hyde Park Corner — Piccadilly Circus — Trafalgar Square — Strand — Aldwych
Heritage Route 15: Trafalgar Square — Strand — Aldwych — Fleet Street — Cannon Street — Monument — Tower Hill
Yep, that's me! Heritage Routes are great!
A FEW NOTES:
-The Heritage Routes (for the Routemaster)run 10 buses each, but you can ride any regular double-decker bus that will take you to and from the same stops. It's more fun to ride the old one.
-Route 9 takes you by Hyde Park Corner, Piccadilly Circus and Trafalgar Square. Those are just some highlights, but starting or stopping at any one of those places is a good idea.
-Route 15 takes you by St. Paul's Cathedral, St. Brides Church and ends at the Tower of London (Tower Hill).
-Bus stops are easy to find. Just look for the red circle with the line across the center - similar to the Underground signs
Here's what it's like to ride on a Routemaster: