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I'm embarrassed to say....

College Station...
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I'm embarrassed to say....

Things are different here in Texas. In the small town we live in there isn't any bus service.(And no we don't ride horses to get to work.....)

So I want to know the proper etiquette/procedure for the bus system in London. I want to use it in addition to the underground(we've used the subway while in New York).How do I figure out where it's going and when I need to get off? Does the driver stop at every stop even if no one is waiting to board?How do I signal that I want to get off? Anything I shouldn't do that would annoy my fellow passengers? I know these questions will make you TALFers laugh but I'm really trying to not be an obnoxious tourist.

East Midlands
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for Northamptonshire
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1. Re: I'm embarrassed to say....

When you get on the bus tell the driver where you are going and confirm that you will "see him alright when the time comes" and ask him if he "can shout out when the bus is approaching your stop".

Once he's shouted you walk to the front of the bus and tap the driver on the shoulder, holding a silver coin in your hand (which you pass to him). You say (very loudly ... shouting works better) "Excuse me, my good man, I would like to alight at the next stop. Can you ensure that you stop a decent distance from the kerb so as to facilitate an easy descent?" He will respond with a short sentence full of words which are only four letters long and you must (MUST) respond with "and up yours too,"

Only then will he open the doors.

London, United...
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2. Re: I'm embarrassed to say....

Q. How do I figure out where it's going and when I need to get off?

Before boarding: For the buses, the vast majority of bus stops have comprehensive maps showing all bus routes from each stop and those in surrounding area. There are of course the indicator boards on the front of each bus too.

With the tubes, there are maps and signs on each platform. Where multiple lines use the same station, use the indicator signs on the platform and the front of each train to make sure you get on the right one.

On board, both tubes and buses (most of them, anyway) have announcements and screens indicating the next stop.

Once you start, you'll quickly see it's not that complicated.

Q. Does the driver stop at every stop even if no one is waiting to board?

With the tube, yes.

With the bus, stick your arm out to notify the driver you want to board. Then watch and listen for your stop to be announced and push one of the red buttons to notify the driver.

Q. Anything I shouldn't do that would annoy my fellow passengers?

As long as you don't eat or drink (against the rules now), play loud music from a cheap mobile phone or stick dirty shoes on the seats, you'll be fine.

London
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3. Re: I'm embarrassed to say....

Really you have to know the route number of the bus, you can look this up on www.tfl.gov.uk on the journey planner. Obviously that's no good to you if you’re out and about and decide that you want to get on a bus so the easiest thing to do is to head to the nearest bus stop and the various buses which serve that stop will be listed along with their destinations and various stopping off points on the way. There will also be a big map on the bus stop of the local area and which buses serve it, where they go to and will list the stop from which you can catch the bus if it’s not the stop you’re already at.

The route number will be on the front of the bus along with the final destination and there might also be one or two areas that the bus passes though (via) mentioned on the front also. If you see a bus you want to get on coming along then so long as you are at a bus stop at which that bus stops, stick out your arm as the bus approaches and the bus will stop for you. I always keep my arm stuck out until the driver turns on the indicator of the bus so that I know for sure that he’s seen me and intends to stop.

Most buses now have an automated voice and a digital display which calls out the next stop of the bus. If you want to get off the bus at the next stop then you must press one of the bells which are big red buttons found in many locations of the bus before the next stop, giving the driver enough warning that you want to stop – don’t press the bell only 5 feet before the stop! The bus will stop only if the bell has been pressed or if somebody standing at the bus stop signals the bus to stop, otherwise it will keep going.

You get on the bus at the doors at the front of the bus, you get off the bus at the doors in the middle.

If you get on a crowded bus and have to stand, move down the bus as far as you can and don’t stand at the bit near to the driver if you can move down further as you block the way for others to get on. If you’re standing in the space for wheelchair and pushchairs, move out if you see somebody get on with kids and pushchair in tow.

Hitchin, United...
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4. Re: I'm embarrassed to say....

And importantly, if you are using an Oyster card, you only need to touch IN, unlike on the tubes. There will be a yellow disc shaped reader (the same as you see at tube gates) situated next to the driver as you get on... touch your card on that, the machine goes "beep" and that's it, you've paid for that journey. You get off wherever you like, because all bus journeys are the same price. DO NOT touch your card again when you get off, because you'll be charged for a second journey.

glasgow scotland
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5. Re: I'm embarrassed to say....

Now, now Ginger, the correct way when standing at a bus stop to signal that you want to board is to hold your arm out towards the road, if you do not the bus will run straight past.

If you are not sure where to get off then by all means ask the driver if he could give you a shout as to to when they are approaching the stop, i would sit fairly close to the front for this to work, he may do it ,then again he may not or get distracted by driving and forget.

If you do know when it is your stop then ensure you get out of your seat early enough and press the "stopping bell" which are located the length of the bus usually on the grab poles attached to the seats.

Your biggest problem will be knowing which bus stops at which stop on the main streets where lots of routes go down as it is not unusual to have 4-5 buses stop at 1 stop and another 4-5 stop at a stop 10 yards along.

Remember if you using cash it will be "exact fare only" in other words no change given.

Although not from London this is standard practise throughout the UK.

Good Luck

West London
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6. Re: I'm embarrassed to say....

Just remember to shake hands will all the other passengers when you get on and you'll be fine.

(1) You pay money or show your oystercard or paper ticket to the driver when you get on.

(2) All central London buses now have electronic displays saying what the next stop will be, and a female voice usually announces it as well.

(3) Buses only stop at those bus stops where people are getting on and getting off, but realistically in central London that's all of them so don't worry about it.

Off topic, but make sure you find the plaque marking the site of the original Texas embassy when Texas was an independent nation. Here's my photo of it:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/57351475@N00/301962496/

College Station...
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7. Re: I'm embarrassed to say....

Ya'll (that's Texan for you all) are awesome. That's the info I need to get started. I'm going to try and plan some routes for our sightseeing and knew that using the bus system would be useful as well as the underground.

Thanks for helping this transportation challenged tourist!

London, United...
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8. Re: I'm embarrassed to say....

The no.15 bus between the centre and the Tower of London has a few of the classic Routemasters on the route. Hang around for a bit at the stop until one of those come along.

Until you've jumped both on and off the platform while the bus is moving, you have NOT done London.

…flickr.com/1104/580220478_52c09b15a2.jpg

(Even now, after dozens of journeys, riding upstairs on a Routemaster as it passes through Picadilly or Trafalgar Sq still makes me grin like idiot)

Vancouver, Canada
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for London
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9. Re: I'm embarrassed to say....

Nice one, Glyn, best larf of the day.

wessexw mentioned that the buses will have the route number plus destination on the front . Most of those blinds (as they're called) will also have some major interim stops listed, with the link below showing the number 1 which usually starts at Tottenham Court Road and runs to Canada Water. Elephant does not mean that it runs by way of Africa but calls at the Elephant & Castle. The 115 in the second link is just on its way out of Aldgate bus station on its way towards East Ham.

http://www.londonbusroutes.net/photos/001.htm

http://www.londonbusroutes.net/photos/115.htm

There is a trend these days towards skipping the interim stops listed on the blinds, so you'll need to know the start and terminus destinations of the buses for those routes: the one below is at Crossharbour waiting to head back to Old Street. http://www.londonbusroutes.net/photos/135.htm

The link below shows a picture of the kind of sign you'll see at bus stops, with this one on Brompton Road for west and southbound buses, with the buses listed calling at that stop. …flickr.com/109/293288495_b495aeaefa.jpg

A great many stops will have large spider maps of the buses running from that stop, most will have smaller spider diagrams on the pole with the stop numbers showing as well. You'll have to learn to read the spider maps and/or deal with the Central London Bus Map, which may look daunting at first - but they'll make sense as you use them. A couple of spider maps below may (I hope) help you get an idea of what runs where.

tfl.gov.uk/tfl/…charingcrossquad-2048.pdf

tfl.gov.uk/tfl/…marblearchdr-2168.pdf

tfl.gov.uk/tfl/…kingscross-2150.pdf

You'll also see Routemasters running alongside the standard double deckers on the Heritage routes, 9 to and from the Aldwych and Royal Albert Hall as well as Trafalgar Square and the Tower. Travelcards and PAYG on Oyster are accepted on the Routemasters - please try to ride one at least once as they're still at risk of being pulled from use, which would be a shame. Just board the bus and sit down, the conductor will come to you to ask for the fare.

College Station...
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10. Re: I'm embarrassed to say....

thank you TravellerPlus. The links are so useful....I won't feel so intimidated and promise to use one of the routes serviced by the Routemasters to truly feel like I've done London.(Thanks for the numbers to look for Worldtraveller 2003 and travellerPlus)