Routemaster-Go-Around: An afternoon bus journey in London

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Red buses, along with red phone boxes and London cabbies, have long been London’s non-architectural symbol, gaining Routemasters the appearance as London icons among well-know sites such as the Big Ben and the Palace of Westminster, Trafalgar Square, and Picadilly Circus. People collect miniature or full-size red buses; tourists snap photos of passing buses as their trophy take-home images; and even Ikea sales London bus wall art in their Vilshult collection. What else can we say about the symbolism of London red buses! As the Year of Bus is approaching to an end, we would like to talk a little about this symbolic movable architecture easily found cruising on London’s street.

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London buses, with their long running history, have evolved in the form and function throughout their 60 years of service. Currently, 3 kinds of double-deckers are running on London streets: the old Routemasters, the typical red double-deckers, and the new Routemasters (aka the Borismasters). As the introduction of Borismasters in Feburary 2012, the scarce old Routemasters covering the heritage line is now slowly replaced by the shiny and sleek-looking new Routemasters.

As the old Routemasters are becoming harder and harder to get a ride on, we want to go on a Routemaster-Go-Around in Central London to capture the three distinct bus era under one afternoon. So… Where can we find the 3 different kinds of buses in one afternoon? We picked 3 iconic London landmarks along our Routemaster-Go-Around route to add more Londoness to our bus ride!

The Route (see above map) – The bus ride starts at Westminster and boards Bus 12 towards Oxford Circus. Don’t forget to snap an image of the red bus with the Big Ben as the background here. Alight Bus 12 at Trafalgar Square to watch the Old Routemaster Bus 15 passing by (or alternative takes a return trip on Bus 15 to/from Aldwych). At Trafalgar Square, we then walk through the crowd to Piccadilly Circus to catch the New Routemaster Bus 38 towards Clapton Pond, which takes us to Soho for Christmas Shopping! Of course, Piccadilly Circus presents its iconic presence for that cliché red bus photo opportunity.

Interested in doing the Routemaster-Go-Around? Please share your experience and perhaps some of your special snaps of red buses with London landmarks as background before the old Routemasters fades out!

Foxy’s Side Note:

  • Earlier this year, we went to some interesting events organised by London Transport Museum and National Trust to celebrate the Year of Bus. If you are interested in our experience, please see our posts:
  • Old Routemaster (Bus 15): The Heritage route 15 is the only preserved Routemaster route running between Tower Hill and Trafalgar Square. It’s a short working route and only runs  between 9.30am to 7pm. So you’re lucky enough if you get to ride on one!
  • New Routemaster (Bus 38): Runs between Victoria Station and Clapton Pond.
  • As far as the fare goes, each segment of the bus ride sets you back £2.50 (£1.50 for Oyster Card) and bus and tram daily cap at £4.40. Check TFL for 2015Changes to Fares.
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