Big Bus Tours

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Big Bus Tours
Big Bus Company 10-5-07.jpg
ParentExponent Private Equity (85%)
Merlin Entertainments (15%)
Commenced operationMay 1990 for Les Cars Rouges / June 1991 for Big Bus Company
Service areaAbu Dhabi, Budapest, Chicago, Dubai, Dublin, Hong Kong, Istanbul, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, London, Miami, Muscat, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Rome, San Francisco, Shanghai, Sydney, Vienna, Washington, D.C.
Service typeOpen top bus operator
Alliance"Les Cars Rouges" and "Big Bus Company" merged in 2011 and formed "Big Bus Tours"

Big Bus Tours[1] (formerly Les Cars Rouges and The Big Bus Company), is the largest operator of open top bus sightseeing tours founded in May 2011 after "Les Cars Rouges" and the "Big Bus Company" merged. The company operates in 20 cities of 11 countries with more than 150 buses around the world.[2] The United States is the country with the largest number of cities with Big Bus Tours service. Typically, Big Bus Tours use open top double-decker buses in burgundy and cream-coloured livery.


Big Bus company kiosk and bus queue at Speakers' Corner, London

"Les Cars Rouges" was founded in 1990 by Abdallah El Azm in Paris, France. Over the course of the next two decades, it went on to operate in Paris, Rome, Washington DC, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Miami, and Istanbul. The "Big Bus Company" first started operating in London, England in June 1991 with four buses by the Maybury family. It later expanded to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Philadelphia, and so on.[3]

"Les Cars Rouges" and "the Big Bus Company" merged in May 2011, and formed "Big Bus Tours". Les Cars Rouges was the larger of the two companies, but for international namesake purposes, the name "Big Bus" was retained.[4]

In May 2007, the Abu Dhabi company the Al Fahim Group purchased a 30% shareholding.[5][6]

In February 2015, the business was sold to Exponent Private Equity.[7][8] In February 2016, Merlin Entertainments bought a 15% shareholding.[9]

Overview of operation[edit]

Buses travel near major landmarks around the town or city it tours. Pre-recorded or live commentary about the landscape is provided through small headphones worn by each passenger. Users may leave the bus and board again without limit (hop-on, hop-off) at special bus stops on a circular route. In large cities, buses go on more than one route. In some cities (such as Hong Kong) some variants of the ride include travelling by boat.[10]

Operations by country[edit]




In April 2010, The Big Bus Shanghai was established. It operates a fleet of eight Ankais.[11]


Hong Kong[edit]

Big Bus in Hong Kong

On 15 December 2008, The Big Bus Hong Kong was established. With the largest fleet of open-top buses in the city,[12] it serves three sightseeing routes: Hong Kong Island (Red Tour), Kowloon (Blue Tour) and Stanley (Green Tour). The tour offers a wide range of packages which include free travel on the Peak Tram, entry to the Sky Terrace on Victoria Peak, a traditional Sampan ride, and a Star Ferry harbour tour.






  • Big Bus Singapore (operates 3 routes) (established in 14 January 2011, using Scania L94UB, Scania K230UB double-decker buses)

In 2019, MAN ND323F double deckers were the first open-top 3-axle double deckers to be purchased under Big Bus Singapore.[citation needed]


United Arab Emirates[edit]

In 2002, The Big Bus Tours Dubai was established. The buses used are traditional open-top double-decker buses. The tour visits numerous sights throughout the Emirate; including the Wafi Mall, Dubai Creek, Creekside Park, Dubai Museum, The Old Souq, Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, Heritage & Diving Village, Dubai Gold Souk, Deira City Centre, Jumeirah Mosque, Souq Madinat Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab, the Palm Dubai Mall, and the Burj Khalifa.[citation needed]

United Kingdom[edit]

The Big Bus Tours London operates three routes with stops at these tourist destinations: Madame Tussauds, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Westminster Bridge, London Eye, Covent Garden, St Paul's Cathedral, London Bridge, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Harrods, Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens.[13][14]


Dennis Condor of Big Bus

Originally, the fleet was built up with former route service double deckers that were converted to open top for a second life. AEC Routemasters, Daimler Fleetlines, Leyland Atlanteans and Leyland Titans were all used during the 1990s. These were replaced by 3-axle Dennis Condors, Leyland Olympians and MCW Metrobuses purchased from Hong Kong. The depot is in Wimbledon.

In 2008, 10 East Lancs Visionaire bodied Volvo B9TLs were purchased. These were followed by 26 Optare Visionaire-bodied Volvo B9TLs and 3-axle Ankais.

United States[edit]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 1360202 The Big Bus Company Limited
  2. ^ "Sightseeing Bus | Hop-on Hop-off Bus | Big Bus Tours". Archived from the original on 27 June 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  3. ^ "Big Bus Tours International | About Us". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  4. ^ "Big Bus Tours wants investors on board | The National". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  5. ^ Al Fahim Group acquires 30 percent equity interest in the Big Bus Company Archived 4 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine 29 May 2007
  6. ^ Al Fahim Group buys 30% stake in Big Bus Company Gulf News 29 May 2007
  7. ^ Private equity firms line up for 400m ticket to Big Bus Tours City A.M. 12 January 2015
  8. ^ Double decker deal for Exponet Private Equity as group snaps up Big Bus Tours City A.M. 25 February 2015
  9. ^ Merlin eyes Big Bus Tours takeover following £24.6 million state deal The Daily Telegraph 25 February 2016
  10. ^ "Hop-on, Hop-off Bus | City Bus Tours | Big Bus Tours". Archived from the original on 18 June 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  11. ^ Big Bus Tours (The Big Bus Company, London, England) Archived 10 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine The Open Top Bus Site
  12. ^ WebsiteBuilder, 1&1. "OPEN TOP BUS TOURS - HONG KONG EXTRAS3". Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  13. ^ London Stops List Archived 24 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine Big Bus Tours April 2012
  14. ^ Map Big Bus Tours Archived 21 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine February 2013

External links[edit]