City Sightseeing

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City Sightseeing Gozo Hop-On Hop-Off open top bus FPY 004.jpg
City Sightseeing Gozo King Long in 2012
Parent Enrique Ybarra
Founded 1999
Headquarters Spain
Service type Open top bus tours
City Sightseeing bus in the Foreshore, Cape Town, South Africa in 2016.
Northern Counties Palatine II bodied DAF DB250 for the Cambridge City Sightseeing Tour, note non-standard offside centre door, in 2008
Bath Bus Company Ayats Bravo bodied Volvo B7L in Bath, England on 2008
Bath Bus Company Ayats Bravo bodied Volvo B7L in Windsor, England in 2009
Alexander Dennis Enviro500 open-top bus of Grayline New York Sightseeing in 2011
Hippo Tours operation in Singapore in 2006
City Sightseeing bus in Moscow in 2014
Spring bus that looks like City Sightseeing in Shanghai in 2012
City Sightseeing boat in Amsterdam in 2016

City Sightseeing is a World's largest[1][2][3] excursion sightseeing bus tour operator. It provides tour bus services in more than a hundred cities around the world. The tours are operated by red open top double-decker buses.

The tourist attraction buses travel near major landmarks, while a prerecorded or live commentary in multiple languages is supplied through headphones. Tourists may leave and board the company buses within their ticket's time limit at bus stops on a circular route. This is called hop-on-hop-off. In large cities buses go on more than one route. On some routes buses leave the city for suburban sights (such as from Sintra to Cabo da Roca). In some cities (such as New York City) buses operate even at night. In some cities (such as Prague, Moscow, Saint Petersburg) some variants of the ride include travelling by boat. The United Kingdom, Italy and Spain are the countries with the largest number of cities with City Sightseeing service.

Tickets are issued for either one or two day rides, and are purchased at tourist attractions or online. Tickets and discount offers are transferable between the worldwide tours. In some cities, rides by City Sightseeing are included in the city's guest card. A free map of the route for each city is offered as guide and advertisement as well as headphones are free for users. In 2011, nearly 13 million tourists took City Sightseeing tours.[4]

In 2015, US officials raised safety concerns about City Sightseeing tours after certain irregularities were discovered and a major crash occurred in San Francisco.

Company history[edit]

The City Sightseeing name was first used in 1972 after Peter Newman used it for his City Coach Lines company, which ran tours of London four times a day.

In 1998, Ensignbus revived the name and developed the red livery in the Spanish city of Seville. There it helped an established sightseeing operator relaunch itself with double-deckers, using the experience and expertise developed with London Pride Sightseeing, through Ensignbus' vehicle business. With the sale of the London Pride Sightseeing, Peter Newman stated his intention to introduce a global brand of sightseeing buses. It also set up operations in Sydney, Australia, not as a franchise, but directly owned, during this year.[5]

In March 2000, the franchise model was initiated, with tours starting in Glasgow, Scotland. Startup operations employed a British manager until local staff were trained. During this year, operations expanded in the UK in York, Edinburgh, and Bath. Edinburgh's Lothian Buses introduced the first purpose built open top low floor buses. In December of that year, the online booking system was introduced.

In 2001, operations expanded further in the UK, Spain, Australia and into Copenhagen, Denmark.

In 2002, operations in Alberta, Canada opened but have since closed. Ensignbus acquired City Sightseeing's biggest rival, Guide Friday, which had a base in Stratford-upon-Avon and operated tours across the UK and in major European cities. Operations were either re-branded as City Sightseeing, or absorbed into existing operators where Guide Friday had been a direct competitor. The acquisition brought City Sightseeing's operations up to nearly 70 cities worldwide with nearly 250 vehicles.

In 2003, operations started in Italy. During this year, City Sightseeing introduced the first purpose-built sightseeing bus. It was an Ayats Bravo City bodied Volvo B7Ls. They featured equipment specifically designed for tours and were "Low floor." These appeared first in Spain and then in the UK. By 2004 they were featured around the world.

Since 2004, the company has been part of Singapore Ducktours.

Ensignbus owned the operations in Bath, Cardiff, Eastbourne and Windsor until its subsidiary, Bath Bus Company, was sold to the RATP Group in February 2011.[6][7][8] It also owned the operation in Cambridge and Stratford-upon-Avon, but these were passed to Stagecoach, who also provided normal bus services in that area.

In 2011, Ensignbus sold its 100% ownership of the business to the Spanish franchisee Enrique Ybarra's City Sightseeing Worldwide of Spain.[9]

Ensignbus retained its ownership of City Sightseeing in Sydney,[10] but sold its interest in City Sightseeing Italy and its shareholding in Washington, D.C.. This was sold to Big Bus Tours in September 2011. Sydney, along with a number of other locations, including Munich, Frankfurt, Perth and Bristol have all left City Sightseeing, and now operate independently. The Mornington Peninsula service which commenced 1 November 2014, ceased on 25 January 2015.[11]

According to its website in November 2016, City Sightseeing had operations in 109 cities in 35 countries.[12]

Safety issues[edit]

In November 2015, a City Sightseeing bus injured 20 people in a crash at Union Square, San Francisco. This was due to failed brakes, according to the driver.[13] A city official questioned the safety of City Sightseeing tours, and the California Public Utilities Commission released a statement describing various irregularities and problems with City Sightseeing, including multiple permit suspensions since 2007 due to security infractions.[13]

Franchise model[edit]

The company has been largely developed along the franchise model. Some operations were completely owned by City Sightseeing, while some were joint ventures; however, the majority of tours are now operated by franchisees.

At a minimum, the franchise operator must use the City Sightseeing red base colour and graffiti style. They must use the global booking web-site, and a percentage of any revenue paid to City Sightseeing. Recently, new operationshave maintained their own liveries (such as Helsinki and Gothenburg), and entire countries such as Italy have decided to opt out of the global ticketing arrangements whilst other locations such as Baku, Kiev and Granada have ceased operating as City Sightseeing.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ City Sightseeing National Express Group
  2. ^ City Sightseeing Ltd World Travel Market
  3. ^ 'Red bus' to boost economy Inner City Gazette
  4. ^ "dnata". Retrieved 2016-06-02. 
  5. ^ About City Sightseeing City Sightseeing
  6. ^ The History of Ensignbus Ensignbus
  7. ^ Tour de France: city bus firm bought by European business Bath Chronicle 2 March 2011
  8. ^ RATP Dev announces the acquisition of the Original Tour RATP Group 11 September 2014
  9. ^ Ensignbus sells City Sightseeing Focus News
  10. ^ City Sightseeing – Banksmeadow Australian Bus Fleet Lists
  11. ^ Losses bring tourist bus to an early halt Mornington Peninsula News 26 January 2015
  12. ^ City Sightseeing. "City Sightseeing Tours". City Sightseeing. Retrieved 20 November 2016. 
  13. ^ a b Woodrow, Melanie (2015-11-17). "CPUC: San Francisco tour bus involved in crash never inspected by CHP". ABC7 San Francisco. Retrieved 2015-11-17. 

External links[edit]