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
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 CS in Shanghai in 2012

City Sightseeing is a sightseeing bus tour operator. It operates tour bus services in more than 100 cities globally. Typically, the tours are operated by red open top double-decker buses. It was created by Ensignbus, who retained 100% ownership until selling it to the Spanish franchisee in 2011.

The tourist attraction bus travels near major landmarks around the town or city it tours, while prerecorded or live commentary is provided through headphones. Users may leave the bus and board again without limit (called hop-on hop-off) at special bus stops on a circle route. In some locations, buses may go on multiple routes, go to suburban areas (such as from Sintra to Cabo da Roca), or operate at night (such as New York). 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 most City Sightseeing locations.

Usually tickets issued are for one-day or two-days rides. Tickets are purchased at tourist attractions or online on the internet. In 2011, annual rides were near 13 million tourists.[citation needed]

In California, officials have raised safety concerns about City Sightseeing tours, after various irregularities and a major crash in San Francisco in 2015.

Company history[edit]

The City Sightseeing name was first used in 1972, when Peter Newman used it for a pair of ex-Standerwick 'Gay Hostess' Leyland Atlanteans on his City Coach Lines company which ran tours of London four times daily.

In 1998, Ensignbus revived the name and developed the red livery in the Spanish city of Seville, where it helped an established sightseeing operator relaunch itself with double-deckers using the experience and expertise developed with London Pride Sightseeing, and links forged through the sale of open top buses around the world through Ensigbus' vehicle business. It also set up in Sydney, Australia but not as a franchise but directly owned.[1]

With the sale of London Pride Sightseeing in 1998, Peter Newman stated his intention to introduce a global brand of sightseeing buses, and City Sightseeing was officially launched at the London World Travel Market in 1999.

In March 2000, the franchise model was initiated, with tours starting in Glasgow (Scotguide). Startup operations would comprise a British manager until local staff were trained.

In 2000, operations expanded in the UK in York, Edinburgh, and Bath, with Edinburgh's Lothian Buses introducing the first purpose built open top low floor buses. In 2001, operations expanded further in the UK, Spain, and Australia, and into Copenhagen, Denmark. In 2002, operations in Alberta, Canada opened, and expanded in the UK. In 2003, operations started in Italy. In December 2000, the online booking system was introduced.

In May 2002, 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 rebranded 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, City Sightseeing introduced the first purpose built sightseeing buses, Ayats Bravo City bodied Volvo B7Ls, featuring equipment specifically for tours and also being low floor, first in Spain and then into the UK and around the world in 2004. In Singapore, it has been part of Singapore Ducktours Limited since 2004.

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.[2][3][4] It also owned the operation in Cambridge and Stratford-upon-Avon but these passed to Stagecoach, who also provide 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.[5]

Ensignbus retained its ownership of City Sightseeing in Sydney,[6] but sold its interest in City Sightseeing Italy and also its share holding in Washington DC which was sold to Big Bus Tours in September 2011. Sydney along with a number of other locations, including Munich, Frankfurt & Bristol, have all recently left CS and now operate independently, in the case of Sydney as the Sydney Explorer and following this the other Australian operations have also chosen to operate under the Explorer brand except Melbourne which still operates as City Sightseeing. The Mornington Peninsula Melbourne service which commenced 1 November 2014, ceased 25 January 2015.[7]

As at November 2014, City Sightseeing had operations in over 100 cities in 32 countries.[8]

Safety Issues[edit]

In November 2015, a City Sightseeing bus injured 20 people in a crash at Union Square, San Francisco, reportedly due to failed brakes, according to the driver.[9] 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.[9]

Franchise model[edit]

The company has been largely developed along the franchise model. Some operations were wholly owned by City Sightseeing, and some were joint ventures, but the majority of tours are now operated by franchisees, either existing bus operators in the locality or new companies, either rebranding existing vehicles or introducing new ones.

Operators have the choice of flexibility in how much or how little direct involvement with City Sightseeing company they have, and can choose vehicles and systems appropriate to themselves.

Through the franchise model, operators have access to group expertise to solve problems, and to providers of equipment such as off board ticketing, GPS linked commentary systems and vehicle refurbishers. Operators can also take advantage of block negotiation with promotional partners that may not necessarily wish to deal with smaller operators.

As a minimum, the franchise operator must carry the City Sightseeing red base colour and graffiti style, they must use the global booking web-site, and a percentage of any revenue taken is returned to City Sightseeing. In recent times however new cities joining have 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.

Operators are free to apply a specific local branding within the red scheme, with local identities or the Guide Friday name retained if thought necessary.

Locations served[edit]







 Czech Republic[edit]





 Georgia (country)[edit]

















 South Africa[edit]



 United Arab Emirates[edit]

 United Kingdom[edit]

 United States[edit]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]