The Original Tour

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The Original Tour logo.png
The Original Tour bus EMB765 (E965 JAR) 1988 Hong Kong tri-axle (CMB ML64, DV 4883), Wellington Arch, 26 June 2011.jpg
MCW Metrobus in June 2011
Parent RATP Dev
Founded June 1951
Headquarters Wandsworth Garage
Service area Central London
Service type Tourist bus operator
Routes 6
Fleet 90 (September 2014)

The Original Tour[1] is a London bus tour operator using open-top double-decker buses. It also holds the franchise to run City Sightseeing's London tour. It is based in Wandsworth and is a subsidiary of the RATP Dev.


Alexander RH bodied Leyland Olympian in June 2008
Plaxton President bodied DAF DB 250 in April 2011
Ayats Bravo City bodied Volvo B7L in October 2007
East Lancs Visionaire bodied Volvo B9TL in October 2008
MCW Metroliner in August 2008

The Original Tour was founded in by June 1951 by the London Transport Executive at the time of The Festival of Britain. In 1986 it was privatised, being sold to London Coaches / Blue Triangle. In December 1997 it was sold to Arriva. In September 2014, the business was sold to RATP Dev.[2][3]

Sightseeing tours[edit]

After purchase of a 24-hour ticket or 48-hour ticket, ticket-holders may board any of the tour routes at over 80 different stops without another charge. Services operate daily, with a recorded commentary in English and several other languages which can be listened to with headphones. A river cruise and three walking tours are included in the ticket price.

The Original Tour operates four sightseeing routes, with two connectors from other places linking to them:[4]

Route Number & Colour Route Name Places served Duration (approx) Other notes
The Original Tour Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, National Gallery, Downing Street, Houses of Parliament (& Big Ben), London Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey 2 hours English commentary provided by live tour guides
City Sightseeing Madame Tussauds, Buckingham Palace, Piccadilly Circus, National Gallery, Downing Street, Houses of Parliament (& Big Ben), London Bridge, St Paul's Cathedral, Tower Bridge, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey 2 hours Pre-recorded commentary in a number of languages, including one for children. This is the route operated for the City Sightseeing franchise.
The Loop Line National Gallery, Trafalgar Square (& Nelson's Column), Westminster Pier, London Eye, Lambeth Palace, Houses of Parliament (& Big Ben), Downing Street, Horse Guards Parade, Piccadilly Circus. 50 minutes Connects London's West End with Westminster and Waterloo Station.
Museum Tour Kensington Palace, Baden-Powell House, Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Brompton Oratory, Harrods, Knightsbridge, Harvey Nichols, Hyde Park, Ritz Hotel, Piccadilly Circus, Shaftesbury Avenue, British Museum, Russell Square, Apsley House/Wellington Museum, Royal Albert Hall, Albert Memorial, Kensington High Street, Princess Diana Memorial Fountain 90 minutes Pre-recorded commentary in a number of languages, including one for children. Runs every 15 minutes between 08:15 and 17:15.
Station Connector St Pancras Station, King's Cross Station, Marble Arch, Paddington Station, Marylebone Station, Euston Station 30 minutes Links main London stations to the main tours. From St Pancras at 10:00, 11:00, 12:00; from Marble Arch at 15:50, 16:50, 17:50
Capital Connector Holland Park, Notting Hill, Lancaster Gate, Marble Arch, Lancaster Gate, Notting Hill
Holland Park, Notting Hill, Lancaster Gate, Kensington Gardens, Madame Tussauds, Paddington Station, Baker Street, Oxford Circus
45 minutes Links into the main tours every 15 – 20 minutes. The bottom route runs between 08:15 and 10:15

Pre-recorded language commentaries provided on the T2 and T4 routes are English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Russian, Japanese, as well as the "Kids' Club" children commentary in English.

T-prefixed Route Numbers[edit]

The "T.." route numbers introduced from April 2001 but used primarily for internal and licensing purposes. Used more widely during 2004 and fully adopted in 2005 with the entry into service of the Ayats bodied Volvo B7Ls, which were specified with electronic destination displays. Previously, the routes were only distinguishable by a coloured triangle, propped up on the dash on the bus, although some had a metal holder on the front. Since 2004 the triangle (which still exist for the older tour buses) have "T.." printed on them for the appropriate coloured triangle. Also, some buses now have destination display blinds, traditionally removed from these buses, which have the coloured triangle on them with the "T.." route number inside that.


The Original Tour tickets are valid for one or two days. Each ticket includes three free walking tours (Changing of the Guard, Rock ‘n’ Roll and Jack the Ripper) and a 24-hour River Cruise Pass;[5] tickets can also be combined with attraction tickets for even better discounts. Price as of April 2015 is £30 for adults (£26 online), £15 for children (£12.50 online), and £75 for a family group of two adults and two children.

The Original London visitor centre[edit]

At the end of 2007 The Original Tour opened a visitor centre on 17-19 Cockspur Street, off Trafalgar Square. It sells tickets to the major London attractions, out-of-town tours, and tickets for The Original Tour buses. General advice is also given.

Transport for London Route 337[edit]

In May 2004 Wandsworth garage commenced operating route 337 under contract to Transport for London bringing route service buses to the garage.[6] Route 337 passed to London General in 2011.[7]


Historically the fleet consisted of former double deck route buses, that after being converted to open top configuration, were given a second life. However, in 2005 ten Ayats Bravo City bodied Volvo B7Ls were purchased new.[8] As at September 2014, the fleet consisted of 90 buses.[2]


Some of the buses are in the standard City Sightseeing livery, rather than the Original Tour version, for use on route T2, which is branded as City Sightseeing. However, in practice, buses can be mixed up.

See also[edit]

Competitors and similar businesses[edit]


  1. ^ Companies House extract company no 2328599 The Original London Sightseeing Tour Limited
  2. ^ a b RATP Dev acquires leading London sightseeing operator RATP Dev
  3. ^ "RATP buys Original Tour from Arriva" Buses issue 716 November 2014 page 7
  4. ^ Original Tour Services The Original Tour
  5. ^ Original Tour Free River Cruise The Original Tour
  6. ^ Bus tender results Route 337 Transport for London 2 February 2004
  7. ^ Bus tender results Route 337 Transport for London 6 September 2010
  8. ^ New order gives the original tour the first new open top buses in London Arriva 1 June 2005

External links[edit]