News

25 things you (probably) didn’t know about London Buses

London buses. It's hard not to love them at the worst of times, even when they do become sweaty sardine tins of groaning despair.

We gained a newfound love for our big red companions earlier this year, after they stepped in to help during the apocalyptic tube strike. You might have noticed it.

So with our adoration of them renewed, we thought we'd bring you a list of the things you never knew about the humble London Bus...

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses

    1.

    During the week, London Buses carry over six million passengers per day. Just 1% of that would fill the Emirates Stadium to capacity.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 1

    2.

    Originally established in 1829, the first buses ran between Paddington and Bank. They carried 22 people and were pulled by three horses.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 2

    3.

    Up until 1907, London Buses were painted different colours to signify their route. Unfortunately someone had the bright idea to use numbers instead.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 3

    4.

    In 1917 the London General Omnibus Company was bought by the company which owned the London Underground. A combined recognisable sign was created, meaning that the buses ditched their older (and much cooler) winged logo.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 4

    5.

    During WWI, buses were modified to carry soldiers or, in some cases, homing pigeons.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 5

    6.

    Charles Dickens once wrote an essay in praise of buses. In it, he said: "from the glass-coach in which we were taken to be christened, to that sombre caravan in which we must one day make our last earthly journey, there is nothing like an omnibus."

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 6

    7.

    There are only three numbers under 300 that are not in use on London buses: 218, 239 and 278.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 7

    8.

    Routemasters on country routes have been known to be painted green to better fit in with their pastoral surroundings.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 8

    9.

    Although 1,280 still exist, there are only two classic Routemasters still in service. They run on 'heritage' routes from Trafalgar Square to Tower Hill and from Kensington High Street to Aldwych.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 9

    10.

    The first ever London Bus fare cost one shilling - that's 5p. A bit cheaper than an Oyster then.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 10

    11.

    There's a map online where you can track every single London Bus in real time. You can see it here.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 11

    12.

    Some have claimed that there is a phantom bus that forces drivers off the road at night, last spotted in Cambridge Gardens in 1990. This ghost bus has even been blamed for deaths, after a car burst into flames in 1934 on the spot the bus was usually sighted.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 12

    13.

    The full Latin "Omnibus", which means "for all". The first recorded use of the word "bus" was in 1932.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 13

    14.

    George Shillibeer, who is credited with the invention of the first bus in 1829, was not always so successful. One of his lesser-known  innovations is the 'Funeral Omnibus', which combined a passenger vehicle and a hearse. Unsurprisingly, it was discontinued.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 14

    15.

    Author Ian Fleming is rumoured to have chosen James Bond's codename 007 based on the number of the bus that used to pass by his favourite pub.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 15

    16.

    Twenty years after Fleming first invented the character, James Bond would find himself at the wheel of a Routemaster in Live and Let Die. Roger Moore had to have lessons driving a double-decker for the role.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 16

    17.

    Night buses have been running since as early as 1913, and served as the inspiration for J. K. Rowling's 'Knight Bus'.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 17

    18.

    The Knight Bus from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was constructed by welding together parts from three different Regent III double-deckers.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 18

    19.

    A talking double-decker is featured in the Disney Pixar movie Cars 2. His name? Topper Deckington III.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 19

    20.

    In the aftermath of WWI, official London buses ran into a genuine problem with unofficial 'Pirate Buses'. Races between the two were apparently a common site.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 20

    21.

    According to Top Gear. the fastest type of bus is a double-decker.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 21

    22.

    Although red is the traditional, special colours have been rolled out twice: for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, and for the Golden Jubilee in 2012.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 22

    23.

    Although rarely operational in England anymore, Routemasters have been adopted by other countries. You can still ride them in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka. Columbia, Croatia and the Falkland Islands, 

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 23

    24.

    Before they were scrapped, then-London Mayor Ken Livingstone said in 2013 that the treacherous back platforms of Routemasters were responsible for about twelve fatalities a year.

  • 25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses 24

    25.

    In 2004, you could have had a London Bus of your own for just £2,000. Bus dealer Ensign were disposing of a spate of Routemasters, but they raffled off 32 to buyers who could prove they had the space and money to care for them.