|Service area||Central London|
|Service type||Tourist bus operator|
|Fleet||90 (September 2014)|
The Original Tour is a London bus tour operator using open-top double-decker buses. It also holds the franchise to run City Sightseeing's London tour. Based in Wandsworth, it is a subsidiary of RATP Dev.
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 March 2001 the London Pride Sightseeing business was purchased.
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:
T-prefixed Route Numbers
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; tickets can also be combined with attraction tickets for even better discounts. Price as of April 2015[update] 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
At the end of 2007 The Original Tour opened a visitor centre on 17-19 Cockspur Street, off Trafalgar Square. It sells tickets to major London attractions, out-of-town tours, and tickets for The Original Tour buses. General advice is also given.
Transport for London
In May 2004 The Original Tour became a Transport for London (TfL) contracted bus operator when it commenced operating route 337, the first time a route service had operated out of Wandsworth garage since 1986. Buses operated with Arriva London branding, but under The Original Tour's operating licence. When next tendered, route 337 passed to London General in May 2011 and The Original Tour ceased being a TfL operator.
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. As at September 2014, the fleet consisted of 90 buses.
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.
- Companies House extract company no 2328599 The Original London Sightseeing Tour Limited
- About The Award Winning London Original Sightseeing Tour Original Tour
- The History of EnsignBus Ensignbus
- RATP Dev acquires leading London sightseeing operator Archived 4 March 2016 at the Wayback Machine RATP Dev
- "RATP buys Original Tour from Arriva" Buses Magazine issue 716 November 2014 page 7
- Original Tour Services The Original Tour
- Original Tour Free River Cruise The Original Tour
- Bus tender results Route 337 Transport for London 2 February 2004
- "Arriva London" Buses Magazine issue 590 April 2004 page 66
- Bus tender results Route 337 Transport for London 6 September 2010
- "Route back by popular demand" Bus Talk issue 10 June 2011
- New order gives the original tour the first new open top buses in London Arriva 1 June 2005