The Original Tour

One of The Original Tour East Lancs Visionaires, on route T2, beside Waterloo Station.

Parent companyArriva
Service areaCentral London
Service typeBus
FleetMCW Metrobus
Leyland Olympian
Volvo B7TL
Volvo B9TL
Volvo B7L

The Original Tour, or previously The Original London Sightseeing Tour, is an open-top tour run by Arriva in London, England. They also hold the franchise to run City Sightseeing's London tour. It is based in Wandsworth, South West London.


Sightseeing TourEdit

Founded in 1951 at the time of The Festival of Britain, The Original Tour is now the largest single sightseeing operation in the world. The hop-on hop-off service allows customers to board any of its’ tour routes at over 80 different stops. Services operate daily, with a commentary in English or a wide choice of languages. A free river cruise and three walking tours are included with every ticket and the exclusive Kids' Club provides an educational but fun alternative for 5-12 year olds.

The Original Tour operates four sightseeing routes, with two connectors from other places linking to them[1]:

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 1 1/2 hours 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
3/4 hour Links into the main tours every 15 – 20 minutes. The bottom route runs between 08:15 and 10:15am.

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 NumbersEdit

The "T.." route numbers came with the arrival of the Ayats 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. Now 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.

Other routesEdit

From their Wandsworth bus garage, The Original Tour also operate London Buses route 337 (Clapham Junction - Richmond), under contract to Transport for London's London Buses using 14 Volvo B7TLs with Alexander Dennis ALX400 bodywork.

Bus eventsEdit

File:Arriva Original Tour VLY601.JPG

The Original Tour's buses can often be seen at bus events, either for show or to carry passenger. Events frequently attended include Showbus and the London Bus Preservation Trust's Cobham rally.


Local fares are available on the sightseeing routes, but the main tickets are valid for 24 hours, which is sometimes extended to 48 hours in Winter to attract custom.[2] Each ticket includes three free Walking Tours (Changing of the Guard, London Legends and Jack the Ripper) and a free 24-hours River Cruise Pass[3]; tickets can also be used for Choice tickets and certain discounted attractions.[4] Standard London Buses fares are charged on route 337.

The Original London visitor centreEdit

At the end of 2007, The Original Tour opened a new 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.



In November 2006, an order was made for 10 Volvo B9TL/East Lancs Visionaires, worth £1.6 million. They have Euro IV engines. The first of these were delivered in May 2007 and all were in operation by the beginning of 2008.[5][6] Following the delivery of these buses, 45% of the fleet is now low floor and wheelchair accessible.

Current fleetEdit

The company operates a number of vehicle types[7]:

Number Type Fleet numbers Open-top status Notes
20 MCW Metrobus MB895, EMB763-765, 767-773, 775-781, 783/784 Some fully open-top, some partial From New World First Bus or City Sightseeing Australia in 2001/2004.
14 DAF DB250/Plaxton President DLP201-214 All partial open-top From Arriva London and converted to open top after they were replaced by Mercedes-Benz Citaros
38 Leyland Olympian/Alexander RH OA315-352 Some fully open-top, some partial From Arriva London from 2003–2005 and conveted to open top.
14 Volvo B7TL/TransBus ALX400 VLA56-69 All closed top Operated on London Buses route 337, new in 2004.
10 Volvo B9TL/East Lancs Visionaire VLE611-620 All are partial open-top New in 2007.
10 Volvo B7L/Ayats Bravo City VLY601-610 All are fully open-top New in 2005.
1 MCW Metrobus MB1152 Driver training vehicle.


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. The standard buses for normal London Buses route 337 stay on that route.


See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

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