An International Student’s Guide to the London Transport System: Part 2 Buses

Whichever area you pick for your student housing, London’s bus system will be accessible virtually outside your front door. Whether you pick a homestay outside the centre or an apartment share in the heart of the city, you’ll have good access to this form of transport.

My experience of the network has always been positive. It is vast, cheap and runs 24/7 in most places. Before you come to study here, it’s worth familiarising yourself with the way it works.

Tickets & Fares

Unlike travel on the trains and tubes, there are no fare zones for buses. So wherever choose for your student housing, London’s bus fares will be the same.

Paying for Your Journey

In the old days you could buy a ticket with cash as you got on the bus. That is no longer possible so make sure you have your Oyster Card, Travelcard or Contactless bank card with you when you board.

Cost of Fare

In my opinion, the most economical way to get around London is by bus (and you get to see much more of the city from above ground). A single journey costs only £1.50 and if you change buses within an hour of starting your journey, the subsequent rides are free.

There are daily, weekly and monthly passes too – if, like me, you prefer to regularly use the bus system rather than the tube then you’ll save some money with these passes.

Maps & Timetables

The network covers the entire city and its suburbs so the map system is complex. There are lots of downloadable maps available from Transport for London (TfL) and tourist websites, but the most useful tool for me is TfL’s TravelBot. I use this app to find my nearest stop or check when the next bus is due.

Night Services

If you go out late with your friends you will probably need the service to get back to your student housing. London transport after midnight is primarily by bus, although more and more tube lines are starting to offer 24-hour trains.

I love the night buses – if you’re studying abroad because you want a cultural experience then you’ll certainly get one when you join the passengers on these late night journeys.

London Tours

As I mentioned, you get to see so much of London when you ride on a bus. And there are certain routes that you can use to experience your own London tour for just £1.50!

The routes I like best are: 9, 14, 15 and 22. There’s an excellent chance that you’ll be living on one of these routes and that there’s a stop outside your student housing. London is best seen from the top of an iconic double decker bus!

You can find itineraries that will cover some of the major landmarks on the TfL website.

Some Handy Tips

  • Make sure you tap your card on the yellow pad next to the driver when you board.
  • Let the driver know you want to get off by pressing the red button on the upright metal posts throughout the vehicle. The driver will let you off at the next designated stop.
  • Every stop has a 5-digit code in black above the timetable. Enter this code into the TravelBot app for service updates.
  • If you’re a fan of James Bond’s Skyfall, you might enjoy a ride on a Routemaster as featured in the film. Routes 8, 9, 10, 11, 24, 38, 148 or 390 operate these iconic vehicles.
  • Make sure you read my other guides to the London transport system

Are You Having Difficulty Choosing The Right Student Accommodation For You?

Britannia Student Services is dedicated to making sure that your student experience in London is one of the best times of your life. We don’t just help you choose the perfect student housing, we’re also here to offer you tips and advice to make your stay enjoyable. Contact our team to start your journey with us.

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