London’s iconic red buses are recognized all over the world, they are sort of a trademark of London. The traditional Routemaster buses have been phased out.Buses are generally quicker than taking the Tube for short (less than a couple of stops) trips, and out of central London you’re likely to be closer to a bus stop than a tube station.
Over 5 million bus trips are made each day during the week. With over 700 different bus routes you are never far from a bus. Each bus stop has a sign listing routes that stops there. Bus routes are identified by numbers and sometimes letters, for example the 73 runs between Victoria and Seven Sisters. Yellow signs indicate that you must purchase your ticket before you board. You must either have a Pay-as-you-go Oyster card, Travel-card season ticket, bus saver ticket, bus pass, or have bought a one way ticket from a machine at the bus stop. These machines don’t provide change.
Buses display their route number in large digits at the front, side and rear. All bus stops have their location and the direction of travel on them.
Unlike The Tube one way tickets do not allow you to transfer to different buses.
Standard bus services run from around 06:00-00:30. Around half past midnight the network changes to the vast night bus network of well over 100 routes stretching all over the city. There are two types of night buses: 24 hour routes and N-prefixed routes.
24-hour services keep the same number as during the day and will run the exact same route, such as the number 88, for example. N-prefixed routes are generally very similar to their day-route, but may take a slightly different route or are extended to serve areas that are further out. For example, the 29 bus goes from Trafalgar Square to Wood Green during the day; however, the N29 bus goes from Trafalgar Square to Wood Green and on to Enfield.
Night buses run at a 30 minute frequency at minimum, with many routes at much higher frequencies up to every 5 minutes.
Prices are the same at night, and daily travel-cards are valid until 4am the day after they were issued, so can be used on night buses. Most bus stops will have night bus maps with all the buses to and from that local area on it, although it is good to check on the TfL website beforehand, which also has all those maps easily available.