There’s much more to public transport in London than the Tube, mainline rail and local bus services. The River Thames offers another option for commuters, tourists and local people, who are able to travel up and down the famous channel by boat. Every day, hundreds of boats navigate the capital’s main waterway, just as they have done for many centuries. Among those working the Thames are Transport for London’s River Bus services, which operate fast and frequent travel between major sites and attractions.
TRAVELLING ON THE RIVER BUS
River Bus services run from early in the morning to late in the evening and potentially even later when there are major events on at the O2 Arena at North Greenwich. There are five different routes between Woolwich in the east and Putney in the west. These are:
- River Bus RB1 – Woolwich Arsenal Pier to Embankment Pier
- River Bus RB2 – Vauxhall St George Pier
- River Bus RB4 – Doubletree Docklands Nelson to Canary Wharf Pier
- River Bus RB5 – Woolwich Arsenal Pier to North Greenwich Pier
- River Bus RB6 – Putney Pier to Canary Wharf Pier
Popular stops along the River Thames include Millbank Pier for Tate Britain, London Eye Pier, Bankside Pier – which offers access to the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre – Tower Millennium Pier for Tower of London and Tower Bridge, and Greenwich Pier.
BUYING A TICKET FOR THE RIVER BUS
London’s River Bus services – which are operated by MBNA Thames Clippers – have long been popular with local people and visitors to the capital. Passengers are guaranteed a seat on each service and are able to purchase drinks, snacks and refreshments onboard. This means they are suited to both practical travel – getting from A to B – and also tourist use.
Before boarding a River Bus, passengers need to purchase a ticket from the pier ticket office, using cash, card or an Oyster card. Customers paying with an Oyster card can enjoy a ten per cent discount on all River Bus services except route RB6. Half-price River Bus travel is available to passengers who have a Freedom Pass, while regular customers can gain a discount by purchasing a season ticket.
CRUISES ON THE RIVER THAMES
Visitors to London who wish to experience a more leisurely boat trip on the River Thames can join various cruise services. A number of different operators run cruises on the river, taking in major attractions such as the Tower of London, London Bridge, London Eye and Westminster.
River cruises are not restricted to the centre of the capital either. In the summer months, a number of tours operate in the west of London, taking sightseers along the River Thames to Kew, Richmond and Hampton Court.
RAIL CONNECTIONS FOR THE RIVER BUS
In many cases, River Bus passengers connect to boat services from the London Underground or mainline rail services. Many of the piers are within close walking distance of Tube stops, including:
- Woolwich Arsenal Pier: Woolwich Arsenal on the DLR (seven-minute walk)
- North Greenwich Pier: North Greenwich on the Jubilee Line (one-minute walk)
- Greenwich Pier: Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich on the DLR (three-minute walk)
- Canary Wharf Pier: Canary Wharf on the Jubilee Line (three-minute walk)
- Embankment Pier: Embankment on the Circle, District, Northern and Bakerloo lines (one-minute walk)
- Vauxhall St George Pier: Vauxhall on the Victoria Line (three-minute walk)
- Putney Pier: East Putney on the District Line (12-minute walk)