Improving buses

Our bus network now carries 2.3 billion passengers a year - more than the rest of England combined. Bus ridership in London grew by 60% in the ten years to 2013. We're constantly looking at how new technology can help to improve our customers' journeys and reduce our impact on the environment.

Cleaner Air for London

Cleaner, greener buses

Low Emission Bus Zones

New Low Emission Bus Zones will see the exclusive use of buses with top-of-the-range engines and exhaust systems that meet or exceed the highest (Euro VI) emissions standards.

The zones will be prioritised in the worst air quality hotspots outside central London and in areas where buses would otherwise contribute significantly to road transport emissions - helping people to breathe cleaner air and our city to flourish.

The first zone will be completed along Putney High Street in March 2017 and will be followed by an area between Streatham and Brixton in autumn 2017.

All 12 zones are set to be completed by 2020 and form a central part of the Mayor's far-reaching plans for a drastic clean-up of London's toxic air.

The other ten zones will be introduced in the following areas:

  • Putney High Street from Putney Station to Putney Bridge Road
  • Brixton to Streatham from Brixton Road, along Brixton Hill, Streatham Hill and Streatham High Road
  • A12 Eastern Avenue from Homerton High Street along Homerton Road, Warren Road, Gainsborough Road, Cambridge Park Road to Eastern Avenue
  • Lewisham to Catford from Bromley Road, along Lewisham High Street to Lewisham Road
  • Stratford from Mile End Road to Romford Road
  • Haringey from High Road to Green Lanes
  • Camberwell to New Cross from Camberwell New Road, along Peckham High Street to New Cross Road
  • Wandsworth to St John's Hill from Lavender Hill to Wandsworth Road
  • Edgware Road (Kilburn to Maida Vale) from Cricklewood Broadway via Shoot-Up Hill to Kilburn High Road
  • Edmonton to Seven Sisters from Hertford Road High Street via Fore Street to Seven Sisters Road
  • Uxbridge Road to Shepherds Bush from Uxbridge Road via Ealing Broadway, The Vale to Uxbridge Road
  • Chiswick High Road to Kensington from Chiswick High Road via Hammersmith Broadway to Kensington High Street
A hydrogen bus on RV1 routeHydrogen bus on route RV1

Zero Emission and Ultra Low Emission buses

We have started to deliver on our plan to introduce around 3,000 Ultra Low Emission double deck buses in central London in 2019 and over 250 Zero Emission single deck buses into central London in 2020.

This means that all double deck buses in this area will meet Euro VI emission standards. All single decker buses will be zero emission at tailpipe; they will be a mix of hydrogen buses, which emit nothing but water into the air, and electric buses.

These buses will significantly improve air quality, helping Londoners breathe cleaner air, and are also much quieter, with lower vibration levels for a more comfortable experience.

New information screens on 507 and 521New information screens on 507 and 521

In central London, electric buses currently run on routes:

  • 507 - Waterloo station to Victoria bus station
  • 521 - Waterloo station to London Bridge station

All electric buses on these routes have live information boards that tell you how long it is to your next stop as well as live status updates across other parts of our network. There are also USB ports for charging your phone.

RV1 - Covent Garden to Tower Gateway station is hydrogen.

Routes outside central London also operate with electric buses including:

  • 98 - Willesden bus garage to Red Lion Square
  • 108 - Stratford International Station to Lewisham station
  • 312 - South Croydon bus garage to Norwood Junction station
  • H98 - School Road to Wood End Green Road

Making our older buses cleaner

We are planning to re-fit around 5,000 buses so that they meet the highest emissions standards (Euro VI) as quickly as possible. This often means replacing a bus's exhaust system, although in some cases it may require the engine to be replaced.

The introduction and expansion of these technologies play a key role in improving the air we breathe in London.

Hybrid buses

Over 2,000 diesel-electric hybrid buses currently run through the Capital, making up 20% of our bus fleet. All of these buses are quieter, more fuel-efficient and cleaner than standard diesel buses, reducing emissions by between 30%-40%.

From 2018, all new double deck buses entering our fleet will be VI hybrid buses meeting Euro VI emissions standards.

Demonstration of new inductively-charged (through the road) electric hybrid busDemonstration of new inductively-charged (through the road) electric hybrid bus

Green technology trials

Wireless charging

We have also started trialling wireless charging technology on some of our buses running on route 69 as part of Project ZeEus. The buses are fitted with special technology enabling on-board batteries to receive a charge boost on plates fitted at bus stands at either end of the route.

This should enable the buses to operate in pure electric mode for a significant period of the time they are in passenger service.

The trial uses inductive charging technology allowing the buses to top up their batteries without needing to be physically plugged in.

The buses have a diesel engine that will be used when battery power is depleted. But we anticipate this will only be a small amount of the time, meaning emissions on these vehicles are greatly reduced.

Passengers will notice that these extended range diesel electric hybrid buses offer much lower noise and vibration levels compared to conventional diesel vehicles. The buses have significantly reduced tail pipe emissions, resulting in improved air quality and cleaner air for London.

Reduced fuel use will mean lower carbon emissions. The trial will help us develop plans for greater use of electric buses in central London in the future.

Biodiesel logo on busBio-diesel bus

Even more fuels for the future

We've also been running trials of a combination of diesel and bio-fuel made from used cooking oil from the catering industry.

This is designed to test the feasibility of running London's bus fleet on a 20% bio-diesel blend, which would produce around 15% fewer carbon emissions over their lifespan than ordinary diesel-powered vehicles.

Live bus arrivals

Our arrivals boards at more than 2,500 bus stops let customers know when their next bus is due. And the audio-visual technology on all of our 8,600 buses helps people navigate their journeys around London.

We are also making accurate, live service information available to customers on their mobile phones, tablets and other devices, as well as at roadside signs and public locations like hospital waiting rooms, schools and shopping centres.

Passengers can even check when their next bus is due before leaving the house. At the same time, app developers are using our travel information to launch more and more useful products.

Find out more about getting live bus information.

Improving bus routes

We are making a number of improvements along our bus routes. These include:

  • More convenient routes to key amenities such as shopping centres and hospitals
  • Quicker journeys on selected routes by giving buses priority on the roads, meaning buses get ahead of traffic
  • Increased space on buses by introducing double-decker buses on certain routes
  • Extra buses during busy times such as morning and evening peak, school runs and Saturday and Sunday shopping times

Revamping stations and stops

  • In 2016, West Croydon bus station was completely transformed. The new bus station provides better customer information, is more spacious and has fully accessible bus stops, making it easier and more convenient to travel in the area
  • Over the next two years, we will be upgrading key bus stations including Kingston Cromwell Road and Brent Cross
  • By March 2017, 95% of our bus stops will be fully accessible

Weekend Night bus services

As Night Tube services are introduced, we've also started running more weekend-only Night bus services to help passengers start or finish their Night Tube journeys.

This is also providing new local travel opportunities.The new Night bus services are in addition to London's already extensive network of 24-hour bus services.

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