Bus lanes are part of the road that is indicated on the carriageway by a thick white line. They are reserved for certain vehicles, shown on the sign. They increase journey time reliability and safety for certain vehicles and encourage the use of sustainable transport such as public transport and cycling.

When you can enter a bus lane

The times of operation and the type or types of permitted vehicle are indicated on a blue sign. The sign is located in advance of the bus lane and repeated if the bus lane is long.

If you want to turn left across a bus lane, an arrow or a dotted white line on the carriageway will indicate if this is permitted.

Vehicles that can use a bus lane or gate 

The vehicles listed below can use bus lanes and gates, however, some signs may display the word 'local' indicating that only local bus services can use the bus lane:

  • Buses, which are defined as motor vehicles constructed or adapted to carry more than eight passengers (exclusive of the driver) 
  • Recognised vehicles used for fire brigades, police or ambulance core duties regardless of whether or not they are using blue lights or have blue lights installed (note veterinary ambulances are not exempt from bus lanes / gate controls)

*Regardless of whether or not they are using blue lights or have blue lights installed, vehicles clearly liveried as an ambulance that are working on behalf of NHS trusts may also use bus lanes on all Transport for London Road Network Red Routes, and in bus lanes in the following boroughs:

  • The London Borough of Barnet
  • The London Borough of Camden
  • The London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham
  • The London Borough of Hillingdon
  • The London Borough of Hounslow
  • The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
  • The London Borough of Redbridge
  • The London Borough of Sutton
  •  Westminster City Council

NB: If you fulfil the criteria above and receive a Penalty Charge Notice (PCN) from any of these boroughs please contact the borough directly rather than TfL. It may have been issued in error / automatically. Check any video footage and evidence first and be prepared to provide the purpose the ambulance was engaged in at the time the PCN was issued. This exemption applies to St John's ambulances, but not to veterinary ambulances.)

Vehicles that may use a bus lane or gate if signage allows

Bus lanes and gates are designed to deliver reliable and fast bus journeys safely and efficiently. Consequently, in some locations we have to limit access to bus lanes. Read the bus lane signs to find out who can use it and when. The following vehicles may have access to bus lanes or gates if shown on signage:

  • Licensed taxis (hackney carriages)
  • Pedal cycles (including electrically assisted pedal cycles, adapted cycles and cargo bikes) 
  • Solo mopeds and motorcycles (i.e. without side cars). This includes Tricycles (includes motorised tricycles under 450kg, not with side cars)

For other road signs please visit the Highway Code website.

Look out for the bus lane sign and thick white line on the carriageway. The sign will tell you which vehicles can use the bus lane and the hours of operation.

Anyone can use the bus lane outside the hours of operation but please do be aware that bus lane times can vary along a stretch of road.

Penalty Charge Notices (PCNs)

Using a bus lane when you are not permitted can delay buses and cause congestion. We may issue a PCN if you drive in a bus lane.

Find out more about penalty charges.