Transport across London is made simple with the capital’s great network of travel options, including the London Underground, the mainline railway services and the comprehensive bus routes.
However, one other option available to commuters, local residents and travellers are the River Bus services.
Hundreds of boats take advantage of the River Thames to travel across the city, including the popular River Buses, which travel between major sites and attractions.
Travelling on the River Bus
London’s River Bus services are operated by MBNA Thames Clippers and like the other transport networks in the capital, the River Bus services run from early in the morning to late in the evening. In addition, when there are major events on at the O2 Arena at North Greenwich, there are special late night services put in place to make sure everyone can get home or back to their hotel.
In total, there are five different routes covered by the River Bus services and primarily link 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
Each of the River Buses stop along the way and there are plenty of places for people to get off and explore the on land attractions.
Popular stops include Millbank Pier which allows access to Tate Britain, London Eye Pier, Bankside Pier – which offers access to the Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, while disembarking at the Tower Millennium Pier is ideal for those planning to visit the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, and Greenwich Pier.
How to buy a ticket
Before getting on one of the city’s River Buses, passengers need to buy a ticket from the pier ticket office – this can be done using cash, card or via an Oyster Card. Those opting to buy via an Oyster Card can benefit from a ten per cent discount on all of the River Bus services apart from Route RB6.
It is important to remember you cannot top up your Oyster card at River Bus piers, so travellers need to make sure they have enough pay as you go credit on their Oyster card before travelling.
Half-price River Bus travel is also available to passengers who have a Freedom Pass, while regular users of the River Bus network can gain a further discount by purchasing a season ticket.
Once on-board, travellers can be guaranteed a seat and there is even the chance to purchase various drinks, snacks and refreshments to enjoy during your journey along one of the world’s most famous waterways.
All of the River Bus services are wheelchair accessible and ramps can be used to board the boat. All piers offer step-free access, apart from Cadogan Pier, Wandsworth Riverside Quarter Pier and London Bridge City Pier.
Bikes are also allowed on-board, with ten spaces available on the larger boats. This cannot be booked in advance and are offered on a first- come-first-served basis. Dogs can also travel on River Bus services but must be kept on a lead at all times.
Enjoy a leisurely cruise on the River Thames
Of course, there is also the option to take a more sedate cruise along the River Thames and there are plenty of companies that offer frequent trips along the best bits of the river.
Such cruises on the river take in major attractions such as the Tower of London, London Bridge, London Eye and Westminster.
Of course, you can also take the opportunity to explore further along the River Thames, with trips offered during the summer months that take in areas towards the west of the capital 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)