Londoners Are Being Urged to Use Sightseeing Buses to Get Back to Work

Could London's sightseeing buses help the capital's workers get back to work?
Could London's sightseeing buses help the capital's workers get back to work? | © Peter Moulton / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Cassam Looch
Film Editor21 July 2020

Most Londoners will tell you that open-top buses are for tourists and children. The convertible version of the classic double-decker doesn’t get much love in the capital, but times have changed. Could locals learn to love the humble sightseers’ favourite mode of transport? Culture Trip reports.

Drastic times call for drastic measures, and for Londoners nothing could be more jarring than hopping on an open-top tourist bus to get to work. Yet that’s exactly what a new initiative is proposing, as workers in the capital are being urged to feel the wind in their hair as they prepare to attend important business meetings in real life.

Open-top buses are a favourite way for sightseers to tour the London | | © Mim Friday / Alamy Stock Photo

Snap, a crowdsourcing platform for buses and coaches, is touting open-air commuting as the ultimate in Covid-secure travel.

Like other countries, the UK has struggled to get people back to work after lockdown restrictions have been lifted. Schemes like the Eat out to Help out initiative have been launched, but ultimately the true mark of recovery will be a sense of normality returning to everyday life.

Having seen a drastic fall in the number of tourists, and the need for secure travel, Snap has come up with a plan to turn dozens of open-top buses into a new transport method. Without tourists, the buses are literally parked up, but people still need to get to work. An initial trial route is running from Walthamstow to Victoria, following the route the Tube takes along the Victoria Line. It goes straight through central London, where traffic in normal times is notoriously bad, but recent months have seen a big drop in car use.

The open-top bus could become the transport of choice for commuters | | © Paul Hurst / Alamy Stock Photo

Trains, Tube and buses are still running, but there is still a reluctance among workers to travel in enclosed spaces during peak hours. The Underground, which is usually unpleasantly cramped, and buses are not seen as being “safe”, over concerns about social distancing and recirculated air.

There are more than 200 open-top buses in London, and even though the top decks will have to reduce capacity, the fresh air (or as fresh as it can get in London) is a welcome benefit. Snap estimates that 30,000 people will be able to use these double-deckers if the trial scheme is successful.

Get on board for your journey to work with a sightseeing bus | | © Jansos / Alamy Stock Photo

Sadly, you’ll have to provide your own sightseeing commentary. Or download a podcast to keep yourself entertained.

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