Press releases

New order gives the original tour the first new open top buses in London

01 June 2005

London's premier open top bus sightseeing company The Original Tour, part of Arriva plc, is about to take delivery of the first in a series of ten new Tourist Buses from Ayats.

The buses have Bravo 1 City coachwork based on a Volvo B7L 1482 chassis and are 10.8m long and 2.5m wide.

The move gives The Original Tour the first all-new open top sightseeing buses in London and the only buses with wheelchair access.

The launch of the ten new £160,000 specially designed open top tour buses follows a record year for The Original Tour in 2004, which saw a 9 per cent growth in passenger numbers. Figures for 2005 are already exceeding overall industry predictions from UK Inbound with web bookings up by over 30% in the first quarter of 2005.

Sales have been boosted by the increasing number of agencies and London tour operators adding a link from their own web sites to The Original Tour's newly re-designed bookable site. The investment in new buses follows major capital expenditure earlier in the year by the company, part of Arriva plc, in preparation for these new vehicles including updating its head office, garages and central London base and the outright purchase of their 45 bus freehold site in Rainham.

It also means that The Original Tour, which is also the London operator of the City-Sightseeing brand, is leading the way in the drive to upgrade the capital's overall tourism offering for the future. It brings London up to the standard of many other European capitals, which boast new sightseeing bus fleets, and backs Tourism Minister Richard Caborn's calls for UK tourism businesses to be comparable with international competitors.

Key interior features of the new fleet include a manual disable access ramp and guides for disabled wheel chairs, plus air conditioning and heating for the driver, a courier seat, lower deck extraction fans, a blind at the top of the stairs the can be closed in case of rain, and a 'Hanover' destination display, complying with UK DDA regulations. With 51 seats upstairs and 24 seats on the lower deck the new buses will mean that London's 'The Original Tour' will have a sightseeing fleet as good as any in the world.

Commercial director for The Original Tour, Colin Atkins, said:

This is a major investment for us, and for tourism in London . The new fleet makes us the only open top bus tour in the capital to grow our fleet using brand new purpose built vehicles. We intend to order even more new buses in the near future.

The move was welcomed by Stephen Dowd, chief executive of UKinbound, the organisation representing the UK travel industry. He said:

UKinbound members are committed to delivering quality services and products for all our visitors and we are delighted that The Original Tour, one of our key Senior Partners, is so clearly demonstrating this

Added Colin Atkins:

Our capital city is looking better than ever and we are dedicated to ensuring that London has the best possible sightseeing service

The introduction of the new fleet was also praised by David Hornby, commercial director of Visit London who said:

This is fantastic news for visitors to London , and helps to provide the capital with even more top class facilities.

Notes to Editors

Founded in 1951 at the time of The Festival of Britain The Original Tour is now the largest single sightseeing operator in the world. The hop-on hop-off service allows customers to board any of its tour routes at over 90 different stops. Services operate daily with a 'live' commentary in English or a wide choice of languages. A free river cruise is included with every ticket and the Kids' Club provides an educational but fun alternative for 5-12 year olds.

Other technical specifications include:


  • The entire structure is treated on the profile interior with projected polyurethane/dinitrol, providing sound proofing and eliminating outbreaks of rust.


  • Front and rear are 3mm polyester sheet reinforced with metal armature.


  • Thermal and sound installation on ceiling and sides.
  • Granite silver/grey non-slip flooring
  • Two interior storage units, one for guide.
  • Lower deck extraction fans.


  • Double front door with pneumatic action, opening inwards.
  • Emergency manual rear door.


  • Driver's seat ISRI 6500/517
  • Protective screen behind driver.


  • Diffuse interior lighting using 640 mm lights.
  • Upper deck lighting at base of seats.
  • Driver's area illuminated by halogen light.

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