The things you really need to know when travelling on the Bus with kids!


Getting around London without going round the bend is an art form in itself.

From bus drivers that refuse to stop when they see a pram (in any weather mind and when they have the space onboard too) to lifts that don’t work at local tube and DLR stations*.

You can, if you have the inclination, delve deep into what, I must admit is a better than it was before TFL Website to get station updates. But that takes the spontaneity of jumping on the DLR to visit the farm and turns outings into a military operations.

Heaven forbid you get caught out en route. I’ve known station staff to suck and blow air and insist that you get back on a tube or the train to the next station that has access points. But, I’ve also known staff to help mums up many fights of stairs with heavy and amused toddlers too!**

But what happens when your out of prams and your little one can rush on the bus and grab a seat? On a recent 386 ride, I remembered getting on the 188 with my own mum and her asking for one and a half to London Bridge then later 1 and 2 half’s when my brother was around and being super confused as to why she hadn’t just as asked for for 2. It got me thinking, when do I start paying for my own two half’s?

Bus Fares

Again I had to delve deep and was relieved to find that I wasn’t fare evading! Turns out under 16s and some under 18s have been entitled to free travel in London since 2005, As long as your under 11, travels with an adult who is using pay as you go, or has a valid ticket (excluding Group Day Travelcards), Freedom Pass or an Oyster (up to four children per adult) on Tube, DLR, London Overground and some National Rail services then all is good. It’s only when you think they may travel without you i.e to and from School and given that most 11 year olds don’t look 11 anymore, you should get them a Zip Oyster Card.


Zips comes in 2 age ranges 5-10 and 11-16. Still free, but does require a bit of faff – available online and at the Post Office but only until the end of this month, then everything moves online!

So it looks like it may be while before I need to start providing bus money. Phew!

* – Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich: Currently no Step Free Access – Step free access is not available while they fix a faulty lift. Call the Travel Information Centre on 0343 222 1234 if you need help planning your journey.

** – Woolwich Arsenal DLR – what a nice bunch of Station staff!

About DiaryOf

Diary Of is a regular blog, by a regular Greenwich mum. Sharing experiences as a local parent (and member of this website) she’ll be writing about everything and anything. And being completely anonymous – you never know – you could have stood next to her in the Post Office or behind her in Cafe W…