|Big Bus Tours|
|Industry||Open top bus operator|
|Headquarters||Belgravia, London, UK|
|$(2.3) million(2019) |
|$(45.6) million(2019) |
|Owners||Exponent Private Equity (85%)|
Merlin Entertainments (15%)
Big Bus Tours (formerly Les Cars Rouges and The Big Bus Company), is the largest operator of open top bus sightseeing tours founded in May 2011 after "Les Cars Rouges" and the "Big Bus Company" merged. The company operates in 21 cities of 11 countries with more than 150 buses around the world. The United States is the country with the largest number of cities with Big Bus Tours service. Typically, Big Bus Tours use open top double-decker buses in burgundy and cream-coloured livery.
"Les Cars Rouges" was founded in 1990 by Abdallah El Azm in Paris, France. Over the course of the next two decades, it went on to operate in Paris, Rome, Washington DC, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Miami, and Istanbul. The "Big Bus Company" first started operating in London, England in June 1991 with four buses by the Maybury family. It later expanded to Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Philadelphia, and so on.
"Les Cars Rouges" and "the Big Bus Company" merged in May 2011, and formed "Big Bus Tours". Les Cars Rouges was the larger of the two companies, but for international namesake purposes, the name "Big Bus" was retained.
In May 2007, the Abu Dhabi company the Al Fahim Group purchased a 30% shareholding.
In February 2015, the business was sold to Exponent Private Equity. In February 2016, Merlin Entertainments bought a 15% shareholding.
Buses travel near major landmarks around the town or city it tours. Pre-recorded or live commentary about the landscape is provided through small headphones worn by each passenger. Users may leave the bus and board again without limit (hop-on, hop-off) at special bus stops on a circular route. In large cities, buses go on more than one route. In some cities (such as Hong Kong) some variants of the ride include travelling by boat.
In April 2010, The Big Bus Shanghai was established. It operates a fleet of eight Ankais.
On 15 December 2008, The Big Bus Hong Kong was established. With the largest fleet of open-top buses in the city, it serves three sightseeing routes: Hong Kong Island (Red Tour), Kowloon (Blue Tour) and Stanley (Green Tour). The tour offers a wide range of packages which include free travel on the Peak Tram, entry to the Sky Terrace on Victoria Peak, a traditional Sampan ride, and a Star Ferry harbour tour.
In August, 2018, Big Bus Dublin was officially launched with the most up to date fleet in the city. It offers 2 separate tours: Red (city centre and Phoenix Park) and Blue (city centre including Docklands, Glasnevin Cemetery and Croke Park Stadium).
Big Bus Tours bought over local sightseeing tour operator Duck & Hippo in September 2018.
In 2002, The Big Bus Tours Dubai was established. The buses used are traditional open-top double-decker buses. The tour visits numerous sights throughout the Emirate; including the Wafi Mall, Dubai Creek, Creekside Park, Dubai Museum, The Old Souq, Sheikh Saeed Al Maktoum House, Heritage & Diving Village, Dubai Gold Souk, Deira City Centre, Jumeirah Mosque, Souq Madinat Jumeirah, Burj Al Arab, the Palm Dubai Mall, and the Burj Khalifa.
The Big Bus Tours London operates three routes with stops at these tourist destinations: Madame Tussauds, Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Whitehall, Westminster Bridge, London Eye, Covent Garden, St Paul's Cathedral, London Bridge, Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace, Harrods, Kensington Palace and Kensington Gardens.
Originally, the fleet was built up with former route service double deckers that were converted to open top for a second life. AEC Routemasters, Daimler Fleetlines, Leyland Atlanteans and Leyland Titans were all used during the 1990s. These were replaced by 3-axle Dennis Condors, Leyland Olympians and MCW Metrobuses purchased from Hong Kong. The depot is in Wimbledon.
In 2008, 10 East Lancs Visionaire bodied Volvo B9TLs were purchased. These were followed by 26 Optare Visionaire-bodied Volvo B9TLs and 3-axle Ankais.