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Big Bus Tours Group Holdings Ltd
Big Bus Tours
IndustryOpen top bus operator
  • Les Cars Rouges
  • Big Bus Company
Founded2011; 11 years ago (2011)
HeadquartersBelgravia, London, UK
Areas served
Key people
RevenueIncrease $269 million(2019)[3]
Decrease $(2.3) million(2019) [3]
Decrease $(45.6) million(2019) [3]
OwnersExponent 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[citation needed] 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.[4] 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.


Big Bus company kiosk and bus queue at Speakers' Corner, London
Big Bus company kiosk and bus queue at Speakers' Corner, London

"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.[5]

"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.[6]

In May 2007, the Abu Dhabi company the Al Fahim Group purchased a 30% shareholding.[7][8]

In February 2015, the business was sold to Exponent Private Equity.[9][10] In February 2016, Merlin Entertainments bought a 15% shareholding.[11]

Overview of operation

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.[12]

Operations by country




In April 2010, The Big Bus Shanghai was established. It operates a fleet of eight Ankais.[13]


Hong Kong

Big Bus in Hong Kong
Big Bus in Hong Kong

On 15 December 2008, The Big Bus Hong Kong was established. With the largest fleet of open-top buses in the city,[14] 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).



An open-top Scania L94UB bus as operated by Big Bus Tours in Singapore (Scrapped in December 2020, replaced by Volvo B9TL Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 double decker buses)
An open-top Scania L94UB bus as operated by Big Bus Tours in Singapore (Scrapped in December 2020, replaced by Volvo B9TL Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 double decker buses)

Big Bus Tours bought over local sightseeing tour operator Duck & Hippo in September 2018.[15]


United Arab Emirates

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.[citation needed]

United Kingdom

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.[16][17]


Dennis Condor of Big Bus
Dennis Condor of Big Bus

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.

United States


See also


  1. ^ "Big Bus Tours chairman back aboard after chief executive steps off". 9 February 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  2. ^ "Companies house directors report". Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  3. ^ a b c "Companies house annual account". Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  4. ^ "Sightseeing Bus | Hop-on Hop-off Bus | Big Bus Tours". Archived from the original on 27 June 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  5. ^ "Big Bus Tours International | About Us". Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  6. ^ "Big Bus Tours wants investors on board | The National". Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  7. ^ Al Fahim Group acquires 30 percent equity interest in the Big Bus Company Archived 4 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine 29 May 2007
  8. ^ Al Fahim Group buys 30% stake in Big Bus Company Gulf News 29 May 2007
  9. ^ Private equity firms line up for 400m ticket to Big Bus Tours City A.M. 12 January 2015
  10. ^ Double decker deal for Exponet Private Equity as group snaps up Big Bus Tours City A.M. 25 February 2015
  11. ^ Merlin eyes Big Bus Tours takeover following £24.6 million state deal The Daily Telegraph 25 February 2016
  12. ^ "Hop-on, Hop-off Bus | City Bus Tours | Big Bus Tours". Archived from the original on 18 June 2016. Retrieved 28 June 2016.
  13. ^ Big Bus Tours (The Big Bus Company, London, England) Archived 10 June 2012 at the Wayback Machine The Open Top Bus Site
  14. ^ "Open Top Bus Tours – Hong Kong Extras3". Retrieved 1 November 2016.
  15. ^ Homegrown tour company Duck & Hippo acquired by international operator TODAY 5 September 2018
  16. ^ London Stops List Archived 24 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine Big Bus Tours April 2012
  17. ^ Map Big Bus Tours Archived 21 September 2013 at the Wayback Machine February 2013