Using a bus pass in London

Bus Pass holders planning a visit to London ask us very frequently ‘Can I use my bus pass in London?’ to which our reply is always ‘Yes you can if your bus pass was issued in England’ and will have a red rose symbol on it. English National Bus Pass Symbol



Complaints from Bus Pass holders having problems in London with passes issued outside London. These have been coming on to us for years and still continue – for details click here.

January 2017 – We have taken up with Transport for London the frequent complaints that the card readers on London buses do not recognise valid ENCTS cards used by bus pass holders from areas in England but outside London, and that drivers sometimes won’t accept them either.
London Bus Pass problems

In response to our complaints the Customer Service Adviser, Transport for London Customer Services has provided a copy of the relevant page from the ‘London Bus Drivers’ Guide’ which can be shown to drivers in case of difficulty. (see below)

We strongly recommend that you print a copy of this if you are planning a visit to London and plan to use your bus pass. London Bus Drivers Guide page114

Plase help us to help others by giving your feedback on your experience (good or not so good) using a bus pass in London, but issued outside London.  Use the contact form below, and include please the issuing area  e.g Staffordshire.   No names or email addresses will be published.

instruction is on page 114 on the Bus Driver’s Guidebook which all bus drivers carry with them

instruction is on page 114 on the Bus Driver’s Guidebook which all bus drivers carry with them

(Click on the image above to get larger copy for printing)

NOTE: If you get a problem of this kind, it can be very helpful to note as many details as possible, bus service number, location, time and bus drivers number.

Please note that bus passes issued outside London aren’t accepted on the Tube, rail or ferry services in London. Why should that be ? Well the theory is that when the National Bus Pass scheme was brought out in 2008, local authorities received, and still receive funding to cover the cost [local councils will say ‘Ah but not enough funding to cover the cost’ – but that is another issue.] The English National Concessionary Travel Scheme (ENCTS)provides for use of bus passes between 9.30 am and 11pm Monday to Friday, and anytime at weekends.
There are other options for saving on Tube fares in London, e.g.

Holders of bus passes issued in Merseyside or Greater London from age 60 (i.e. earlier than the ENCTS) should note that these passes cannot be used outside their home area – these passes don’t have a red rose symbol on them.

Further information about different conditions for using bus passes

In some districts councils have decided to improve on the ENCTS conditions by:

  • Extending the weekday hours – often by making the bus pass usable before 9.30 am e.g. Staffordshire & Greater London allow any time during the week.
  • Making the bus pass acceptable on local metro/rail services/tube e.g. Merseyside, Greater Manchester, Greater London

Where this has happened the extra ‘benefits’ are only available for residents of the area concerned, e.g. travelling on the Merseyside Metro system with a bus pass is only available to holders of Merseyside Travel Pass.

Further information on variations in bus pass schemes in different local authority areas can be found on our Local Variations page.

We hope this explanation helps, we didn’t make these rules, we are just trying to make them understandable.

If you encounter any difficulty getting your bus pass accepted we would like to hear about it – please use the ‘reply’ box below.

65 thoughts on “Using a bus pass in London

  1. C McI

    We have recently used West Yorkshire issued concessionary passes on two London routes (6 and 14), without difficulty. We scanned our passes on the machine situated close to the driver at the entrance.

  2. Pingback: London Transport continue to embarrass bus pass users from outside London | Pensioners, Disabled & Bus Passes Blog

  3. Barb

    I’ve just found your blog, (Fantastic!!!) having just responded to an apologetic email from TFL.
    I’ve had my English National Concessionary pass for around 18 months through Hertfordshire and use it a lot in London. This year I’ve had to complain to TFL three times, twice about the same driver of a route 52 bus. After the first encounter, he reduced me to tears (this was my first experience of driver madness) shouting and railing at me, so I got off at the next stop. The driver on the 52 behind was really sympathetic and said he knew which driver I’d had problems with and that he clearly had a reputation for belligerence. He gave me the driver’s RUNNING NUMBER (always ask the offending driver for this). I complained to TFL and was assured he’d be called for an interview with this manager at Metroline. But then two weeks ago, I met him again on the 52 and he started on at me again. I had my letter from TFL but he didn’t want to know but I was not upset this time, just very exasperated, so told him to call his inspector and went off upstairs. He couldn’t do anything and had to keep going. Getting off, I spoke to him and took out my TFL letter, but he didn’t want to know and insisted I was in the wrong.
    Between these two meetings with this lovely driver, I was boarding a 27 bus on Chiswick High Street and was only one of two passengers on the bus. Again, the same old story, but this man exceeded the previous one in volume (physical and vocal!). Again I got off the bus at the next stop, but on the way off asked him for his running number, which he refused to give, so I took a photo of him. It was a bit blurred but clear enough to identify him, and I sent that with a letter to TFL.
    I’m getting to a stage where these encounters are conditioning me to feel apprehensive each time I board a London bus, although the first encounter was a shock, I’m now fore-warned. From now on, I will tell the offending driver to not only “Read this letter”, but “Refer to page 114 of your handbook”. I’m not one to be intimidated and will always rally for the underdog but when that underdog is me, my bark’s pretty loud! I might just get some copies of the handbook page printed off and keep them on me in case of another nasty driver encounter. Happy Travels to all, and stand your ground!
    For anyone who has been intimidated by aggressive drivers, I’d say YOU ARE IN THE RIGHT. Tell them to call their inspector and take your seat. The driver can’t throw you off as he / she has to get to their destination on time.

  4. John Paish

    Using a buss pass in London
    After all the complaints, it may be of some comfort to know that this sometimes works in reverse!
    When we moved back to my home town after living for many years in London, our London Freedom Passes still had a couple of years left.
    Many times, the local Midlands buses would query the pass validity, and my wife was twice accused of being “a rich Londoner taking advantage of the local Council Tax”, which made us laugh, as we moved away from the Capital because we couldn’t afford to live there anymore.

  5. Ms stacey Harris

    I have a over 60 senior oyster card but when i went to Hartlepool was not sccepted on theire buses i am now receiving pip so could i apply for a dissability pass thank you

  6. Fred Robson

    You could use your ‘now’ card to travel from Lancashire to London but that would be via a lot of buses and take a long time. As far as I know a now card can’t be used to book tickets on other transport.

  7. Fred Robson

    I>’m not quite clear whether yuo are a London resident or not, but if so the answer to your question is on this pg
    Freedom Pass information

    If you have a pass issued outside of London you may be restricted to the ENCTS conditions – 9.30 am – 11pm weekdays, any time saturday and sunday

  8. Terry barraclough

    Simple question but hard to get an answer( try it) are there time restrictions on my pensioners bus pass in london, i.e. Can I travel befor 0900 and can I use it on the night busses.

  9. John gillow

    Can older London residents apply for a national bus pass? If so, how and where do we apply?

  10. Hampshire Boy

    I’ve been using my Hampshire-issued concessionary pass on TfL buses several times a month for the past couple of years. I’ve always assumed that these passes aren’t Oyster-compatible, so I just flash the card at the drivers, and they have always accepted it without problem. I’ve never seen them register the transaction on the machine.

  11. Benjamin Dickson

    I have been to London over the weekend and stayed in Greenwich travelled to the Excel and into the city as I was running the marathon. None of the buses were accepting my Leicester City Blind bus pass. The drivers all overrode the system without the need for fuss!!

  12. Fred Robson

    We have recently written to a number of local newspapers on this, as we feel that this situation is totally unacceptable. TfL need to be shamed into doing something about it.

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