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Top five seats on the bus

Written by
Ben Williams


Nathan James Page


1. Top deck, front right

Is there a better feeling than seeing an approaching double-decker with an empty top window? Not likely. No question: the best seat on the bus (or BSOTB) is directly above the driver. It has everything: panoramic views of London, a handy ledge for your rucksack or Morrisons bags, and the satisfying feeling of being king of the bus. Occasionally, it even comes with its own citrus-fresh scent, thanks to discarded orange peel or an empty Lucozade bottle. Luxury.

2. Bottom deck, front left

When BSOTB isn't available (it is a popular choice, after all), the next priority is the 'passenger seat': just left of the bus's boss, on a raised perch. It provides a real insight into the life of a London bus driver. Watch them navigate the narrow streets, witness them argue with fare-dodgers, behold as they affectionately honk their horn at fellow drivers - it's like a Channel 4 documentary without the ad breaks. Plus the seat comes with that helpful sheet of glass, which acts as a great guard against sneeze lurgies from boarding passengers.

3. Top deck, back middle

One for the thrillseekers! Top, back middle (TBM) offers maximum g-force as it drags you along bus lanes and throws you around corners. It's a risky move: on a busy day, you could end up sandwiched between a Dutch tourist and a man stacking three cat baskets. It's also where you're most likely to hear tinny hip hop played through a phone speaker. But on an empty bus, those full five seats of space are an absolute dream.

4. Top deck, right, just behind the stairs

At first glance, it looks like any other top-deck bench. But this is the people-watcher's choice. As well as affording a bird's-eye view of oncoming traffic, it's the prime pew for judging each passenger trudging up the stairs by the back of their head. Where will they sit? Will they ask anyone to move their bag? Will they choose an empty two-seater at the back over sitting next to a stranger in BSOTB? Place your bets...


5. Bottom deck, right, behind the driver

Need some alone time? Try the odd seat on the bus (OSOTB): it's the one underneath the stairs. Perfect for a private phone call and preferred by those who can't bear to touch strangers. You'll need your wits about you, though: there's often no window and it's impossible to view the LED-stop announcer. Best have an occasional lean into the aisle to keep an eye on the road and try not to end up being kicked off at Catford Bus Garage.

By Ben Williams, who would say he's a TBM kind of guy.

Illustrations: Nathan James Page

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