Online shopping giant Amazon enters London bus market

Much like London’s main Transport for London (TfL) bus routes, Amazon routes are run by different bus operators under agreement with Amazon.

However, unlike TfL which specifies buses should be red, have TfL logos and signage and accept Oyster fares, Amazon’s bus routes can have any vehicle in any colour.

There is usually a £4 return fare between wherever you board and the Amazon fulfilment centre though and Oyster is not accepted.

Despite being only advertised to people who have some sort of business with Amazon, the routes are open to the general public and appear on the official TfL London Service Permits register, where all non-TfL bus routes which accept fare-paying passengers boarding from a London bus stop are listed.

Given the fulfilment centres’ relatively industrial, isolated locations, only bus enthusiasts or residents who happen to live on the few housing estates nearby would likely travel on the routes in addition to Amazon-related passengers.

The routes also have very unusual frequencies. They tend to run every few minutes between 5am and 7am, plus 5pm and 7pm, but only once or twice outside of these times.

That’s to match up with the start of shift times at each centre to ensure that employees have enough time to clock in and clock out. The routes do not run when the centres are closed.