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Real London Bus Company Sees Demand for Private, Public Tours Soar

Published: Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Updated: Wednesday, December 7, 2011 15:12

Real London Bus Company

Ryan A. Ruiz

Real London Bus Company owner Jonathan Pring. has expanded to a full fleet, adding three more double level buses to his party bus business.

Bike, bus, cab or light rail: there are many ways to get about town. But why stick to the conventional when you can get from point A to point B in an authentic London double-decker bus?

For the past three years, Real London Bus Company has provided Valley dwellers with a unique shuttle service to parade them around town. And though the company has faced some hardships, it is now experiencing surmounting success.

The idea for the Phoenix-based company, said owner Jonathan Pring, was hatched in a pub over a drunken conversation with a friend, who later became a future business partner.

"We were sitting in pub thinking of business ideas," Pring said. "So we were thinking, ‘What does Phoenix not have?' We thought, ‘bingo, London buses.'"

The first bus arrived from Liverpool, England in September 2008 and Real London Bus Company was born. The company specializes in hosting a series of monthly events from pub crawls to treasure hunts, in addition to renting the bus out for private events such as weddings or birthdays.

Although Phoenix was not Pring's first choice for the business, his good friend had been established in the city for a few years and it made the most sense to use the city as a launching ground for the new business.

"I think it's a perfect market now," Pring said. "But when we started, it was rough."

In 2008 the economy had taken a nose dive and the first two years were very difficult on the company.

"I didn't pay myself a penny, I was always covered in bus oil," Pring said. "Now it's hard work because we are so busy."

The owners set out to make Real London Bus Company stand apart from the rest of the transportation industry. The stretch Hummers and party buses have their appeal, but there is something untouchable about a red London bus traveling down the road.

"What can you do with a London bus?" Pring said. "I'm always trying to think of creative ways to get us out and about."

This year, the company has experienced some serious growth. Since the beginning of September, it has been non-stop for the London bus crew. Last year, Pring was manning the business mostly solo, but he's now had to hire on a sales person, an office clerk and five drivers to help handle the influx of business. Demand for the tours has been so high that what started out as a one bus company has since expanded to four.

"I wanted to have four so I could name them after The Beatles; John, Paul, George and Ringo," Pring said.

The additional busses are handy this month during the company's annual holiday light tours, which have already sold out through the entire month of December. That's impressive considering the tours run three times a night, every night – except when there is a private event or pub crawl planned. With enough room to seat 55, the company will see well over 3,000 people just this month, Pring said.

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