London River Services

London River Services is the division of Transport for London (TfL) which manages all passenger transport on the River Thames by licensing the services of private boat operators. London River Services is a subsidiary of TfL under the ‘Surface Transport’ arm.

There are currently 33 passenger use piers on the Thames within London, London River Services is responsible for the following eight piers:

Bankside Pier
Blackfriars Millennium Pier
Embankment Pier
Festival Pier
Greenwich Pier
Millbank Millennium Pier
Tower Millennium Pier
Westminster Millennium Pier


Thames Clippers Catamaran at London Bridge City Pier on route RB1.

In 1997 the Secretary of State for Transport ‘John Prescott’ announced a £21 million project to regenerate the London section of the River Thames known as the ‘Thames 2000’ project, the project to boost passenger transport services on the Thames and was complete in time for the Millennium Celebrations alongside the Millennium Dome.

The ‘Cross River Partnership’ recommended that a public body should be set up to co-ordinate and promote River Services, in 1999 an agency was created initially known as the ‘Thames Piers Agency’. The Thames Pier Agency took over control of the piers that were on the Thames at the time from the Port of London Authority and commissioned construction of new Piers, they also began to integrate boat services with other public transport. The Thames Pier Agency later became London River Services and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Transport for London (TfL).

As part of the ‘Thames 2000 project’ five new piers were built using funding from the Millennium Commission to help improve services on the Thames, the new piers were: ‘Blackfriars Millennium Pier, Millbank Millennium Pier, Tower Millennium Pier, Westminster Millennium Pier and Waterloo Millennium Pier. Waterloo Millennium Pier was later renamed ‘London Eye Pier’ to coincide with the opening of the London Eye on the same site, this pier is also managed by the London Eye.

London River Services (LRS) promote both commuter and leisure boat services under the London River Services Brand, they also issue timetables and maps of boat services. LRS also responsible to integrating boat services with other public transport services at nearby bus stops and train stations. LRS manage eight piers and use LRS branded signage and live passenger information similar to the London Buses countdown system.


London River Services Roundel

LRS financially support ‘Thames Clippers’ which operate various commuter ‘River Bus’ services within London on the Thames, this financial support helps Thames Clippers operate at high frequencies. London pier owners, boat operators, London Borough Councils and TfL signed a ‘River Concordat’ in April 2009 which meant a commitment to improve ticketing, piers and passenger information. River traffic control is not maintained by LRS, it is instead maintained by the Port of London Authority, the RNLI operate lifeboat services on the Thames.

LRS uses a pale blue roundel featuring the word ‘River’ and all signage and publicity use the New Johnston typeface in keeping with TfL design standards. LRS also publish diagrammatic river maps in the ‘Harry Beck’ style similar to the tube map. London Underground trains which call at stations closest to piers show the nearby piers on the in-train line maps and many lines also announce them, also tube maps show interchange for river services near tube stations using a boat symbol.

Commuter River Bus Services use route numbers which are preceded by ‘RB’ (e.g. RB1) for easy identification purposes. The Canary Wharf – Rotherhithe ferry service is numbered ‘RB4’ however the Woolwich free ferry does not have a route number as this is a vehicular ferry and is free of charge.

View our full list of London River Services

View our full list of London Piers

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