Home South London The lost London bus routes into the countryside that have vanished over...

The lost London bus routes into the countryside that have vanished over the years

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London has a very porous boundary – it doesn’t quite follow the M25, isn’t entirely the shape of Zone 6 and you can often find one side of a road is in London and the other side is not.

It has created an interesting but inconsistent bus network where some routes from outer London boroughs to neighbouring towns and villages have thrived and others… well… have died.

Most of the commercially viable and popular links are still provided by Transport for London (TfL) red bus routes such as the 465 which extends deep into the Surrey countryside.

Others have been left to commercial bus operators in the Home Counties which have incorporated or created routes which fit into their networks reaching into London, like the remarkable Uno route 614.

Either way, there have been some victims due to an array of unusual and little known reasons. My London takes a look at the most significant broken cross-border bus links over the past 20 years.

READ MORE:London Underground: The popular ‘Tube’ service that has nothing to do with the actual Tube

310, 311 Hertford <> Enfield

London Overground trains like this one mean TfL still serves the main points the original route 350 did, bringing Oyster right out into Hertfordshire

Previously the main bus link between Waltham Cross and Enfield, the 310 and 311 bus routes stopped entering London in 2006.

The routes were a useful round-the-corner link for those in Enfield Highway. The Hopper fare now means that although the same journey requires two buses, you only pay once.

The routes still continue outside of London, providing the main bus link between Waltham Cross and Hertford.

350: Watford Junction <> Harrow

Before the current TfL route 350, there was a Hertfordshire route 350 which also served North West London. It ran from Harrow, through North Harrow and then across the border into Hertfordshire.

It continued along Oxhey Lane, darting in and out of Carpenders Park before emerging in Watford Town Centre. It was an often quicker alternative than the 258 as it avoided traffic hotspots at Harrow Weald and Bushey Heath.

Although TfL did help fund the 350, as it was the only bus route to travel along Oxhey Lane, Oyster was never accepted and in September 2004, TfL kicked the route out of the Travelcard and London bus fares scheme.

With passenger figures down to 760 per day, Hertfordshire County Council and TfL decided to axe the route in 2006. In London, the H18 was turned into a circular H18/H19 to replace the North Harrow section and in Hertfordshire, several routes over the years have replaced the Carpenders Park section.

In 2007, train services between Harrow and Watford became part of the London Overground meaning the whole route of the 350 is now covered by Oyster fares anyway meaning TfL would almost never bring the route back.

There is one token bus per week called the R17 which still makes the journey across the border but as the 350 bus stops on Oxhey Lane were removed, its of almost no use to Londoners.

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351 Chelmsford <> Romford

0 351bus

Unlike the 498 with its classic red paint job, the 351 came in an array of colours over the years including a fierce yellow

The 351 is an Essex bus route which still runs on its Essex section. It is the predecessor to TfL bus route 498 which provides the current bus link across the border between Romford and Brentwood, which was launched in 2005.

TfL played a blinder in ‘stealing’ the London section and its thousands of passengers per year from the 351, which could not compete with the cheaper fares and frequent service.

The 351 stopped serving the Romford to Brentwood section on Mondays to Saturdays the same year, before cutting it on Sundays too in 2007. It has since been diverted to Warley, a housing estate in south Brentwood.

There were also sister bus routes of the 351, notably the 551, 750 and 751, which used to link Romford and various Essex towns.

402 Tunbridge Wells <> Bromley

0 441bus

Buses on the 441 used to have a special livery which advertised the connection with the airport, now no longer served

This long-time route provided a leafy, scenic bus link between Bromley and mid-Kent via the famously-named “Pratts Bottom” village until 2017 when it was cut.

There is now no bus link over the same section, although trains continue along a similar route.

Bus usage remains low in the villages either side of the Bromley/Kent border. Right now, TfL is holding a consultation which proposes cutting its R7 bus route from two villages just inside the London boundary.

The 402 continues to run between Sevenoaks and Tunbridge Wells in Kent.

441 Englefield Green <> Heathrow Airport

Royal Holloway University is frequently batched in with London universities as it is part of the University of London. It’s actually in Egham, Surrey and the 441 provided a direct link from the campus to the tube at Heathrow.

As Heathrow Airport and Surrey County Council decided to make cuts in subsidising bus routes, the 441 was yet another bus route which was chopped up, discarding its London section.

A new variant of the route, the 442, now provides a less frequent bus link between Staines and Heathrow Airport.

Many bus routes from outside of London to Heathrow have been cut as funding dried up. Many bus routes from the Chilterns terminate at Uxbridge instead and those from Surrey in Staines, like the 441.

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505 Harlow <> Chingford

0 Sewardstone

The axeing of route 505 means that the village of Sewardstone on the border between Essex and London now has no bus service

The Low Emission Zone (LEZ), which started in 2008, means that many bus routes (and buses in general as the Scouts found out) which used to operate easily into and out of London now need to use low emission buses.

It means that many buses between North London and Essex or South London and Surrey terminate as soon as they get into London, to avoid the LEZ, turn around and head straight back out. This is why the 409 now starts from Selsdon instead of Croydon and why the 505 was ultimately doomed.

The 505, confined to Chingford instead of larger Walthamstow nearby, saw passenger usage fall until the route was cut back to Waltham Abbey.

In May 2015, Arriva its long time operator abandoned the route altogether until it was saved by Trustybus. For a number of years, changes in how the route was funded by Essex County Council meant it only served London on Saturdays.

Numerous bus routes between North London and Essex have been cut due to low passenger figures and changes in travel patterns in the past 20 years including the 500/501/502 routes which linked Harlow with Romford.

Do you remember any of these routes? Are there bus route links out of London you would like to see again? Let us know in the comments below!

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https://www.mylondon.news/news/zone-1-news/lost-london-bus-routes-countryside-21219347