At first glance Avondale Road is just an ordinary suburban residential side street you’d expect to see all over West London. Delightful semi-detached and terraced houses just a stone’s throw from the banks of the River Thames make it characteristic of the local neighbourhood, Mortlake. If you peer down to the very end of the street, there’s an oddity of the TfL network hidden in plain sight.
It’s London’s tiniest bus station, yes, according to the Mortlake Bus Station terminating stand and departing bus stop names. It’s not indicated as such on the destination blinds of the two routes which use it – opting for the more demure ‘Mortlake, Avondale Road’, perhaps to dissuade passengers using it expecting to arrive at a bustling transport interchange akin to Heathrow Central, Walthamstow or Vauxhall with their dozens of bus stands and onward connections.
Here, you can only take route 209 on its round-the-corner three mile trip to the south side of closed-to-vehicles Hammersmith Bridge at Castelnau or route 378 to Putney Bridge, connecting to the Tube. The two routes are tiny, relatively self-contained and as a result are the most reliable bus routes on the TfL network according to the latest data. Between September and January a whopping 97.2 per cent of buses ran on time on route 209 making it the top timetable-operated bus route. For the 378, the most reliable ‘high frequency’ route, 95.6 per cent of the time passengers waited under 10 minutes for a bus and the average passenger waited barely 0.3 minutes longer than they should.
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(Image: Callum Marius)
The tiny bus station has its charm. There’s still a classic London Buses sign in original Johnston font on the small one-storey bus driver facilities block and on a house facing it, there’s a polite ‘buses stop here’ sign to alert potentially caught short motorists.
There’s just one bus shelter and space for three standard sized buses plus one bus serving the departure stop. Although the bus station is right next to the South Western Railway (SWR) line between Richmond and Clapham Junction, Mortlake station is around a seven minute walk away. It’s really only passengers travelling to Avondale Road, its surrounding streets or streets across the railway footbridge who would likely regularly use the bus station – rather than anyone changing buses there.
(Image: Callum Marius)
Avondale Road itself has parking bays along both sides of the street so buses have to go slowly along the centre of the road, often in twos and giving each other ample space to pass, which makes the bus station feel even more unusual. TfL made amendments to the arrangement after a fatal accident there in 2007.
The awkward bus station location dates back to 1983. Prior to then, the main bus route through Mortlake, route 9 (now Hammersmith-Aldwych) started from a bus garage near Avondale Road. When it closed in June of that year, the current bus terminus was built. A weight restriction on Hammersmith Bridge which banned double deckers in the 1990s meant that the 9 was replaced by a single-decker route 9A (now 209) instead.
Have you ever used Mortlake bus station? What were your impressions? Tell us in the comments below!
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