Thursday, 6 February 2014

The PROJECT – end to end

 End to end not only of each bus route (I know I missed on the 84 in St Albans, and some other outlying routes outwitted our map reading skills – not difficult) but end to  end of our MASTER LIST of Routes.

It all started in Christmas 2007 when Jo said she would like to ride some bus routes end to end just to see where she landed up. Nothing happened so for Christmas 2008 I gave her a copy of each of the five London Bus Maps, one each for NE, NW SW and SE London plus the Central map. She and Mary started riding in March 2009 and I joined them on the Number 3. Originally she was going to send a postcard from the end point of each route to prove we had been there but taking photos seemed easier.  Jo had used a blog before at work and by the time we got to the Number 12 Route I too had been initiated. As Mary had been important enough always to have a PA she declined to do the writing/typing but has been invaluable as the most talented photographer and best map reader.  So there we were. ‘It’ll take 5 years,’ said Jo, adding, ‘if we’re spared!’ a phrase used by a long-dead relative.  Happily we have been spared and by the time we’ve ridden the trams we shall be on our fifth anniversary.
Jo had downloaded a ‘Master List’ onto a Word Spread sheet and as we completed each route we turned it from black to red.  Very soon it became obvious that certain routes combined naturally and as we became bolder, and the weather better, Jo strung together a ‘daisy chain’ of various routes which is how come we completed the 460 and 488 in 2009 though we did not actually blog them until late 2012/early 2013. The recently blogged W16 we rode back in 2011. Where routes changed we repeated them, but this happened far less often than you might think. A further few have changed since we blogged them and there would be scope to revisit these. By the time we got to Route 50 it felt as though we would continue and by Route 100 we were well on our way. In all this we only ‘lost’ two of our routes before blogging time came round.

Much has changed in the five years ;
  • ·         We saw the Olympic sites go up, the areas transformed (sort of)  and start to settle down
  • ·         Our start coincided with a recession which saw the closure of Woolworths (still identifiable in most High Streets), many other shops and quite a lot of pubs
  • ·         Video and DVD shops went and there was a depressing epidemic of pawn shops and ‘payday loan’ outlets
  • ·         Nail parlours proliferated (If we had used all the beauty products and services on our routes we would be greatly beautified and enhanced by now )
  • ·         Not to mention the tattoo parlours and  cake shops

Buildings have come down and many more gone up including
  • ·         The Shard
  • ·         Strata
  • ·         The Pinnacle
  • ·          The Peak,  Victoria
  • ·         Very many blocks of flats, mostly dubbed ‘luxury’ some undoubtedly are 
  • ·         Many of the ‘wrecks’ included in the 2008  book  ‘Derelict London’  have either been renovated or demolished

Transport has been the most transformed
  • ·         The Overground (East London extension) arrived in Spring 2010 and transformed the Project’s ease of access, and cross London routes.  The circle was joined in December 2012, and soon there will be an additional carriage to ride
  • ·         It took TFL Journey Planner a while to catch up on the above developments but once it did all was well , and we could track exactly via the ‘local maps’ and how to locate the start of a key bus route
  • ·         The ‘bendies’ have been phased out and the Thomas Hatherwick (unfortunately known as the ‘Boris’ or the 'Roastmaster' because of its inadequate air conditioning) bus has arrived on routes 38,25,24,15, and 11, not to mention the 390 which is one of Jo’s most used buses (I think that’s right)
  • ·         The Underground network got itself into shape for the Olympics after years of signal failures and intermittently successful ‘upgrades’  so since 2012 tube travel has become altogether more reliable
  • ·         Yes. there was a strike in 2010 about reducing station staff and guess what  with 950 job losses planned there is another strike in 2014
  • ·         Bus stop indicators came on stream so there was no longer the need to gamble and wait forever or walk and be overtaken.
  • ·         Even more sophisticated was the ability to text for news of the next bus arrivals or use the ‘bus app’ depending on your type of phone.
  • ·         TFL used to have links to detailed maps for each bus route (very useful if you can’t read your notes  a week down the line) but abandoned these late last year so now all you get is a silly little thumbnail…  a retrograde move..
  • ·         Journey Planner has had its flaky moments….
  • ·         Cyclists proliferated even if the facilities and traffic options for them did not

Politically there has been a change of government
·         A general election
·         No change of London Mayor (who, by the way, was chosen by  44% of a 38% turnout of Londoners. which sheds an interesting light on his comments about the recent RMT strike ballot)
·         Some riots in 2011, with little evidence of those areas being improved once the glass was back
·         Some hospital closures, in fact or in name via different trusts taking over
·         Fire-stations going
Occasional friends and colleagues have suggested publishing the blog as a book but on the whole we feel
·         It would be boring and repetitive for any reader
·         Comments from our early routes now look very dated
·         London keeps changing
On a personal note it has given family and friends inspiration for cards and presents, which have included some limited-edition prints, two Christmas tree ornaments, some biscuit tins, customized hoodies and notebooks, some London and/or bus related books and a range of cards.
Favourite Routes:
This is our most frequently asked question, which we occasionally answer, but I think it would be really nice to know which routes are popular, and why…
Looking at the Blog’s own stats the following 10 routes have received significantly more traffic than the remaining 500+ routes the reasons for which are not really very obvious: sometimes it’s a popular early route – say the 25 for e.g. -  or on more than one occasion we have been tweeted or linked in (especially by Diamond Geezer ) so our statistics soar, and sometimes I fear a random phrase has caught the blogosphere’s attention for not quite the right reasons. Obviously the routes which have been posted 4-5 years ago will have had more hits and at the same time the low numbered routes include some favourites by any one’s standards (12, 24, 25 and 63).
Route 77
Route U4
Route 25
Route 121
Route 12
Route 24
Route 63
Route 84
Route 107
Route 92

Stats compiled 27/1/2014 at 2PM GMT
So do these stats indicate these routes are more favoured or less known?
If you were to vote for your favourite ROUTE (not bus) NUMBER what would it be?
 The other frequently asked question is whether we have ever  been bored?

The first 100 or so routes truly were a voyage of discovery to parts of London we scarcely knew and of which we had never heard.  Of course when we approach a bus hub, of which there are many in Inner London it is sometimes difficult to find something original to say, but on the whole the trips have given us much fun and interest.  Had we thought things through more we might have ridden a few of the letter routes back amongst the numbers so as to avoid ‘Hounslow’ or Ealing overload …even when road after road of semis (especially out beyond the North and South Circular Roads)  could become a little soporific we were able to spot disgraceful weedy front gardens or beautifully tended shrubs in the same street and carry on.  And carry on we did through three more than unusually snowy  winters, two wet summers and another wet winter, hence our range of wishy washy photos.

PS The X68 has its Headstop in Southampton Row, opposite Russell Square. 


  1. think the NB4L (New Bus for London)/'new' Routemaster or call it what you will, runs on route 9 not route 15? plus routes 11, 24, 390 and partially route 38 with route 148 being next to convert i believe. Also, it appears that route 9 may (most probably) lose it's "Heritage Routemasters" in July...leaving only the 15 with original "hop-on hop-off" Routemasters. Can i say it's been a pleasure reading your blog ...and may join you on the X68 outing (only the short distance from Russel Sq. - Waterloo though), so if you see a middle aged guy in a hoodie "hanging around", fear not, that could very well be me!

  2. Ed is correct about the NB4L routes. Beyond the imminent conversion of the 148, the 8 and 10 are due for conversion in the next few months. It is rumoured that the 38 may also fully convert to NB4Ls because Arriva have issued job adverts for customer assistants. However TfL have not said the 38 will be converted.

  3. Thanks chaps. We'll take the NB4L as we find them...

    You are welcome to join us and it will at least mean that Stephen (Walking London OnePostCodeAtATime) won't be the only male.

  4. any plans to do the N (night bus) routes? ...would not suggest doing them in the dead of night or at the weekend but could catch the "last morning" ones. in May & June it'd be daylight and probably fresh and swift. know alot double up route-wise (with extensions) their "day" counterparts. just a thought ladies...

  5. If you are up for another challenge, the mobility routes (931, 965 and 969) are worth doing, however these only run a few times a week.