Monday, 6 June 2016

Non-red London Buses

This is a response to an article from Londonist titled “Why Are London Buses Red?” as the author forgot to mention that some of the London Bus services during the 1980s and 1990s were non-red.

Here is a brief history of the non-red London Buses:

London Regional Transport (LRT) was formed in 1984 by the British Government which took powers away from the Greater London Council controlled, London Transport Executive. Basically the LRT was formed to privatise the London Bus Routes to competitive tender.

The private bus operators contracted to LRT were not required to have their buses carry LT Red livery, but they were required to carry a “London Transport Service” banner to signify a London Bus service.

The first route that went out to tender was route 81 (from Hounslow to Slough) which had been awarded to London Buslines in 1985, operating with their own yellow livery with orange and brown stripes.

Grey Green - F125PHM

During the late 1980’s, the percentage of London bus routes tendered off to private operators increased. One of the notable routes was route 24 (from Hampstead Heath to Pimlico) which had their operations tendered off to Grey Green in late 1988, operating with Alexander-bodied Volvo Citybus with grey, green and orange stripe livery.
Capital Citybus - 280
There were many more private bus operators that operated London's bus routes, some examples are Capital Citybus in yellow livery, Harris Bus in blue and green livery, Kentish Bus in cream and maroon livery, London & Country in two-tone green and red livery, and Metrobus in yellow and blue livery. There were many more bus companies that carried their own liveries.

Then on 16th December 1993, in a House of Commons debate, Steven Norris MP said:
“I am aware of the support which has been expressed for the retention of a red livery for buses in London. LT has no current plans to require private bus operators to conform to a standardised bus livery.Then upon selling off London Buses Ltd. subsidiaries, he said in March 1994 “I have therefore decided that the purchasers of the London Buses' companies will be required to retain the red livery on the routes which they operate in Central London.”

In September 1994, Stagecoach purchased East London and Selkent from London Buses; they made all the buses have all-over red-livery, without the white tape and grey band. This was part of the deal between the buyer and the government, to retain the all-red livery due to their iconic status as a London Bus. Many former London Bus companies have their own liveries but the livery has to remain red as part of the deal.

Then on 2nd June 1997, London Transport bus routes that were operated with vehicles which did not carry the LT red livery were routes 13, 19, 20, 22A, 22B, 24, 55, 57, 65, 66, 67, 78, 85, 90, 92, 96, 97, 97A, 103, 105, 108, 114, 117, 123, 125, 126, 127, 132, 138, 141, 142, 146, 153, 158, 161, 162, 165, 167, 168, 173, 176, 179, 181, 188, 190, 191, 193, 203, 210, 212, 214, 215, 225, 227, 233, 236, 248, 252, 256, 257, 258, 260, 261, 269, 272, 275, 284, 285, 286, 289, 296, 299, 315, 318, 320, 340, 346, 362, 365, 367, 379, 389, 396, 398, 399, 400, 402, 403, 405, 406, 407, 408, 409, 422, 428, 444, 462, 465, 479, 492, 511, 606, 613, 616, 627, 645, 646, 650, 651, 661, 670, 673, 678, 693, 726, B11, B15, C4, D5, D6, D8, E2, E8, ELS, ELT, ELX, H10, H11, H13, H17, H26, H27, H28, H29, K5, K6, R2. R5, R6, R7, R8, R61, R62, S3, W6, W9, W10, W11, W12, W13, W14, W15, W16, X72, 307 (school journeys only), 371 (school journeys only).

Looking at the archived London Transport website from 1997, their travel information page says that “Most London buses are still red, but some are painted in different colours” and “You will know the bus is part of the London Transport Buses network, where you see this sign on the front of the bus.”

At the time, the newly tendered routes in the Central London area had to be 80% red, this came in to force in 1997 after lobbying from the tourist board. Following this, the rest of the bus services in Greater London started to carry 80% red livery in early 2000.

In 2011, all new buses had to be 100% red with the London Buses roundel on the side. This shows that London Buses have been regulating private companies over the livery of the buses that operate on London Buses tendered routes. At least their full, iconic, LT red livery has been restored, all thanks to TFL’s tender requirements.

You still can notice the difference with the operators as they tend to have their own interior decorations, such as their own coloured railings and seating moquette. The company logos are usually on each side of the bus but the London Buses roundel is the dominant brand for the London bus service.

With the New Routemaster, Enviro400H City and the Volvo B5LH SRM (Son of Routemaster), they have their own default interior decorations as part of the London Buses/TFL branding.

This is my own view and research on the non-red buses in London, because this issue deserves its own article.

You can follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Google Plus which is @CLondoner92
Also this article is related to:

Various videos of non-red London Buses filmed by CityTransportInfo


Image Attribution
By Matthew Black from London, UK - DSCF0016Uploaded by oxyman, CC BY-SA 2.0,

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