Green Line Coaches
|Founded||9 July 1930|
|Service area||Home counties|
|Service type||Coach services|
|Hubs||Green Line Coach Station|
|Operator||Arriva Shires & Essex
First Berkshire & The Thames Valley
Green Line has its origin in the network of coach services established by the London General Omnibus Company (LGOC) in the 1920s and 1930s. After World War II, the network was part of London Transport Executive/London Transport Board, and from 1970 to 1986 was operated by London Country Bus Services.
Green Line Coaches Limited was formed on 9 July 1930 by the LGOC, which from 1927 had built up a network of coach services from London to towns up to 30 miles away, comprising 60 vehicles on eight routes. These services were largely started in response to the emergence of numerous small independent operators, often running single routes. As well as express services operated by LGOC, some were run by subsidiary companies East Surrey Traction & Autocar Services and some on LGOC's behalf by the National Omnibus & Transport Company. The Green Line livery and fleetname was rapidly rolled out across the existing express services.
New services rapidly followed, with the number of routes increasing to 27 by October 1931 and the number of coaches to 275. Green Line also began to acquire some of its independent competitors. The laying over of coaches in central London began to create congestion. In order to relieve this, some routes were linked to form cross-London services, and a short-lived coach station was opened in Poland Street, Soho at the end of 1930.
On 1 July 1933 Green Line passed to the new London Passenger Transport Board and competing services within the London Passenger Transport Area were absorbed into the network. Various vehicles of numerous different types were inherited, and much effort was made in replacing these with a standardised fleet of vehicles from late 1936. Poland Street coach station was closed, and almost all routes were linked to cross London.
Services were suspended during World War II resuming in February 1946. More services were added, and the routes were given numbers in the 700 series. Ridership increased to a peak of 36 million passenger journeys a year between 1957 and 1960. In 1962 AEC Routemaster double-deck coaches were introduced on some routes, notably route 721 which ran every 12 minutes at peak times, and route 704 conveying tourists to Windsor and Royal Tunbridge Wells. Orbital coach routes commenced:
- 724 from High Wycombe around the north of London to Romford
- 725 from Windsor around the south of London to Gravesend
- 727 from Crawley around the west of London to Luton
In 1970, control of Green Line passed from London Transport to London Country Bus Services, part of the state-owned National Bus Company. Patronage continued to decline, partly as a result of increasing car use and quicker parallel rail services, and the last cross-London routes ceased in 1979.
The Transport Act 1980 deregulated coach services, and Green Line was able to expand services beyond its traditional area, to Cambridge (route 797), Oxford (routes 290 and 790, in conjunction with the Oxford Bus Company), Northampton and Brighton. New airport services also commenced:
- 747 Heathrow Airport to Gatwick Airport
- 757 London Green Line Coach Station to Luton Airport
- 767 London Green Line Coach Station to Heathrow Airport
- 777 London Green Line Coach Station to Gatwick Airport
In 1986 London Country was divided into four operating companies to prepare for privatisation. They were sold separately, and ownership of the Green Line network became fragmented, only a few routes survived. The airport services passed to Jetlink and are now operated by National Express.
The orbital route 726 was taken over by London Regional Transport in a reduced form and eventually became London Buses route X26. By the mid-1990s Arriva had become the owner of most of the London Country successor companies, and became the owner of the Green Line brand. It licensed the brand to other operators: First Berkshire & The Thames Valley (700, 701 and 702), New Enterprise Coaches (routes 781 and 784 from 2005 to 2009) and Stephensons of Essex (routes X1 and X10 from 2002 until 2008).
- 700, 701, 702: Legoland-Bracknell, Windsor and Slough to London Green Line Coach Station - operated by First Berkshire & The Thames Valley
- 712 / 714: St Albans to London Green Line Coach Station - operated by Arriva Shires & Essex and Uno
- 724: Heathrow Airport to Harlow via St Albans
- 757: Luton and Luton Airport to London Green Line Coach Station
- 748 / 758: Hemel Hempstead to London Green Line Coach Station
- 797: Hatfield and Stevenage to London Green Line Coach Station
Many services have variations with different route numbers of local services linking to the main terminus of a route.
- History Green Line Coach Services
- Jones, DWK; Davis, BJ (1980). Green Line 1930-1980. Reigate: London Country Bus Services. pp. 4–17. ISBN 978-0-905009-02-5.
- Jones, DWK; Davis, BJ (1980). Green Line 1930-1980. Reigate: London Country Bus Services. pp. 22–35. ISBN 978-0-905009-02-5.
- The Coach RMs Country Bus
- The Long Coaches Country Bus
- Routemaster Double-deck Coaches for Green Line Routes Commercial Motor 29 June 1962
- Larger Routemaster Coaches for Green Line Commercial Motor 30 October 1964
- Green Line Coach Routes 724-799 E Plates
- History of route X26 Robert Munster
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