London Buses route 108
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|Garage||New Cross (NX)|
|Vehicle||VDL SB120 10.8m / Volvo Merit
Dennis Dart SLF 10.8m / MCV Evolution
Volvo B7TL 10.1m / Plaxton President
|Peak vehicle requirement||14|
|End||Stratford bus station|
|Length||11 miles (18 km)|
|Journey time||40-55 minutes|
Route 108 is considered to be one of London's most difficult routes to operate. The unusual feature of the route is its use of the Blackwall Tunnel, a source of severe delays which makes the route the least reliable in London.
Route 108 commenced operation on 29 March 1914., running from Bow Bridge to Blackheath via the Blackwall Tunnel, Woolwich Road and Westcombe Hill. This was the second time the number 108 had been used for a motorbus route.
By the time of the outbreak of World War I in August 1914, the 108 had been re-routed to terminate at Bow Road station and a supplementary route 108A had also been introduced, operating daily between Poplar (Blackwall Tunnel) and Woolwich Road (Blackwall Lane) to cater for tunnel traffic. By the end of the war, the 108A had disappeared and the 108 reduced to run between Poplar (Blackwall Tunnel) and Greenwich (Ship & Billet).
On 1 December 1924, a new system of route numbering on London buses came into force which made the Metropolitan Police responsible for bus operation and route numbering in London. By this time, the 108 had been extended at both ends to run from Clapton Pond to Crystal Palace. Route 108 remained 108, working daily from Clapton Pond to Crystal Palace; 108A was a daily short working Poplar (Blackwall Tunnel) - Greenwich (Ship & Billet); while 108B, 108C, 108D, 108E and 108F were reserved for short workings. This situation remained until 3 October 1934, when the newly constituted London Passenger Transport Board instituted its own numbering system. By this time the plain 108 had been withdrawn; routes 108A, 108B and 108E became 108, running between Bromley-by-Bow and Crystal Palace. The 108D became route 208. At the time, the 108 was double deck. Two batches of double deck buses were specifically built for use in the Blackwall and Rotherhithe Tunnels, with specially shaped roofs to improve clearance on the corners. On 14 April 1937, the last solid-tyred AEC NS-Type bus in London operated on route 108. In 1937, forty STL-type buses with convex-shaped roofs made with Blackwall Tunnel in mind were used on routes 108 and 82 and allocated to Athol Street (C) garage in Poplar.
On 19 April 1944 a route 108A to Well Hall Circus was introduced. Initially it ran peak hours only, but was expanded to a Monday to Saturday then daily operation. It was briefly extended Eltham before being retracted to operate Eltham - East Greenwich only.
On 12 October 1960 the 108 was split only on Monday to Friday, the main service becoming Lower Sydenham to Bow only, with a new 108B running from Crystal Palace to the Greenwich (Blackwall Tunnel) on the south side of the tunnel. The 108 was converted to single-deck one person operation as from 26 October 1968. Further re-structuring took place in January 1970, with the 108A withdrawn and replaced by an extension of the 108 from Blackheath. The 108 was extended to Stratford in 1977.
In 1986 the 108B was reduced to run only between Crystal Palace and Lewisham, with the 108 extended to Lewisham and new route 286 taking over the Eltham - Blackheath section of the 108 and the Blackheath - West Greenwich section of the 108B. In 1988, the 108 was further extended from Stratford to Wanstead, replacing part of route 10.
Upon being tendered, in 1989 the route passed to Boro'line using a batch of new Leyland Lynxes. Boro'line subsequently sold its London operations to Kentish Bus. The 1993 Stratford area route scheme saw the section north of Stratford withdrawn, but service frequency improved to every 12 minutes. The Lewisham scheme soon after in 1994 saw the introduction of Volvo B6 buses operated from Ash Grove garage.
Upon being re-tendered, in 1997 the route passed to Harris Bus with 11 new Optare Excels. Buses were initially operated from the firm's base in West Thurrock. Operation was later transferred to a new depot in Belvedere.
Harris Bus ran into financial difficulties late in 1999, and as a result operations of its contracted routes were taken over by a new subsidiary of London Buses itself, trading as East Thames Buses. East Thames Buses initially ran its routes north of the Thames from the former London Forest garage in Ash Grove, along with the Harris base at Belvedere.
Since takeover by Harris, route 108 has been diverted via North Greenwich, but reverted to a more direct route across Blackheath via Prince of Wales Road; the frequency has been further enhanced to every 10 minutes, utilising four earlier Excels made redundant by the loss of car park services at Lakeside Shopping Centre, but this is still not as good as the 5 minute double deck service provided in 1933.
Recently, the route has been revised, with buses crossing straight over from Westcombe Hill to the Greenwich Peninsula instead of running through Woolwich Road and Blackwall Lane, to avoid traffic delays and to increase bus services through the Greenwich Millennium Village. The service also now runs all night.
- Lewisham station Loampit Vale
- Blackheath station
- Blackheath Royal Standard
- Westcombe Park station
- North Greenwich bus station for North Greenwich station
- South Bromley Poplar
- Bromley-by-Bow station
- Bow Church
- Stratford High Street station
- Stratford bus station for Stratford station
Previous route 108s in London
The route number 108 had been used once prior to its current use.
- In 1913 for an Elephant & Castle to Epping Town via London Bridge, Bishopsgate, Shoreditch, Dalston, Clapton, Lea Bridge Road, Whipps Cross, Woodford Green and Buckhurst Hill (Thursday & Sunday only) Route 108
- Aldridge, John (July 2007). "Tunnel troubles provoke interesting reaction". Buses (Ian Allan Publishing) (628): 21.
- Graeme Bruce, J; Curtis, Colin (1977). The London Motor Bus: Its Origins and Development. London Transport. p. 44. ISBN 0853290830.
- Graeme Bruce, J; Curtis, Colin (1977). The London Motor Bus: Its Origins and Development. London Transport. p. 73. ISBN 0853290830.
- Aldridge, John (May 2000). "Harris Bus: Why LT took over". Buses (Ian Allan Publishing) (542): 14.
- It's not all Dome and gloom Glasgow Herald, 3 October 1999
- Go-Ahead Acquires East Thames Buses Go-Ahead Group 30 July 2009
- Go-Ahead buys East Thames Buses Bus & Coach Professional 3 August 2009
- East Thames Buses Go-Ahead London
- Bus tender results Route 108/N108 Transport for London 1 July 2009