London Buses route 109
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|Garage||Beddington Cross (BC)|
|Vehicle||Alexander Dennis Enviro400H MMC 10.2m|
|Peak vehicle requirement||25|
|Night-time||Night Bus N109|
|Via||Thornton Heath Pond
|Length||7 miles (11 km)|
|Journey time||32-66 minutes|
|Operates||05:30 until 01:00|
Route 109 commenced operating on 8 April 1951 as a circular Purley - West Croydon station - Streatham - Elephant & Castle - Victoria Embankment - Westminster - Kennington - Norbury - Croydon - Purley route operating in both directions. It replaced tram routes 16 and 18, operating from Brixton and Thornton Heath garages with AEC Regent III RTs.
On 23 January 1966, the Sunday service was withdrawn with the exception of a few early morning journeys operated by Thornton Heath Garage. On 31 October 1970, these journeys were converted to One Person Operation (OPO) using single-deck AEC Swift (SMS class), with subsequent conversion to double-deck Daimler Fleetline (DMS) operation from 23 March 1974.
From 23 May 1976, the Monday to Friday allocation from Brixton Garage was converted to AEC Routemaster operation, with Thornton Heath following suit on 3 October 1976, ending all RT operation on the route.
The weekday Brixton Garage allocation was converted to Daimler Fleetline operation on 4 March 1978, with Thornton Heath following suit on 27 August 1978.
On 28 October 1978, an all-day crew-operated Sunday service (absorbing the early morning OPO journeys) was restored between Brixton and South Croydon as part of the replacement for withdrawn Sunday-only route 59 (from West Hampstead – Old Coulsdon), with operation by Thornton Heath Garage.
On 15 August 1981, the universally unsuccessful DM class was removed entirely from Brixton Garage, with their share of route 109 reverting to Routemaster (RM) operation.
The massive service cuts of 4 September 1982 produced enough spare vehicles to also convert the Thornton Heath allocation on route 109 back to Routemaster operation.
On 2 February 1985, the route was revised to operate from South Croydon Garage to either Victoria Embankment or Blackfriars on weekdays and Elephant & Castle on Saturdays. It was withdrawn between Purley and South Croydon with the Sunday service withdrawn entirely.
The lost southern section was transferred to a new incarnation of route 59, operated by Thornton Heath Garage with Daimler Fleetlines and created purely to implement a southern-end conversion of Route 109 to One Person Operation (OPO). On 1 February 1986, route 109 was withdrawn between South Croydon Garage and Croydon, with buses terminating in Park Street.
On 7 February 1987, the service ceased to operate via the Victoria Embankment loop, with all journeys operating via Westminster Bridge to Trafalgar Square. From the same date, the service was converted to One Person Operation (OPO) with Thornton Heath providing the entire Monday to Friday service with D/DMS class and Brixton operating the Saturday service with mixed D/DMS and Metrobus M class.
During the upheaval in London Bus operations between 1990 and 1994, frequent and convoluted allocation changes to route 109 ensued, resulting in allocations at Streatham (AK) and South Croydon (TC) in addition to the long-standing garages. Furthermore and partly as a consequence of these events, both Leyland Olympians and Leyland Titans were added into the mix of vehicle types.
On 14 March 1992, the service was reinstated on Sundays and revised to operate daily between Purley and Trafalgar Square, enabling the withdrawal of Route 59.
On 29 March 1994, after the aforementioned upheaval started to settle, full operation of the route passed to Thornton Heath using Leyland Olympians.
The journeys to Purley were curtailed again at Croydon (Katherine Street) from 29 August 1998 with the extension of route 60 to Old Coulsdon. On 18 September 1999, route 109 was withdrawn between Brixton and Trafalgar Square, with replacement by route 159.
On 31 March 2012, route 109 was transferred from Thornton Heath to Brixton Garage.
Upon being re-tendered in 2002, the route was retained by Arriva London from 1 February 2003.