London Buses route 137

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London Bus route 137.jpg
Operator Arriva London
Garage Brixton (BN)
Vehicle New Routemaster 11.3m
Peak vehicle requirement 30
Night-time Night Bus N137
Start Streatham Hill
Via Clapham Common
Sloane Square
Hyde Park Corner
Marble Arch
End Oxford Circus
Length 8 miles (13 km)
Level Daily
Frequency 6-10 minutes
Journey time 36-72 minutes
Operates 04:59 until 23:57

London Buses route 137 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. Running between Streatham Hill and Oxford Circus, it is operated by Arriva London.


Route 137 traces its roots back to a service numbered 536, which was introduced in 1925 by the "Independent operator" "City". It supplemented the long established route 36. The 536 group of routes ran as follows: 536 Highgate (Underground Station) - West Wickham ; 536A Highgate - Southend Village; 536C Highgate - Elmers End. These services were later taken over by London Transport.

In the 1930s, STL buses were used on this route which ran from Highgate to Elmers End.[1]

On 3 October 1934, the newly constituted London Passenger Transport Board instituted its own numbering system. Route 536, which by then had developed into a self-contained route was renumbered 137, running as a daily service between Highgate and Elmers End via Kentish Town, Camden Town, Euston station, Oxford Circus, Marble Arch, Hyde Park Corner, Victoria, Vauxhall, Camberwell, Peckham, New Cross, Brockley Rise, Catford and Beckenham. The route was further extended on Sundays to West Wickham. This was the fifth time that the route number 137 had been used on a London bus route.

London Transport soon set about reducing duplication of services. The 137 duplicated tram route 19 between Camden Town and Highgate (Archway station). Therefore it was withdrawn on Monday to Friday evenings on 30 October 1935. The Sunday extension to West Wickham was also withdrawn on 12 April 1935. Six months later on 7 October 1936, route 137 was withdrawn between Catford Garage and Elmers End and re-routed to Bromley. One journey was also extended via Bromley Common, Keston, Biggin Hill to Westerham Hill. At the same time the Monday to Friday evening service to Highgate was re-instated.

On 8 September 1937, the 137 became much more of the route that it is today. It was withdrawn between Hyde Park Corner and Bromley /Westerham. This withdrawal of an established service was very unpopular with the travelling public and was only re-instated fouteen years later when a route 36A was introduced on 7 October 1951. Sections of the withdrawn part of the route were covered by a re-routed 21A and a newly introduced 89. Route 137 was re-routed to Clapham Common via Knightsbridge, Sloane Square, Chelsea Bridge and Queenstown Road to Clapham Common replacing tram route 32 (Chelsea Bridge - Clapham Common) which was withdrawn at the same time. On 4 May 1938, route 137 became a daily Highgate - Crystal Palace route, when it was further extended to Crystal Palace via Streatham and Upper Norwood.

Following the outbreak of World War II, most bus services in London were subject to restrictions, many of which were still in operation after hostilities ceased in 1945. The evening service on route 137 was withdrawn between Clapham Common and Crystal Palace from 29 November 1939 until 23 January 1940. From 28 October 1942, evening services were withdrawn between Knightsbridge and Highgate. In 1942 the first AEC Regent III RTs appeared on the route. RTs continued to appear on the route until the late 1970s. Service was totally withdrawn on Saturdays afternoons and all day Sundays between Oxford Circus and Archway as from 27 October 1943.

By the end of 1946, the wartime restrictions had been relaxed and the route settled down to run daily between Crystal Palace and Oxford Circus, extended Monday to Friday except evenings and Saturdays until 14:00 via Camden Town to Archway station. This operation became very stable and remained so until 1987. Although small change did occur on 24 January 1970, when the Saturday service was brought into line with the Monday Friday service, operating to Archway station until 19:00.

In 1951 the Festival of Britain was celebrated. One of the special services introduced was a service "B" which ran between Sloane Square and the Festival Gardens at Battersea Park. This service ran every summer until the late 1970s, It was re-numbered 137A on 16 April 1954, being converted to one person operation in 1973.

On 7 February 1987, a small re-routing at Clapham Park was introduced, with route 137 swapping a short section of route with route 118 to serve Brixton garage, enabling easier crew change-overs. At the same time, the Sunday service was converted to one-person operation. Later that year, on 21 November, route 137 was withdrawn north of Oxford Circus, with this section being given over to a new route 135.

On 2 February 1991, as part of a scheme to increase one-person operation, route 137 was withdrawn completely between Crystal Palace and Streatham Hill (Brixton Garage). This section was covered by a new 137A, which was also extended from Streatham Hill to Oxford Circus in the evenings and on Sundays, replacing route 137 at those times. This change was partially reversed on 25 April 1998 when the 137 was re-introduced on Sundays and evenings, becoming a daily service between Streatham Hill and Oxford Circus again. At the same time, the 137A was revised to run daily between Crystal Palace and Clapham Common. As suffixed route numbers had "gone out of fashion", this service was re-numbered 417 on 18 September 1999.

The AEC Routemaster buses which operated route 137 since 1 November 1964 were replaced by one-person operated Wright Pulsar Gemini bodied DAF DB250s on 10 July 2004, ending a remarkable forty years of service.[2][3]

On 29 December 2014, Route 137 was retained by Arriva South London with New Routemasters operating out of (BN) Brixton garage, at the same time being its terminus point.

Current route[edit]

Route 137 operates via these primary locations:[4]


  1. ^ Reed, John (2000). London Buses: A Brief History. Capital Transport Publishing. p. 36. ISBN 9781854142337. 
  2. ^ Route 137’s Routemasters Go Quietly into the Night London Bus Page 9 July 2004
  3. ^ Blacker, Ken (2007). Routemaster: 1970–2005 2 (2nd ed.). Harrow Weald: Capital Transport. pp. 116, 168. ISBN 978-1-85414-303-7. 
  4. ^ Route 137 Map Transport for London

External links[edit]