London Buses route 166
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|Vehicle||Alexander Dennis Enviro200 Dart 10.2m|
|Peak vehicle requirement||8|
|Start||Epsom General Hospital|
|End||West Croydon station|
|Length||9 miles (14 km)|
|Journey time||36-58 minutes|
|Operates||05:40 until 00:46|
Route 166 commenced operating on 7 April 1948 between Chipstead Valley and Thornton Heath. On 21 February 1951 it was extended from Thornton Heath to Streatham Common, this was withdrawn on 22 October 1952.
On 31 October 1970, route 166 was withdrawn between Croydon and Thornton Heath and redirected to Beckenham Junction, On 6 June 1990 it was withdrawn between Shirley and Beckenham Junction. On 29 August 1998 it was withdrawn between West Croydon station and Shirley and replaced by new route 466.
In October 1986,London Country route 418 was withdrawn as part of bus deregulation.The 418 ran between Leatherhead Garage & Sutton via Ashtead,Epsom,Drift Bridge,& Banstead. As a partial replacement, Epsom Buses started route 598, under contract to Surrey County Council, running between Epsom and Croydon on a similar route to the current 166.The 598 had a different route between Banstead & Woodmansterne Village,running via Mint Lane.
In July 1992, route number 498 started, representing commercial journeys operated by Epsom Buses rather than under a Surrey County Council contract.
Routing around the Epsom area has changed several times. For a number of years, route 498 from Epsom to the cluster of hospitals west of it. Route 598 was withdrawn for a while, but then returned as a Sunday service that ran into Sutton in place of Croydon, but then disappeared again.
By 1996 the routing in the Epsom area was standardised, running only as far as Epsom. The service to The Wells was covered by new local route E5, and the housing built on the now-closed cluster of hospitals route E9.
Meanwhile, London Transport route 166 was running between Chipstead Valley and Croydon. As part of the bus changes for the introduction of the Tramlink scheme, it was proposed that route 166 would be withdrawn from Chipstead Valley and instead run to Caterham-on-the-Hill.
To maintain the frequency to Chipstead Valley, route 412 was to be extended from Purley, but this operates via a very indirect route via Selsdon. This would have left the hourly 498 as the only direct service from Chipstead Valley to Croydon, with no evening or Sunday service.
However, there were protests from residents of Chipstead Valley, as they only replacements would be an indirect extension route 412, or the 498, which didn’t run on evenings or Sundays. The plan for the route 412 extension were scrapped, with the buses saved used to increase the frequency on route 498. Arriva London provided a half-hourly service, with a co-ordinated timetable that provided a service every 20 minutes between Chipstead Valley and Croydon.
Confusingly, the 498 was renumbered 166, and the diverted 166 (to Caterham-on-the-Hill became 466 instead. Arriva London won the contract to operate route 412, and so the buses were introduced to route 166 with Epsom Buses. Soon after though, Epsom Buses decided to stop operating their journeys on the 166 commercially. As a result, the entire route was taken into the London Buses network from 28 July 2001. London Buses fare scales were introduced, and everything was taken over by Arriva London. Extra 9.8 m Dennis Darts were cascaded in from route 307, which at the time was gaining double deckers.
Currently, route 166 is the lowest route number to be found in the Epsom area. Most routes still are numbered in the old London Country system with “4xx” numbers or in more recent times with letter prefixes.
Upon being re-tendered, it was retained by Arriva London with a new contract commencing on 30 April 2008 with new Alexander Dennis Enviro200s. Arriva London retained the route with a new contract commencing on 31 August 2013.
Vehicle types used since service began
- MCW Metrobus from April 1985
- Daimler Fleetline until March 1992
- Leyland Titan from November 1991
- Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointer from September 1998
- Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointer 2 from 2002
- DAF SB120/Wright Cadet from 2006
- Alexander Dennis Enviro200 Dart from early 2009
- Epsom General Hospital
- Epsom College
- Chipstead Valley
- Coulsdon Red Lion
- Purley Cross Tesco
- South Croydon Swan & Sugar Loaf
- West Croydon station