London Buses route 38
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Ash Grove (AE)
|Vehicle||VDL DB300 10.4m / Wright Gemini 2
New Bus For London 11.3m
|Peak vehicle requirement||57|
|Night-time||Night Bus N38|
|Length||7 miles (12 km)|
|Frequency||About every 2-5 minutes|
|Journey time||45-68 minutes|
|Operates||05:30 until 01:30|
The route is the most frequent in London with a bus every minute during the morning peak.
The 38 was introduced on 16 June 1912 as a Monday to Saturday route between Victoria and Leyton Green via Angel, Islington, Dalston, Clapton and Lea Bridge Road and between Victoria and Epping Forest (Rising Sun) on Sundays. It was operated from Leyton Garage, which opened on the same day. In 1913 a 38A was introduced, taking over the Sunday service and operating between Victoria and Epping Forest (Warren Wood House).
World War I restrictions saw many changes to the 38 and 38A including withdrawals over certain sections for short periods. The most important of these occurred on 15 May 1916 when the 38 and 38A exchanged their eastern branches permanently. The 38 was withdrawn between the Bakers Arms and Woodford (Castle) and re-routed to Walthamstow (Hoe street station). In 1919 a 38B was added, running through to Loughton, with the 38A only running as far as Woodford (Castle). The 38A disappeared in 1921.
On 1 December 1924, a new system of route numbering on London Buses came into force under The London Traffic Act of 1924. Route 38 was unchanged; route 38B was renumbered to 138. Both routes had short working suffixed journeys numbered 38A, 38B, 38C, 38D, 138A, 138B as well as 38E, which was the main daily route Victoria Station to Chingford (Royal Forest Hotel). This situation remained until 3 October 1934, when the newly constituted London Passenger Transport Board instituted its own numbering system. The 38, 38A and 38E became plain 38. The 138 became 38A.
From 5 January 1938, on Mondays to Fridays only, the 38 was reduced between Leyton and Chingford and the 38A withdrawn completely. In replacement a route 38B was introduced between Loughton (Crown), Woodford, Leyton, Walthamstow and Chingford (Royal Forest Hotel). From 3 August 1938 the 38B was withdrawn, and the 38 and 38A returned to normal.
As a wartime economy routes 38 and 38A were re-routed between Clapton and Dalston on the direct route via Cricketfield Road (avoiding Hackney) as from 5 May 1943. On 15 April 1959 the 38A was re-routed via Hackney station to replace the withdrawn trolleybus route 581. From 1946 until 1965, the 38 also had a summer Sunday extension from Chingford Station to Epping Forest (Wake Arms) via Rangers Road and Epping New Road.
On 1 September 1968, the first section of the Victoria Line was opened between Walthamstow Central and Highbury & Islington; six days later on 7 September 1968 a large scale re-organisation of London Buses took place. The 38A was withdrawn, being replaced by three new routes; Red Arrow route 505 between Victoria and Piccadilly Circus, route 48 between Dalston and Whipps Cross and route 20 between Leyton and Loughton. Between Dalston and Hackney the 38A was also replaced by a re-routed 38, which was cut back from Chingford (Royal Forest Hotel) to terminate at Walthamstow Garage, being replaced by route 69 over this section.
On 25 October 1969 the 38 was further cut back to terminate at Leyton Green, being replaced on the Walthamstow section by the newly introduced 55. The Sunday service was converted to one-person operation on 6 June 1987. When London Buses was divided into 11 subsidiaries operation of route 38 was taken over by London Forest. On 24 February 1990, the 38 was controversially cut back on Mondays to Saturdays from Leyton Green to terminate at Clapton Pond. It was replaced over this section by the newly introduced 56. London Forest was wound up in 1991; the route then became a joint operation between Leaside Buses and East London, before being transferred to Leaside Buses. The Sunday service through to Leyton Green was withdrawn from 19 July 1997.
In July 2002 preparation for congestion charging saw the peak hour frequency increased. Also in 2002, the Sunday service was converted back to crew-operation from 2 June. This lasted until 29 October 2005, when the route was finally converted to one-person operation when articulated buses were introduced. A new fleet of Mercedes-Benz Citaro Gs were purchased. The higher capacity of a Citaro compared with a Routemaster allowed the peak frequency to be reduced.
With the move to replace London's articulated buses, the articulated buses used on the 38 were replaced by standard double deck buses on 14 November 2009. Due to the reduction in capacity, the frequency increased to every 2–3 minutes. The route's peak vehicle requirement rose dramatically, from 47 to 68. It was originally due to rise to 72, but four buses have been saved by curtailing every other bus at Hackney, not continuing to Clapton Pond. When the route was crew operated it required 50 Routemasters.
In December 2011, it was announced that route 38 was to be the first service to be operated using the New Bus for London double-decker, with eight such vehicles scheduled for introduction by February 2012. The buses were intended to be introduced on 20 February 2012, but a delay in their certification saw this date delayed by a week, at which point only one bus came into service. The other seven buses were later introduced.
- Clapton Pond
- Hackney Downs Station
- Hackney Central Station
- Dalston Junction Station
- Essex Road Station
- Islington High Street
- Angel Station
- Holborn Station
- Piccadilly Circus Station
- Green Park Station
- Hyde Park Corner Station
- Victoria Station Bus Station
Previous route 38s in London
This has been the only route to carry the number 38 on a motor-bus route in London.
There were also in London:
- Between 1913 - 1914 a Highgate (Archway Tavern) to Barnet (Tally Ho Corner) M.E.T. Tram route 38.
- Between 1913 - 1952 an Abbey Wood*, Woolwich* to Victoria Embankment L.C.C. (until 1933) Tram route 38 * Termini varied
In popular culture
- McLachlan, Tom (1995). London Buses 1985-1995: Managing The Change. Venture Publications. p. 61. ISBN 1-898432-74-0.
- A trip down memory lane for last No.38 Routemaster - Times Online
- Buses Magazine, August 2008 issue, page 5, Ian Allan Publishing
- Greater London Authority press release - "The beginning of the end for the bendy bus". Accessed 7 December 2008.
- New Routemaster bus unveiled in London BBC News, 16 December 2011
- "New route for Ballymena's new 'Boris bus'". BBC News. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
- "'Cleanest, greenest' bus runs from Hampstead Heath to Pimlico". ITV. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 23 June 2013.
- The Essential…Wiley FACT,
- Don't mention the war The Daily Telegraph, 17 March 2007
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