London Buses route 53
|Vehicle||Volvo B5LH 10.5m / Wright Eclipse Gemini 3|
|Peak vehicle requirement||27|
Elephant & Castle
|Length||12 miles (19 km)|
|Journey time||48-96 minutes|
Route 53 dates back to 1952. It traditionally ran from Erith to Parliament Hill Fields until the late 1970s, when the route east of Plumstead was withdrawn. During the 1980s route 53 only continued to Camden and Hampstead during peak hour, by 1989 however the route terminated at Oxford Circus at all times. AEC Routemasters where replaced in 1988 by Leyland Titans and Olympians.
Throughout the 1990s and up until 2003, was London's most frequent route along with routes; 12, 36, 38, 73 and 207, it ran in several overlapping sections such as: Plumstead to Elephant & Castle, Woolwich to County Hall and Blackheath to Oxford Circus, with the route running in shorter sections such as: Plumstead to New Cross and New Cross to Trafalgar Square.
In 2003, the route was cut back to the rather unusual location of Whitehall, even though some route 53 journeys used to terminate at Trafalgar Square, which is only two minutes up the road, it could be argued that the reason for this was so that the new sister route 453 wouldn't be undermined, the route also reduced in frequency. Despite the cutbacks in the route itself route 53 still remains one of London's longest bus routes
The route is a major South East London trunk route and is very long. At one point, some journeys continued on to Erith. From the 1980s to 2001 there was a route X53 that had two eastern termini, Thamesmead and Erith, and ran to Plumstead, Woolwich and Blackheath, from where it was fast to Elephant & Castle then limited stops from that point onwards.
Route 53, which is worked from Plumstead garage, is a frequent route. Prior to the 2003 changes it required over 40 buses. In 1995 52 new Volvo Olympian double-deckers were bought for the route. Route 185 parallels part of route 53; following the collapse of London Easylink in August 2002, it was left with a limited service provided by a number of operators, and extra journeys on route 53 were operated between Westminster and New Cross Gate to relieve overcrowding.
The service is the only Transport for London contracted route to serve the section of the A2 road through Blackheath Hill. In April 2003 subsidence in a chalk mine beneath the road led to the road being closed and the route being diverted via Lewisham.
In November 2008, a bus travelling on the route was involved in a collision with a car in Woolwich. There were no serious injuries. Passengers stated that the bus driver had braked sharply to avoid a more serious collision, and he was praised by a spokesman for bus operator Selkent.
Route 53 operates via these primary locations:
- Plumstead station
- Plumstead Common
- Woolwich Arsenal station
- Blackheath Royal Standard
- Deptford Bridge station
- Deptford Broadway
- New Cross station
- New Cross Gate station
- Old Kent Road
- Bricklayers Arms
- Elephant & Castle station
- Lambeth North station
- Lambeth Bridge
- Westminster station
- Whitehall Horse Guards Avenue
- Route 53 londonbusroutes.net
- Millar, Alan (September 1995). "Seeing red". Buses Focus (Ian Allan Publishing): 61.
- Aldridge, John (December 2002). "Guess who's on the 185 now?". Buses (Ian Allan Publishing) (573): 15.
- Aldridge, John (July 2002). "53 falls foul of Blackheath's big hole". Buses Magazine (Ian Allan Publishing) (568): 15.
- Bus and car crash in Hillreach, Woolwich (From News Shopper)
- Route 53 Map Transport for London