London Buses route K4
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|Vehicle||Alexander Dennis Enviro200 Dart 8.9m|
|Peak vehicle requirement||4|
|Night-time||No night service|
|Start||Mansfield Park Estate|
|Length||7 miles (11km)|
|Level||Monday to Saturday|
|Frequency||About every 30-60 minutes|
|Journey time||26-47 minutes|
|Operates||05:55 until 00:18|
Route K4 is part of the K-prefix network of services run around Kingston upon Thames, first introduced in 1987, although route K4 was not part of the original network. The service was introduced in 1990, to provide a link to Kingston from the new Mansfield Park Estate, it used small MCW Metroriders.
Route 71 ran on a partly parallel route, it needed double-deckers to cope with capacity. However, it ran via a slightly longer route than the K4 and so the minibuses on the K4 began to become crowded. To avoid this, in 1993, a route change occurred, as part of the K-prefix network changes. Route K1 swapped with route 71 between Surbiton and Kingston, while the K4 swapped its direct route with route K3. These changes made route 71 the quickest route into Kingston, reversing the fortunes of the K4, which from then only really carries passengers from Mansfield Park Estate and Villiers Avenue.
In November 2000, the route was amended at both ends. At Mansfield Park Estate the loop working was extended to serve Winey Park, a new housing estate. At the other end of the route, buses started to run to Kingston Hospital. The extension became too much for the K4's allocation of 3 buses for its PVR, and so when the K-prefix routes came up for re-tender in 2001, it was proposed to be withdrawn. The replacement would be provided by extending route K2 at both ends. Part of the plan was dropped, because journey times would be extended and the larger buses used on route K2 wouldn't fit round the Mansfield Estate section of route K4, which used 8.8m buses, and 8.8m buses wouldn't be able to cope with demand on route K2. The extension of route K2 to Kingston Hospital went ahead, with route K4 being withdrawn on that section. At the same time, the route around Mansfield Estate amended to provide a proper bus stand in Ripon Gardens, with buses serving Winey Park bi-directionally. As part of the new tender, the route also gained an hourly evening service (still remaining half hourly during the day) and new low-floor Plaxton Pointer 2 bodied Dennis Dart SLF single deckers.
Soon later, numerous passenger requests were received for the extension to Kingston Hospital to be restored. One of the proposals was initially linked with an idea to extend the route to Epsom and replace route 467. As last time, the proposals were scrapped for a number of reasons. Funding from Surrey Council for the increased level of service that would have been provided over route 467, difficulty of finding a suitable route, worries of overcrowded small buses on schools loadings, and making the route too long and therefore unreliable. After some additional concerns about where the route would stand at the hospital the extension went ahead, using a fourth bus from 19 March 2005. The timetable was designed so that buses could share the stand with Travel Surreys route 514.
Since its introduction, route K4 has been operated by companies related to Transdev London. At first it was run by Westlink, which was purchased by London United in the 1990s, and the service was run by London United themselves. It is now run by their direct successor, Transdev London. Westlink used a variety of minibuses, predominately MCW Metroriders. When London United took over, the service was run by Plaxton Pointer bodied Dennis Dart single deckers. Low floor vehicles were introduced following the new contract in 2001, with a batch of Plaxton Pointer 2 bodied Dennis Dart SLF single deckers were introduced.
- Mansfield Park Estate Ripon Gardens
- Mansfield Park Estate King's Centre
- Winey Park Merritt Gardens
- Hook Library
- Hook Cap in Hand
- Surbiton Station Victoria Road
- Surbiton Villiers Avenue
- Kingston Eden Street
- Kingston Cromwell Road Bus Station
- Kingston Hospital