London Buses route 68
|Vehicle||Volvo B7TL 10m / Wright Eclipse Gemini|
|Peak vehicle requirement||21|
|Night-time||Night Bus N68|
Elephant & Castle
|Length||8 miles (13 km)|
|Frequency||About every 7-12 minutes|
|Journey time||38-67 minutes|
|Operates||5:21am until 23:53pm|
|London Transport portal|
In the early period of motor omnibus travel, before the First World War, number 68 was not in use as a route for the London General Omnibus Company, even though higher numbers up to 93 were active in 1912, for example.
The route was active at the start of the Second World War. During this war, its usual peacetime lighting of a pale blue colour was removed because of the risk of aerial bombing and the buses were blacked-out.
By 1952, following the removal of the last trams, the route ran from the Earl of Eldon public house in South Croydon to Chalk Farm station in Camden. This was a long 15 mile journey via places such as Thornton Heath, Norwood, Herne Hill, Camberwell, Elephant & Castle, Waterloo, and Euston which nowadays would require two changes of bus. The route started operating Routemaster buses on Sundays in 1963 and switched to full Routemaster operation in 1970. The buses at this time were based in garages in Chalk Farm, Norwood and Croydon.
The journalist, Peter Watts, reviewed his experiences of the current service for Time Out. He travels regularly from Herne Hill to Great Russell Street, near the Time Out offices in Tottenham Court Road. The journey takes between 40 and 90 minutes depending upon the congestion in traffic bottlenecks like Camberwell Green. Often, when the service is running poorly, it will terminate short of the final destination, unloading at a stop like Aldwych, or it will pass by Herne Hill without stopping, forcing passengers to take the shorter 468 service instead. Such incidents commonly occur three times a week and so cause him much frustration.
The parallel express service, X68, which runs along the same route from West Norwood, seems much superior though regular passengers have complaints about it too. This is one of only three express bus services provided by TfL.
Travelling on this bus route has been suggested as a cure for agoraphobia. Travelling for 2-5 stops during the day was considered a medium level exercise while travelling from Camberwell Green to the Elephant & Castle alone during the rush hour, was considered the most challenging exercise - more terrifying than walking down the high street or shopping in a supermarket.
Notable passengers 
- The spies Harry Houghton and Ethel Gee were trailed by a Special Branch agent when they travelled on the 68 between Waterloo Road and Walworth Road.
- Simon Jenkins - journalist and author.
Current route 
See also 
- D.A.Ruddom (2007), Motor Omnibus Routes in London 2
- David Kynaston (2007), Austerity Britain, p. 17, ISBN 9780747579854
- Mike Harris, The 1952 Greater London Bus Map
- Geoff Rixon (2008), "Route 68", Routemaster Omnibus, ISBN 978-0-7110-3314-6
- Peter Watts (Jan 14 2010), "I hate my X: the extraordinary life of the No 68 bus", The Big Smoke, Time Out
- Simon Jenkins (1981), The companion guide to outer London, Collins, p. 45, ISBN 978-0-00-216186-2
- Rosalind Ramsay (2001-08-01), Mental illness, p. 55, ISBN 9781853029349
- Ronald Seth (1974), Encyclopedia of espionage, p. 456, ISBN 9780385016094