London Buses route 161

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Operator London General
Garage Orpington (MB)
Start North Greenwich station
Via Woolwich
End Chislehurst
Length 11 miles (18 km)
Level Daily

London Buses route 161 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. Running between North Greenwich station and Chislehurst, it is operated by London General.[1][2][3]


Route 161 commenced operating on 4 May 1938 between Chislehurst War Memorial and Eltham Southend Crescent, replacing part of withdrawn route 227.[4]

On 4 January 1939 one morning peak journey was extended to Orpington, Maxwell Arms. On 19 March 1941, afternoon peak journeys saw the route extended at the other end, running non-stop between Eltham Church and Woolwich, Parsons Hill. From 14 January 1942, the daily morning peak journey to Orpington was withdrawn. In December of the same year, morning peak journeys were extended as far as Sidcup garage.

On 6 July 1952, Monday-Friday peak journeys were extended from Parsons Hill to Greenwich Church while the route was revised to provide a stopping service between Eltham and Woolwich to compensate for the removal of tram 44 as part of the tram replacement programme. During 1952, the route was operated from Plumstead garage for a short while and later from Abbey Wood.

On 6 May 1953, route 161A was introduced between Petts Wood and Woolwich, following the routing of the 161 from Chislehurst onwards as well as running to Greenwich Church via the 161 during peak morning and afternoon journeys. On 12 October 1960, the section between Woolwich Road and Greenwich was discontinued on both routes. Peak journeys ran as far as Charlton Station from 1971, sometimes continuing as far as Sidcup garage, as well as additional early AM journeys to Petts Wood via route 161A. From February 1984, the route was permanently extended from Chislehurst to Sidcup garage. From 16 November 1989, this extension was restricted to school day journeys only, while the peak journeys between Charlton and Woolwich were withdrawn altogether.

Routemaster buses were used on the route by 1977. In November 1982, these were replaced by new Leyland Titans. The route had been converted to one man operation by February 1985.

The route was operated once again from Plumstead garage from 1981, following the closure of Abbey Wood bus garage.

From 27 April 1991, the route was extended once again from Chislehurst to Bromley North via withdrawn route 227, now operating from Bromley garage. However, by 1994, the extension had been withdrawn, partly replaced by route 162 which in turn replaced part of route 161A. The route then transferred to Kentish Bus, operating via a base in Deptford. After the quick collapse of Kentish Bus, the route passed to Metrobus on 2 December 1995.[5]

On 7 August 1999, the route was extended from Woolwich to North Greenwich station. From 24 February 2001, the route was diverted to run via Queen Elizabeth Hospital. On 18 March 2006, the contract for route 161 was retained by Metrobus, including the use of new Scania OmniCity double-deck vehicles.

On 19 March 2011, the existing contract was extended for a further two years. On 16 March 2013, the contract for route 161 was retendered and subsequently retained by Metrobus for a further five years, operating from Orpington, Green Street Green garage (MB). In 2014, the Go-Ahead Group restructured its bus operations, which included the transfer of Route 161 from Metrobus to Go-Ahead London. However, the vehicles used on the route continue to carry Metrobus branding.[1][6][7]

Current route[edit]

Route 161 operates via these primary locations:


  1. ^ a b Go-Ahead London welcomes Metrobus garages into fold Bus Talk (Go-Ahead London) issue 27 April 2014
  2. ^ "Metrobus within Go-Ahead London" The London Bus (London Omnibus Traction Society) issue 598 June 2014 page 7
  3. ^ "Go-Ahead London" Buses issue 713 August 2014 page 71
  4. ^ "London Buses route 161". 
  5. ^ "London Buses route 161". 
  6. ^ "Metrobus within Go-Ahead London" The London Bus (London Omnibus Traction Society) issue 598 June 2014 page 7
  7. ^ "Go-Ahead London" Buses issue 713 August 2014 page 71