London Buses route 171
Leyland Titan on route 171
|Garage||New Cross (NX)|
|Vehicle||Volvo B9TL 10.4m / Wright Eclipse Gemini 2|
|Peak vehicle requirement||25|
|Night-time||Night Bus N171|
Elephant & Castle
|Length||10 miles (17 km)|
|Frequency||About every 8-12 minutes|
|Journey time||45-89 minutes|
|Operates||04:00 until 00:30|
Today's 171 was introduced on 6 April 1952 at Stage 7 of London Transport's post-war "Tram to Buses" conversion scheme to replace Kingsway Subway Tram route 33. It ran as a daily service between Tottenham (Bruce Grove) and West Norwood via Harringay, Manor House, Newington Green, Angel, Rosebery Avenue, Kingsway, Aldwych, Victoria Embankment, Westminster Bridge, Kennington, Brixton, West Norwood (Thurlow Arms) extended Sunday to West Norwood (Bus Garage). The section between Harringay and Tottenham was new territory, not previously served by London buses.
The route stayed quite stable for a few years until the 16 October 1957, when it swapped its Southern End with its sister route 172 at Victoria Embankment to run to Forest Hill via Elephant & Castle, Walworth, Camberwell, Peckham, New Cross and Brockley. This had the effect of leveling out the passenger loads on the Northern and Southern sections of both routes.
Less than a year later on 20 August 1958, in the aftermath of the London Busmen's Strike of 1958, the 171 was diverted between Holborn Hall and County Hall via Gray's Inn Road, Chancery Lane, Fleet Street, Aldwych, Waterloo Bridge, replacing route 67 which was withdrawn as an economy measure.
The next changes occurred on 23 January 1966, when the 171 was withdrawn on Sundays, to be replaced on that day by a Sunday only route 171A between Tottenham(Bruce Grove) and Abbey Wood via the 171 to New Cross and the 163A to Abbey Wood via Greenwich, Woolwich and Plumstead. This situation remained until 9 January 1972 when the 171 was re-introduced on Sundays, albeit only between Tottenham Garage and Forest Hill with the section to Bruce Grove being withdrawn on Sundays.
The Sunday service was converted to one-person operation as from 4 August 1985 and six months later on 1 February 1986, in order to counter reliability problems, the route was cut into two overlapping services. The 171 became a complicated service, running with crew operated buses on Mondays to Saturdays and one-person vehicles on Sundays, Daily from Forest Hill to Aldwych with a Sunday extension to Tottenham Garage. On Mondays to Fridays it was also extended from Aldwych to Rosebery Avenue. A new one-person operated 171A was introduced on Mondays to Saturdays over the Northern section between Tottenham (Bruce Grove) and Waterloo.
This complicated set of routes were quickly altered and as from 21 June 1986 the 171 was withdrawn north of the Angel, Islington to be covered by the 171A which was introduced on Sundays. The 171 was still crew-operated on Mondays to Saturdays and ran daily from Forest Hill to Aldwych with a Monday to Friday extension to Islington Green. The 171A now ran daily between Waterloo and Tottenham, terminating at Bruce Grove on Mondays to Saturdays, but with a new extension to Northumberland Park Station via Lansdowne Road on Sundays.
On 21 October 1986 the 171 was converted to one-person operation on Mondays to Saturdays using T-type Titan vehicles that had been in position on the route since September. At the same time the 171A received a small diversion, running Northbound via Fleet Street and New Fetter Lane instead of Chancery Lane.
A short extension to the 171A was added on 21 April 1990, when the route was extended from Waterloo to terminate at County Hall. The next year on 16 November 1991 the Monday to Saturday 171A service to Tottenham (Bruce Grove) was re-routed to Northumberland Park Station to bring it in line with the Sunday service.
The next couple of years saw the 171 and 171A settle down to how they are today, with the 171 being withdrawn between Holborn Station and Islington (and extended on Saturdays and Sundays from Aldwych to Holborn Station) on 18 July 1992. At the other end of the route the 171 was diverted at Stanstead Road from Forest Hill to Catford Garage as from 12 March 1994. Since which time the 171 has remained unchanged.
On 18 February 1996, Edward O'Brien, an IRA operative, was killed when an improvised high-explosive device detonated prematurely on a Number 171 bus travelling along Aldwych towards King's Cross. It also injured eight other passengers.
The 171A continued on for a few more years without change, except for an extension to Northumberland Park (Tesco) as from 28 March 1998, replacing journeys on the 76 and just over six months later, the two 171 services were separated for good when the 171A was re-numbered 341 as from 18 October 1998.
Previous route 171s in London
The route number 171 had been used twice prior to its current use.
- From 11 April 1925 until 5 July 1925 for a Saturday and Sunday Wimbledon (Prince of Wales) <to> Epsom (Market Place) via Morden route 171.
- From 1928 until 2 October 1934 for a daily Kingston <to> Chertsey via West Molesey and Weybridge route 171.
There were also in London:
- Between 8 April 1925 and 7 July 1925 for a Monday to Friday Wimbledon (Prince of Wales) <to> North Cheam (Queen Victoria) via Morden route 171A.
- Glazier, Ken, (1989). London buses in the 1950s. p. 26. Capital Transport, Harrow Weald (Middlesex). ISBN 1-85414-116-3