London Buses route 188

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Abellio bus route 188.jpg
Operator Abellio London
Garage Walworth (WL)
Vehicle Volvo B7TL 10.6m / Wright Eclipse Gemini
Alexander Dennis Enviro400H 10.2m
Peak vehicle requirement 22
Night-time 24-hour service
Start North Greenwich bus station
Via Canada Water
End Russell Square station
Length 10 miles (16 km)
Level Daily
Frequency 8-12 minutes
Journey time 37-86 minutes
Operates 24-hour service

London Buses route 188 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. Running between North Greenwich bus station and Russell Square station, it is operated by Abellio London.


Daimler Fleetline on The Strand in June 1983

Route 188 was introduced in 1951. For many years the route was operated by Camberwell garage, latterly using then-new Leyland Titans. Around 1982, some diagrams began to be operated by New Cross garage, initially using a mixture of Titans and Daimler Fleetlines.[1]

In the mid-1980s the 188 was designated as a 'tourist' route, because it connected central London with Tower Bridge and Greenwich. By the time of the route was first tendered in 1988, all services were operated out of New Cross with Titans.

Upon being tendered in 1988, the route passed to Boro'line. Initially Leyland Atlanteans hired from Ipswich Buses and Daimler Fleetlines from Nottingham City Transport were used, until new Alexander bodied Volvo Citybuses were delivered in 1989. Boro'line operated from a depot in Crayford.[2]

In November 1990, Boro'line surrendered the route, which consequently passed to London Buses subsidiary Selkent who operated it with Leyland Olympians from Plumstead garage.[3]

In November 1993, the route was tendered again, and awarded this time to London & Country, which used second hand Titans from Walworth garage. Soon after, London & Country was purchased by British Bus, which also owned Kentish Bus, which in turn had in 1992 purchased the remaining London operations of Boro'line.

In 1995 British Bus re-organised its operations in London and the surrounding area. The London operations of London & Country were transferred to a new unit called Londonlinks which was controlled by Kentish Bus. The elderly Titans on the 188 were disposed of to Clydeside 2000 and were replaced by Volvo Citybuses transferred from Kentish Bus.

Route 188 was included in the sale of British Bus to the Cowie Group in August 1996,[4][5] which in 1997 rationalised its London operations, leading to the run-down of the Londonlinks operation. In August 1997, route 188 was transferred to Cowie South London's Norwood garage. In June 1998 the Monday-Saturday route 188 was transferred to Arriva London North's Stamford garage. The Sunday allocation soon followed suit, and the route received new Alexander ALX400 bodied DAF DB250s. In March 2000 route 188 was transferred to Tottenham garage.

Upon being re-tendered, the route was awarded to London Central in December 2000. However, lack of space at its garages resulted in sister company London General taking responsibility for the route from the outset, from Stockwell garage. The allocation was moved around a few times in order to suit staffing requirements, and London Central did briefly operate some route 188 services out of Camberwell garage until they reverted to Stockwell from October 2004.

Upon being re-tendered in 2005, the route passed to Travel London's Walworth garage.

On 28 July 2007, route 188 became a 24-hour service with a half-hourly service running throughout the night, seven days a week, passing through Bermondsey, Canada Water and Greenwich before terminating at The O2 Arena. The timetabling had been amended in order to meet the needs of visitors to The O2 where concerts continued until after the tube had closed.[6]

Route 188 was included in the sale of Travel London to Abellio London in May 2009.[7][8]

John Barry, head of network development for London buses, said: "The new 24-hour service on route 188 is another accessible transport connection for late-night travellers in the capital. London's night bus network has expanded dramatically in recent years with passenger numbers more than doubling since 2000."[6] Despite this improvement, the route received 55 complaints from passengers in 2009, the fourth highest number on any route in London.[9]

In 2011, it was announced that hybrid buses were to be introduced to the route.[10]

In January 2012, route 188 gained brand new Alexander Dennis Enviro400Hs.[11]

On 1 July 2012, due to the Olympic Games route 188 was temporarily extended to Euston bus station.[12]


On 20 May 2008, one person was killed and 18 injured after a northbound 188 bus hit a low branch on a tree on the route. The woman killed was a passer-by, and the other injured passengers. The bus driver fainted shortly after the accident.[13]

Current route[edit]

Route 188 operates via these primary locations:[14]


External links[edit]