London Buses route 521

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Go Ahead route 521.jpg
Operator London General
Garage Waterloo (RA)
Mandela Way (MW)
Vehicle Mercedes-Benz O530 Citaro 12.0m
BYD electric bus 12.0m
Peak vehicle requirement 31
Night-time No night service
Start Waterloo station
Via Holborn
St Paul's station
Cannon Street
End London Bridge station
Length 5 miles (8.0 km)
Level Monday to Friday
Frequency 4-10 minutes
Journey time 21-33 minutes
Operates 06:40 until 00:30

London Buses route 521 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. Running between Waterloo and London Bridge stations, it is operated by London General.


See also: Red Arrow (bus)

Red Arrow route 521 commenced operating on 18 July 1992 as part of the Red Arrow network of bus routes aimed at commuters in Central London linking some of the capital's main Railway termini.

On 2 June 2002, along with route 507, the route was the first bus route in London to be converted to articulated bus operation with a fleet of Mercedes-Benz O530G Citaros, replacing the ageing Leyland National Greenways. Being commuter routes, and so little used outside peak times, these routes were deemed suitable to test the articulated buses on, rather than a major trunk route. Also, many passengers are short distance travellers and unlikely to use the top deck, and they would not have to stand over long periods of time. At the time peak journeys on route 521 ran via the Strand Underpass rather than Aldwych, making double deck operation impossible.

During late 2003, early 2004, a series of onboard fires on Mercedes-Benz O530Gs led to withdrawal of the entire fleet, while Mercedes-Benz made some modifications. During this period limited services operated using a variety of different buses on route 507, including double-deckers.[1] In April 2007, an evening service was introduced and all services routed via the Strand Underpass.

In September 2009, as part of the move to replace London's articulated buses, the O530Gs were replaced by Mercedes-Benz O530 Citaros.[2]

The peak vehicle requirement increased from 19 to 31 to cope with the increased frequency, now at every 2-3 minutes. One criticism on articulated buses was high levels of fare evasion, yet the new Citaros retain open boarding, to help move commuters quickly from the busy rail termini. This has drawn further criticism, as the Red Arrow name was dropped on conversion, so there is nothing to distinguish the buses from normal services, with fears passengers may start boarding normal buses through the centre doors.

Another criticism of articulated buses was the low number of seats, with only 49 per vehicle. A standard rigid Citaro has 44 seats, however the new ones for route 521 have just 21, with room supposedly for up to 76 standees, leading to criticism the new buses were "cattle trucks" and even more crowded than the buses they replaced.[3] Despite the increase in frequency, the total number of seats has dropped.

In December 2013, two trial BYD electric buses were introduced.[4][5] From late-2015, the route will be operated entirely by Alexander Dennis Enviro 200 bodied BYD electric buses.[6][7]

Current route[edit]

Route 521 operates via these primary locations:[8]


  1. ^ "Bendy-buses withdrawn after fires". BBC. 2004-03-24. Retrieved 2009-09-05. 
  2. ^ "The beginning of the end for the bendy bus". Greater London Authority press release. 2008-12-05. Retrieved 2009-09-05. 
  3. ^ "Passengers call for the return of the bendy bus". The London Paper. 2009-07-31. Retrieved 2009-09-05. 
  4. ^ Electric buses hit London roads The Guardian 19 December 2013
  5. ^ London routes now served by BYD ebuses China Daily 23 December 2013
  6. ^ More than 50 all electric buses to enter service in London Transport for London 15 July 2015
  7. ^ BYD and ADL to build 51 electric buses for Go Ahead London Bus & Coach Professional 30 July 2015
  8. ^ Route 521 Map Transport for London

External links[edit]