London Buses route 55

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Stagecoach route 55.jpg
Operator Stagecoach London
Garage Leyton (T)
Vehicle New Routemaster
Peak vehicle requirement 33
Night-time Night Bus N55
Start Leyton Green
Via Hackney Central
End Oxford Circus
Length 9 miles (14 km)
Level Daily
Frequency 7-12 minutes
Journey time 41-85 minutes
Operates 04:03 until 00:40

London Buses route 55 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. Running between Leyton Green and Oxford Circus, it is operated by Stagecoach London.


Route 55 commenced operation on 25 October 1969 as a daily crew operated route between Walthamstow garage and Hackney, extended Monday to Saturday to Bloomsbury (Also three very early journeys operated Leyton Green - Bloomsbury on Sunday mornings), with a Monday to Friday extension to Marylebone station, as a replacement for sections of routes 38, 170, 256 and Red Arrow 508. This was the 4th time that the route number 55 had been used on a London bus route.

Although the current route was only introduced in the late 1960s, the route number 55 actually has a very long history over sections of today's route. The 55 can trace its history back to a daily unnumbered tram route which commenced operation on 12 December 1912 between Bloomsbury and Leyton (Bakers Arms) extended on Sundays to Epping Forest via Shoreditch and Hackney, When shortly afterwards on 1 January 1913, the London County Council introduced a route numbering system on its tram routes, this route was allocated the route number 55. There were few changes in the period 1913 until 1933, when the London Passenger Transport Board was created. Except notably after 1931, when the Kingsway Subway was re-opened, Subway route 31 was extended over the 55 on summer Sundays to Leyton.

London Transport as it became known, soon set about replacing trams with trolleybuses and as from 11 June 1939 tram route 55 was replaced by trolleybus route 555 which ran between Bloomsbury and Leyton (Downsell Road). Trolleybus route 555 ran for twenty years with only minor changes and was withdrawn as from 15 April 1959 to be covered by an extended route 170, which had also replaced Tram 31 in 1950. This route now ran daily from Wandsworth to Leyton and re-instated the link lost when the trolleybuses were introduced.

When route 55 was introduced on 25 October 1969, as a replacement for the northern end of route 170, the latter was cut back to run Wandsworth to Aldwych with a Monday to Friday extension to Shoreditch, thus providing a short overlap between both routes. This came to end as from 17 April 1971, when route 55 was re-routed on Mondays to Fridays to terminate at Aldwych, with route 170 being cut back to this point at the same time. Route 1 was diverted via Oxford Street and Baker Street at this time as a replacement. Another 18 months were to pass until the route was converted to one-person operation on 28 October 1972.

As part of the "Busplan 78" scheme, route 55 was further extended on Monday to Friday peak hours from Aldwych over Waterloo Bridge to terminate at Waterloo station from 22 April 1978.

The Daimler Fleetlines then used on the route were un-reliable and in June 1979 a proposal to convert route 55 to single-deck one-person operation was cancelled at the very last moment. Even so, the route's reliability didn't improve and from 31 January 1981 in a scheme that shuffled around the use of one-person vehicles at Leyton garage, route 55 was converted back to AEC Routemaster crewed operation. At the same time, route 55 was re-routed via route 38 to Victoria bus station, the section via Aldwych was taken over by route 5 which was extended from Bloomsbury to Waterloo.

Two years later on 28 February 1983, in a scheme to provide a local service from Walthamstow to Hackney on Mondays to Fridays, a supplementary one-person operated route 255 was introduced between Chingford, Walthamstow and Hackney. At the same time route 55 swapped terminals with the route 48, now running from Victoria to Whipps Cross.

In 1987, route 55 was converted again to one-person operation. On Sundays from 8 February 1987, but also daily as from 6 June 1987, at which point it was also withdrawn between Victoria and Tottenham Court Road station. When London Transport was divided into smaller units operation of route 55 was taken over by London Forest.

On 24 February 1990, operation of route 55 was taken over by Kentish Bus and at the same time the route was withdrawn between Clapton Pond and Whipps Cross to be replaced by new route 56 over this section. The wheel seemed to be turning full circle when on 18 July 1992 an extension to Oxford Circus was introduced, a point route 55 had last served in 1971. From 28 February 1998, route 55 was again extended to Leyton Green after the route was taken over by Stagecoach London.

On 13 October 2001, route 55 was once again converted to crew operation, but this really was going to be the last time as Transport for London had decided to phase out the remaining conductors in London. Route 55 was converted to one-person operation for the third and last time on 4 January 2003.

Stagecoach London successfully retained route 55 with a new contract starting on 27 February 2010 and a further contract starting on 28 February 2015.[1][2]

New Routemasters were introduced on 28 February 2015. The rear platform remains closed at all times except for when the bus is at bus stops.[3]

Current route[edit]

Route 55 operates via these primary locations:[4]

Previous route 55s in London[edit]

The route number 55 had been used three times prior to its current use.

There were also in London:

Route 55 Trivia[edit]

Route 55 has been converted to one-person operation on three occasions, more than any other London bus route being crew operated from 1969–71, 1981–87, 2001-03.

Unusually for a London bus route, the current 55 has terminated at three different main railway termini, Marylebone (1969–1971); Waterloo (1978–1981) and Victoria (1981–1987).

The last Daimler Fleetline to work in service on this route was DMS 2234 which arrived at Leyton Garage, early on the morning of 31 January 1981 after completing the last journey from Aldwych to Leyton Green.

For many years, the first bus of the day on Sunday, which left the garage at 03:05, was the earliest Sunday morning "daytime" journey operated in London.


  1. ^ 2010 Bus Tender Result Transport For London
  2. ^ 2015 Bus Tender Result Transport For London
  3. ^ [1] Transport For London Press Release
  4. ^ Route 55 Map Transport for London

External links[edit]