diamond geezer

 Wednesday, November 14, 2018

How many consecutive London bus routes can you ride?

For example, if you could ride the 3, then the 4, then the 5, then the 6, that'd be four consecutive bus routes. But you can't, because route 3 and route 4 never quite meet, and route 5 gets no closer to central London than Canning Town station. So not that.

For the avoidance of doubt, I'm allowing interchange if two routes cross or overlap - they don't have to share the same bus stop. No long walks are allowed. Oh, and numbered buses only, no letters. If I'd allowed letters then the best run would be in Orpington where all eleven 'R' buses (from R1 to R11) stop in the High Street. So not that.

With over 400 numbered London bus routes, you'd think there'd be a decently long chain of consecutive bus routes somewhere. But I couldn't find one. London's bus routes aren't laid out sequentially in convenient geographical sectors (or if they ever were, enough tweaks have been made since to wreck the pattern).

For example, out in Dagenham the 173, 174 and 175 all run down the Heathway, which looks promising. But the 172 goes to Brockley and the 176 goes to Penge, so that doesn't help. Meanwhile at Elephant & Castle the 343 links to the 344, which links to the 345 in Battersea, which looks promising. But the 346 only serves Upminster, and the 342 doesn't exist, so that's no help either.

The longest chain I've managed to find is just five buses long, and starts with the 22.
22       → Oxford Circus station
23 Oxford Circus station → Trafalgar Square
24 Trafalgar Square → Tottenham Court Road station
25 Tottenham Court Road station → Bank station
26 Bank station →
There are some very familiar changeover points there. Oxford Circus, specifically the top of Regent Street, is the only place where the two buses serve the same stop - at the other interchanges you have to take a short walk. Obviously I'm not suggesting you do this for real, it's just a thought experiment. But if you did ride these five consecutive buses it'd take about an hour, just saying.

I don't think there's a chain of 6 routes. I don't think there's another chain of 5. Unless you know better.

If you're planning to check for the longest chain, obviously what you need is a bus map. Unfortunately TfL stopped producing London bus maps in March 2016, and took them off their website last year. This saves them money, but leaves us in the dark, because why should passengers know where all the buses go? If you'd like a digital copy of the final TfL bus maps, they're all here as pdfs: [Central] [NW] [NE] [SW] [SE]. Even better, if you'd like digital copies of all the final TfL bus maps as printed, including covers and indexes and all the inserts, they're in these zip files. Alas the maps are already long out of date, especially in central London. But hurrah for Freedom of Information requests (and boo to busmapkillers).

Here's an intriguing thing.

Ten years ago, the longest chain I can find was 6 buses. 11 12 13 14 15 16
Forty years ago, it was seven. 10 11 12 13 14 15 16
Seventy years ago it was ten. 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19

The further back you go, the longer the chains get because bus routes were longer and better connected. Inexorably over time they've got shorter, or been changed, and so become harder to connect. For example, the 11 no longer quite meets the 10 (which is about to be scrapped), the 13 was sneakily renumbered (so no longer overlaps the 12) and the 15 no longer passes through Piccadilly Circus (so now just misses the 14).

As we enter the Hopper Era, expect bus routes to get shorter still. Indeed my 22 → 26 journey is about to be wrecked in 10 days time when route 23 is diverted away from central London and merged with route 10. Moreover, route 25 is about to be cut back from Oxford Circus to Holborn Circus, maybe imminently, breaking the link with the 24.

In the near future, the longest chain of consecutive bus routes is going to be only 4 buses long, down from 5, down from 7, down from 10. That's our direction of travel. I mean, I assume there must be a chain of 4 consecutive bus routes somewhere in London. Help me out, I'm still looking...

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream