Normally Anorak Corner means trains or tubes. But at the end of last week TfL published their latest annual spreadsheet listing the number of passengers using every London bus route, so it's time to hit the roads. Data is for April 2018 - March 2019. Comparisons are with the previous year.
London's ten busiest bus routes (2018/19) 1) ↑1 18 Euston - Sudbury (16.7m) 2) ↓1 25 Holborn Circus - Ilford (16.0m) 3)29 Trafalgar Square - Wood Green (13.7m) 4) ↑1 140 Harrow Weald - Heathrow (13.3m) 5) ↓1 149 London Bridge - Edmonton Green (13.3m) 6) ↑1 243 Waterloo - Wood Green (12.9m) 7) ↓1 207 White City - Southall (12.7m) 8)86 Stratford - Romford (12.2m) 9)36 Queens Park - New Cross Gate (11.7m) 10) ↑* 38 Victoria - Clapton Pond (11.5m)
The next ten: 5, 279, 53, 109, 141, 43, 266, 254, 253, 65
The big news is that the 18 is London's new busiest bus route, not because it's gained passengers but because the previous incumbent has collapsed. Route 25 has been the topdog for years, but lastyear TfL took the knife to the west end of the route and removed all the short journeys to Mile End, so four million passengers went elsewhere. Expect the 140 to slip down too next year after it's cut back to Hayes and a new express X140 is introduced. Most of the other routes in the Top 10 are key services along busy radial corridors, particularly north towards Brent, Hackney and Haringey. Sixteen bus routes managed to convey more than ten million passengers.
The next ten: 327, R8, 404, 146, 15H, U10, 467, 464, R2, 485
These are all the usual suspects, indeed the top 10's barely shifted since last year. At the top are a pair of brief turns in Barnet connecting daytime residents to the shops. All these buses are infrequent, and all are peripheral with the exception of the H3 round Hampstead Garden Suburb. The circular R5/R10 in rural Bromley continues to be more popular clockwise than anti-clockwise. You really ought to ride some of these minor shuttles one day. Expect the 15H Routemaster service to catapult into the list next year now all its weekday and winter journeys have been scrapped. Route 18 is busier than the fifty least used buses put together.
The next ten: 182, 96, 207, 102, 34, 472, 149, 65, 13, 64
This is a chart of the routes whose vehicles travelled the greatest distance in one year. Long distance buses (like the 53 and 140) and high frequency buses (like the 18 and 38) tend to travel the furthest. Route 25 has again slipped from first to second place, although only by a piddlingly small margin of 642km. Expect both the 140 and 25 to tumble next year, allowing the 38 (or maybe 18) to grab the crown. Once again South London isn't getting much of a look-in. Meanwhile the 389 remains London's least travelled bus route, covering just under 8000km per year.
London's ten most crowded bus routes (2018/19) 1)W7 Finsbury Park - Muswell Hill (11 passengers per km) 2) ↑3 330 Canning Town - Forest Gate (9.4) 3)41 Archway - Tottenham Hale (9.3) 4) ↑2 104 Stratford - Manor Park (8.8) 5) ↑3 58 East Ham - Walthamstow (8.7) 6) ↓2 69 Canning Town - Walthamstow (8.7) 7)29 Trafalgar Square - Wood Green (8.6) 8) ↑1 109 Brixton - Croydon (8.4) 9) ↑* 238 Stratford - Barking (8.4) 10) ↓8 507 Victoria - Waterloo (8.3)
This Top 10 is determined by dividing the number of passengers by the number of km travelled to get a 'number of passengers per km'. The higher the number, the less likely it is you'll be able to find a seat. By this measure the most crowded bus is still the W7 which, along with the 41, delivers residents of Muswell Hill and Crouch End to their nearest tube stations. Note the extremely strong presence of the London borough of Newham in this top 10, where buses are still the favoured way of getting around. The 507 'Red Arrow' commuter route no longer packs them in quite as much as it once did. Most London bus routes carry 2-5 passengers per km.
The ten bus routes with the greatest annual increase in passengers: 425, R2, 178, 521, 330, 4, 201, 87, 381, 203 The ten bus routes with the greatest annual decrease in passengers: 228, 25, RV1, 224, C2, 24, H26, 63, 23, 277
Don't read too much into these last two lists. Almost all the big increases and decreases in passenger numbers since last year are the result of TfL changing the route. The 425 got extended from Stratford to Ilford, so its numbers went up 97%. The 228 had its frequency cut from five buses an hour to three, so its numbers went down 22%. The 178 went double decker last December so its numbers went up 13%. The RV1 and C2 were performing so poorly that they've been withdrawn since the April 2018/March 2019 data year ended. Meanwhile half of all London bus routes have passenger numbers within 3% of last year's total, so don't read too much into this.
Annual decrease in passengers: 2.2% Annual decrease in km travelled: 3.4%
I suppose it's good that if you cut the number of journeys by 3½% the number of passengers only falls by 2%, but the London bus network is plainly a network in decline.
London's ten busiest nightbuses: N15, N29, N25, N207, N18, N9, N279, N8, N98, N38 London's ten least busy nightbuses: H37, E1, H32, 307, 132, 154, 114, 486, W3, 296
London's ten busiest single deckers: 72, 235, W15, 170, C10, 195, C11, 276, 316, 214 London's ten least busy double deckers: 467, X68, 317, 498, 412, 129, 492, 215, 372, 406