diamond geezer

 Saturday, October 07, 2023

Anorak Corner [bus edition] (annual update)

Once again TfL have silently published their annual spreadsheet listing the number of passengers using every London bus route and how many kilometres those buses travelled. Data is for April 2022 - March 2023. Comparisons are with the previous year.

Hurrah, we finally have a full year of data unaffected by lockdown, with ridership settled at whatever the new normal is.

London's ten busiest bus routes (2022/23)
  1) -- 18 Euston - Sudbury (12.6m)
  2) -- 149 London Bridge - Edmonton Green (12.0m)
  3) -- 29 Trafalgar Square - Wood Green (11.3m)
  4) ↑1 25 Holborn Circus - Ilford (10.5m)
  5) ↑1 86 Stratford - Romford (10.1m)
  6) ↓2 5 Canning Town - Romford (10.0m)
  7) -- 36 Queens Park - New Cross Gate (9.7m)
  8) ↑2 279 Manor House - Waltham Cross (9.6m)
  9) -- 243 Waterloo - Wood Green (9.5m)
10) ↓2 207 White City - Southall (9.4m)

The next ten: 35, 53, 109, 55, 141, 183, 38, 185, 43, 158

For the fourth year running London's busiest bus is the 18, long-term plier of the Harrow Road. The runners up remain two northern workhorses, the 149 and 29, and behind them a former chartopper is regaining ground. The 25 tumbled from the top spot in 2019 after being cut back from Oxford Circus, but along with the 86 is proving that east Londoners are still happy to use the bus rather than ride Crossrail. The 36 is the only route in the top 10 with a significant presence south of the Thames. To give you some idea of how passenger numbers have yo-yo-ed, five years ago route 18 recorded 17 million passengers, mid-pandemic just 6 million, last year it had rebounded to 11 million and now it's 13 million.

London's ten least busy bus routes (2022/23)
  1) -- 399 Barnet - Hadley Wood (8400)
  2) -- 389 Barnet - Underhill (11000)
  3) -- H3 Golders Green - Hilltop (20560)
  5) ↑1 R5 Orpington - Orpington ↻ (20580)
  4) ↓1 R10 Orpington - Orpington ↺ (21200)
  6) -- 385 Chingford - Crooked Billet (28400)
  7) -- 347 Romford - Ockendon (30000)
  8) -- 549 South Woodford - Loughton (36400)
  9) -- 327 Waltham Cross - Elsinge Estate (48600)
10) -- R8 Orpington - Biggin Hill (49800)

The next ten: U10, 375, 146, 497, 467, 464, 209, 485, 404, 346

Most of these are the usual suspects, topped off by a pair of brief turns in Barnet connecting daytime residents to the shops. The only change in the top 10 is that the R5 and R10 have swapped places (they operate the same route in rural Bromley but in opposite directions). Two of the top 10 are involved in consultations which could see them withdrawn, the 347 (and 346) swallowed up by the otherwise-pointless 497, and the 549 merged with the W14. Route 18 is busier than the fifty least used buses put together.

London's ten most travelled bus routes (2022/23)
  1) ↑1 18 Euston - Sudbury (1,859,000km)
  2) ↑3 183 Golders Green - Pinner (1,807,000km)
  3) ↓2 5 Canning Town - Romford (1,806,000km)
  4) ↑4 53 Lambeth North - Plumstead (1,757,000km)
  5) ↑2 86 Stratford - Romford (1,753,000km)
  6) ↑5 102 Brent Cross - Edmonton (1,725,000km)
  7) ↑6 96 Woolwich - Bluewater (1,717,400km)
  8) ↑2 174 Harold Hill - Dagenham (1,716,600km)
  9) ↓6 111 Kingston - Heathrow (1,699,000km)
10) ↓1 182 Brent Cross - Harrow Weald (1,696,000km)

The next ten: 34, 466, 38, 65, 207, 55, 64, 113, 36, 25

This is a chart of the routes whose vehicles travelled the greatest distance in one year. Long distance buses (like the 96 and 111) and high frequency buses (like the 18 and 86) tend to travel the furthest. Only two of these serve central London, most are busy zipping across the suburbs. Once again South London isn't getting much of a look-in. The 183 is getting a Superloop companion soon so expect it to tumble out of this list sharpish. The 38 was top of this list just two years ago but has now fallen out of the top 10 thanks to significant frequency reductions. Meanwhile the 389 remains London's least travelled bus route, covering just under 8000km per year.

London's ten most crowded bus routes (2022/23)
  1) ↑3 W7 Finsbury Park - Muswell Hill (8.5 passengers per km)
  2) ↑1 149 London Bridge - Edmonton (8.3)
  3) ↓1 238 Stratford - Barking (8.1)
  4) ↑5 35 Shoreditch - Clapham Junction (7.8)
  5) ↑1 29 Trafalgar Square - Wood Green (7.7)
  6) ↑2 98 Holborn - Willesden (7.6)
  7) -- 41 Archway - Tottenham Hale (7.3)
  8) ↑2 109 Brixton - Croydon (7.1)
  9) ↑2 58 East Ham - Walthamstow (6.9)
10) ↑2 69 Canning Town - Walthamstow (6.8)

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 the W7 which, along with the 41, delivers residents of Muswell Hill and Crouch End to their nearest tube stations. Last year's most-crushed bus, the 330, has been extended to Silvertown and thus plummeted to 17th. Most London bus routes carry 2-5 passengers per km.

The next ten: 18, 25, 205, 104, 94, 115, 330, 16, 44, 243

London's ten emptiest buses: R5, R10, R8, 399, H3, 347, 146, 464, 549, R7

The ten routes with the biggest increase in passengers: 129, 497, 301, 521, X68, 423, 481, 456, H22, 411
The nine routes with a decrease in passengers: U10, 104, 209, 414, 12, 359, 159, B11, 228

The two biggest increases are for short routes recently extended, the 129 and 497, which are now picking up twice as many passengers as last year. The 521 and X68 have both leapt thanks to central London commuters returning to their desks... so it's ironic that the 521's since been scrapped. The three biggest decreases are for greatly-reduced frequency (U10), being split in two (104) and the long-term closure of Hammersmith Bridge (209). Only nine routes saw a fall in ridership this year, because that's post-pandemic bounceback for you.

London's ten busiest nightbuses: N15, N25, N29, N18, N207, N279, N9, N8, N98, N87
London's ten least busy nightbuses: 213, N33, 365, 474, N72, 85, 472, 119, 321, 264

Passengerwise the N15 is 40% ahead of its nearest competitor, the N25.

London's ten busiest single deckers: 235, 170, 316, 195, C10, W15, 214, 366, 276, 358
London's ten least busy double deckers: 467, X68, 481, 412, 317, 498, 215, 492, 428, 406

For those last two lists my thanks to the data-crunchers on The Bus Forum, the true online home of the London bus anorak.

London's ten busiest lettered buses: W3, EL1, E3, H98, W7, E8, X140, C10, EL2, W15
London's nine busiest one-digit buses: 5, 2, 8, 6, 1, 4, 3, 9, 7

Opening the Overground to Barking Riverside hasn't stopped the EL1 being really popular.

South London's ten busiest buses: 149, 36, 35, 53, 109, 185, 65, 93, 453, 133
London's ten busiest buses that run outside London: 279, 96, 235, 81, 142, 150, 80, 466, 407, 275

You'll have to wait for The superest Superloop routes (but in 2022/23 the busiest was the 607).

London's most average bus: 181 Lewisham - Grove Park (2.9 million passengers, 800,000km travelled)

The National Rail version of Anorak Corner will be along next month.


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