Major South London bus route that ends near Croydon ‘won’t be extended’

By Staff

Sadiq Khan has ruled out extending an historic London bus route that ‘mirrors’ a railway line in the capital. Number 3 services travel between Victoria bus station in Westminster and Crystal Palace in the south of the city.

London Assembly Member Marina Ahmad mentioned to the Mayor of London that the current route ‘mirrors’ railway services from Victoria to West Dulwich and West Norwood. Southeastern, for instance, provides trains to the former, with Southern serving the latter.

Number 2 buses also travel on a similar route in the area. AM Ahmad then asked Mr Khan if there were plans to extend or change the route. The mayor noted that data suggests that customers use number 3 buses for briefer trips.

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He said: “While bus route 3 does now provide similar long-distance links to the rail network — with the bus providing a direct service from Brixton Road and Kennington Road to the Victoria area — it is important to note many customers choose to use the bus for shorter, local journeys rather than these longer-distance trips (the average length of ride on route 3 is 2.06 miles). Therefore, Transport for London has no plans to change the service further.”

Customers have ‘switched to the Tube or work from home’

First beginning in November 1908 between Brixton station and South Croydon, the number 3 route has undergone various changes in recent years. Services were restructured in June 2019 to terminate at Whitehall instead of Trafalgar Square.

Changes were made at the same time to route 53. These changes were made, Mr Khan says, to ‘match capacity and usage more closely between County Hall and Whitehall across the two routes’.

In April 2023, following the Central London Bus Review – which was required as a result of conditions attached to the Government’s funding deal – TfL withdrew route 507 between Victoria and Lambeth Bridge, including Horseferry Road. Route 3 was restructured – along with changes to the C10 – to replace the 507 on these roads.

Following these changes, the northern section of route 3, between Lambeth Bridge and Whitehall, was no longer needed for capacity, the mayor says. He added: “Passengers who still wanted to make this journey could do so by taking a route 3 bus and changing to route 159 on Kennington Road or route 87 at Millbank.”

Mr Khan also said: “Transport for London (TfL) always reviews the bus network. The rationale for these changes was to respond to the reduction in bus demand in parts of central London since 2014, as some users have transferred to other modes of public transport such as the upgraded Victoria line and/or chose to work from home more often.”

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