Transport for London Routemaster heritage services

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English: The Transport for London Routemaster heritage services are the two public transport bus routes set up in 2005 by Transport for London to ensure Routemaster buses continued to be used in London after all the existing Routemaster operated routes had been converted to modern, low-floor accessible buses. Those routes were converted due to legislation requiring public buses to be accessible, and for the same reason, the heritage routes were designed as shorter versions of existing routes using modern buses. There are two heritage routes - the 9 and 15. The services began on 14 November 2005, which was slightly before the last remaining standard Routemaster route was converted - the 159. While they are officially standard public transport routes, charging the same fares and accepting the same passes, they are also focused at tourism, so the fleet of 20 Heritage Routemasters selected to run the services operate in traditional London Transport livery.


See Heritage Routemasters


As with standard London bus routes, the heritage routes are operated by private companies under contract to TfL. See also Heritage Routemasters#Operator markings. The contracts for the standard route 9 & 15 are awarded separately to the heritage routes, meaning the operators are not necessarily the same for both. The routes are distinguished internally (ie on the contracts by using a H suffix - i.e. route 9 and 9H), but on the actual buses, the route numbers are the same.

Route 9:

Route 15:

  • Start to 22 June 2006: East London Bus & Coach Company Ltd (part of Stagecoach Group plc, trading as Stagecoach London)
  • 23 June 2006 to May 2010: still East London Bus & Coach Company (transferred to the East London Bus Group)
  • May 2010 to 14 October 2010: as above (re-tender result:incumbent)
  • 15 October 2010 to present: still East London Bus & Coach Company (returned to Stagecoach)


The two routes both serve central London (i.e. the City of Westminster) - with route 9 heading west to the Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea, and route 15 heading east into the City of London. Initially, both routes shared a common section along Strand, between Charing Cross station and Aldwych. A subsequent alteration to route 9 (see below) means that they now only meet at Trafalgar Square (terminating on opposite sides).

Heritage route 9[edit]

Main gallery: London Buses heritage route 9.

There have been three versions of route 9 since it began.

14 Nov 2005 to 12 Nov 2010[edit]

The first version of route 9 ran from Aldwych in central London, west to the Royal Albert Hall. On its way, it passed the landmarks of Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus and Hyde Park Corner.

13 Nov 2010 to 24 Feb 2012[edit]

On 13 Nov 2010, at the request of Kensington borough who were seeking to increase tourism, route 9 was shifted west - the western terminus was extended to the western end of Kensington High Street, and to compensate the eastern end was cut back to Trafalgar Square (Cockspur Street). This ended the overlap of in service route 9 and 15 buses while running along Strand.

25 Feb 2012[edit]

From 25 Feb 2012, the route followed by the standard route 9 in central London was altered (meaning the heritage route was altered as well). This led to the route no longer passing Piccadilly Circus.

Heritage route 15[edit]

Main gallery: London Buses heritage route 15.

Unlike route 9, route 15 has remained unchanged since the services began - it runs from Trafalgar Square in central London (Strand / Charing Cross station), east through the city to Tower Hill (for the Tower of London). On its way, it passes the landmark of St Paul's Cathedral, as well as the City Thameslink and Cannon Street mainline stations.

Strand common section[edit]

Until route 9 was shifted west, both services shared a common section of in service running in central London, along Strand, between Charing Cross station at the western end, and the Aldwych area in the east.

Trafalgar Square area[edit]

Route 9 and 15 buses are often seen in Trafalgar Square, on the Charing Cross roundabout (on which stands the statue of Charles I), and in the streets to the south, although their status depends on the route and date:

  • Route 15 buses have only ever been in this area while out of service, using the roundabout and/or the streets to the south to turn around and/or lay-over inbetween journeys
  • Before the shift west, route 9 buses crossed the roundabout while in service, as they transitioned between to/from Strand to/from Cockspur Street
  • After the shift west, route 9 buses reverted to using the roundabout and nearby streets for the same purposes as route 15 buses


Due to the driver's position, the Routemaster was the last London bus that required a second crew member, a conductor, to collect fares and signal it was safe to depart from a stop. The practice continued with the heritage services. The New Routemaster re-introduced a second crew-member to non-Heritage London bus routes, although they do not collect fares, instead being solely responsible for ensuring safe boarding/alighting from the open rear platform.


Route 9 - Westbourne Park (X)[edit]

The route 9 allocation has always been based at First London's Westbourne Park garage (code X) - this has remained the case after the company's sale to Tower Transit.

Route 15[edit]

The route 15 allocation has had three bases so far - initially based at Waterden Road garage (code WA), the allocation was moved to Bow (BW) garage after WA was demolished to make way for the London Olympic park. It was then moved a second time into the brand new depot, West Ham (WH).

West Ham (WH)[edit]

Overlap with New Routemaster routes[edit]

The heritage services were still operating by the time the New Routemaster entered service in London, in 2012. As they were rolled out, the New Routemaster operated routes overlapped the heritage routes as follows:

  • 38 (trials) - Piccadilly, west (Hyde Park Corner to St James' Street)
  • 24 - neither in service, but crosses Charing Cross roundabout N-S (Whitehall to Charing Cross Road)
  • 11 - route 15 from Charing Cross (Strand) to Mansion House (Cannon Street)
  • 9 - route 9 (all), plus the Charing Cross - Aldwych section of Strand of route 15 that used to be shared by both
  • 390 - neither (Oxford Street route)
  • 148 - route 9 at Hyde Park Corner (the 148 runs from Park Lane to Grosvenor Place)

Relation to standard route 9 & 15[edit]

Original Routemaster withdrawal[edit]

Routes 9 & 15 were among the last routes to be converted from Routemaster operation - the 15 on 30 Aug 2003, and the 9 on 4 Sep 2004.

Standard route 9[edit]

  • Termini:
    • Western
      • (start to 12 Nov 2010): Hammersmith (further than heritage route: Royal Albert Hall)
      • (13 Nov 2010 to present): Hammersmith (further than heritage route: Kensington High Street)
    • Central
      • (start to 12 Nov 2010): Aldwych (same as heritage route)
      • (13 Nov 2010 to present): Aldwych (further than heritage route: Trafalgar Square)
  • Buses:
    • (start to 25 Oct 2013): VLE class (Volvo B7TL/East Lancs Myllennium Vyking)
    • (26 Oct 2013 - present): LT class (New Routemaster)
  • Operator:
    • (start to present): London United Busways - branded as London United, then Transdev, then back to London United

Standard route 15[edit]

  • Termini:
    • Eastern
      • (start to present): Blackwall station (further than heritage route)
    • Central
      • (start to 27 Aug 2010): Paddington (further than heritage route)
      • (28 Aug 2010 to 24 May 2013): Oxford Circus (further than heritage route)
      • (25 May 2013 to present): Trafalgar Square (same as heritage route)
  • Operator:
    • (start to present): East London (same as heritage route)