Monday, 19 March 2018

Silliness in Sevenoaks? Part 1

Banished from Bromley.
fbb has only a superficial knowledge of London's bus network, so relies on others' on-line offerings to educate him. But bus route 402 (Bromley, Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells) has been around in one form or another since the formation of London Transport in the 1930s.

It briefly disappeared to be replaced by a version of Green Line 706 ...
... which originally ran through from Aylesbury ...
... serving various Kent destinations.
Again, after London Country South East became Kentish Bus, the upstart management renumbered it as 22. Sacrilege!
Public opinion brought back the 402 (now owned by Arriva) and, despite these short-lived infarctions, the 402 has plodded into Bromley for well over 80 years.

Its recent status is slightly odd. At the London end it runs under  London Buses legislation, so behaves as a "normal" red bus route, whereas once across the somewhat arbitrary "border" it becomes a bog-standard commercial service duly registered with the Traffic Commissioners.

It is NOT listed in Ian Armstrong's excellent catalogue of "London Bus Routes" ...
... despite, for a while, carrying a red bus type of livery.
It carried "402" branding despite this although such commecial niceties were a no-no for London's buses until recently. Arriva publicity also provided a red route map rather than their usual blue. (click on the map to enlarge it)
This version was published in September 2011 - Sevenoaks itself is just off the map at the bottom right. The village of Pratts Bottom currently features as a road name in Admiral insurance adverts.
Fame at last!

Other brandings have featured a 402 blob ...
... and, more recently, a red stripe on the Versas.
In recent years an hourly service was normality Monday to Saturday daytimes; this from a London Transport "panel" timetable from 2004 ...
... and this from Robert Muster's London Bus timetable site, an archved version.
A fairly stable service!

Then in spring of last year rumours were rife that "something" was happening. So much so that the local MP Jo Johnson ...
... (yes, him - bro of Boris) wrote to Arriva expressing his concerns. We do not have a copy of Jo's prose, but we do have a reply from Arriva.
This was sent on 6th March 2017 from Simon Loh ...
... Arriva's cheery area Managing Director. Here is the relevant paragraph.

In regards to the 402 service, the through service from Tunbridge Wells to Bromley will continue to run hourly on Mondays to Saturdays but to revised times and buses will run via Weald village instead of via River Hill. In addition, there will be buses every twenty minutes during the main part of the day on Mondays to Saturdays between Tunbridge Wells, Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, Riverhead and Ryewood, giving a more frequent service between Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks and for Riverhead. Lastly, a new Sunday service will run hourly between Tunbridge Wells and Sevenoaks Bus Station.
The 402 to Ryewood replaces half of the crosstown 452.
We will meet the other half in a later blog.

So passengers between Dunton Green and Bromley plus Jo the MP (who uses the bus regularly - NOT) can heave a sigh of relief as the rumours of withdrawal are obviously unfounded.

Despite these assurances, 402 buses to Bromley were withdrawn completely four months later in July 2017!
The usual message emanated from Arriva HQ; decline in passenger numbers, harsh economic times, increased costs, sadness of life in general etc. etc. It must have been a dramatic decline/increase between April and July!

Or was the few month's reprieve to keep MP Jo happy?

There appears to be no replacement as such, but alternative routes do run part way from Bromley, notably the 358 (MID BLUE) to Orpington. 
On the out-of-date "spider" map for Bromley the 402 is listed as an "other bus" but is not shown on the map itself.
Also serving the former 402 villages are the "R" services from Orpington. (click on the map below to enlarge)
We will move into March 2018 in tomorrow's blog.

There is also a 431 operated by Go Coach which runs between Sevenoaks and Orpington.

Seaton Snow Snippet
Only Every 30 Years 16 Days
Snow fell again on Saturday evening 17th, then overnight and continuing (on and off) throughout Sunday (yesterday). The road past fbb mansions was easily passable as the old codgers returned (on foot!) from Church ...
... but side roads less so.
Peterville station and environs were obliterated AGAIN.
But the good news is that Jacko the cat, racked with embarrassment during the previous precipitation, would appear to have "been" outside!!

 Next Sevenoaks blog : Tuesday 20th March 


  1. Oh dear! FBB has been confused by the 704/705/706 routings, which to be fair were a tad convoluted in the 1980's. Here goes:

    704 (together with partner 705) were Windsor - London - Bromley - Sevenoaks - Tunbridge Wells (705 diverted via Westerham south of Bromley and terminated at Sevenoaks).
    706 (together with previous partner 707) was Aylesbury - London - Chelsham - Westerham (707 went to Oxted vice Westerham).

    706/707 effectively died in 1977 when 708 was extended beyond Hemel Hempstead to Aylesbury.
    704/705 were split in London in 1979, and the section of 704 to Tunbridge Wells became Route 706.
    706 was renumbered to 22 by Kentish Bus, and was subsequently renumbered to 402 after Kentish Bus was taken over by Arriva.

    It's all very clear, really!! {And frightening that all this happened around 40 years ago . . . . I'm getting VERY old now!!}.

  2. Thanks indeed Greenline727 - I did say that my knowledge was tenuous. Thanks for making it all clear (?).