Tuesday, 23 November 2021

Green Line - Slow Decline (2)

What Happened?

At its peak, Green Line 721 from Aldgate to Brentwood ran every 12 minutes (some authyoprities say every 10!) and was the haunt of double deck Routemaster coaches.
Route 721 ran between Aldgate (Bus & Coach Station) and Brentwood via Whitechapel, Mile End, Bow Road, Stratford, Forest Gate, Manor Park, Ilford, Seven Kings, Goodmayes, Chadwell Heath, Romford, Gallows Corner and Harold Park. While the 721 was once one of the busiest Green Line coach routes, running every 10 minutes on Mondays to Saturdays in the mid-60s, it was an withdrawn in about the mid-70s. The routes running from Aldgate were much shorter than the rest of the cross-London network.

Now there is no one-hop service from Aldgate to Brentwood! fbb did once visit the main London terminal on Eccleston Bridge at Victoria. It was impressive with stands lining the road and well-cared-for green coaches going to far away places with strange sounding names.
The wall is still there and Bishops warehouse is, inevitably, a posh block of flats ...
... whilst coaches leave from a gloomy tunnel under a chunk Victoria railway station.
No one thing killed off Green Line. Car ownership helped the demise, as did the improvements to the rail network. Possibly the biggest contributer in the end was privatisation; firstly of coaches and then of buses. Green Line did not really fit either.

But today, there are just four services which carry the name Green Line, and one of them, the 724 from Harlow to Heathrow only carries it in memory.
Reading Buses 702/3 still runs but delegated to subsidiary Thames Valley.

Which leaves us with Arriva The Shires.
757 runs hourly from Luton via the airport and in to london via Finchley and the like.
The 755 is for peak hour journeys from Luton estates.

Then there is the 758 and variants.
An indication of Arriva's enthusiasm for this service, which runs from Hemel Hempstead (the old 708, remember - but only as far as London!) is given by the occasional substitution of a boring blue bus ...
... or a slightly less boring double decker.
There, see, it is branded for the 320!

This is the feeble timetable ...
... seven journeys to Hemel Hempstead and two to the Warner Studios for the delights of the Harry Potter experience. 748 is for one journey via "The City" and 768 for the two trips to Hogwarts! It's not lomyng ago that there were 13 trips on Monday to Friday, a better service on Saturdays AND Sunday journeys.
Today there is nothing on Sundays.

But the news of the 758 (etc) decline becomes somewhat academic in a couple of weeks' time. Arriva is withdrawing the service completely; leaving just three Green Lines left.

Incidentally, Arriva did announce a new Green Line, service 720 from Stantead Airport to London but it was postponed due to the onslaught of Covid. fbb doubts that it will ever appear as Arriva seems intent on cutting back everywhere they operate.

But as the big boss said in a recent Buses magazine article, "I am determined that Arriva will grow to be the best bus company in Britain."

Yeah, right!

Don't Believe What You Read On The Internet
Not only is every red bus a London bus, but apparently, every green bus is Green Line.
Not quite. Back then Stevenage local routes were branded as above. The booklet (remember them?) came with full timetables ...
... and excellent maps.
But not Green Line; green buses, of course, operated by London Transport country area. Here is one ...
... with a reminder that it takes you to and from the Model Railway Exhibition. Window labels for special events en route are fairly rare these days.

Even rare farmyard creature shows are ignored these days!

Green Line A P.S.
A better picture, on a preserved bus, of a pre-war lettered route board.
And a close up of an older style.
Side destination boards were a feature of Green Line routes well after WW2 ...
... even into the era of the Heathrow to Gatwick 727.
It meant, of course, that, as well as the timetable book ...
... and route maps referred to in yesterday's blog, the buses carried their own advert.
Who says route branding is a new idea - and no repaint costs if the bus is moved on to another service!

Arriva's "new" logo is rubbish as well!

 Next Exeter blog : Wednesday 24th November 


  1. That picture of JPA 121K is in its preserved state, and thus the picture of it going to the exhibition is somewhat more recent than when it was in genuine Green Line use (or St Alban's city service, if it ever was - not Stevenage!!).

  2. Green Line withered away for a number of reasons; as one who was there . . . traffic congestion; improvements in rail services; falling passenger numbers as a result of the foregoing. Despite LCBS investing hugely in new coaches and an expanded route network (Cambridge; Oxford; Milton Keynes et al), ultimately the passengers simply weren't there.
    Privatisation didn't help . . . Green Line was constituted as a separate company, owned by the former LCBS companies . . . basically as a marketing operation, as the four operators still supplied the coaches and planned the timetables.

    Like a lot of things . . . life moves along; the rise of the car and its flexibility finished Green Line off. A few routes have limped along, mainly sustained by commuter numbers or tourist attractions. Luton Airport's 757 has been gently falling off for 10 years . . . with a good train service and last-mile link, plus the disaster with re-negotiating the access contract with the Airport . . . it can't last for much longer )especially with Arriva in charge).
    That'll leave 702 to Windsor and Lwgoland, and unless the marketing effort is huge around the hotels in London, that'll be difficult to sustain.

  3. One factor which killed off most of the residual "traditional" Green Line routes was the ending of subsidy from Greater London.

    Green Line 702 has had a stay of execution as it is. First Berkshire had planned to withdraw the route without replacement at the end of 2017, but Reading Buses decided to register a replacement. They did order five brand-new Optare Mterodeckers for the route but these had not arrived by the start of the Covid pandemic and the order was cancelled. Reading Buses has since introduced a complimentary route 703 which now provides a localised off-peak service between Bracknell and Slough (702 now only operates to and from Bracknell at peak times) as well as new direct links to Heathrow Airport.

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