Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith,

This page created on 30th January 2009, updated 8th February 2015.

Heritage Operations

The Heritage services 9 and 15

Ordinary Routemaster operation was being wound up in 2003-5, and route 13 was no exception. The Marshall rebuilds were reallocated around the Routemaster fleets or put into store. The complete loss of the iconic London Routemaster was assuaged somewhat by a proposal to operate refurbished RMs on two central area tourist routes. The lawyers soon let TfL know that they could not distinguish the Routemaster routes with separate route numbers, as this would be operating a service without due regard to the Disability Discrimination Act. But if they were offered as a supplement to an otherwise fully-serviced route - or two - that would be acceptable. So route 9 (operated by First London) and 15 (operated by Stagecoach) would have supplementary Routemaster complements, for which ordinary fares would be payable. Conductors would be carried to check prepaid tickets (obtained in the usual ways from roadside machines or agents).

The heritage services began in November 2005, using standard refurbished RMs in the main, although RML2760 was also used for a while by Stagecoach, while First sometimes uses its silver-liveried SRM3 (RM1650). Stagecoach: route 15 (usually Tower Hill to Trafalgar Square): RM 324, 652, 871, 1941, 1968, 2050, 2060, 2071, 2089 and RML2760

First London: route 9 (Aldwych - Royal Albert Hall): RM 1204, 1218, 1280, 1562, 1627,1640, 1735, 1776, 1813 and RM1650 (SRM3)

Although ignored by many enthusiasts (who presumably do not want their knowledge that the Routemaster has been killed off in London challenged by reality) the services settled to become a recognised part of the London scene. I have travelled on them several times as part of ordinary journeys around London. Occasionally the route along the Strand or around Trafalgar Square has been cut off by events, and then the Heritage sections of route are amended, giving the Stagecoach buses a longer journey to the east.

RM2089 on Ludgate Hill, Oct.2007 RM1735 at Charing Cross, March 2008 RM1218 on 9, March 2008

Stagecoach RM2089 descends Ludgate Hill from St.Paul's on route 15 in October 2007. I boarded RM1735 at Charing Cross for a trip on the 9 to the Royal Alber Hall in March 2008. On the way I passed RM1218 heading the other way to Aldwych

Some of Stagecoach's RMs have received livery variations (from the standard Ayres Red with cream trim). 2008 was the Centenary of bus operation from Bow Garage, where their RM fleet is based, and also 75 years since the establishment of London Transport. Both were marked by the painting of RM1933 in a special livery of Indian Red (usually used for wheels) and "platinum", with suitable celebratory logos. It made an appearance at Cobham's Open Day in April, (where I rode on it) and then went into daily service on route 15. Subsequently two others have received white bands (instead of cream) with white bullseyes instead of London Transport fleetnames, representing a different period of RM operation.

RM1933 at Cobham, April 2008 RM1933 at Cobham, April 2008

Platinum liveried Stagecoach RM1933 at Cobham, April 2008
RM1933 has since (October 2009) been repainted in 1930's style red, white, black and silver for its duties as one of the Heritage Routemasters on route 15. I saw it several times on the Strand in January and February, usually in the prevailing appalling weather. But it does show just how attractive London buses could be if not constrained to unrelieved red.

RM1933 on 15, Strand, 20th January 2010 RM1933 on 15, Strand, 23rd February 2010

RM1933 on 15, Strand, 20th January 2010 RM1933 on 15, Strand, 20th January 2010

1930s-style liveried Stagecoach RM1933 on the Strand, January/February 2010.


Route 9 was cut back from Aldwych to Trafalgar Square, halving the Routemaster presence along Strand. Then First Bus withdrew from London operations, Tower Transit taking over the Westbourne Park garage, routes and buses, including the Routemasters on the 9H, plus the silver Routemaster SRM3 (RM1650). They maintained the western route (\Trafalgar Square to North Kensington), until July 2014, when it closed down, due to "fall in demand".

The Stagecoach operation on route 15 (Tower Hill to Trafalgar Square) continued. Make use of it while you can.

RM374 on 15, Strand, 28th January 2015 RM374 on 15, Strand, 28th January 2015

Still going: RM374 waits at Charing Cross before setting off for Tower Hill once more, 28th January 2015.

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