Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith,

This page created on 16th December 2004

The Long Buses, RML 880-RML903, RML2261-RML2760

Part Six: 2004: More than half the RMLs depart

Fade-out of the 94

London United's route 94 - the western section of the old 88 route, succumbed in the second half of January 2004, with new TLA low-floor double-deckers. The Metrobuses that shared the route with Shepherds Bush's Routemsters went first, then the RMLs disappeared, leaving only a few for the last day: Friday 23rd January. There were special last journeys, using RML2500, plusRML880 in its London United Tramway livery, but they were cut short by a road traffic accident that disrupted the route.

The route's RMLs were variously reallocated to the 9, stored, sold, or sent to Edgware to help out on the 13.

RML880 at Cobham Open Day, April 2003 RML880 at Cobham Open Day, April 2003

Not on the 94, RM880 takes busman's holiday to visit the Cobham Museum Open Day in April 2003.

6 and 98 bow out together

Willesden's two crew routes, the 6 and the 98, both were converted to low-floor double-deckers towards the end of March, with a ceremonial day of special workings with RMLs, RMC1513 and RT3871 on Friday 26th March, the last day.

RML2393 on 98, Oxford Circus, July 2003 RML2284 on 6, Regent Street, July 2003

July 2003: before the axe falls RML2393 is seen crossing the nub of Routemaster operations - Oxford Circus - on route 98. Earlier in the afternoon RML2284 descends Regent Street towards Piccadilly Circus on a 6..

RML900 visits route 6 RMC1513 leaves Charing Cross on a final 6 to Kensal Rise Station

On the last evening RML900 from Blue Triangle was out amongst the last Routemasters on route 6. It is seen heading west past Charing Cross, with its original-style interior bulbs glowing brightly. I travelled on RMC1513, which is seen here on the last crew short-working to Kensal Rise, leaving Charing Cross.

Route 8 send-off

Stagecoach London arranged a spectacular day of special services on 4th June 2004 to mark their end of crew operations. A remnant of their RMLs, together with replacement Tridents, operated the normal route 8 service between Bow Church and Victoria, while a steady flow of visitors provided a steady diet of entertainment and nostalgia (as well as public transport) along the route during the day. Two RTWs, an RTL, four RTs, three RMs, three RMCs, two Titans and a Metrobus were among the throng, as well as celebrity RMLs. For an account of my last afternoon on the 8, click here.

RML2749 on the 8 RML2760 and RTW75 on last day 8.

4th June 2004: RML2749 sparkles in the sunshine as it heads east past St Paul's Station towards Bow. Last RML, RML2760 heads west at the same location, pursued by RTW75.

Last on First's Route 7

Tridents also took over route 7 at the beginning of July. First had some guest vehicles, including RTL139 and Reading RM938, operating on the route on the last day (2nd July).

RML2647 at Paddington RML2724 at Paddington. RML2442 at Oxford Circus.

28th April 2004: Nine weeks before the end, I travelled along route 7 from Paddington to Russell Square. RML2647 heads past Paddington Station towards East Acton. RML2724 arrives to take me to Russell Square. RML2442 works past Tottenham Court Road Station.

There they aren't, on Arriva's route 137.

RML2407 at Oxford Circus Arriva didn't make a fuss about replacing the RMLs on route 137. It was feared that by the final day (July 9th) there would be no Routemasters left on the route at all. In the event there were a handful, and an RM and an RML worked the last crew-operated buses on the route, which was being converted to operation by Wright-bodied DAFs. The penultimate RM was the last of the shorties: RM2217, whilst RML2407 worked the last crew bus from Oxford Circus. There were even a few guest buses on the day.

On a wet day in July 2003 RML2407 sneaks round the corner to terminate at Oxford Circus, prior to departing back to Clapham Common, while a stable-mate fights for a place at the station stop in the background.

Soon gone on the 390.

Route 390 was a newcomer - or half of an old favourite. In February 2003 route 10 had been split, retaining RMLs only on the eastern end, between Marble Arch and Archway Station. Now this truncated arm was to be converted too, with Friday 3rd September 2004 the execution date. Much was happening that day: the 73 - with which it shared the route between Marble Arch and Kings Cross - was also being converted, as was route 9. But nevertheless there were some specials, with some visitors covering full route 10 journeys out to Hammersmith. There were even RTs on the 390! But from now on it would be Volvo Presidents carrying the load.

RML2443 at St Pancras RML2443 at St Pancras. RML2737 on Euston Rd.

Route 390 on the Euston Road: Kings Cross's RML2443 heads west past St.Pancras in July 2004, heading for Marble Arch, and RML2442 eases through heavy traffic in the opposite direction in March 2004.

Farewell from the 73.

The 73 was a major loss. This is one of London's heavy duty trunk routes, connecting Victoria, Park Lane, Oxford Street, Tottenham Court Road, Euston, Kings Cross, Stoke Newington and Tottenham. The run-out of 55 Routemasters is being replaced by one of 42 bendi-buses. One wonders with interest how they will cope east of Kings Cross. Even Tottenham Garage proved unable to cope with the new buses.

The Routemaster send-off was accompanied by a decent number of guest celebrity vehicles, including short-workings to Euston by RM1 and FRM1, the latter performing its first public stage carriage service since 1976.

RML2625 on Euston Rd Post Office Tower. M1402 on 73.

One evening in June 2004 RML2625 trundles along the glass-lined corridor of Euston Road heading for Newington Green, while a little later another pair leave Tottenham Court Road at Warren Street heading the same way. A very few Metrobuses supplemented the RMLs on route 73. Another endangered species, these once numerous buses have also disappeared from London's streets in 2004 without (apparently) anyone noticing. This is M1402 heading east along Euston Road on the same evening in June, still wearing Cowie stripes.

Route 9 stretches out its loss.

RML2625 on Euston Rd Route 9 was the third route to go on the 3rd September. London United decided not to compete with the shenanigans on the 390 and 73, but operated specials during the previous week. On the Saturday two Routemasters - RM2033 and RML 880 - ventured beyond Hammersmith to the erstwhile terminus at Mortlake. This required special permission from Hammersmith Council to allow them to cross Hammersmith Bridge on this occasion only.

Wednesday saw visitors on the route, with RT3871, RTW75, RM1069 and Stagecoach-liveried RML2665 all in service.

By Friday only two RMLs were still in service (2447 and 2463), with two RMs (848 and 2033), the rest having been displaced by the new Volvo Millenium Vykings. Visitors turned up today too, with silver RM1650, RM9, RMC1469 joining the fray. Cobham's RML3 and RTL139 also made a foray in the afternoon. RT3871 returned too for a late turn, having been on the 73 and 390 during the day.

In gentler times (July 2004) RM2404 negotiates Aldwych at the start of its westward journey..

RML2362 crosses Piccadilly Circus

November 2004: Farewell from Camberwell.

Route 12 may only be a shadow of its former self, when it stretched from Harlesden to South Croydon, and was operated by multiple garages, but it was still a substantial route, stretching from Dulwich to Notting Hill Gate. A reminder of the longer route was provided on the day, (November 5th) with guest vehicles operating turns out to South Croydon and to Harlesden. Twenty-two RMLs and fourteen RMs were the retiring contingent, working up to the last day because the new articulated buses cannot complete the whole route to Notting Hill Gate, and will terminate at Oxford Circus.

Guests included a Blue Triangle's Saunders-bodied RT3062, bringing a roofbox RT back to London service after many years, albeit very briefly. RT2177 was not in service, but visible around Elmers End, while RT3871, RT4421, RT1702 were in operation, along with RML900, RML2405, RML2725 and RCL2220, RM9, RM613, RM642, and RM1650 (SRM3).

RM2362 crosses Piccadilly Circus, southbound for Dulwich Library. (July 2003)

The great Ensign Bus Routemaster Raffle.

Ensign Bus, the Purfleet dealers in used buses, held a Raffle on 5th December 2004. They had in July offered Routemasters for 2000 to a limited number of prospective owners who could demonstrate that they had the means to store and care for their prize. From 400 applications they had whittled the number down to 32, who met at Purfleet to pull a number out of a hat. That's the bus they took home, unless they amicably arranged swaps before leaving (as one pair did).

Part Five: 2000 Onwards Part Seven: 2005 Finale photo references bus histories


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