Red Arrow (bus)

Red Arrow (bus)

The Red Arrow is a branding given to two current and several former London bus limited stop routes used as high frequency commuter services in central London. The current Red Arrow service comprises only route 507 and route 521, operated with articulated buses from London's Waterloo Bus Garage (RA). With the move to replace London's articulated buses, the articulated buses used on the Red Arrow routes look to be being phased out by 2009Buses Magazine, August 2008 issue, page 5, Ian Allen Publishing] , with the future of the Red Arrow concept uncertain.

London Transport had instigated a Bus Reshaping Plan in the 1960s to examine bus service operation, and settled on replacing some double-decker buses with long single-decker buses, which would have extra capacity by implementing a 'standee bus' model as used on the continent, whereby the fixed seating in the bus would be minimised to that required off-peak, with hand holds fitted to allow maximum standee capacity at peak times. These buses would also have dual doors.

The concept was introduced with on 18th April 1966 with 6 AEC Merlin buses on a new express service, route 500, the Red Arrow, running between Victoria and Marble Arch, extended during shopping hours to Oxford Circus. On 7th September 1968 LT introduced these new buses on more Red Arrow routes, 501-507, along with wholesale introduction on several other route networks around the capital.

The following years saw changes to the Red Arrow route network, in June 1969 a minor adjustment to 505, and the addition of the 508;in the summer of 1969 route 509 replaced 508 and in 1970 route 513 was added. By 1972, the new single deck model of operation had not been overly successful in the other areas and were withdrawn. However, on the central London Red Arrow 'people-moving' work, between the southern edge railway terminals Victoria and Waterloo and the City, they were proving a success and were retained.

The Red Arrow Network as of 1972 was:
* 500 Victoria Stn - Park Lane - Oxford Street - Marble Arch - Park Lane - Victoria Stn
* 501 Waterloo Stn - Aldwych - Holborn - St Pauls - Bank - London Bridge Stn
* 502 Waterloo Stn - Aldwych - Fleet Street - St Pauls - London Wall - Liverpool Street Stn
* 503 Waterloo Stn - Westminster Bridge - Victoria Stn
* 505 Waterloo Stn - Aldwych - Holborn - Old Street - Shoreditch Church
* 506 Victoria Stn - Green Park - Piccadilly Circus
* 507 Waterloo Stn - Lambeth Bridge - Victoria Stn
* 513 Waterloo Stn - Aldwych - Fleet Street - St Pauls - Cannon Street - London Bridge Stn

From April 1981, LT started replacing Merlin buses on the Red Arrow routes with Leyland National IIs. Further expansions, contractions and renumbering of the route network occurred, but the core Red Arrow network remained into the 1980s, and into London Buses operation with the London General business unit [ [ Image of a Red Arrow bus in London General business unit livery, pre-privatisation] ] , as part of the first stage of the privatisation of London bus services.

In 1989 a demonstrator of the new Optare Delta single decker was trialled on Red Arrow routes, a 2-door specially built bus, DA2 [ [] DA class page] [ [ Fotopic Image of DA2] ] . This did not result in any orders, and DA2 was rebuilt and joined other DA class buses at the Westlink London Buses unit.

An early UK version of the articulated bus, the Leyland-DAB, was exhibited by private London operator Capital Citybus with route blinds and markings for Red Arrow service [ [ Fotopic Image of a Leyland DAB artic in Red Arrow markings] ] .Between 1992 and 1994, the 41 National IIs on Red Arrow duties were re-bodied and re-engined as the Leyland National Greenway, and in 1994 the fleet passed fully into private hands to the Go-Ahead Group, who had bought the London General operation. The Greenways were given 'cherished registrations' transferred from disposed of Routemasters, to hide their apparent registration age for seemingly new buses. With a subtle repaint, the Greenways continued operating the Red Arrow branded network, although by 1998 it had been contracted to just four routes, 501, 505, 507 and 521. The 505 was withdrawn in 2000 and the 501 was withdrawn in 2002.

On 2 June 2002, the remaining two Red Arrow routes 507 and 521 were the first London Bus routes to be converted to articulated buses. Being commuter routes, and so little used outside peak times, these routes were suitable to test the bendy buses on, and resembled the original standee bus concept, now with off bus fare collection, rather than a busier major trunk route. The artics still carry the Red Arrow name, although it is now much smaller and less pronounced than all the previous versions.

As of 2008, the operating requirement was nine buses on the 507 and 19 on the 521. As part of a commitment made in the 2008 London Mayoral election, the articualted buses on the 507 and 521 would be replaced when their contracts expired in May 2009. It was not clear if the Red Arrow concept of standee operation would remain on these routes with the replacement vehicles.

ee also

* Buses in London
* London articulated bus controversy


* [] AEC Merlin page
* [] Leyland National II page
* [] Leyland National Greenway page
* [] Route 507
* [] Route 521

;Image Galleries
* [ AEC Merlins] on Red Arrow and normal operations
* [ Route 500] Merlin (in advertising livery, National II
* [ Route 501] National II and Greenway
* [ Route 502] 2 Merlins
* [ Route 503] National IIs
* [ Route 507] Artic, Greenway, National II
* [ Route 509] 1 Merlin
* [ Route 510] 1 National II
* [ Route 511] 1 Greenway
* [ Route 521] Artics

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