On the first of April, we decided to experience the last day of operation of classic Routemaster
buses on one of our local routes. These buses are being phased out
across the city in an effort to modernize, and now it's the 19 route's turn
Around 6pm we arrived at Finsbury Park
tube station and joined a small group of bus enthusiasts waiting for a suitable bus. The first was a modern-style double-decker bus, although we saw our ride waiting in the wings:
We boarded on 6:08 and rushed to the upper deck where we chose the "love seat", a double seat at the very back of the bus, next to the curved staircase. By 6:19pm we had reached the Angel
and the bus was full enough that passengers were turned away. More passengers were turned away at 6:30 when we reached Mount Pleasant (formerly Coldbath Fields
). Some begged the conductor to let them on but to no avail; the bus was so full that unpleasant grinding noises issues from the suspension at every dip, bump and turn.
Only a few minutes later (6:33 to be exact) we came to a halt in a traffic jam in Holborn
; where it was announced that we expected to wait for 15-20 minutes due to an RTA at Hyde Park for which an air ambulance was required. RTA? RTA? RTA?
Me either. In any event, the bus quickly emptied out, except for the most enthusiastic of enthusiasts.
As promised, it was 7:00pm by the time traffic finally broke and we were able to move smoothly down Charing Cross
to Shaftesbury Avenue
where we were joined by two more Route 19 Routemasters. We passed through Piccadilly Circus
to Hyde Park
without incident as the bus gradually refilled to capacity.
At 7:32pm the bus made its final stop on the run, just across Battersea
Bridge, and I was the last one to alight from it before it cruised round the corner to the bus garage where a small group of enthusiasts were taking pictures.
Although our ride was nowhere near the last Routemaster on the 19 route, and we spotted few of the special buses running that route in honor, we were happy to have been part of the last day. Some excellent pictures of the final day of the 19 Routemasters can be found here (day)
and here (night)