The 45free returns

Route 453 is now the second London General 'New Routemaster' route, the second ex-bendy bus route and my first local route to be allocated with the state-of-the-art buses.


Route 453 is one of our youngest London bus routes, introduced by Selkent on 15 March 2003 on the same weekend the congestion charge was introduced. Creating a south-east London link from Regent's Park and helping prevent overcrowding on fellow Selkent route 53 in the process, the 453 is a very useful route that parallels the Bakerloo Line from Marylebone, serving every station on the Bakerloo Line until its last stop at Elephant & Castle, meeting route 53 en route in Westminster. Route 453 then parallels the 53 until its terminus at Deptford Bridge Station, where the latter continues on to Plumstead Station.

Interestingly, the Deptford Bridge terminus today had been postponed from development for three years after the introduction of route 453. Consequently, buses were forced to run empty to Lewisham to turn around and stand off-peak. There was a proposal for the route to be extended to Catford Bus Garage to ease this longevity, but by the time the proposal could be consulted the Deptford Bridge terminus by the DLR Station had been fully developed for standing vehicles on the 453. One wonders what was there before that withheld the 'development' of such an almost effortlessly simplistic terminus.

Route 453 was awarded to London General from Selkent in 2008 with a
new batch of Mercedes-Benz Citaro O530G articulated buses (MEC).
Proposed to be a bendy-bus route from initiation, these buses were delivered a few weeks late, enabling double-decker Dennis Trident 2 buses to introduce the 453 to service until the articulated Mercedes-Benz Citaros could enter service.

On 16 February 2008, London General won contract to route 453 from their Mandela Way (MW) base with new articulated buses. Over three years later, the 453 was debendified with Alexander Dennis Enviro400 buses, some of which were late and covered by a few Plaxton President and Wright Eclipse Gemini buses until they entered service.

Late this summer, there were talks of route 453 converting to 'New Routemaster' operation in October. This was confirmed with a planned date for 4 October 2014. This being a year frequented with tardiness, this date was pushed to 18 October 2014. By this date, all buses from new allocated batch LT273-311 had been delivered. However, on the day, only six new buses had been introduced to service, following rumours of a further postponement by a week. Notwithstanding a limited introduction, route 453 is my first local Borismaster route hence I easily caught up with the route's new buses.

Route 453 was debendified with Alexander Dennis
Enviro400s (E163-201) on 24 September 2011.
Following route 8, my opinions of the controversial ultramodern 'New Routemaster' had become neutral. Yes, they are over-priced, over-advertised conventional buses with an avant-garde design, however recent batches have been progressive in performance, as seen with routes 8, 38 and 148. Be that as it may, I was a bit sceptical ahead of the 453 conversion, even if this was to be the first full batch of Euro VI LTs: the fact that these buses are implemented with their own interior livery and not that of the operator housing the buses (as is the case with every other bus type in London) was getting a bit boring now. The only differentiation between each conversion is literally a different route and depending on the operator, a different logo. Additionally, I had become accustomed to naming the LTs 'Wright Borismaster hybrid' buses (as they probably would have been called if not so 'special'), Wright being the manufacturer, Borismaster being a logical name for a bus initiated by Boris Johnson inspired by the Routemaster, hybrid the power running the bus. Transport for London confirmed the name of the buses as 'New Routemaster', something I don't agree with, hence (admittedly) stubborn inverted commas upon every mention.

And on the day, the weather was dull, dulling my mood, complete with initially dull photography attempts. Moreover, there were only six LTs on the 453 on its proposed first day of 'New Routemaster' service. This was not a convincing start to having a 'New Routemaster' on my doorstep ... that was until we left for Deptford. All we had to do was depart the route's stand and start on Great Central Street and turn onto the Marylebone Road for my mood to improve. The driver of LT278 was expeditious along Marylebone Road, traditionally my favourite section of the route for requiring speed just to maintain pace with traffic with its broad three lanes in both directions. However, the 453 was going through an unusually unsatisfactory frequency, meaning standing at bus stops was lengthy to pick up accumulating groups of waiting passengers. In reference to a showy new advert I heard on the radio the other day, the 'New Routemaster' having three doors was not benefiting stand times at bus stops!

The driver attempted to maintain a fast and comfortable drive en route to the West End, however our departure from the Marylebone Road was not as great as the arrival, with a cyclist holding us back from making the lights accessing Albany Street towards Great Portland Street Station. To make matters worse, an insect began irritating my attention of analysis, flying about with its uninvited presence. By the time I had reached the busy shopping district that is Oxford Circus, I was beginning to lose patience with this procrastinate assembly; encountered was the general ignorance of people in West End poking parts of their body onto the road in a personal battle to get to the next piece of pavement first, in doing so tempting us to run them over.

If you have read Stagecoach Shambles?, you will have noticed my déjà vu experiences on route 53 where a 12 would hold us up from accelerating over Westminster Bridge. Well, I had this yet again on the 453! However, our hold up was short-lived as the 12 double-indicated at Lower Marsh, so we overtook the bus with ease, a contrast to previous encounters with slow buses on the 12!

LT278 (LTZ 1278) parking at Deptford Bridge.
Other than the further elongated standing times at bus stops, one including a few people walking slowly towards the bus to make the driver think they were just average pedestrians, thus closing the doors on them, before protests forced him to undergo the exertion of opening all doors again ... sighs with exasperation ... the duration of Westminster Bridge Road was a thrill! Peckham Park Road was a treat, with less traffic to manouevre than last time with the 53, and soon I was off the bus at Deptford Bridge Station, taking plenty of photos after a scintillating bus ride.

After further gallivanting around southeast London, I returned to Deptford to make my way home on a 453. However, the aforementioned unimpressive service of the 453 that day meant, if I did not catch a 53 after approximately ten minutes of waiting, I would have been possibly waiting another ten minutes for an Enviro400 on the 453 to finally decide to leave its stand after a selfishly long break.

LT275 and LT294 entered service with Uggs advertisement a
few weeks after proposed conversion date, during in which the
453 service was still predominantly Enviro400 allocated.
The 453 has two buses fully painted in white with Uggs advertisement on. These entered service a few weeks after proposed conversion date, during in which the 453 service was still predominantly Enviro400 allocated. After getting a photo of one in Piccadilly Circus, I took a 453 home. This would be my second journey aboard a new 453 and this would have been a relaxing cruise home, if not for LT284 overtaking us along Regent Street; if not then for a one-stop in advance curtailment to Great Portland Street Station. Luckily, we kept up to LT284 to transfer onto that bus. As annoyed as I was having to run in the drizzle along the wet road surface, it was worth it: LT284 was a brief but brilliant journey home. I was a bit concerned about how the slightly longer length of the 'New Routemaster' would be able to get to the Great Central Street bus stand in Marylebone with a series of tight corners beforehand. However, the driver executed the turn-ins with ease and completed another scintillating bus ride on the 453, a luxurious way to arrive home.

With its smooth and speedy driveline, little AC noise pollution and clearer engine sound similar to that of a go-kart, the only problem I had with this bus was the addition of yet another unnecessary announcement. But not from the iBus this time, no, no: from the doors. 'Please mind clear of the opening doors.' There is barely any room near the rear platform to dive out of the way of the unexpected sharply inward opening door in the first place; that is unless you somehow maintain balance on the spiral staircase - as the G-force of the bus attempts to throw you around in the Marylebone Station approach - and then rocket forwards out of the door as quickly as possible just so the driver doesn't close the doors on you because the rearview mirrors are clearly as useful a presence as a Routemaster with no conductor. Yeah.

In Stage Eight, I was having difficulty placing route 8 in my Borismaster hierarchy. Between the last article and this one, I had been on route 8 again with its 'New Routemaster' buses a number of times, and these experiences were less exhilarating as a commuter than when I boarded them for the first time as an enthusiast. Therefore, there's no longer a chance for the 8 to be at the top when routes 148 and 38 respectively have been flawless. Where the 9 has not been fast all the time, they are still good buses on a good service, therefore the 8 slots in fourth just ahead of the 453, which has been let down not by arguably the best batch of buses in the LT fleet, but its service: many curtailments, some unexpected, and on the weekend in particular the service has been less reliable than it was before.

As for the bottom of the hierarchy, my opinion of route 11 continues to improve - maybe because glimpsing at a 'New Routemaster' on route 10 reminds me of the batch's lethargic existence, hence route 11 climbs further up the hierarchy. The 10 may even be giving the generally negatively reviewed conversions of routes 390 and 24 (in order of hierarchy position) a chance to surpass!

Next is Arriva London route 137 from Brixton (BN), with an unscheduled date this month. Its buses have already arrived, a Euro V batch presumably due to being built before the 453 buses. Do you think route 137 has a chance of knocking off the 453 in top five of our 'New Routemaster' performance hierarchy as it becomes our tenth 'New Routemaster' route?


  1. Such a wonderful post :) Keep up the good work!!

  2. Nice post, however the 453 does not go into South-West London at all.

  3. You have shared great information. Thanks to you..Keep it up.