TfL confirms heritage Routemasters won’t return

Stagecoach London RM1993 seen outside St Pauls Cathedral
RM1933 in service on the 15H route outside St Paul's Cathedral. MARK LYONS

A response to a recent Freedom of Information Act request has elicited a confirmation from Transport for London that Routemaster operated route 15H (Tower Hill – Trafalgar Square) will not run again.

The service, which was launched in November 2005, originally ran every 15-minutes between 09:30 and 18:30 seven days a week.  In 2015 the frequency was cut to every 20 minutes and, from spring 2019, the service was reduced to week-ends and bank holidays between Easter and the end of September. The 2019 seasonal operation ended on 29 September and, due to Covid-19 restrictions, was not reintroduced for in 2020.  The contract to operate the route expired on 14 November 2020 and was not re-awarded. The e-tiles on stops served have already been removed although no formal announcement has been made.

Passenger numbers on the route, which was run by Stagecoach London, have been falling for several years.  In 2018/19, its last year of full operation, only 115,000 journeys were made compared to over 660,000 in 2010/11. Based on an annual contract cost of just under £1.3m this meant that each passenger cost over £11 to carry.

Amongst the reasons given for withdrawing the route are falling ridership on the central London network and the lack of accessibility of Routemasters. No indication has been given as to what will happen to the ten vehicles leased to Stagecoach London for use on the route.