London Buses route 55 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. Running between Leyton Green and Oxford Circus, it is operated by Stagecoach London.
Route 55 commenced operation on 25 October 1969 as a daily crew operated route between Walthamstow garage and Hackney, extended Monday to Saturday to Bloomsbury (Also three very early journeys operated Leyton Green - Bloomsbury on Sunday mornings), with a Monday to Friday extension to Marylebone station, as a replacement for sections of routes 38, 170, 256 and Red Arrow 508. This was the 4th time that the route number 55 had been used on a London bus route.
Although the current route was only introduced in the late 1960s, the route number 55 actually has a very long history over sections of today's route. The 55 can trace its history back to a daily unnumbered tram route which commenced operation on 12 December 1912 between Bloomsbury and Leyton (Bakers Arms) extended on Sundays to Epping Forest via Shoreditch and Hackney, When shortly afterwards on 1 January 1913, the London County Council introduced a route numbering system on its tram routes, this route was allocated the route number 55. There were few changes in the period 1913 until 1933, when the London Passenger Transport Board was created. Except notably after 1931, when the Kingsway Subway was re-opened, Subway route 31 was extended over the 55 on summer Sundays to Leyton.
London Transport as it became known, soon set about replacing trams with trolleybuses and as from 11 June 1939 tram route 55 was replaced by trolleybus route 555 which ran between Bloomsbury and Leyton (Downsell Road). Trolleybus route 555 ran for twenty years with only minor changes and was withdrawn as from 15 April 1959 to be covered by an extended route 170, which had also replaced Tram 31 in 1950. This route now ran daily from Wandsworth to Leyton and re-instated the link lost when the trolleybuses were introduced.
When route 55 was introduced on 25 October 1969, as a replacement for the northern end of route 170, the latter was cut back to run Wandsworth to Aldwych with a Monday to Friday extension to Shoreditch, thus providing a short overlap between both routes. This came to end as from 17 April 1971, when route 55 was re-routed on Mondays to Fridays to terminate at Aldwych, with route 170 being cut back to this point at the same time. Route 1 was diverted via Oxford Street and Baker Street at this time as a replacement. Another 18 months were to pass until the route was converted to one-person operation on 28 October 1972.
As part of the "Busplan 78" scheme, route 55 was further extended on Monday to Friday peak hours from Aldwych over Waterloo Bridge to terminate at Waterloo station from 22 April 1978.
The Daimler Fleetlines then used on the route were un-reliable and in June 1979 a proposal to convert route 55 to single-deck one-person operation was cancelled at the very last moment. Even so, the route's reliability didn't improve and from 31 January 1981 in a scheme that shuffled around the use of one-person vehicles at Leyton garage, route 55 was converted back to AEC Routemaster crewed operation. At the same time, route 55 was re-routed via route 38 to Victoria bus station, the section via Aldwych was taken over by route 5 which was extended from Bloomsbury to Waterloo.
Two years later on 28 February 1983, in a scheme to provide a local service from Walthamstow to Hackney on Mondays to Fridays, a supplementary one-person operated route 255 was introduced between Chingford, Walthamstow and Hackney. At the same time route 55 swapped terminals with the route 48, now running from Victoria to Whipps Cross.
In 1987, route 55 was converted again to one-person operation. On Sundays from 8 February 1987, but also daily as from 6 June 1987, at which point it was also withdrawn between Victoria and Tottenham Court Road Station. When London Transport was divided into smaller units operation of route 55 was taken over by London Forest.
On 24 February 1990, operation of route 55 was taken over by Kentish Bus and at the same time the route was withdrawn between Clapton Pond and Whipps Cross to be replaced by new route 56 over this section. The wheel seemed to be turning full circle when on 18 July 1992 an extension to Oxford Circus was introduced, a point route 55 had last served in 1971. From 28 February 1998, route 55 was again extended to Leyton Green after the route was taken over by Stagecoach London.
In 1999, the route was converted to low floor using Alexander ALX400 bodied Dennis Tridents.
On 13 October 2001, route 55 was once again converted to crew operation, but this really was going to be the last time as Transport for London had decided to phase out the remaining conductors in London. Route 55 was converted to one-person operation for the third and last time on 4 January 2003.
On 27 February 2010, the route was retained by Stagecoach London.
On 28 February 2015, the route was retained again by Stagecoach London with brand New Routemasters introduced.
On 28 September 2018, TFL announced to Re-route 55 away from Leyton High Road and extend to Walthamstow Central Bus Station via the current route 48 which will be withdrawn if the changes get approved.
Route 55 operates via these primary locations:
- Baker's Arms
- Leyton Lea Bridge Road
- Lea Bridge
- Upper Clapton Lea Bridge Roundabout
- Clapton Pond
- Lower Clapton Grearm Road
- Homerton Hackney Baths
- Hackney Downs
- Hackney Central
- South Hackney Mare Street
- Cambridge Heath
- Bethnal Green Warner Place
- Haggerston Queenbridge Road
- Shoreditch Town Hall
- Tech City Great Eastern Street
- Old Street Station
- St Luke's Bunhill Row
- Finsbury Goswell Road
- Clerkenwell Green for Farringdon Station
- Hatton Garden
- Bloomsbury Thoebalds Road
- Vernon Place for Holborn Station
- St Giles New Oxford Street
- Tottenham Court Road
- Soho Street
- Oxford Circus
- Oxford Circus Holles Street
Previous route 55s in London
The route number 55 had been used three times prior to its current use.
- In 1911 - 1913 for an Elephant & Castle to Buckhurst Hill (Saturday & Sunday only) Route 55
- In 1913 - 1914 for a Shoreditch to South Croydon(Swan & Sugar Loaf) via Deptford, Brockley Rise, Penge, Addiscombe Route 55
- In 1922 - 29 November 1968 for a Greenford*, Acton*, to Chiswick* Route 55 *Termini varied and often worked in two sections: Chiswick Swimming Pools to Greenford Red Lion and Chiswick Station to Hayes Bourne Avenue.
There were also in London:
- Between 1913 - 1939 a Bloomsbury to Leyton*, Epping Forest* Tram route 55 *Termini varied
- Between 1913 - 1936 a Brentford to Hanwell*, Acton*, Hammersmith* Tram route 55 *Termini varied
Route 55 Trivia
Route 55 has been converted to one-person operation on three occasions, more than any other London bus route being crew operated from 1969–71, 1981–87, 2001-03.
Unusually for a London bus route, the current 55 has terminated at three different main railway termini, Marylebone (1969–1971); Waterloo (1978–1981) and Victoria (1981–1987).
The last Daimler Fleetline to work in service on this route was DMS 2234 which arrived at Leyton Garage, early on the morning of 31 January 1981 after completing the last journey from Aldwych to Leyton Green.
For many years, the first bus of the day on Sunday, which left the garage at 03:05, was the earliest Sunday morning "daytime" journey operated in London.