14 things we learned from a list of every bus stop in London

A number 15 bus stops at a stop labelled ME. Image: Oxyman/Wikimedia Commons.

1) There are 19,607 bus stops on TfL’s network

If you visited one per day, for some reason, it would take you nearly 54 years. I’ve just worked out that statistically I’d probably be dead before I finished, so I’m not going to bother.

2) A is the most popular bus stop letter

There are 1,759 stops labelled “A” in the capital.

Whilst that might seem obvious given how the alphabet works, the next most popular ones in order are D, B, E, C and then K, so maybe it wasn’t that obvious after all. The TfL press office informed me that bus routes “will typically follow an alphabetical order wherever possible” – although it must be a lot more complicated than they’re making it sound given that the majority of stops serve more than one route.

3) I is the least popular bus stop code to consist of just one letter, appearing just 37 times.

Just behind it are O (156 appearances), and Z (442). I asked TfL about this (I’m sure they love hearing from me) and apparently they try to avoid using O and I these days because they look too much like 0 and 1. Reportedly, the team responsible were “surprised” that there were still O and I stops at all, which is slightly disconcerting.


4) Which is presumably why, tragically, there are no bus stops with that say OI on them

There are 30 PCs (which have, presumably, gone mad), 47 EDs (although admittedly this is probably mainly only of interest to people called Ed), 5 AWs (providing an ideal prompt for what to say when your bus inexplicably vanishes from the display board), and, for maths fans in the Putney Heath area, one PI.

5) The longest bus stop name is “Loxford School Of Science and Technology”

Although a) I’m not counting stuff with a “/” in it like “ Hampstead Heath Extension / Wildwood Road” as that seems like cheating and b) there are lots of abbreviations as TfL’s system seems to only allow 40 character-long stop names.

6) The shortest bus stop name is “Jcoss”

It’s in New Barnet, and stands for the “Jewish Community Secondary School”.

Why not spend all your time standing around outside schools taking photos and if anyone intervenes try to explain that it’s because of some statistics you’ve read about bus stop names?

7) The highest number of buses you can catch from a single stop is 23

A lot of buses. Image: Ed Jefferson.

For example, stop J in Bedford Street, near the Strand, from which you can catch the 9, 11, 15, 23, 87, 91, 139, 176, N9, N11, N15, N21, N26, N44, N87, N89, N91, N155, N199, N343, N550 or N551. But not all at the same time though, for fairly obvious reasons. It shares the title with Savoy Street (stop U) and Southampton Street / Covent Garden (stop A).

8) The highest number of buses you can catch from a single stop during the day (i.e. excluding night buses) is 19

Stop K on Hounslow High Street. Why not go there and try catching every bus in order, then return home and think about what you’re achieving with your life?

9) The N136 is most alliterative bus route in London

Because it has 8 stops beginning with L in sequential order:

  • Lewisham Hospital
  • Lewisham Park
  • Lewisham Fire Station
  • Lewisham Centre  
  • Lewisham Clock Tower    
  • Lewisham Station  
  • Lewisham Station / Loampit Vale
  • Loampit Vale / Jerrard Street

Can you think of any better reason to go to Lewisham at 3am?

10) The longest number of alphabetically sequential bus stops on a route is 7

But there are seven possible ways of doing it, so you’ve got absolutely no excuse. Here are six of them:

  • 128: Barkingside High Street, Barkingside Police Station, Bradville Gardens, Fullwood Primary School, Hamilton Avenue, Icknield Drive, Martley Drive
  • 227: Crystal Palace Bus Station, Crystal Palace Parade, Crystal Palace Parade / College Road, Crystal Palace Park Road, Crystal Palace Pk Rd / Charleville Cir, Sydenham Avenue, Thicket Road
  • 228: Holland Park, Holland Park Station, Norland Square, Royal Crescent, Shepherd's Bush Station, White City Bus Station, White City Station
  • 282: Church Road, Emmanuel Church, Hallowell Road, Northwood Health Centre, Northwood Hills Circus, Northwood Hills Station, Norwich Road, Middleton Drive
  • 359: Edgecoombe, Heather Way, Heathfield Vale / Broadcoombe, Heathfield Vale / Farnborough Avenue, Monks Hill, Pixton Way, Selsdon Primary School
  • 638: Ashfield Lane, Bromley Lane / Chislehurst War Memorial, Centre Common Road / War Memorial, Chislehurst / Ashfield Lane, Chislehurst Sainsbury's, Ingleby Way, Oakdene Avenue

Anyone who can find the 7th for themselves will whatever satisfaction in that they can find within their own heart.

11) Ominously, there are 666 bus routes in London

That includes the 50 night bus ‘N’ routes and 2 ‘X’ express routes. Other letters in route names generally indicate the area they serve – the P routes indicate Peckham, for instance. There are, unhelpfully, exceptions – for instance, H indicates Hampstead, except when it means Harrow, except when it means it runs near Harrow but doesn’t actually stop in Harrow itself.

12) Despite all this, the numbers run all the way up to 969

The 969, a service in south west London suburbia, only runs twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays: like the 965, the only other remaining bus in the 900 range, it’s a service designed to aid people with mobility issues get to the shops. There were once many more of these services, but they’ve mostly been phased out as almost all buses in London are wheelchair accessible these days.


13) The London bus route with the least stops is the 609

This route, which on one leg has only 4 stops, is to take kids from the Harrodian school to Hammersmith station. The 600 range of numbers is reserved for school bus routes – even independent schools like Harrodian can apparently qualify for a TfL service. Honestly officer, I boarded the bus full of children because I’m doing “a blog”.

Non-bus related fact: Harrodian was until the 1980s a sports club for Harrod’s employees, and when it was sold and turned into a school it was repeatedly taken to court by Mohamed Al-Fayed who objected to them keeping the name.

14) The London bus route with the most stops is the N199

Which has 114 stops on the outbound route from Trafalgar Square.

Oddly, if you’re going the other way and starting at St Mary Cray Station, there are only 110 stops, so you’re going to have to be really committed to the idea of reaching deepest south east London at god knows when o’clock to say you’ve completed this particular challenge.

Which comes with no reward or recognition, but it is probably a good way to replicate the sort of sad, confused look of pity you get when you tell people you’ve read a list of every bus stop in London.

Ed Jefferson works for the internet and tweets as @edjeff.

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When should you forget the bus and just walk?

Might as well talk, tbh. Image: Getty.

It can often be tempting to jump on a bus for a short journey through the city, especially when it’s raining or you’re running behind schedule. Where there are dedicated bus lanes in place, it can feel as though you speed past gridlocked traffic. But as city authorities begin new initiatives to get people walking or cycling, that could all change – and so could you.

British people are wasting tens of hours in traffic every year: London comes top, with the average commuter spending 74 hours in traffic, followed by Manchester, with 39 hours and Birmingham and Lincoln, both with 36 hours.

It might surprise some people to learn that cities are intentionally slowing down private vehicles, in order to shift people to other, more efficient, modes of transport. In fact, Transport for London removed 30 per cent of the road capacity for private vehicles in central London between 1996 and 2010. That trend continues today, as the organisation gives over more space for buses, cyclists and pedestrians.

London’s road capacity, over time. Image: Transport for London/author provided.

Clamp down on cars

The loss of road capacity for cars has occurred across most UK cities, but not on the same scale everywhere. The good news is that the changes, when made, appear to have reduced actual car congestion. It seems that by making it less attractive to use your car, you’ll be more likely to use other transport. In fact, the average speed of buses and cyclists can be up to twice as fast as normal traffic in cities such as London.

The relationship between walking and improved health has been proven to such an extent that it seems everyone – your doctor, your family, regional and national government – wants to increase physical activity. The savings in health care costs, are via improved fitness, reduced pollution and improved mental health, and its impact on social care are huge.

For instance, Greater Manchester wants to increase the number of people who get the recommended level of exercise (only about half currently do). The most advanced of these plans is London’s, which has the specific goal of increasing the number of walks people take by a million per day.

So, the reality is that over the next few years, walking will gradually appear more and more “normal” as we are purposefully nudged towards abandoning our rather unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles.


The long journey

Consider this: the typical bus journey in the UK is almost three miles, with an average journey time of around 23 minutes. The equivalent walk would take approximately 52 minutes, travelling at just over three miles per hour. It seems obvious that the bus is much faster – but there’s much more to consider.

People normally walk at least a quarter of a mile to and from the bus stop – that’s roughly ten minutes. Then, they have to wait for a bus (let’s say five minutes), account for the risk of delay (another five minutes) and recover from the other unpleasant aspects of bus travel, such as overcrowding.

This means that our 23 minute bus journey actually takes 43 minutes of our time; not that much less than the 52 minutes it would have taken to walk. When you think of the journey in this holistic way, it means you should probably walk if the journey is less than 2.2 miles. You might even choose to walk further, depending on how much value you place on your health, well-being and longevity – and of course how much you dislike the more unpleasant aspects of bus travel.

The real toss up between walking and getting the bus is not really about how long it takes. It’s about how we change the behaviour and perceptions we have been conditioned to hold throughout our lives; how we, as individuals, engage with the real impacts that our travel decisions have on our longevity and health. As recent converts to walking, we recommend that you give it a go for a month, and see how it changes your outlook.

The Conversation

Marcus Mayers, Visiting Research Fellow, University of Huddersfield and David Bamford, Professor of Operations Management, University of Huddersfield.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.