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.

Want more of this stuff? Follow CityMetric on Twitter or Facebook.

 
 
 
 

How the rise of anti-crime politics caused lasting harm to Black Americans

"I see an awareness that has developed in the Black community in the last 10 years or so about how deeply racist the criminal justice system has become," James Forman Jr. says. (David McNew/Getty Images)

The police killing of George Floyd, and the protest movement that emerged from it, has reinvigorated a national conversation around reinventing criminal justice policy in the United States.

At the same time, reports that violent crime is rising in many US cities have resurrected talk of the much-disputed “Ferguson effect,” a theory put forward by law enforcement professionals, and some researchers, who argued that police slowdowns in the wake of the first wave of Black Lives Matter protests resulted in elevated rates of violent crime. President Donald Trump is trying to weaponise this narrative, paired with images of federal officers clashing with protesters in the streets of Portland, to wage a 1968-style backlash election campaign.

“People who want to mobilise a lock-them-up style of either policing or prosecution have tried to weaponise those short-term increases,” says James Forman Jr., professor of law at Yale Law School. “Criminologists will say you have to be very, very cautious about short-term movement [in crime statistics]. We don't know whether or not what we're seeing right now [with violent crime increasing] is going to sustain itself. But the fact is, it's here and people are talking about it.”

In 2018, Forman won the Pulitzer Prize in nonfiction for his book Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America. Drawing on his experience as a public defender in Washington, DC, he traced the emergence of anti-crime politics in late 20th century Black communities. Forman showed how newly empowered Black politicians fought for policies they believed would protect and uplift Black Americans, but inadvertently contributed to mass incarceration. 


CityMetric recently caught up with Forman to discuss crime trends, where he sees reason for hope in this moment and how the Black political class’s attitude toward crime and punishment has shifted since the latter part of the 20th century. 

This interview has been edited and condensed. 

There is talk right now about a resurgence of crime and violence in American cities. We saw similar, more localised concerns after the initial 2015 Black Lives Matter protests in Ferguson and Baltimore. Do you fear this could reinvigorate the kind of politics you describe in your book among segments of the Black community and political class?

I fear that it could be reinvigorated nationally and also in the Black political class. Look at the political conversations that are happening in Atlanta right now, for example, a city that also has seen a short-term uptick in crime as it is a site of a lot of protests about George Floyd and Breonna Taylor on the national level, as well as Rayshard Brooks and Ahmaud Arbery more locally in Georgia.

I think that you can already see in some of the language of the local elected officials this idea that we have to be very careful about pulling back. [They are saying] “while the protesters may make some valid points, we can't risk returning to the ‘80s and ‘90s.” Those decades really traumatised the United States, and particularly traumatised Black communities. There's a deep fear about returning to the levels of the violence that we saw in the crack years.

You write a lot about class divides among Black Americans, where middle income and elite Black people don't suffer as much from extremely punitive policies. They also have closer ties to the politicians who are creating these policies. There are very specific groups of people, even in marginalised communities, whose voices are heard.  As a result of these dynamics, you write about Black politicians fighting for things like mandatory minimum prison sentences or against decriminalising marijuana. Is there still that disconnect between those who suffer the most from criminal justice policies and those who are actually heard in political discourse?  

Let me just say a caveat, that when we talk about class divisions in the Black community it's important to hold two truths in our head at the same time. Bruce Western and others have shown the way in which class, educational status, income can dramatically reduce the likelihood of being hardest hit by the criminal system – namely incarcerated. Middle class and upper middle class Black people get some measure of protection. It's also true at the same time that Black people of all classes are worse off relative to their class counterparts in the white community. 

One area where class is least protective is policing and police stops. The police do not know how many degrees you have. They don't know how much money you have in your bank account. I want to be very clear that in making this point about class, I'm not making the argument that race or racism don't matter in this context. 

In terms of how it plays out now, I see an awareness that has developed in the Black community in the last 10 years or so about how deeply racist the criminal justice system has become. Twenty or 30 years ago they had a consciousness, but there's levels of understanding. Many of the people I write about in the book wanted to promote the interests of the Black community. They weren't motivated by indifference or callousness. When presented with mounting evidence of how awful this system has been in Black lives, they're reconsidering and recalibrating. 

Lots of former elected officials have said to me some version of “I didn't know at the time and I appreciate that you showed us in our full complexity. I appreciate that you showed the pressures we were under. If I had known then what I know now, maybe I would have been less quick to go along with some of these harsh measures.” 

The second thing that has affected the Black political class has been the emerging movements, led by Black people in particular and led by young people. They not only educated leaders, but pressured them and made them understand that there is a political cost. If you're not moved by the moral argument, then you'll be moved by the political argument. You'll be moved by the people protesting outside the office of District Attorney Jackie Lacey in Los Angeles, for example, where Black Lives Matter LA has held, I believe, a year of consecutive protests against a Black district attorney who has had really some of the worst practices.

From what I can tell, she's been pressured by the movement to change some of her positions on important issues like prosecution of low-level drug offenders, for example, and the aggressiveness with which she prosecutes police officers for acts of violence.

What do you make of the calls to defend or even abolish the police?

What I find so compelling about abolition, initially in the prison context and extended to the police as well, is that it shifts the conversation and forces us to go through experiments in which we imagine what it would take to build that world. I think that exercise is very important, because it pushes us further than we are naturally inclined to go. Cultivating a broader imagination is an incredibly important part of this work, because as you know from my book, often it was lack of imagination that caused people to fall back on [punitive policies]. 

That's what caused D.C. Councilmember David Clarke to call the police rather than public health experts when he was overwhelmed with letters about heroin addicts in public space. He was anti-drug war, but he couldn't imagine responding to a call for help with heroin addicts with anything other than police. That's a very common move from even really good and progressive people. 

People who are for defunding, for abolition, are absolutely right about reinvesting that money into alternative structures that support communities. But the reinvestment part doesn't follow naturally from the terms. We might want to come up with a term that captures the new stuff we want to do. I think that's particularly important because one of the reasons Black communities have ended up supporting more police is that Black communities have always wanted their fair share of the resources.

Then, the evidence suggests the United States has too many police officers doing prophylactic, preventative, or stop-and-frisk style policing. The style of policing that leads to district level harassment, pulling people over for no reason. But we have too little investment in the parts of police departments that investigate unsolved crimes. I'm talking about the investigator or the detective who comes to your house after there's been a robbery, an assault, a rape, or homicide. 

As compared to European countries, in the United States we actually underinvest in those parts of our police departments. Jill Leovy’s book Ghettoside shows this in dramatic detail. She describes an LAPD that's stopping and frisking Black drivers wantonly and yet the homicide detectives are still relying on a fax machine and the fax machine is broken. They have to go with their own money to Staples to buy a printer. Meanwhile, other aspects of the department are kitted out in this ridiculous riot gear that makes them look like they're in Fallujah. 

That under investment is particularly damaging to Black communities because we're disproportionately victimised by crime. Because of racism and this allocation of resources, the police are less likely to respond in Black communities. The kids I used to work with in the charter schools in DC, we talk about no snitching, but one of the reasons they would never call the police after they'd been victimised by crime is they would say, “They're not even going to come. You're wasting time.” 

I did a Q&A with Jill Leovy too and her argument is one I've struggled to articulate in our present moment. She argues the state doesn't have a monopoly on violence in low-income Black neighbourhoods, because investigations of violence are deemphasised and crime victims or their loved ones often take retribution into their own hands.  But right now, establishing or preserving the state's monopoly on violence isn't an appealing talking point. 

Yes, this is another thing nobody's talking about. Whatever we're going to do instead of the police has to be accountable to the public. The best, most direct way to have accountability is to have the individuals be public employees. As long as we have 300 million guns in this country at least some of those state employees are going to themselves be armed. It's unreasonable to ask them to do the job without it. Not as many need to be armed as are armed now, but some of them need to be. But they can't be hiding behind union contracts or civil service protections which make it impossible to remove even the worst performing, most abusive officers. 

We can not call them police if we want to. That's semantic, but maybe symbolism matters. But those people have to be state employees. They can work with community-based nonprofits, but there are also communities that don't have as robust of a nonprofit network, and they deserve protection too. These [community] groups have to be accountable to the state and, when they don't exist, the state has to be there. 

Progressives get all the points I just made when it's applied to education. The notion that things be public and accountable to the state is understood when it comes to schools. It's exactly why so many people on the left are opposed to charter schools, because they say they don't have public accountability. They want these things to be a state function. But this point about the difficulty in removing this entirely from the hands of the state is, I think, one that liberals and progressives understand from other contexts.

Jake Blumgart is a staff writer at CityMetric.