London Buses route 171


Operator London Central
Garage New Cross (NX)
Vehicle Volvo B9TL 10.4m / Wright Eclipse Gemini 2
Peak vehicle requirement 25
Night-time Night bus N171
Start Catford
Via Brockley
New Cross
Elephant & Castle
End Holborn
Length 10 miles (16 km)
Level Daily
Frequency 8-12 minutes
Journey time 45-89 minutes
Operates 04:00 until 00:30

London Buses route 171 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. Running between Catford and Holborn, it is operated by London Central.



Route 171 Commenced operating on 6 April 1952 at Stage 7 of London Transport's post-war "Tram to Buses" conversion scheme to replace Kingsway Subway Tram route 33. It ran as a daily service between Tottenham and West Norwood via Harringay, Manor House, Newington Green, Angel, Rosebery Avenue, Kingsway, Aldwych, Victoria Embankment, Westminster Bridge, Kennington, Brixton, West Norwood (Thurlow Arms) extended Sunday to West Norwood garage). The section between Harringay and Tottenham was new territory, not previously served by London buses.[1]

On 16 October 1957, it swapped its southern end with route 172 at Victoria Embankment to run to Forest Hill via Elephant & Castle, Walworth, Camberwell, Peckham, New Cross and Brockley. This had the effect of leveling out the passenger loads on the Northern and Southern sections of both routes.

On 20 August 1958, in the aftermath of the London Busmen's Strike of 1958, route 171 was diverted between Holborn Hall and County Hall via Gray's Inn Road, Chancery Lane, Fleet Street, Aldwych, Waterloo Bridge, replacing route 67 which was withdrawn as an economy measure.

On 23 January 1966, route 171 was withdrawn on Sundays, to be replaced by a Sunday only route 171A between Tottenham and Abbey Wood via route 171 to New Cross and route 163A to Abbey Wood via Greenwich, Woolwich and Plumstead. This situation remained until 9 January 1972 when route 171 was re-introduced on Sundays, albeit only between Tottenham garage and Forest Hill with the section to Bruce Grove being withdrawn on Sundays.


The Sunday service was converted to one-person operation as from 4 August 1985 and six months later on 1 February 1986, in order to counter reliability problems, the route was cut into two overlapping services. Route 171 became a complicated service, running with crew operated buses on Mondays to Saturdays and one-person vehicles on Sundays, Daily from Forest Hill to Aldwych with a Sunday extension to Tottenham garage. On Mondays to Fridays it was also extended from Aldwych to Rosebery Avenue. A new one-person operated 171A was introduced on Mondays to Saturdays over the northern section between Tottenham and Waterloo station.

This complicated set of routes were quickly altered and on 21 June 1986, route 171 was withdrawn north of the Angel, Islington being covered by 171A which was introduced on Sundays. Route 171 was still crew-operated on Mondays to Saturdays and ran daily from Forest Hill to Aldwych with a Monday to Friday extension to Islington Green. Route 171A now ran daily between Waterloo and Tottenham, terminating at Bruce Grove on Mondays to Saturdays, but with a new extension to Northumberland Park station via Lansdowne Road on Sundays.

On 21 October 1986, route 171 was converted to one-person operation on Mondays to Saturdays using Leyland Titans that had been in position on the route since September. At the same time route 171A received a small diversion, running northbound via Fleet Street and New Fetter Lane instead of Chancery Lane.

A short extension to route 171A was added on 21 April 1990, when the route was extended from Waterloo to terminate at County Hall. On 16 November 1991, the Monday to Saturday 171A service to Tottenham was re-routed to Northumberland Park station to bring it in line with the Sunday service.

The next couple of years saw both 171 settle down to how they are today, with route 171 being withdrawn between Holborn station and Islington (and extended on Saturdays and Sundays from Aldwych to Holborn Station) on 18 July 1992. At the other end, it was diverted at Stanstead Road from Forest Hill to Catford garage on 12 March 1994.

On 18 February 1996, IRA operative Edward O'Brien was killed when an improvised high-explosive device detonated prematurely on a route 171 bus travelling along Aldwych towards King's Cross.[2] It also injured eight other passengers.[3]

On 28 March 1998, route 171A was extended to Northumberland Park (Tesco), replacing journeys on route 76. On 17 October 1998, route 171A was re-numbered 341.

Upon being re-tendered, it was retained by London Central with a new contract commencing on 29 April 2006.[4] London Central again successfully tendered to retain the route with a new contract commencing on 30 April 2011.[5]

Current route

Route 171 operates via these primary locations:[6]


  1. Glazier, Ken, (1989). London buses in the 1950s. p. 26. Capital Transport, Harrow Weald (Middlesex). ISBN 1-85414-116-3
  2. Armed guard on ira bus bomb suspect The Independent 20 February 1996
  3. 1 dies, 8 hurt as blast rips bus in center of London New York Times
  4. Bus tender results Route 171/N171 Transport for London 12 August 2005
  5. Win, Win, Win BusTalk (Go-Ahead London) issue 6 October 2010
  6. Route 171 Map Transport for London
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