Saturday, October 10

Out after midnight


London has a fantastic system of night buses. These travel on special routes across the city throughout the night, offering reliable public transport long after the last tube train has departed. The cashless Oystercard system we use on the tube and regular buses is also valid on on a night bus, which tend to run at 10-15 minute intervals. The entire system makes it incredibly cheap and easy to get home after a late night out - no matter what the hour.

Last week Garry and I attended a party in Stockwell, a suburb several kilometers south of the Thames. We got there on the tube about 8.30pm. The last of us eventually left about 2am. Thanks to two night buses we got home in less than hour at a fraction of the cost of a cab (and probably not much later than a cab across town. Not too bad for an 11km trip across the city in the dead of night.

London’s night bus service has been running since 1913. Today, more than 102 separate routes are in operation, with more than 30 million passenger trips taken every year. This equals almost 15% of all bus journeys taken in London. We normally catch the N13 which takes us right to the entrance of Swiss Cottage tube station, leaving a short five-minute walk home. Despite tracing one of the city’s oldest tube lines, this route only started operation in 1984. Incredibly, two early routes dating as far back as 1934 still operate today. This includes the network’s shortest route; the 10km N97 bus route.

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