FOI request detail

5 Enquiries about School & Night Buses by TfL

Request ID: FOI-3538-2324
Date published: 31 January 2024

You asked

Hey TfL, I just wanted to ask you some questions about TfL’s London Buses & their future as we start the new year - particularly about the N-prefixed Night buses & 600-numbered School buses. 1) Firstly, Route 158 in East London got upgraded to 24-hour services everyday a few months ago back in 2023, so I just wanted to request you if you can let me know the new buses that began running 24 hours in 2023 (like the 158), and what are the current plans on the agenda for the next TfL Buses to be likely to get 24 hour services coming-up in 2024 as of now? (& if there are any new Night-only N-prefixed Night Buses being introduced as well?) 2) Talking about 24-hour services, there had been at least 17 routes that operated 24-hour services on Friday & Saturday Nights-only & were shown with a blue-coloured label on bus stop flags (34, 114, 123, 132, 145, 154, 158, 183, 296, 307, 319, 486, E1, H32, H37, W3, W7) in order to support the Night Tube that was introduced on Fri/ Sat nights back in 2016 until early 2020 when they were paused given the Lockdown: https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2016/august/tfl-introduces-new-friday-and-saturday-night-bus-services-to-night-tube Now that it has been nearly 4 years since they were shut and all the 6 Night Tube & Overground lines have been reintroduced and are back in running since late 2021 as the nighttime economy has been opening-up again, I just wanted to ask you why have these weekend-only 24-hour buses not yet been reintroduced to supplement the night tube & overground services some 4 years later, and when will they enter 24-hour service on weekend nights once again as of now? 3) Moving onto school buses, I wanted to ask about why the ‘600-numbered’ School Buses removed from being labelled explicitly on the flagpoles of bus stops - as in until a couple of years ago, the School Buses had their route number shown on the bus stop flags just like any other bus route (with a text below saying ‘School journeys’) but since the past couple of years, they have been replaced with stickers just vaguely saying that ‘School Buses stop here’ - so just wanted to ask you when & why did this change took place in the first place? 4) In addition, I just wanted to ask about why does the concept of school buses even exist & who’s the target audience? - I ask that because normally in London, all state schools have a ‘Catchment Area’ within which the last pupil can be offered a place until the end of Secondary School that tends to be just a couple of miles away in all directions from the school, so why do we have special ‘school buses’ numbered 600+ (& also school alterations on certain routes like the K1 which starts from Southborough High School) when all students live in close proximity to their school and already have local buses anyways; and 681 for example mirrors all stops of 281 with just 1 extra stop at the school terminus, so what exactly is the point & benefit of these school services? 5) Finally, can you provide me a list of all the School buses that TfL operates, as well as any regular Bus routes that have special school time alterations (like the K1 that I just mentioned above). It would be greatly appreciated if you can help me get these answers...thank you very much.

We answered

TfL Ref: FOI-3538-2324

Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 5th January 2024 asking for information about school and night buses.

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. 

I can confirm that we hold the information you require. Your questions are answered in turn below:

Question 1) Firstly, Route 158 in East London got upgraded to 24-hour services everyday a few months ago back in 2023, so I just wanted to request you if you can let me know the new buses that began running 24 hours in 2023 (like the 158), and what are the current plans on the agenda for the next TfL Buses to be likely to get 24 hour services coming-up in 2024 as of now? (& if there are any new Night-only N-prefixed Night Buses being introduced as well?)

Answer: In 2023 there were three daytime routes converted to 24-hour operation and two new night routes. The three upgraded routes were formerly 24-hour routes on weekends only until March 2020, but since August 2023 these have been reinstated and further upgraded to run as a 24-hour route every day. The table below lists the new 24-hour and night routes that commenced operation in 2023:
 
RouteMonth commencedNotes
123August 2023Route upgraded to 24-hour operation
158August 2023Route upgraded to 24-hour operation
486July 2023Route upgraded to 24-hour operation
N32April 2023New night route
N271February 2023New night route

Regarding future plans, we are currently consulting  on new N-prefixed night service – see the following page of our website: https://haveyoursay.tfl.gov.uk/n518-ruislip-night-busThere are no other plans for any new all-night services at present.

Question 2) Talking about 24-hour services, there had been at least 17 routes that operated 24-hour services on Friday & Saturday Nights-only & were shown with a blue-coloured label on bus stop flags
(34, 114, 123, 132, 145, 154, 158, 183, 296, 307, 319, 486, E1, H32, H37, W3, W7) in order to support the Night Tube that was introduced on Fri/ Sat nights back in 2016 until early 2020 when they were paused given the Lockdown: https://tfl.gov.uk/info-for/media/press-releases/2016/august/tfl-introduces-new-friday-and-saturday-night-bus-services-to-night-tube
Now that it has been nearly 4 years since they were shut and all the 6 Night Tube & Overground lines have been reintroduced and are back in running since late 2021 as the nighttime economy has been opening-up again, I just wanted to ask you why have these weekend-only 24-hour buses not yet been reintroduced to supplement the night tube & overground services some 4 years later, and when will they enter 24-hour service on weekend nights once again as of now?

Answer: We are continuing to review the future of the suspended weekend-only night services and will consult if anything changes.

Question 3) Moving onto school buses, I wanted to ask about why the ‘600-numbered’ School Buses removed from being labelled explicitly on the flagpoles of bus stops - as in until a couple of years ago, the School Buses had their route number shown on the bus stop flags just like any other bus route (with a text below saying ‘School journeys’) but since the past couple of years, they have been replaced with stickers just vaguely saying that ‘School Buses stop here’ - so just wanted to ask you when & why did this change took place in the first place?

Answer: In most cases we continue to display the individual 6xx series route numbers on the bus stop flags. However, there are some locations where we use the more generic ‘school buses’ tile. That is generally because there is not sufficient space to provide dedicated tiles for each 6xx route (and I understand this is generally used for the predominantly set-down stops).

Question 4) In addition, I just wanted to ask about why does the concept of school buses even exist & who’s the target audience?- I ask that because normally in London, all state schools have a ‘Catchment Area’ within which the last pupil can be offered a place until the end of Secondary School that tends to be just a couple of miles away in all directions from the school, so why do we have special ‘school buses’ numbered 600+ (& also school alterations on certain routes like the K1 which starts from Southborough High School) when all students live in close proximity to their school and already have local buses anyways; and 681 for example mirrors all stops of 281 with just 1 extra stop at the school terminus, so what exactly is the point & benefit of these school services?

Answer: School pupils can go to any school that accepts them, even if that school is some distance away. Further, many of our routes are to more specialist schools such as faith schools or out-county.  On the general principle of travel to school we would expect school pupils to use the mainstream network.  We often run additional journeys on the main network to give the capacity for schools traffic, but this would be just additional school day only buses on a normal route along all or part of a route.  We will run additional 600-routes only where there are particularly large flows (generally a bus load or more) between places that would otherwise be a journey with one or more interchanges or where a school is some distance from the main bus network.  For routes like the K1, in that case it is more convenient for us and the school to run the bus to or from the school to allow safer boarding and alighting for the pupils (such as a safer walking route) and to ensure capacity for the school demands.

Question 5) Finally, can you provide me a list of all the School buses that TfL operates, as well as any regular Bus routes that have special school time alterations (like the K1 that I just mentioned above).

Answer: There are sixty-nine 600-699 school routes and forty-two standard routes with schedules that operate on school days only. Routes in the latter category have different services on school days such as an extra journeys or journeys that divert to directly serve a school. These services are shown in the list below:
 
School routes (600-699)Standard routes with school day only services
60160
60263
60375
60596
60699
608111
612122
613130
616131
617143
621150
624156
625184
626191
627213
628216
629229
631252
632280
633282
634313
635337
638352
639367
640370
642371
643401
645417
646427
649432
650455
651464
652466
653467
654470
655481
656499
657B14
658H12
660H37
661K1
662K3
663 
664 
665 
667 
669 
670 
671 
672 
673 
674 
675 
677 
678 
679 
681 
683 
684 
685 
686 
687 
688 
689 
690 
696 
697 
698 
699 

If this is not the information you are looking for please do not hesitate to contact me.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal as well as information on copyright and what to do if you would like to re-use any of the information we have disclosed.

Yours sincerely,

David Wells
FOI Case Officer
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel
Transport for London
 

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