"Taking the long way round."
Cross city bus routes were the major arteries of London bus travel. To a north Londoner, they seemed particularly heroic, linking the familiar with places that you never visited such as Honor Oak and Plumstead and which, for you, only existed on the blind of a Routemaster. My favourites were the three routes which linked north London with Crystal Palace - the 2b, 3 and 137.
The 59 - what a way to go
These services, taking upwards of an hour-and-a-half from end to end, connected disparate parts of London without having to make numerous changes. The old 88 route from Mitcham for East Acton, for example, is now divided into three different routes. The longest route was the 59, which ran on Sundays from West Hampstead to Coulsdon. These services seemed to be a statement about London, a place that was enormous, diverse, complex, yet made up of facets that were all part of one vital metropolis. The local bus services have improved greatly, but some measure of restoration of cross-London bus links can only be a good thing for easing the city’s transport problems. In the meantime, savour the charms of the 36 from New Cross to Queens Park, the final vestige of the days of these splendid routes.