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Route 65
13 December 2012

The 65 has been on my "to do" list for a few years now following the introduction of new buses. Having finally got round to doing it, I discovered that the photographs I had in stock all have the old Transdev logos, but they are better than nothing! The first photo shows SP60 (YT09 ZCK) crossing Kew Bridge over the Thames on Sunday 26 July 2009. Note the tower of the Kew Bridge Steam Museum in the background.

Photo © John Bennett.

A second photo is provided and shows sister vehicle SP63 (YT09 ZCO) loading in The Quadrant, Richmond, heading for Kingston on Tuesday 20 October 2009. Both buses are Scania N230UD chassis with OmniCity bodywork built in Poland - the P in SP stands for Poland, or Polish. For some reason the type seems to polarise opinion - I like them personally, because of their smooth and quiet engines and good quality bodywork, but the hard suspension is a downside.

Photo © Brian Creasey.

The 65, as might be expected, is quite an historic service, although inevitably has been cut back at both ends. In 1934 it ran from North Ealing (Cleveland Road) to Leatherhead. Buses ran every 6 minutes over most of the route, but on the sparsely populated section between Hook and Leatherhead the service was reduced to every 30 minutes. New route 265 began soon after the war, starting from East Acton to join the 65 between Kew and Hook, and then diverting to serve Copt Gilders estate in Chessington.

In 1968 there was a complicated re-shuffle, with the original 265 being withdrawn and the 65 reduced to operate between Chessington (via Copt Gilders) and Ealing, the 71 making up south of Hook. The section of the 65 north of Ealing was transferred to new route 273 and is now covered by the 297.

In 1987, London Buses set up Kingston Bus, a low-cost unit based at Norbiton garage, in an effort to prevent an independent operator from grabbing the many local routes being tendered by LT. They succeeded, but Kingston Bus quickly gained an unenviable reputation, and was disbanded in 1990. One of a number of service changes made in the 1987 scheme was to cut the 65 back from the north to Kingston, the 71 becoming the major route southwards to Chessington, also taking over Copt Gilders from the 65. This actually made the 65 into quite an ideal length for modern traffic conditions, with a running time of about an hour make routes too long and regularity suffers, make them too short and they are of little use to passengers.

Following the closure of Kingston Bus and Norbiton garage the 65 was awarded to independent operator Armchair, which operated the route for 11 years from its depot in Brentford, close to the route, using Alexander bodied Leyland Olympians. When the route was won back by London United by then privatised and subsequently sold by its management to Transdev the company seemed to be particularly excited about getting it back, with celebratory balloons and little furry toys provided on-bus on the first day, 29 June 2002! New Dennis Tridents with Alexander ALX400 bodywork were introduced, until the arrival of the Scanias for the next contract term 7 years later.

See also routes 260, 237, 71, 297, 465

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