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Route 140
26 February 2005

The 140 is an historic service, although it has very little of its original route left as a result of extensive re-jigging with route 114. But it is now very much a trunk route, managing to get halfway across west London from Heathrow Airport via Hayes and Northolt to Harrow, the main town centre on the route, before continuing to its home garage at Harrow Weald on the northern fringe of greater London. This takes over an hour at busy times, even though it is a pretty straight route on the whole.

A new version of this page comes to record the re-introduction of short wheelbase vehicles to the 140, ironically as a result of capacity problems at Harrow Weald garage following a frequency increase – somewhat negating the point of increasing the frequency in the first place! A few new Volvos were ordered but the bulk were obtained by swapping the previous TPL class vehicles with short VPs at Holloway garage. VP 467 (LK03 GKF) is one of these, and is seen Coldharbour Road, Hayes, just prior to the Grapes junction.

Photo © John Nicholas Bennett.

After a spell with London United at Hounslow garage, the current operator of the 140 is once again Harrow Weald garage of the now privatised Metroline. Initially, short wheelbase Alexander bodied Dennis Tridents were used, but the need for greater passenger capacity led to the introduction of long wheelbase Tridents, this time with Plaxton President bodywork. However, as mentioned above short wheelbase vehicles are now the order again, although this time the bodywork was held and the chassis changed!

The reason the 140 has so little of its original route is that it has swapped routes with the 114 north/east of Harrow. In 1936 the 140 ran from Northolt to Harrow via South Harrow, and even then not via the present route as it ran direct via Lower Road, whereas now buses deviate via Porlock Avenue leaving the direct route between South Harrow and Harrow to minibus route H10. There is a large school on Porlock Avenue and the provision of double deckers is almost essential at school start and finish times!

Beyond Harrow the 140 followed the current 114 route via Kenton, Queensbury and Burnt Oak as far as Watling Avenue, while the 114 ran via Harrow Weald, Stanmore and Canons Park to Edgware. Curiously there was no bus (or tram) service between Hayes and Northolt, half-hourly route 95 running from Hounslow and Hayes just as far as West End in Yeading, a couple of miles short of the 140's southern terminus at Northolt Racecourse. But this had been rectified by the second world war with the 140 running on as far as Hayes and — rather oddly — Bourne Avenue, now the province of route U4.

The 140 was one of the first routes to be extended into the new London Airport at Heathrow, still at this time running to Burnt Oak at the other end. Then the 140 and 114 swapped routes north of Harrow. By then the 114 had been curtailed to Harrow Weald, with a 286 covering from Harrow to Edgware, but the 140 was subsequently extended to Edgware over the 286 – only to be curtailed to Harrow Weald again, with the service through to Edgware covered this time as the 340! The 140 boasted school journeys projected beyond Harrow Weald to Clamp Hill for some years, but these are now covered by a dedicated school route, 640.

Meanwhile, a long overdue innovation during 2000 was a night version of the 140. London’s night bus network is highly radial, and such orbital routes are welcome, but there is more to it than that as Heathrow Airport is buzzing with activity 24 hours a day. Yet until recently the only night-time public transport to the airport was the N97 from central London. At last the N140 started to address this deficiency, and more night routes to the airport have followed. The night service is now numbered plain 140 as part of TfL's “24 hour route” initiative.

See also routes 114, H10, U4, 340, 640, N97, N9, 285

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