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Route 154
26 May 2009

The 154 is the main service to Roundshaw, in that it has been serving the estate for the longest. However, Roundshaw is also served by route 455, providing a link to Wallington, Beddington and the Purley Way area, while the S4 ventures just as far as the neighbourhood centre, but the 154 provides the trunk service to the local towns of Croydon and Sutton.

The 154 has its origins as trolleybus route 654, then running from Sutton to Crystal Palace via Carshalton, Waddon, Croydon, Norwood Junction and Anerley. The 654 in turn was an amalgamation of tram routes 5 (Crystal Palace to West Croydon) and 7 (West Croydon to Sutton). Trams on the 5 had to have special traction and braking equipment due to the gradient of Anerley Hill; coincidentally, the re-introduction of trams to Crystal Palace is a serious possibility, though almost certainly not by climbing Anerley Hill.

When the 654 ceased its direct replacement was the 154, which ran from Crystal Palace to Sutton and then on to Morden, at that time directly via St. Helier Avenue rather than following the present diversion via Green Lane. However, to assist, existing route 157 (Raynes Park Wallington) was extended via the 154 to Crystal Palace.

The first bus to serve Roundshaw was the 233, providing a shuttle service into Croydon, also being the first route to use the Croydon Flyover. The route terminated at the neighbourhood centre, and a bus turning circle was provided for the purpose, which remains to this day and indeed was resuscitated more recently for route S4 to turn, albeit from the opposite direction.

During its short life, the one-bus 233 saw operation by a variety of relatively unusual types. To begin with, one-man-operated single deck RF type buses were used, but in November 1969 they were replaced by one-man XA types. The 233 thus gained the distinction of being the first ever double deck OMO route in London.

The 50-strong XA class of Leyland Atlanteans was itself unusual in London, but even more remarkable was what came next. This was FRM 1 (KGY 4D), which sadly remained a one-off. This was the forward entrance Routemaster unlike the RMA class that were built around the same time, this had a genuine front entrance and was thus suitable for OMO operation.

The 233 did not last long, however, being replaced by a diversion of the 154 which was also diverted via Duppas Hill Road and the Croydon Flyover, via Carshalton Beeches rather than the traditional route via Ruskin Road and Park Lane, and curtailed at West Croydon, leaving the Crystal Palace section to the 157.

Nowadays, the 154 is operated by Sutton garage using low floor double deckers. Most of Sutton's routes come up for tender at the same time, and last time round a large batch of East Lancs Myllennium Vyking bodied Volvo B7TLs was ordered, an unusual combination and unique within the London General/Central fleet. The network was tendered again from 6 December 2008 and the same trick has been repeated, with a large batch of East Lancs Olympus bodied Tridents (Enviro400 version) ordered for the network, again unique, so far, within the LG/LC fleet. Here, DOE28 (LX58 CXU) loads in Sutton on 14 February 2009, in a short section of road (Benhill Avenue) which bisects the High Street and which is only served by route 154.

Photo © Brian Creasey.

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See also routes 455, S4, 157

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