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The 405 is one of a number of cross-border “country area” routes to come into the London Buses network around the turn of the century. It traditionally ran from Crawley to Croydon via Horley, Salfords, Redhill, Hooley and Purley, but was cut back in 2000 to Redhill, a more localised route taking over south of there. This might seem a retrograde step, but the route runs parallel with — and indeed almost entirely less than a mile from — the London – Brighton line, so is really more a device for local travel than the trunk route you may think at first glance.
Nevertheless, when Arriva pulled out of running it commercially, London Buses evidently felt it was important enough to Londoners to take responsibility for funding it, though no doubt gets some money from Surrey for its trouble. Due to the short notice it was decided to issue a temporary tender, giving London Buses a chance to taker a longer term view on what the route required. It awarded short term contract to Connex from 21 April 2001, which ironically ran (at the time) the parallel rail services. The slightly erratic timetable previously offered was standardised to run every half hour during the day on Mondays to Saturdays, with an hourly evening and Sunday service, giving unaccustomed luxury to residents of Redhill, Merstham, Hooley and Coulsdon South — the latter actually within Greater London.
Long wheelbase, single door, 10.7m Dennis Dart SLFs were obtained on lease from DawsonRentals — again, due to the short notice, London Buses had to be fairly flexible about vehicle types. They were very much ‘provincial specification’ buses, not just with the single door but in having a manually operated wheelchair ramp, bench-type seats and three-track number blinds. They were actually new in 1999 to Dublin Bus, for airside work, yet registered “new” in 2001 over here for route 405.
It was put out to tender again, as planned, during 2002 and this time the contract was awarded to Metrobus with a start date of 30 August 2003. This contract saw further changes, with the Monday to Saturday daytime service increased to every 20 minutes and evenings and Sundays doubled to half hourly. There was also an interesting re-routeing between Purley and South Croydon via Pampisford Road. This was already served by route 455, but the change doubled the frequency on this increasingly popular section, although regrettably, despite having the same frequency, the timetables for the two routes are not very well co-ordinated.
Further new 10.7m Darts were ordered, although this time they were dual door. Operation was from Metrobus’s Crawley garage (established when they took over routes from Arriva at around the same time as the 405 was taken over by TfL), ironically meaning buses had to trace out pretty much their former route to take up service in the morning and when returning to depot at night. The allocation was later transferred to Godstone depot, which in turn was replaced by new facilities in Beddington, but the route has now reverted to Crawley garage following loss of a number of Surrey contracts.
Two of recently developments seem to have have had a particularly dramatic effect on the 405, namely the London Mayor Ken Livingstone's free travel for children policy and the extension of Freedom Pass validity over the whole route. Overcrowding became so severe that a full conversion to double deck on existing frequencies was needed, and duplicates were laid on as a short term measure until this became possible. Part of an order intended for the contract renewal on the 261 has been diverted to the 405, and 943 (YN56 FDY) is thus seen at West Croydon Bus Station on 17 November 2006.
|Photo © Adam Murray.|
A batch of new buses has been ordered for the 405. As they have new Euro IV complaint engines they will go on route 405 at Crawley, allowing the other garages to standardise on the Euro III models, and these vehicles will eventually find their intended home on route 261.
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