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Route 484
17 October 2011

Inner South East London is covered in lots of abrupt little hills, and the very circuitous 484 takes in quite a few of these. From Lewisham, buses pass through Ladywell, and then climb Vicars Hill to Hilly Fields before dropping back down to the Brockley Cross, a somewhat hectic junction consisting of two mini roundabouts. Then buses climb Telegraph Hill before wending their way through the estates of Brockley, and a further rise is encountered on Peckham Rye. Buses then cross over past Goose Green to East Dulwich, before climbing Dog Kennel Hill and descending to Camberwell Green. Despite the whole route fitting onto two pages in my A-Z, buses take almost an hour to complete this journey at busy times.

The route passed to Abellio from 19 March 2011 and is operated from its Walworth garage just across the road from the route's previous base at Camberwell. After an initial intention to obtain larger buses for the route which it sorely needs more small buses have been obtained and overcrowding issues have been exacerbated by the specification of dual doors, which is a bit silly on a 9.3m long bus. 8339 (YX11AHN) is seen in Lewisham High Street on the first day of Abellio operation, 19 March 2011.

Photo © RNAM200 (Robert Mighton).

The 484 was formed in 1994 by replacing three routes. The L1 had run from Lewisham via Hilly Fields to Brockley, while the P2 ran from Lewisham via Lewisham Way and Malpas Road (no longer served) to Brockley and East Dulwich (thence to Peckham). Both these operated with Mercedes minibuses every 20 minutes, and the 10-minute frequency 484 effectively amalgamated them. However, the 484 number, and the Camberwell connection, derive from the third route, the 184 which ran from Brockley via East Dulwich and Camberwell to Elephant & Castle. Indeed, the P2 had only been created a few years earlier by replacing the eastern end of the 184!

Initially 10 buses were used, and an order for 11 (to include a spare) unusual East Lancs EL2000-bodied Dennis Darts DELs was therefore placed. However, the timetable quickly proved over-optimistic, especially following closure of the Endwell Road railway bridge to large vehicles. The 484 was diverted via Vesta Road, which was how it came to serve Telegraph Hill which was not served by either L1 or P2. Although this was a significant extension of the route, when the Endwell Road bridge had been repaired and reopened (and indeed the Vesta Road bridge was then closed) buses continued to serve Telegraph Hill. To overcome the reliability problems an extra bus was added to the schedule, but even then the timetable could be too tight, and accordingly the route now uses 12 buses. Even now it can still be quite unreliable!

The restriction of vehicle length is largely down to a few tight turns in the Hilly Fields area. One way to solve the overcrowding problem might be to split the route into two again, with the 484 taking a more main-road route between Lewisham and Brockley, using larger buses, and a more local route covering the Hilly Fields area.

See also routes 345, P5, P13, C10

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