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Route N21
13 July 2009

Another rare night bus contribution, as Bexleyheath garage's PVL51 (W451 WGH) passes along a deserted Eltham High Street at 05:05 on Sunday 8 July 2007, on one of the weekend-only short working journeys to Eltham.

Photo © John King.

Bexleyheath does not operate either of the day routes, 21 and 321, which the N21 covers, so this allocation is somewhat anomalous. New Cross, which runs both the day routes, provides the bulk of the allocation. Presumably it is a question of where drivers can be found to cover night work.

The current route does not actually follow routes 21 and 321 for their entire lengths. At the north end, route 21 gained an extension from Moorgate to Newington Green, but the N21 sensibly deviates into the West End, terminating at the traditional night bus hub of Trafalgar Square. Meanwhile, after reaching Eltham, the N21 deviates via Avery Hill and Blackfen, following routes 132 and 51 rather than the more direct 321 route, before re-joining the 321 from Sidcup to Foots Cray Tesco. For a time the N21 also had a bifurcation at Eltham running to Chislehurst via the 161, but this was withdrawn without replacement in 2002 as part of Transport for London's drive to simplify the network.

Proposals exist to simplify the route by diverting the N21 to Bexley or Bexleyheath, and covering the Sidcup end by introducing a night service on the 321. However, this would require a change of buses to get there from the West End. Though not yet confirmed, these changes are expected to occur when a new operating contract commences in October.

See also routes 21, 321, 132, 51, 161

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