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Heritage route 15.jpg
OperatorStagecoach London
GarageWest Ham (WH)
VehicleAEC Routemaster
Peak vehicle requirement5
Began service14 November 2005
Ended service29 September 2019
Night-timeNight Bus N15
StartTower Hill
ViaCannon Street
EndTrafalgar Square
Length3 miles (4.8 km)
LevelSummer weekends and bank holidays only
(March to September)
Frequency20 minutes
Journey time24-25 minutes
Operates09:30 until 18:30
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London Buses route 15 (Heritage) was a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. It ran between Tower Hill and Trafalgar Square and was operated by Stagecoach London.[1] It was a short working of the standard route 15 and was the last preserved AEC Routemaster route.[2][3]


This route and route 9 (Heritage) were announced initially as 'A' and 'B' as short workings on existing routes to avoid any potential complications as Government's legislation requires buses to be fully wheelchair-accessible by 22 October 2014 in the entire United Kingdom. For Transport for London, they aimed to comply earlier with the last non-wheelchair accessible buses withdrawn in June 2008 with two exemptions - the heritage routes. Route 9H was withdrawn in 2014.[4]

One of the two routes, awarded to Stagecoach London, was for services between Trafalgar Square and Tower Hill, covering the most touristy section of route 15 taking in the Tower of London, Monument, St Paul's Cathedral and Trafalgar Square.[5] An extension to the Oxford Street area was excluded due to severe congestion there. The number of the parallel route 15 was adopted for the AEC Routemasters, despite potential for confusion with the main 15.

Ten buses were allocated to the operator; 5 for the daily turnout, 3 operational spares and 2 as a "strategic reserve". Despite having only a couple of weeks to prepare the vehicles after they left normal service, Stagecoach turned out 5 immaculately presented Routemasters for the first day of service, 14 November 2005. The first journey was driven by Peter Hendy, managing director of TfL surface transport.

In April 2008, one of the buses was painted in a special Indian Red and Silver livery, to promote Bow Garage's Centenary. It was first revealed at the London Bus Preservation Trust's Cobham bus rally, and soon after entered regular service.

In 2015, it was revealed that 10 Routemasters were to be refurbished which will include opening windows being refitted.[6] In November of the same year, the frequency of the service was reduced from a bus every 15 minutes to a bus every 20 minutes in an attempt to improve the reliability of the service.[7]

From 2 March 2019, the heritage service was reduced to operate only on weekends and bank holidays, from the last (2019: first) Saturday in March until the last weekend in September.[8]

The route did not operate during 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and its contract expired in November of that year and was not renewed. In 2021, Transport for London confirmed that the route would not run again, thus being withdrawn at the end of its contract in November 2020.[9][10][11]


Route 15 (Heritage) operated via these primary locations:

See also


  1. ^ "Bus tender results". Transport for London. 14 May 2010. Retrieved 5 January 2011.
  2. ^ "Touring Routemasters hit the road". BBC News. 14 November 2005. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
  3. ^ Webster, Ben (28 June 2005). "Tourist icon stays on the road". The Times. London. Retrieved 31 March 2010.
  4. ^ Bennett, Owen (7 March 2014). "'This bus terminates here!' Iconic London Routemaster buses a step closer to being axed". Daily Express. Retrieved 26 July 2014.
  5. ^ "Heritage route contracts awarded". Transport for London. 9 September 2005. Retrieved 5 January 2011.
  6. ^ Heritage Routemasters receive their Eastleigh refits Buses issue 725 August 2015 page 25
  7. ^ "Bus service proposal: Heritage Routemaster journeys on route 15". Transport for London. Retrieved 25 April 2021.
  8. ^ "Permanent bus changes, Route 15 heritage". Transport for London. 22 February 2019. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  9. ^ "TfL confirms Heritage Routemasters won't return". Retrieved 10 April 2021.
  10. ^ "Transport for London retires last heritage service of Routemaster buses". The Guardian. 13 April 2021. Retrieved 13 April 2021.
  11. ^ London heritage route 15h withdrawn Coach & Bus Week 21 April 2021

Media related to London Buses route 15 (Heritage) at Wikimedia Commons