Route 53 bus in Plumstead.jpg
OperatorStagecoach London
GaragePlumstead (PD)
Night-timeNight Bus N53
New Cross
Elephant & Castle
EndLambeth North

London Buses route 53 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. Running between Plumstead and Lambeth North, it is operated by Stagecoach London.


Stagecoach London Wright Eclipse Gemini 3 bodied Volvo B5LH on Whitehall in May 2014
Stagecoach London Wright Eclipse Gemini 3 bodied Volvo B5LH on Whitehall in May 2014

Route 53 commenced operating on 22 October 1952 between Plumstead Common and Camden Town as a replacement for route 53A. In April 1958, the Sunday service was extended from Plumstead Common to Erith. This was withdrawn in May 1963. In 1967 AEC Routemasters replaced the AEC Regent III RTs that had operated the route since it commenced.[1]

In October 1984 it was extended from Camden Town to Parliament Hill replacing route 3.[1]

In 1995, 52 new Volvo Olympian double-deckers were bought for the route.[2] Route 185 parallels part of route 53; following the collapse of London Easylink in August 2002, it was left with a limited service provided by a number of operators, and extra journeys on route 53 were operated between Westminster and New Cross Gate to relieve overcrowding.[3]

The service is the only Transport for London contracted route to serve the section of the A2 road through Blackheath Hill. In April 2003 subsidence in a chalk mine beneath the road led to the road being closed and the route being diverted via Lewisham.[4]

In November 2008, a bus travelling on the route was involved in a collision with a car in Woolwich. There were no serious injuries. Passengers stated that the bus driver had braked sharply to avoid a more serious collision, and he was praised by a spokesman for bus operator Selkent.[5] In 2015, the route was curtailed to Lambeth North Underground station and only completes the journey to Whitehall at night.[6][7]

When next tendered, it was retained by Stagecoach London with a new contract commencing on 23 July 2016, when it resumed terminating at Whitehall, Horse Guards Parade.[8][9]

On 15 June 2019, the route was permanently withdrawn between Lambeth North and Whitehall as part of TfL's Central London Buses Review. [10]

Current route

Route 53 operates via these primary locations:[11]


  1. ^ a b Warren, Kenneth (1986). The Motorbus in Central London. Shepperton: Ian Allan Publishing. pp. 52–53. ISBN 0-7110-1568-6.
  2. ^ Millar, Alan (September 1995). "Seeing red". Buses Focus. Ian Allan Publishing: 61.
  3. ^ Aldridge, John (December 2002). "Guess who's on the 185 now?". Buses. Ian Allan Publishing (573): 15.
  4. ^ Aldridge, John (July 2002). "53 falls foul of Blackheath's big hole". Buses Magazine. Ian Allan Publishing (568): 15.
  5. ^ Bus and car crash in Hillreach, Woolwich (From News Shopper)
  6. ^ "53 bus route to be cut short for 'foreseeable future' says Boris". London SE1. 27 May 2015. Retrieved 28 May 2015.
  7. ^ Gould, Kate (12 June 2015). "Petition after claims that journey is being cut by stealth". South London Press. Archived from the original on 14 June 2015. Retrieved 13 June 2015.
  8. ^ Bus tender results Route 53/N53 Transport for London 22 September 2015
  9. ^ Tender News Bus Talk (Go-Ahead London) issue 37 December 2015 page 11
  10. ^ Bus Service Changes 12 April to 30 June 2019 Transport for London 7 June 2019
  11. ^ Route 53 Map Transport for London