35px London Buses
Operated by Travel London
Garage Walworth
Vehicle Volvo B7TL/Wright Eclipse Gemini
PVR 22
Start North Greenwich
Via Canada Water
End Russell Square
Length 10 miles (15 km)
Level 24-hour service
Frequency About every 8 minutes
Journey time 37-86 minutes
Day 24-hour service
Night 24-hour service
Adult single fares
Oyster 90p
Cash £2.00
peak vehicle requirement
Transport for LondonPerformance

London Buses route 188 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, United Kingdom. The service is currently contracted to Travel London.


The London tendering process has had its ups and downs, but the 188 is said to have one of the most interesting histories of any route in the tendering process. The route has not been changed too much, having survived a proposal to cut it back to Elephant & Castle. Having been extended from Greenwich to North Greenwich in 1999, it seemed that the Jubilee Line would cut off the only direct bus link between central London and the Dome, but fortunately this was not to be. Only a small section was lost, with the central terminal revised from Euston to Russell Square; this was due to lack of stand space when the 59, the intended replacement for the final section of the 188, was introduced.

For many years, the route had been operated by Camberwell garage, latterly using then-new Leyland Titans.


Around 1982, a New Cross allocation was introduced, initially using a mixture of Titans and DMS-class Fleetlines.

In the mid-1980s the 188 was designated as a 'tourist' route, because it connected central London with Tower Bridge and Greenwich, and buses were fitted with yellow-on-blue blinds, and a few Titans got yellow waistbands. By the time of the first tendering of the 188, New Cross had the route to itself, using just Titans.

The first tender for the 188 was in 1988, and the contract was awarded to Boro'line, the Maidstone borough operator which was starting up a London operation, from November that year. Along with London Buses route 24 awarded to Grey-Green two weeks earlier, this was one of the first central London routes to pass to the private sector. Initially hired Ipswich Atlanteans and Nottingham Fleetlines were used, until the Alexander-bodied Volvo Citybuses that had been ordered were delivered. Boro'line operated from Crayford, the base used for its other LT routes, although there were plans for a new base in the North Greenwich area for the 108 and 188.


In November 1990, Boro'line surrendered the route, which consequently passed to Selkent, part of London Buses at that time. L-class Leyland Olympians from Plumstead were used, while the Citybuses moved to the 272, another Boro'line route.

In November 1993, the route was tendered again, and awarded this time to London & Country, which used second hand Titans from Walworth garage. Soon after, London & Country was purchased by British Bus, which also owned Kentish Bus, which in turn had in 1992 purchased the remaining London operations of Boro'line.

In 1995 British Bus re-organised its operations in London and the surrounding area, and the London operations of London & Country were transferred to a new unit called Londonlinks which was controlled by Kentish Bus. The elderly Titans on the 188 were disposed of to Clydeside 2000 in Glasgow (now Arriva Scotland West) and were replaced by the Volvo Citybuses that were used before, transferred in from Kentish Bus.

British Bus was itself purchased by the Cowie Group, which in 1997 rationalised the London operations, leading to the run-down of the Londonlinks operation. The 188 transferred to Cowie South London at Norwood garage that August, together with the 176 and 36 East Lancs bodied Volvo Citybuses. The rest went back to Kentish Bus, 11 of them being put on the 78, initially at Ash Grove. When that operation was wound up, these 11 moved with the 78 to fellow Cowie subsidiary Grey-Green at Stamford Hill, joining that firm's large fleet of similar vehicles. The other three (102/111/114) were moved back to Kent.

Subsequent reshuffling in June 1998 took the Monday-Saturday 188 allocation to Arriva London North East, the former Grey-Green, Cowie having by now re-styled itself as Arriva. Here, it was re-united with the early Volvo Citybuses again.

The Sunday allocation soon followed suit, and the route was converted to DLA operation to meet TfL's requirement for low-floor vehicles to be used on services to the Dome, to which the 188 had been extended. Later, Stamford Hill garage was closed, with its routes, including the 188, and vehicles passing to Arriva London North at the expanded Tottenham garage from March 2000.


The route was re-tendered again in 2000, in the more normal run of things, and the award went to London Central that December. However, lack of space at its garages has resulted in sister company London General taking responsibility for the route from the outset, from Stockwell garage, where it conveniently took the place of route 295 which had just been lost. The allocation was moved around a few times in order to suit staffing requirements, which is quite common with this operator, and London Central did indeed get it back with a Camberwell allocation appearing later in the contract, although it reverted to all Stockwell operation from October 2004.

Re-tendering in 2005 resulted, as before, in the route being lost, and this time the successful bidder was National Express's Travel London operation. Travel London run this route from the ex-London Transport Walworth garage (the same place LondonLinks ran the route from).

TfL spent a considerable sum bringing it up to standard and handed it over to Travel London (having laid dormant for nearly 10 years). However, Travel London had no routes to operate from it.. They have now won a number of routes, mainly at the expense of London Central/London General, the 188, 381, and P13 being the latest.

From Saturday, July 28 2007, the 188 route between central London and North Greenwich was scheduled to run for 24 hours a day with a half-hourly service running throughout the night, seven days a week, passing through Bermondsey, Canada Water and Greenwich before terminating next to the O2 arena. The timetabling had been amended in order to meet the needs of visitors to the 02 where concerts continued until after the tube had closed. The amended timetable came just days before Prince began his London tour at the O2 arena on Wednesday 1 August which (given his late performances) would have otherwise rendered commuters no option to travel via the bus.

Eastbound services were amended to finish at 1am and westbound ones at 1.30am, except on nights where after-show parties are held at the IndigO2 venue. On those evenings, services finish at 4am and 4.30am respectively.

John Barry, head of network development for London buses, said: "The new 24-hour service on route 188 is another accessible transport connection for late-night travellers in the capital. London's night bus network has expanded dramatically in recent years with passenger numbers more than doubling since 2000."


On May 20 2008, one person was killed and 18 injured after a northbound 188 bus hit a low branch on a tree on the route. The woman killed was a passer by, and the other injured passengers. The bus driver fainted shortly after the accident.[1]

Current routeEdit

Route departing North GreenwichEdit

Route departing Russell SquareEdit

See alsoEdit


External linksEdit

List of bus routes in London

1-99 | 100-199 | 200-299 | 300-399 | 400-499 | 500-599 | 600-699 | Letter prefix | Night only

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