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Route 422
2 July 2012

Route 422, one of three routes linking Bexleyheath with North Greenwich, received new buses during the early part of 2011, so this update is somewhat overdue. Three photographs have been provided. The first is in Bexleyheath town centre, but the photographer has chosen a rather more attractive location than the usual spot by the clock tower, being the Church in the Broadway to the west of the centre. WVL355 (LX60 DWE) stops to let people off on Tuesday 25 January 2011. The 422 is not mentioned among the bus stop 'E-tiles,' because it is near the end of the trip. The text on red underneath reads "Also buses terminating at Bexleyheath."

Photo © Brian Creasey.

A second picture is provided at a further attractive location, this time featuring sister vehicle WVL371 (LX60 DXB) in Hythe Avenue. Both buses are Volvo B9TLs with Wright Gemini bodywork – in the author's opinion, from a passenger's perspective the best quality bus currently in service in London.

Photo © John Gillespie.

This road was not served until the 422 was introduced as the replacement for the eastern end of 122. “In the good old days,” said the photographer when submitting a picture which appeared on this page previously, “the 122 used to run from Bexleyheath Garage to Crystal Palace, a nice ride on an RT. It was split in January 1988 with the introduction of Bexleybus, and the 422 was introduced from Bexleyheath to Woolwich, with a couple of detours.”

The original 122 bore a strong resemblance to the new 422, but was extended from Woolwich to Crystal Palace as part of the tram replacement programme. Subsequently, the 422 has replaced the 122 east of Plumstead, together with its 122A variant. These two routes had provided the service to East Wickham, with the 122 running via Pickford Lane to Bexleyheath and the 122A via Bedonwell Road to Erith. The 422 combines the branches by way of a slightly circuitous route via Bedonwell Road and Pickford Lane.

The poor performance of Bexleybus led to several routes being moved to Boro'Line Maidstone, the Maidstone municipal operator, later in the year, and the 422 was one. Boro'line operated a medley of new, second-hand and hired buses. But in February 1992 Boro'line was sold to Proudmutual, owners of Kentish Bus, which amalgamated the fleet into KB. KB thus became the largest private contractor to London Transport for several years, but its fortunes were subsequently reversed. The loss of the 422, among other routes, in 1999 (by which time the company was part of Arriva), was pretty much the final blow, though a small operation remains based at Dartford. London Central took over the 422 from 23 January, initially using existing vehicles, but new low floor Volvo B7TLs were on order.

One of the routes selected for extension to The Dome before its opening was the 422, reaching that destination from 25 May 1999. There has been a substantial increase in services westwards from Woolwich as a result of the Dome, but the three routes extended this way, 161, 422 and 472, all take different routeings. The 422 is substantially different however, taking the high road via Charlton Village rather than the low road via New Charlton as the 161 and 472 do.

London Transport had hoped that all routes serving the Dome would be low floor operated from the beginning, but the late delivery of buses for the 422 dashed that prospect! They arrived about a year later, but not before the Dome had opened. Now that the Dome has closed, the primary function of routes serving North Greenwich is to link into the Jubilee Line at that point, and the service through Charlton Village therefore provides a useful link to “the tube” for the residents of this area. It also provides a link from points further east, such as Plumstead and East Wickham, and indeed Bexleyheath, though the through run is quite lengthy at around an hour from end to end.

The final photograph on this page is taken at that new destination of North Greenwich bus station, and shows WVL361 (LX60 DWM) on 10 February 2011. The 422 was the first route to serve Bexleyheath from this point, but was joined by the 486 in 2001 and then the 132 in 2009, each taking quite different routes, the 422 being the most northerly of the three.

Photo © RNAM200 (Robert Mighton).

See also routes 122, 161, 472, 486, 132

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