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Route P5
27 January 2012

The P5 started wiggling its way between Brixton and Elephant & Castle in November 1990, running almost entirely along back streets through the densely populated estates of Camberwell. It is a useful service, not only running much closer to many people’s homes than buses had previously, but running to the local shopping centre of Walworth and linking into the tube network at the Elephant and Brixton. Nevertheless the frequency has remained at every 15 minutes since the start.

The route was extended at the Brixton end in 1993, in a one-way loop via Landor Road, Clapham North and Acre Lane. This loop arrangement meant that quite a large area could be served with a link to and from Brixton and the Elephant, passengers being able to travel round the loop as necessary. But in 1999 the loop was unwound, the south side of the loop via Acre Lane and Bedford Road becoming bi-directional and remaining with the P5, which provided a new link with the Victoria Line at Stockwell station, also giving the route stand time at this end. Landor Road was covered by route 355, but buses still ran only in one direction (the opposite direction to the P5!) due to the road layout at Clapham North — and without the loop facility of the P5. Arrangements have subsequently changed again, and Landor Road is now covered by the 322.

Meanwhile, the Mercedes minibuses originally used were replaced by more comfortable DW-class Dennis Darts. Plans during 2000 to replace the 8.5 metre DWs with slightly larger 9m DRLs did not come to fruition, perhaps because of the many narrow roads and tight turns encountered on route. (Incidentally, the route also passes under three low(ish) bridges!) Nevertheless, when the time came a new contract was awarded on the basis of 9.3m long low floor buses, which are also 10 centimetres wider.

A further new contract starting in April 2011 brought more new buses, again to the 9.3m length but this time dual door. They are the latest Enviro200 design and SE90 (YX11 CPU) is seen shortly afterwards on 24 April near Stockwell.

Photo © Russell Baldock.

The route had, by this time, received a much delayed extension to the Patmore Estate in Nine Elms, and that is the destination to be seen on the other two photographs contributed for this update. First of all we have SE92 (YX11 CPY) at the recently re-configured and signalised southern roundabout at Elephant & Castle heading into Walworth Road on 20 April 2011, and the dual door arrangement can be seen.

Photo © electrostar379.

Finally, SE86 (YX11 CPF) is at the first stop at Elephant & Castle, in Newington Causeway, on 15 August 2011. As well as delving deeper into the housing of the Patmore Estate than existing buses, which simply followed the main roads, the P5 provides a new link eastwards from the area. All the other routes head north and west towards Vauxhall and Clapham Junction. Even the local railway line, which does head east, fails to stop at the main destination in the area, Brixton!

Photo © RNAM200 (Robert Mighton).

See also routes 355, 322, 484

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