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Route P12
9 July 2012

A new contract on route P12 from 8 October 2011 called for new buses, and these arrived in the form of standard issue E20D/Enviro200 single deckers. They were amongst the first buses delivered to Go-Ahead London in all-over red, that operator having held out until the last minute against TfL standardisation. SE160 (YX61DVK) is seen in Hanover Park, Peckham town centre, heading for Surrey Quays on Thursday 13 October 2011. The lack of an offside emergency door can be clearly seen in this view, the two nearside doors now being deemed sufficient.

Photo © RNAM200 (Robert Mighton).

There has long been a bus service along Ivydale Road, which was originally the main traffic objective of the P12. For many years this was the circular 243, from Peckham in a bi-directional loop via Peckham Rye, Ivydale Road and Nunhead Lane, running about every 9 minutes using LTL single deck buses from Nunhead (AH) garage, later moved to Old Kent Road (P) and converted to ST. The conversion to double deck after the war resulted in a renumbering to 173, somewhat irrelevant to the average passenger, following which the area was covered by the 70/70A. The P12 replaced the latter in November 1988.

The route has been run from Peckham garage for its entire existence, though the garage itself moved from its traditional location on Peckham High Street to Blackpool Road. For the original scheme, a batch of Optare StarRider bodied Mercedes 811D minibuses was acquired to inaugurate the new Peckham network of routes, P11 (now 381), P12 and P13. These were SR5-28 (F905-928 YWY). Those on the P11 were replaced in 1991 by new, larger, Dennis Darts, DRL1-16 (J601-616 XHL), but these were still not big enough, and the P11 was eventually converted to double deck, and the DRLs moved to quieter duties at Bexleyheath, mainly on the 178 and B16.

Subsequently, a further batch of DRLs was acquired for the P12 when the 295 was converted to double deck operation. They provided a useful capacity boost on this short but busy service, which provided the main bus link to Nunhead. At the time the P12 ran between Peckham and Brenchley Gardens in Brockley only, with a loop at the latter end.

The remaining SRs on the P13 were then replaced by slightly newer MRL class Optare MetroRider minibuses from Putney; whether or not this actually constituted an improvement is debatable! But they lasted only a matter of months before being replaced by DW class short Dennis Darts, and in practice these were mixed with the DRLs on routes P12 and P13. But these did not last long either, as the opportunity arose to replace them with more DRLs ó 1-15, returned from Bexleyheath, where they had been replaced by new low floor Darts! (DRL16 was scrapped while at Bexleyheath.)

But that is still not the end of the story. London General had won the contract for routes 200 and 201 in the Mitcham area in 1995, and bought 16 new Plaxton Pointer bodied 9m Darts. But they were numbered DPL1-16, despite their similarity to the DRLs! The DRL code stood for Dennis/Reeve Burgess Long, Reeve Burgess having designed the Pointer but quickly sold the design rights to Plaxton. In fact there were very few Reeve Burgess Pointers anywhere, but the first few at London Buses were, and the code stuck despite the move to Plaxton. Anyhow, the loss of the 200 and 201 to Mitcham Belle resulted in the DPLs moving to Peckham, where they ousted many of the older DRLs.

An interesting route extension occurred upon contract renewal on 9 October 1999, from Brenchley Gardens to Brockley Rise. The DPLs subsequently left Peckham again, enabled by the acquisition of new 9.4m low floor LDP class Darts for the P13 in 2001. The P12 reverted to the hands of DRLs once again, as well as the odd LDP, although the increased width of LDPs presents some problems on the many narrow roads on this route. In particular, some delicate manoeuvring was often required to negotiate badly parked cars near Nunhead station; some yellow lines have since dealt with that problem. Nonetheless further LDPs from London Generalís first order were acquired from Sutton garage following the delivery of newer LDPs there, largely ousting the remaining high floor Darts.

Loss of the P13 to Travel London from 9 October 2004 resulted in the 2001 LDPs taking over the P12 in its entirety. As part of these contract changes, the P12 received a further extension from Peckham to Surrey Quays via the former P13 routeing. This provided a much needed frequency increase over this section from every 15 to every 10 minutes, and also made the lengthy P13 marginally more manageable.

The latest contract puts larger dual door buses on the route, despite some doubts as to their suitability. Buses still get stuck in Ivydale Road quite frequently, the situation there having been exacerbated recently by the local council's belligerent installation of speed tables and pinch points. Southwark Council prides itself on the extent of traffic calming in the borough, but the policy is clearly a failure as the borough has the third worst record on accident reduction in London; all this policy actually does is make travelling a misery for the locals!

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See also routes 381, P13, 178, B16, 295

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