The London Bus Page In Exile

Wednesday 28 March 2007

Twenty Years of OPO on the 207

Filed under: Historical, Routes — londonbuspageinexile @ 8:11 pm

First Uxbridge Buses MCW Metrobus M 337 (EYE 337V) at Ealing Hospital, 18th March 2000 28th March 2007 marks 20 years since the 207, once one of the most heavily-trafficked routes in London, was converted from RML to M OPO.

The OPO conversion was bitterly opposed and certainly slowed down this extremely busy route, but back then we didn’t think there was anything much worse for a route than one-man operation – now of course it’s been dealt the ultimate blow with its conversion to articulated buses. The one time I tried these things out on the 207 shortly after its conversion, the bus became grossly overloaded by only the second stop, on a Sunday afternoon, and I had to stand in discomfort for 45 minutes – never again.

Further back, of course, the 207 was known as the 607 and fielded trolleybuses, and before then it was trams, the possible revival of which that is being fought over with some vigour in the locality. I don’t mind either way, given that Croydon has shown that trams can be a useful addition to bus services without detracting from them, but I think that to avoid the overcrowding that now plagues Tramlink, any future trams will have to be double-deck, if anyone even builds such a thing.

Speaking of the 607, the one ray of light in the 207’s demise (which has also seen it split into two over the years and the western end, still thankfully operated by double-deckers, renumbered 427), has been the express route which covers the old 207 in its entirety but only stops at major points along the Uxbridge Road. The Olympians that provided comfort more appropriate to an express route have unfortunately given way to the stiff-seated TNLs cascaded off Uxbridge’s bit of the 207, but if you want to head west in a hurry you needn’t bother with the 207 any more.

At the end of Metrobuses’ thirteen years on the 207 is Acton Tram Depot’s M 337 (EYE 337V), seen drawing up to Ealing Hospital on 18th March 2000. This garage replaced Hanwell, which with Uxbridge in partnership, shared the 207 from its inception with RMs, via upgrading to RMLs, four years with DMs and then seven more years of Routemasters. The 427 is now its sole responsibility.


  1. i think the tramlink would be a great idea but does nobody think that it would be alot cheaper and better to use all this new “i-bus” technology and jus have special bus lanes along the whole route from shephards bush to uxbridge and use tow away vehicles to move unwanted cars in the bus lanes ?

    Comment by east londoner — Friday 30 March 2007 @ 1:40 pm

  2. Trams are hideously expensive and require so much infrastructure. The advantage the Croydon Trams had was that they used some existing rail thoroughfares. On the other hand, the Uxbridge Road has none of this which would require major replanning (eg all road traffic diverted round the back of Ealing).
    I somehow don’t think retailers (in Southall especially, where the road is narrow) would be happy if passing trade was not allowed to stop outside and deliveries only made late in the evening or early morning.
    There were some quite exciting proposals of having the trams extended to Heathrow (good idea) if it ever came off.
    Yes, a busway would be a far cheaper option, but it needs to be a two way (ie part contraflow)lane so that vehicles can pass one another.

    Comment by PVC — Monday 2 April 2007 @ 11:06 am

  3. #PVC 235! The solution that other European Cities would implement, would either be an Underground Line along the whole length of the Uxbridge Road or a part underground so-called “Stadtbahn” tram system with more frequent stations/stops and overground sections where possible: i.e. converting the middle island for the trams on Dual Carriageways.

    Unfortunately, the capital of the fourth largest economy in the world “can’t afford”? to invest in such infrastructure! So buses continue to lumber along narrow streets and have also to compete for Bus Stop space, something which from a “Continental European perspective” is unbelievable!

    IMO the conversion in 1960 from electric to diesel vehicles was a mistake, even though it did bring RM’s with it. At some time in the not to distant future, we will have to go back to electric or use something else other than diesel. Maybe Trolleybuses will see a comeback along the Uxbridge Road?

    Comment by IsarSteve — Monday 2 April 2007 @ 4:19 pm

  4. Trams are a lot cheaper than a metro, though disruption during construction is inevitable.
    I think it would be impossible to police the entire route from Shepards Bush to Uxbridge to keep carsout if it were converted to a busway. They can’t [or won’t!] even enforce the car ban in Oxford street!
    A segragated Tramway is of course self-policing [mostly].

    I am not totally anti-bendy bus either. In fact I like the citaros. The 207 route is quite suitable for much of the route for bendies. The problem of course is revenue loss. It was nuts to bring bendy’s in on the 18’s, 73’s [also replacing our beloved RM’s here] and 25’s. The powers that be definately must have known they’d lose millions in revenue.

    But I digress! I do remember RM’s on the 207, though by the time I was an inspector they were metro operated.
    Nice canteen at UX. HL was another stop for RPI’S back then.
    Happy days!

    Comment by bill — Thursday 5 April 2007 @ 1:04 am

  5. Trams on the Uxbridge Road, basically on route 207 will never work. The disruption caused by the construction of the tram way would have a collosal impact on local business with great chunks of the Uxbridge Road closed for months on end and traffic diversions through already grossly over crowded streets. Example – where would traffic relocate whilst tram lones were being installed from Ealing Common eastbound to say, Acton Vale. Acton High Street is very narrow and there would be no room for other traffic – this is just one of many examples.
    Cost would be massive – how can any national or local government justify the expenses that would never be recoverable through fares etc.
    This project is fifty years too late.
    I spent many years as a driver and inspector on the routs so I do have some inside knowledge of its peculiarites.

    Comment by Greg Ward — Saturday 5 May 2007 @ 11:22 am

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