London Buses route 53 is a Transport for London contracted bus route in London, England. Running between Plumstead and Whitehall, it is operated by Stagecoach London.


Route 53 dates back to 1952. It traditionally ran from Erith to Parliament Hill Fields until the late 1970s, when the route east of Plumstead was withdrawn. During the 1980s route 53 only continued to Camden and Hampstead during peak hour, by 1989 however the route terminated at Oxford Circus at all times. AEC Routemasters where replaced in 1988 by Leyland Titans and Olympians. Throughout the 1990s and up until 2003, was London's most frequent route along with routes; 12, 36, 38, 73 and 207, it ran in several overlapping sections such as: Plumstead to Elephant & Castle, Woolwich to County Hall and Blackheath to Oxford Circus, with the route running in shorter sections such as: Plumstead to New Cross and New Cross to Trafalgar Square. In 2003, the route was cut back to the rather unusual location of Whitehall, even though some route 53 journeys used to terminate at Trafalgar Square, which is only two minutes up the road, it could be argued that the reason for this was so that the new sister route 453 wouldn't be undermined, the route also reduced in frequency. Despite the cutbacks in the route itself route 53 still remains one of London's longest bus routes. The route is a major South East London trunk route and is very long. At one point, some journeys continued on to Erith. From the 1980s to 2001 there was a route X53 that had two eastern termini, Thamesmead and Erith, and ran to Plumstead, Woolwich and Blackheath, from where it was fast to Elephant & Castle then limited stops from that point onwards. Route 53, which is worked from Plumstead garage, is a frequent route. Prior to the 2003 changes it required over 40 buses. In 1995 52 new Volvo Olympiandouble-deckers were bought for the route. Route 185 parallels part of route 53; following the collapse of London Easylink in August 2002, it was left with a limited service provided by a number of operators, and extra journeys on route 53 were operated between Westminster and New Cross Gate to relieve overcrowding. The service is the only Transport for London contracted route to serve the section of the A2 road through Blackheath Hill. In April 2003 subsidence in a chalk mine beneath the road led to the road being closed and the route being diverted via Lewisham. In November 2008, a bus travelling on the route was involved in a collision with a car in Woolwich. There were no serious injuries. Passengers stated that the bus driver had braked sharply to avoid a more serious collision, and he was praised by a spokesman for bus operator Selkent. 

In 2011, the route was retained by Stagecoach London using brand new Alexander Dennis Enviro 400s.

In 2014, the Alexander Dennis Enviro 400s were replaced by brand new Wright Eclipse Gemini 3 bodied Volvo B5LHs.

In 2015, the route was curtailed short of its Whitehall terminus and is now terminating at Lambeth North.

In July 2016, the Wright Eclipse Gemini 3 bodied Volvo B5LHs were replaced by brand new Enviro 400 MMC bodied Alexander Dennis E40Hs.

On 23 July 2016, the route was retained by Stagecoach London and the route was restored to Whitehall at all times.

From 9 October 2018 until 2 November 2018, Phase 2 of Woolwich New Road commences meaning Plumstead Road (Woolwich Public Market) heading towards Whitehall cannot be served. The route will be diverted to Woolwich Arsenal Station via Vincent Road.

Current route

  • Plumstead Station
  • Plumstead Common
  • Woolwich Town Centre (for Woolwich Arsenal Station)
  • Charlton Village
  • Blackheath Royal Standard
  • Greenwich Park
  • Blackheath Hill
  • Blackheath Road
  • Deptford Bridge
  • New Cross
  • New Cross Gate
  • Old Kent Road
  • Bricklayer's Arms
  • Elephant & Castle
  • Lambeth North
  • Westminster
  • Trafalgar Square

External links