London’s bus system is amazingly complex and comprehensive offering 2.3 billion trips a year. More than half the bus trips taken in the UK are in London and in SE16, lots of people rely on Transport for London (TfL) buses to get to and from work, leisure, friends or school. The red bus service – famous across the world – is often one that comes in for criticism but many things have improved the customer’s experience in recent years. Today a single adult bus trip costs you £1.50 using Pay-as-you-go on Oyster or contactless payment card with a daily cap of £4.40. Indeed, TfL are proud to claim their buses are now at their most reliable since regular records began over 30 years ago.

IMGP5293 (Canada Water Bus Station) by Matt Buck CC FlickrRoutes for Bermondsey and Rotherhithe

In SE16, we are served by a range of bus routes. Here is a list of those that pass through SE16 together with the company that operate the service. (I have excluded the many routes that pass down the Old Kent Road which of course also serve the area.)

  • Route No 1 Canada Water to Tottenham Court Road (London General)
  • Route No N1 Tottenham Court Road to Thamesmead (London General)
  • Route No 47 Shoreditch to Bellingham (Stagecoach London)
  • Route No 188 North Greenwich Bus Station to Russell Square (Abellio London)
  • Route No 199 Canada Water Station to Bellingham (Stagecoach London)
  • Route No 225 Canada Water to Hither Green (London Central)
  • Route No 381 County Hall to Peckham (Abellio London)
  • Route No N381 Trafalgar Square to Peckham (Abellio London)
  • Route No C10 Canada Water to Victoria (Abellio London)
  • Route No P12 Surrey Quays to Brockley Rise (London Central)

Whilst TfL take responsibility for the routes, the operators manage the routes under contract. Whilst the operators are responsible for employing the drivers and other route staff, TfL play a key role in ensuring a common framework of training and development, service standards and expectations. TfL are investing in new more accessible buses – many with greener credentials than those they replace – and real-time information systems across the network.

Bus stop and Shard by Kim Rickwood CC FlickrLondon Buses Website

The TfL Buses site is a mine of useful information. On the site you can find updates on developments such as the rebuilding of London Bridge or introduction of the new Routemaster buses to routes across London. Each route has its own page listing the stops each way with interchange information where relevant and offering stop-by-stop live arrivals and status information. If you search by the bus stop name, you can also find out if there are delays on the route, the times for each route that serves that stop and when the next bus will be. If you sign up to @TfLBusAlerts on Twitter, you’ll be made aware of the potential delays on your route.

TfL also publish spider maps of routes from the main points of interchange; these are displayed at bus stops and in station entrances but can also be downloaded from the TfL site. Route maps from Bermondsey, Canada Water, South Bermondsey and Old Kent Road are all available as well as night buses from Old Kent Road.

9047 BX55XMZ abellio by EDDIE CC FlickrComplaining

Now we have all had problems when using public transport and buses are no exception to that rule. When things go wrong, we are often absolutely furious at the time but only take it out on the cat or partner rather than doing anything about it. TfL are actually eager to hear when you are really frustrated by something; they offer their first point of call as their Customer Services number 0343 222 1234. You might want to make a formal complaint in writing about delays or cancellations, dangerous driving by a bus driver, unacceptable staff behaviour, seek compensation for poor service or complain about the level of service in your area. Citizens Advice has a page on complaining about London bus services. If you want to use an independent route to get action, Fix My Transport provides a simple online means to report a problem, find who is responsible, gather support, track progress and get it sorted.