Of the over 700 bus routes in London, it’s relatively straightforward to work out the fastest, slowest and even longest. The shortest is currently somewhat debatable.
There are three contenders which could claim the title: route 389 ( Barnet – Hadley Wood), route 718 (Morden – Rose Hill) and route 847 (the HereEast Shuttle). Unusually, all three of the buses operate in a ‘figure of six’ which means the buses start at one point, serve their end point on a loop and return back to the start point using the same road.
That means calculating where the route technically starts and finishes is not an exact science as arguably it finishes where it started. For the sake of this article, we are assuming the major timing point at the end of the route on the ‘figure of six’ loop is the terminus. All three of the routes are approximately two miles long depending on where the timing point is on its terminus loop.
READ MORE : The London bus route so long it can take more than 2 hours to reach its final destination
Sullivan Buses who operate the 389 also provide the buses often used in EastEnders, such as this one
The 389 is the only bus service which serves the whole of Hadley Wood village which is a small estate of very expensive housing just within the M25 in Barnet. It runs only on weekdays and the last bus is at around 2pm. The route is so short that the same bus turns into Route 399 (Barnet – Dollis Valley) in between each 389 journey.
The entire journey from Barnet to Hadley Wood is 10 minutes long. The return journey from Hadley Wood back to Barnet is just 12 minutes.
The 389 is a permanent route which is officially part of the London Buses network so is technically the shortest Transport for London (TfL) regular bus route but it is currently being undercut by another route on a temporary basis meaning there is an even shorter route you can do the whole journey on your Oyster card.
The 718 starts here at Morden bus station, alongside much longer routes
(Image: Stephen McKay)
This temporary route replaces the 118 which has been on diversion since Bishopsford Road bridge collapsed in 2019. The 118 now has to use Morden Road and miss out St Helier on its journey until the bridge reopens.
In the evenings, the route takes just seven minutes to get from Rosehill to Morden (the other way is eight), meaning it has a shorter runtime than the 389. The 718 is shown on the TfL website as a circular service although it runs almost in a straight line akin to number 7 figure.
Right now, this is the shortest route in the TfL bus network but its temporary basis means it can’t entirely claim the crown.
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This bus route is the actual shortest bus route in London, taking 14 minutes to do the loop from HereEast to Stratford International then Stratford City and back to HereEast (the 389 is 22 and 718 is 15).
It is not a TfL route though, so you cannot use an Oystercard on it and the HereEast website says that due to the pandemic, only those who work at HereEast can use the route, which temporarily is ending at 6pm instead of its usual 10.30pm. It is usually free. The journey from Stratford City to HereEast is as little as five minutes, depending on the traffic from nearby Westfield Stratford City.
You won’t see the “847” route number it is technically registered under, instead buses usually show just ‘HereEast’ or ‘HereEast shuttle’.
We’ll leave it to you to decide which route is the real shortest bus route in London! After all, figuring out how short a bus route is is a bit like asking how short is a piece of string!
Which of the three bus routes do you believe is the authentic shortest route? Have you ever travelled on them? Let us know in the comments below!
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