Metrobus (South East England)

476 (YN53 RYF), a Scania OmniDekka ex-London bus in Horsham
Parent Go-Ahead Group
Founded 1983
Headquarters Wheatstone Close, Crawley
Locale South London, East Surrey, West Sussex, North-west Kent
Service type Bus service
Routes 43 (London Buses)
32 (non-London Buses)
Total: 74
Hubs Crawley (non-London Buses and TfL Route 465)
Croydon and Orpington (London Buses)
Web site

Metrobus is a bus operator with routes in south and south-east London, and parts of Surrey, Kent, West and East Sussex. The company operates many routes on tender from Transport for London. Formed through a management buyout of Tillingbourne (Metropolitan) Ltd. in 1983, it was later acquired by the Go-Ahead Group in 1999.[1]


Company history

In February 1981 the Orpington & District bus company collapsed due to financial difficulties, and the Tillingbourne Bus Company based in West Surrey took over their operations, setting up Tillingbourne (Metropolitan) Ltd. On 24 September 1983, Metrobus Ltd was formed through its two directors, Gary Wood and Peter Larking, buying out the subsidiary.[2]

The newly-formed company acquired the former Orpington & District garage at Green Street Green, Orpington, along with six employees and six vehicles. Three routes were operated by Metrobus at the time it was set up: Route 353 (Croydon to Orpington via Coombe Road, weekday peak hours only), Route 355 (Croydon to Forestdale, weekday peak hours only) and Route 357 (Croydon to Orpington via Forestdale, Monday-Saturday, all day). In May 1982 a 'shopper bus' service was introduced, running from Sanderstead to Bromley town centre via New Addington. In keeping with the route numbers of the former Tillingbourne services, this route was numbered 354.[2] In October 1983 the 354 was rerouted to cut out New Addington and extend the route to Croydon. Due to requests from residents, the route also began to serve Bourne Vale, which was some distance from other bus services.[3] 1986 saw route number 355 discontinued for short journeys between Croydon and Forestdale, and the 354 get a frequency boost and a rerouting via Selsdon Vale (although the residents of the area refused to allow LT to put fixed bus stops in place). The route was also curtailed at Selsdon, although it was extended back to East Croydon the next year.[4] The 357 was withdrawn in 1995 after routes 353 & 354 were retimetabled.[5]

Two coach operators, Southland Travel and RB Coaches, were taken over by Metrobus in October 1991 along with the ten vehicles originally owned by the companies. These coaches were used on the already-existing private hire business, and to operate scheduled day trips to European destinations.[6] In 2005, Southlands was purchased by Sullivan Buses, along with Polhill Garage. The business has since been resold to the local management.[7]

In the summers of 1994 and 1995, Metrobus operated their 'Wealdsman' service (numbered 746) to complement the Surrey Hills weekend leisure bus network. Metrobus used a specially painted blue and yellow AEC Regal IV (RF-class) vehicle, on loan from the Wealdsman Preservation Group, for the long service between Bromley and Tunbridge Wells, connecting with other leisure services (London & Country Routemaster service 410 to Box Hill) at Westerham.[8]

Throughout the late 1990s, Metrobus introduced other commercial routes operated under Section 3(2) of the London Regional Transport Act 1984 (later to become London Local Service Agreements), including the 351, 356 and 358. All such routes were later transferred to TfL in mid-2002, although the 358 still remains tendered to Metrobus as of 2009.[9]

In 1999 the company was purchased by the Go-Ahead Group, a major transportation group which also operates the Southeastern and Southern rail franchises and owns several other bus companies in South East England.[10]

Routes 353 & 354 were altered due to the opening of Croydon Tramlink on 20 May 2000. Both routes were transferred to standard TfL contract; the 353 was withdrawn between Addington Village and Croydon, and the 354 (renumbered T33 to reflect its new status as a Tramlink 'feeder' route) was withdrawn between Addington and Bromley.

In March 2003, two Metrobus vehicles were involved in a fatal accident at Crawley bus station. A bus crashed into the back of another bus, and mounted the kerb where passengers were waiting. As a result of the impact, one woman was killed and five others injured. Metrobus described themselves as "devastated" by the accident, and said it was their "first major incident".[11]

Metrobus is the operator of the Fastway guided bus network in Gatwick and Crawley which opened in September 2003 in order to reduce congestion on the roads around Crawley by encouraging people to take the bus instead of using their cars.[12]

On 8 December 2007 Metrobus took over the operations of First Centrewest's Orpington garage. All the staff and all 35 vehicles were also transferred to Metrobus, although the garage itself was closed, with the 'R' prefix routes transferring to the Orpington garage, and the T32 going to Croydon.[13]

Routes 526/527 were lost in a Surrey County Council contract to Southdown PSV in January 2008, and Route 100 (Maidenbower - Redhill) became part of the Fastway Network in Spring 2008.

In September 2009 it was announced that from 3 October 2009, Metrobus would take over Arriva Guildford & West Surrey's Horsham operations, including Horsham town routes, route 93 (Dorking - Horsham) and London Buses route 465 (Dorking - Kingston). Metrobus purchased 19 buses as part of the sale and moved operations away from Arriva's site at Warnham to their existing depot in Crawley.

On 8 January 2011, one of Metrobus' vehicles was hijacked while in service in Merstham. The bus was empty having just dropped off the last passengers, and the bus driver managed to escape unharmed, along with the cash box the hijackers had tried to steal. The hijacked bus was then driven through the area, striking a number of parked car and signs, before being reversed into another Metrobus vehicle which was in service with passengers. There were no injuries, but the road was closed for a number of hours while the police investigated. Two men, ages 23 and 25, were arrested, one was released on bail, the other was charged with seven separate offences.[14]

Fleet livery

Bus 289, a Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointer MPD showing the newer out-of-London livery.
310 (T310 SMV), a Dennis Dart SLF/Alexander ALX200 in Horsham showing the older outside London livery.

The majority of Crawley buses feature a light blue base with a dark blue roof which swoops down at the front. It also has a white stripe separating the roof from the base, and a light blue lower dash panel. The Fastway livery is a silver base with navy blue cantrail panels and a navy blue lower front panel. Some older buses feature light blue with a dark blue roof and skirt panels along with a dark blue lower dash panel.

The London livery is all-over red with silver fleetnames on the side and white fleetnames on the front, although many have all white and all silver fleetnames. Earlier variations included the original Metrobus colours of dark blue and yellow which gradually got reduced due to TfL's requiring all buses operated under tender to have a red livery, in keeping with the traditional colour of London's buses. Most buses have blue, red and orange oblong shapes on the seats, or "sails", however buses are now getting refurbished with Crawley's "Blue Moon" moquette now becoming standard on all Metrobus buses. Fastway buses have a slightly different moquette, with the letters "fw" sewn into the fabric,along with dark grey vinyl inserts.

Driver training vehicles are a mixture of older and newer Darts, the older ones are blue and yellow, and the newer ones are red and blue.


Metrobus has a predominantly Scania-based fleet, alongside many Dennis products. In 2010, the company achieved an 100% low floor fleet, with the withdrawal of the last Volvo Olympians.

Metrobus had had a long association with the Leyland and Volvo Olympian, having operated them since the company was formed. In August 2010 Metrobus's last Volvo Olympians, which had East Lancs Pyoneer bodywork, operated their last days of service, before being transferred to sister company Southern Vectis to operate school services on the Isle of Wight. Newer refurbished Scania OmniDekkas replaced these vehicles, having been transferred to Crawley from the London garages. This was what completed the conversion to a 100% low floor fleet. Metrobus also purchased two new Scania OmnCity double deckers in 2008, mainly for routes 409, 411 and 460. One bus from this fleet is now used on ex-Arriva Horsham town service 98, to cope with school journeys and peak loadings. New vehicles are on order to replace the refurbished ex-Arriva Dennis Darts currently used on service 98. Details of the fleet currently operated by each garage can be seen below.


Metrobus has three bus garages currently in use, with a further two used as storage and sales facilities, and another one out of use all together.

Rumors are that Metrobus are to open a fourth depot in St Mary Cray at the former First depot, to be coded Y, for London route 162.

Crawley (CY)

The garage in Crawley runs all of the company's non-London Buses and one London Buses route, 465. This depot is shared with National Express. Routes include:

  • 1: Crawley town service: Bewbush West - Town Centre - Broadfield
  • 2: Crawley town service: Ifield West - Town Centre - K2 Leisure Centre
  • 4: Crawley town service: County Oak - Town Centre - Pound Hill and Crabbet Park
  • 5: Crawley town service: County Oak - Town Centre - Crabbet Park and Pound Hill
  • 6: Crawley town service: Town Centre - Gossops Green
  • 23: Crawley - Horsham - Worthing
  • 24: Crawley - Colgate - Horsham (one journey to Horsham Mon-Sat only)
  • 51: The Common - Horsham - North Heath
  • 61: Horsham - North Heath - Horsham
  • 65: Horsham - Oakhill - Horsham
  • 81: Haywards Heath - Sharpthorne - Haywards Heath
  • 82: Crawley - Haywards Heath
  • 84: Crawley - East Grinstead
  • 86: Horsham - Southwater - Bolney - Haywards Heath
  • 89: Horsham - Warninglid - Bolney - Haywards Heath
  • 93: Horsham - Warnham - Capel - Beare Green - Goodwyns - Dorking
  • 98: Southwater - Hop Oast Park & Ride - Horsham - Roffey
  • 200: Horsham - Bewbush - Crawley - Gatwick Airport
  • 270: East Grinstead - Forest Row - Wych Cross - Danehill - Horsted Keynes - Lindfield - Haywards Heath
  • 271: Three Bridges (one journey Mon-Sat starts here) - Crawley - Handcross - Cuckfield - Haywards Heath
  • 272: Crawley - Three Bridges - Balcombe - Cuckfield - Haywards Heath (one journey each way per day Mon-Sat)
  • 273/N73: Crawley - Handcross - Bolney - Hurstpierpoint - Patcham - Brighton
  • 281: Crawley - Three Bridges - Copthorne - Crawley Down - Felbridge - Imberhorne - East Grinstead - Worsted Farm - Stone Quarry - Dormansland - Lingfield
  • 291: Crawley - Crawley Down - East Grinstead - Forest Row - Hartfield - Groombridge - Langton - Tunbridge Wells
  • 298: Horsham Tanbridge House School - Southwater (schooldays only)
  • 300: Gatwick Airport - City Place - Manor Royal - Langley Green - Ifield - Ifield West (Mon-Fri peak times only)
  • 303: Halstead - Bennett Memorial School
  • 391: Crawley - Crawley Down - Turners Hill - Felbridge - West Hoathly - Sharpthorne - East Grinstead - Forest Row
  • 398: Crawley - Crawley Schools - Bewbush - Roffey - Millais/Forest Schools - Horsham - Southwater (schooldays only)
  • 400: Stone Quarry - East Grinstead - Crawley - Gatwick South - East Surrey Hospital - Redhill - Godstone - Caterham - Caterham-on-the-Hill
  • 409: Caterham - Caterham-on-the-Hill - Whyteleafe - Warlingham - Chelsham Common - Selsdon (some peak journeys extend to/from Croydon)[15].
  • 420/820: Redhill - Reigate - Tadworth - Tattenham Corner - Banstead - Sutton
  • 430: Merstham - Merstham circular via Redhill, Whitebushes, Woodhatch, South Park, Reigate and Redhill
  • 435: Merstham - Merstham circular via Redhill, Reigate, South Park, Woodhatch, Whitebushes and Redhill
  • 460: Redhill - Reigate - Walton-on-the-Hill - Tadworth - Marbles Way - Tattenham Corner - Epsom
  • 465: Dorking - Leatherhead - Chessington World of Adventures - Hook - Kingston (TfL tendered route) Contract recently won by Quality Line
  • 473: Bluebell Railway service, East Grinstead - Kingscote station
  • 480: Preston - Marbles Way - Tattenham Corner - Epsom
  • 540: Oxted - Caterham - Warlingham (One journey schooldays only to Warlingham)
  • 604: Oriel School - Pound Hill - Wakehams Green - Crabbet Park (schooldays only)
  • 606: Crawley Town Centre - Three Bridges - Oriel School (schooldays only)
  • 624: Imberhorne Schools - Felbridge - Crawley Down - Copthorne - Burstow - Smallfield - Horley (schooldays only)
  • 692: Crawley Town Centre - Langley Green - Ifield - Gossops Green - Crawley Schools (schooldays only)
  • 693: Crawley Down - Copthorne - Maidenbower - Three Bridges - Furnace Green - Tilgate - Crawley Schools (schooldays only)
  • 696: Our Lady Queen of Heaven School - Ifield - Gossops Green - Bewbush - Broadfield (schooldays only)
  • 801: West Green Sainsburys - Southgate - Tilgate - Furnace Green - Crawley Town Centre - Three Bridges - Pound Hill (Tues-Fri only)
  • 802: West Green Sainsburys - Langley Green - Ifield - Ifield West - Gossops Green - Bewbush - Broadfield (Tues-Fri only)
  • 901: Crawley Town Centre - Crossways - Three Bridges Tesco (Mon-Fri only)
  • 921: Horsham Town Centre - Bishopric - Farthings Hill - Broadbridge Heath Tesco (Mon-Fri only)

The garage also operates Fastway routes:

  • 10 Bewbush - Gatwick Airport North
  • 20 Broadfield - Horley - Langshott
  • 100 Maidenbower - Crawley - Redhill - Park 25


Following the decision by Arriva to discontinue its operations in Crawley and most of East Surrey and West Sussex in March 2001, Metrobus purchased Arriva's premises in Crawley, moved the company headquarters (along with all non-London routes) there and began to develop a commercial bus network in the town.[16] In October 2009, there was further expansion in the fleet as Arriva decided to sell their Horsham bus operations to Metrobus. Metrobus took over operation of various Horsham town routes, route 93 to Dorking and London Buses route 465 which is run under contract to Transport for London. Operations moved to Metrobus' existing depot in Crawley, away from the previous garage in Warnham. All of Arriva's single deckers based at Warnham transferred to Metrobus. Six Alexander Dennis Enviro200s used on the 465 continued on that route. Six Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointers were kept and were refurbished internally and repainted (390, 393, 394, 395, 396 and 398), these are now used mainly on route 98 in Horsham, with a further six (388, 399, 397, 389, 391 and 392) being sold on to other operators. A solitary Volvo Olympian/Northern Counties double decker remained in operation with Arriva.

Quality Line have successfully gained the contract for TfL route 465 and from 30 June 2012, it will be operated from their Epsom (EB) garage.

Bus types in use

Croydon (C)

The Croydon garage holds 130 buses, and runs London bus routes 64, 75, 24-hour route 119, 127, 130, 202, 293, 359, 405, X26, school route 612 and Tramlink feeder routes T32 and T33 and night route N64 .


The Beddington Lane depot was opened by Metrobus in December 2005 to house route 127 which had been surrendered early by the now defunct operator Centra. Work was completed on the garage buildings in February 2006. This garage took over the London routes that ran from Godstone with the exception of the 146 and 246 which moved to Orpington.

On 29 August 2009, Route 64 received new Scania OmniCity double deckers replacing the existing vehicles, some of them being repainted for Crawley work, 4 buses were transferred to Go-Ahead's Isle of Wight outstation, Southern Vectis. However, the new OmniCity have been placed on the 119 temporarily due to tree issues in the South Croydon/Selsdon area. As of 11 January 2010, the OmniCitys had started operating on the route displacing older OmniDekkas for use on the 119. Route 119 has been retained with Metrobus following an extension of its contract, along with the 130. No new buses will be bought, but older buses will be refurbished and retrimmed in the new Crawley 'blue moon' moquette.

Quality Line have successfully gained the contract for route X26 and from 14 April 2012, it will be operated from their Epsom (EB) garage.

Abellio London have successfully gained the contract for route T33 and from 19 May 2012, it will be operated from their Beddington (BC) garage.

Bus types in use

Orpington (MB)

The Green Street Green garage holds 189 buses, and runs London bus routes 54, 119 (night service only on this 24-hour route), 138, 146, 161, 162, 181, 261, 284, 320, 336, 352, 353, 358, 367, 464, B14, R1, R2, R3, R4, R5, R6, R7, R8, R9, R10, R11, and school route 654.


A former farm, Green Street Green depot was for many years the only garage for all of Metrobus' London tendered routes since the award of route 61 in 1986. More recently routes have been operated from Godstone and in December 2005 a new depot was constructed in Croydon to cope with new tender awards. During mid-2005 major reconstruction started on the Green Street Green site to make improvements and provide an expansion. During these works, a temporary base was being used at Polhill in Kent next to the base of what was Southlands Travel.

Bus types in use

  • Alexander Dennis Enviro200 Dart 8.9m for routes 162 and B14. To be introduced on routes R1, R4 and R11 from December 2011.
  • Alexander Dennis Enviro200 Dart 10.2m for route R9.
  • Dennis Dart SLF 8.8m / Plaxton Pointer 2 for routes 138, 336, 352, 464, R5, R7 and R10.
  • Dennis Dart SLF 10.2m / Plaxton Pointer 2 on long-term loan from Go-Ahead London for route 358.
  • Dennis Dart SLF 8.8m / East Lancs Esteem for routes 138, 146, 336 and 367.
  • Dennis Dart SLF 8.8m / Marshall Capital for routes R1, R3, R4, R6 and R11.
  • MAN 12.240 10.2m / East Lancs Esteem for route R2.
  • Optare Solo SE 7.1m for route R8.
  • Scania OmniCity single-deck 12m for route 358.
  • Scania OmniCity double-deck 10.6m for route 320.
  • Scania OmniDekka 10.6m for routes 119, 161, 261, 320, 353 and 654.
  • Scania OmniTown 10.5m / East Lancs Esteem for routes 181 and 284.
  • Scania N230UD 10.6m / Optare Olympus for route 54.

Metrobus in the Media

Metrobus has been involved in an NHS advert, a Churchill car insurance advert in Croydon's Valley Park and several BT adverts, where several of their buses were used.

A former Metrobus Dennis Dart/Plaxton Pointer (K709 KGU) was used in a bus racing challenge in Series 14(?) of BBC's Top Gear.


See also


  1. ^ "Go-Ahead - Metrobus". Retrieved 2009-02-06. 
  2. ^ a b Boag, Andrew; Ltd, Metrobus. Metrobus: The Company's First Ten Years. Harrow Weald, Middlesex: Capital Transport Publishing. pp. 8–9. ISBN 978-1-85414-159-0. 
  3. ^ Boag, Andrew; Ltd, Metrobus. Metrobus: The Company's First Ten Years. Harrow Weald, Middlesex: Capital Transport Publishing. pp. 12. ISBN 978-1-85414-159-0. 
  4. ^ Boag, Andrew; Ltd, Metrobus. Metrobus: The Company's First Ten Years. Harrow Weald, Middlesex: Capital Transport Publishing. pp. 24–25. ISBN 978-1-85414-159-0. 
  5. ^ Munster, Robert (2007-01-20). "Route 353". London Bus Routes. Retrieved 2009-02-08. 
  6. ^ Boag, Andrew; Ltd, Metrobus. Metrobus: The Company's First Ten Years. Harrow Weald, Middlesex: Capital Transport Publishing. pp. 60. ISBN 978-1-85414-159-0. 
  7. ^ "Sullivan Buses - Enthusiasts". Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  8. ^ Dawes, Mike. "Wealdsman - RF255". Retrieved 2009-02-16. 
  9. ^ "Bus tender results - Route 358". Transport for London's bus tender results for route 358. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  10. ^ "Business Case Study - Go-Ahead - Deregulation". The Times 100 Business Case Studies. Retrieved 2009-02-14. 
  11. ^ "Bus crash kills woman". BBC News. 2003-03-10. Retrieved 2011-01-11. 
  12. ^ "About Fastway - Frequently Asked Questions". 2001-02-04. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  13. ^ "TUPE Transfer and future of Orpington Bus Garage". 2007-10-26. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  14. ^ "'Hijacked' bus collides with cars and second bus". Surrey Advertiser. 2011-01-10. Retrieved 2011-01-10. 
  15. ^$FILE/Guide%20to%20revised%20services%20from%20Sep%203rd%202011%20in%20Tandridge,%20Reigate%20and%20Banstead.pdf
  16. ^ "ACQUISITION OF CRAWLEY DEPOT". Go-Ahead - News. 2001-02-04. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 

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