please empty your brain below

What a peculiar route! Why does it exist? And why are there no other similar services?
Although TV transmissions have ceased from Beulah Hill it still broadcasts some radio stations.
"But how much longer?"
Answer came there none (yet - channelling timbo.....).
Excellent. Almost beyond the call of duty too. E3 (I'm assuming) to Bloomsbury via Croydon in time for work.

Whilst the journey time of 70 minutes is clearly uncompetitive for Croydon travellers, for those joining in West Norwood and travelling beyond Waterloo this bus is presumably a very good thing. Did you notice if many of those who joined with you or shortly after stayed on beyond West Norwood?

As for why the route exists and whether there were any others I'm sure someone far more knowledgeable than me will be along shortly to tell us. I'm sure we could all think of other bus corridors that would seemingly benefit from an express service.
The Samsung whistle. If Hitler had owed a smartphone, I can guarantee that would've been his alert tone.
I'm sure it will be busier this week and next what with the London Bridge closure for Southern passengers. Today I got the 468 on Beulah Hill and changed onto TL at Tulse Hill, the X68 goes too far west for me.
It was introduced when the 68 lost its conductors/Routemasters. Presumably it was identified that this route had more long distance commuters than any of the other conversions at the time. The 207 also got an express bus, but harder to add an X to that, so it became 607
@Lorenzo - I thought the point of the X68 was that no-one could get off before West Norwood - or indeed Waterloo.
There used to be an X53 (or 53X, I forget which) but it was largely killed off by the Jubilee Line extension. I imagine the X68 was introduced partly to allay the inevitable complaints from long-distance users of the 68 when it was split into two.
As a one-time regular on the 68 from Tulse Hill, I'm not sure whether the X68, had it then existed, would have been incredibly annoying as it sailed past my stop, or a boon as it removed the longer distance passengers from the 68 so that there would be room for people like me.


For an express route the stats are remarkably mediocre:
- not the longest in distance(N15 and R10 both beat it by several miles)
- not the longest in duration (N15, G1, K5, and E3 are all more time-consuming, and it ties for fifth place with the S1)
- decidedly average in speed (11.1mph where the average over all the routes was 10.7: the range was 7.7 (S1) to 19.2 (A10)
and for a supposedly premium route, decidedly elderly: one of three routes with 06 registrations (the others being the H3 and U9), with only the 05-registered crock on the G1 being older. (The average age was five years old - a 59 registration)


Longest route: N15 (18 miles)
Shortest route C2, H3, T33, U9 (all 6 miles)
Total 156 miles: Average 9.7 miles: the G1 (10 miles) is closest to this figure.

Longest duration: N15 (95 minutes)
Shortest duration: U9 (20 minutes)
Total 14h35: average 54.7minutes
The D3, at 50 minutes, is closest to this average

Fastest: A10 (19.2 mph)
Slowest: G1 (7.1 mph)
Average speed 10.7mph
The X68, at 11.1mph, is closest to this figure

Oldest bus: Route G1 (05 registration)
newest bus: Route R10 (63 registration)
Average: 5.2 years, equivalent to the 59 regs sported by both the D3 and E3.

As a north Croydon resident (and Bloomsbury worker), I occasionally use the X68 as a change from the train. Unless there's particularly bad traffic, it's usually not *too* much longer, especially if you live nearer the bus route than to the closest railway station.

Also: When you say "Rather than take the direct route we divert east to pass Selhurst Park" are you referring to the route the A212 is shown as taking on maps north of Thornton Heath (i.e. Grange Road)? If so, a bit of road geekery for you: the A212 Grange Road is actually one-way southbound (downhill), so the only way of reaching Crystal Palace is by diverting to the B266 Whitehorse Lane past CPFC. It's impossible to follow the A212 road number going north. (You can see why they did it, though: Grange Road is quite narrow and steep; Whitehorse Lane is a much better road)
I rode the X68 with the "Ladies who bus" on their last trip. A most enjoyable ride but we did get bogged down in Brixton and also had some angry people on board who had paid no attention to the blind and had got on the wrong bus and wished to alight somewhat earlier than West Norwood. IIRC they ran the bell what felt like 150 times and eventually let themselves off somewhere in Kennington.

I must say an AM peak run in from Croydon when the author lives in E3 is almost dedication beyond the call of duty. I suspect doing it on a sunny May morning might be a more inviting prospect.
Of course thanks are due to DG for his efforts in getting us this fascinating account. But I think the conventional phrase, used, "beyond the call of duty" does not quite hit the spot. Reason being that, as I interpret it, DG seems to see completing the tasks he sets himself (for us) as a source of satisfaction, rather than a duty (which would be sort of grimmer).

Sorry, but my attempt at understanding seems to be at least as clumsy as the phrase I was criticising; so please ignore it if you wish!
As a regular X68 user (until a year and half ago) I can confirm that the bus is usually a lot busier than your experience. I used to get on up by the transmitter and quite regularly the bus would fly past as it was already full. Regular commuters at my stop could also be spotted by the spare carrier bag that was used for when you had no option but to sit on the stairs (completely against TfL policy)!
The strange case of the were-bus: the photo in pre-dawn Croydon suggests you set off on an Enviro 400 (E class) but by the time you arrived in sunny Bloomsbury it had morphed into an older Wright Eclipse Gemini (WVL class)!
Really enjoy your bus blogs and transport ones. look forward to many more. Have a great christmas DG Best wishes for the New Year
@timbo: DG said he missed one bus because he needed to find the boarding point. Maybe we could safely assume that the Enviro 400 was the bus he missed.
Is the X68 the only TfL bus route that has a "bifurcation point"?!
There have certain been routes in the past where some journeys took a different route - the odd 85s via the Telegraph Inn, the Sunday 140s via the M4 spur and Cherry Tree Lane, some school bus variants (most if not all now have 6xx numbers to distinguish them).

But the quantum-mechanical "don't know which it is when it sets out" probability function on the X68 may be unique. I have been on an X26 which took an unexpected route via Fulwell once, but I don't know whether that was official or not - no stops were omitted and nothing was said.
You're probably right, but I prefer the were-bus theory.
You'll be looking out for the other "Were-" on the telly over Christmas, then.
I don't understand why there aren't more express buses. They used to be fairly common all over the country, often using more comfortable coaches rather than buses. Most seem to have disappeared now, but I noticed in North East scotland (Fife, Angus, Aberdeenshire), there are still quite a few express buses, which use coaches, and seem well used.
The X68 continues to exist primarily because the densely populated corridor through Upper Norwood has poor access to rail services. South Norwood Hill is a known pinch point. There are a number of secondary schools in Upper Norwood, with a lot of students living further south in the borough of Croydon. Commonly in outer London you'll get high volumes of school and commuter traffic at the same time. The X68 also serves to relieve the 468, which sees a fair amount of commuter traffic to Denmark Hill and Kings College. The 468 had a nb AM peak frequency increase in September 2014.

Two routes have branches, each of which are served at different times of day - the 283 and the B12. Several have alternate routings to avoid shopping areas, or areas of heightened antisocial activity. The 331 serves a bidirectional roundabout of which it may negotiate in either direction.

Nice series of posts DG, I really enjoyed reading your accounts of these routes! Never been on the X68 myself. As for the steamy windows, was opening the window a no go? I personally find a slight chill preferable to the lower density of available oxygen evident from a near sealed upper deck full of people - especially if the doors downstairs aren't providing regular ventilation!
I remember the X53. I caught it by mistake once - an unexpectedly thrilling ride.

Oh, how I loathe that whassapp noise.
My statistic (having recommended for all letters).

Recommendations followed: 11 (A10, C2, D3, G1, H3, K5, R10, S1, U9, W3, X68)
Recommendations not followed: 5 (B12 picked B11, E6 picked E3, N47 picked N15, P5 picked P4, T32 picked T31).

Glad to see someone has used the 68 route on the X68. I wonder how well it compares to the N68?
I know I should like the idea of any bus that gets people in and out of zone 1 quickly...but living in Tulse Hill and working in Holborn, I curse the 68 every single time it rolls past my front door on the way to my office and doesn't bloody stop.

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