London Transport
Bus & Coach Stop Flags

Last updated
Information contributed by Andrew Colebourne, Mike Harris, Matthew Keyte, Kim Rennie and Keith Williams

Trams & Trolleybuses Buses Coaches Red Arrow Other Services Information Other Signs
[an error occurred while processing this directive]

BUS REQUEST
This is a temporary vinyl sticker that would be affixed to a regular stop flag. However, I don’t know if it is a request or compulsory stop for rail replacement buses.


BUSES

BUS COMPULSORY
B(C)
BUS COMPULSORY
B(C)
BUS COMPULSORY
B(C)
BUS COMPULSORY
TfL BUS STOP
In 1973 the stop flags were redesigned with a single-coloured roundel replacing the two-colour bulls-eye. The first style used the same size and weight lettering as the original 1935 design (), but was changed to smaller, bolder text ().

In some instances, the name of the terminal was on the bus stop sign or adjacent shelter. The type with the name of the stop across the bar of the roundel is a 1980s innovation, contemporary with vinyl “E stickers”. The earliest photo I have of one is dated 1989. I believe the names were vinyl labels stuck onto the bar of the plain red roundel compulsory flags and (if memory serves) also on the white Request stop roundels, obliterating the word REQUEST on the latter. The effect was therefore similar to the erroneous souvenir miniature request stop plates produced for the Museum (though the latter have the word REQUEST at the bottom instead of BUS STOP). The use of these stickers was widespread in Central London. Their function has since been replaced by—as it were—“G plaques” (though they are located above the “E plaques”) on current stops.

BUS COMPULSORY - HOLBORN CIRCUS
B(C)
A picture taken on 16th November 1991 of the (rather scruffy!) bus stop in Charterhouse Street near Holborn Circus with the latter location name displayed across the roundel bar. It looks as if the whole sign is a vinyl label stuck onto the flag.
The “E” plates are of interest:
221 MON.-FRI. TOWARSD NORTH FINCHLEY MON.- FRI. EXCEPT EVENINGS
I suppose that the N21 plate is a label stuck over something else. The ”shadow marks“ to the bottom right of the roundel were almost certainly left by letter and number stop identification stickers (made up of individual black on yellow characters), but I don’t know why they would have been removed. ▶
Andrew Colebourne photo
Holborn Circus
BUS COMPULSORY - OXFORD CIRCUS
B(C)
One point that this flag was displayed at was stop “JA” at Oxford Circus.
RML 903
Photo courtesy the London Bus Routes web site.
BUS COMPULSORY - ST. PANCRAS
B(C)
BUS COMPULSORY - TRAFALGAR SQUARE
B(C)
This flag was displayed on stop “V” in Trafalgar Square, outside of Canada House.
BUS COMPULSORY - VICTORIA
B(C)

BUS REQUEST
B(R)
BUS REQUEST
B(R)
◀ The single-colour version (with the text across the bar in red instead of black) was introduced in about 1970 as an economy measure. I don’t believe any Green Line request stops were done in this manner—at least I’ve never seen any photographic evidence that one existed.
BUS REQUEST
B(R)
BUS REQUEST
TfL REQUEST STOP
Tim Drayton, who worked for London Buses in 1979–1981, writes:

One thing that sticks in my mind, as somebody who was a conductor on the London buses for two years, was the distinction between a request and compulsory stop. There was a peculiar culture among bus drivers at the time which dictated that they would only stop at a request stop if a passenger signalled them in just the right way. The odd thing was that the passenger might be waiting at a stop which was served by only one route, and the bus in question was travelling to the final point on the route, so that the passenger must logically wish to board that vehicle, anyway. This logic did not seem to hold sway. The passenger had to signal in the correct manner or the bus would go straight past. I have known drivers who would refuse to stop if an intending passenger held out an umbrella or walking stick, rather than their arm, or if the passenger raised their arm rather than extended it—the argument being that raising the arm was the accepted way of flagging down a taxi and not stopping a bus! According to the rule book, the bus was always supposed to stop at compulsory stops, but there was an unofficial practice whereby the conductor on a routemaster would give two bells if the bus was approaching a compulsory stop at which no passengers were waiting, and if nobody on board the bus wished to alight. A good conductor could save the driver quite a lot of effort in this way, especially at places where the bus had to move into a different lane of traffic to serve a stop.

Bus stops in London are something that one takes for granted, but when you really look into it, you can see how London Transport thought out every last little detail. I personally regret the passing of London Transport, which I think was a quintessentially British institution which only the BBC could rival for greatness. Even though London Transport itself has bitten the dust, many of its unique working practices go on, including the style of bus stops that can still be seen in London’s streets.


BUS STAND
I don’t know what the code was for a
BUS STAND sign—possibly B(S)?
BUS STAND ONLY
BUS STAND ONLYAlthough I’ve only seen this single-coloured style as a vinyl sticker for a dolly stop, a photo of an enamel example may yet surface.
AUTHORISED BUSES ONLY
I’ve always assumed that this early LRT-era bus stand design was introduced because the previous bullseye-derived pattern was too easily confused with a public stop where passengers could board. Apparently it was not too succesful, as it was replaced by a more conventional design.
BUS STAND Bus stand
TfL Bus stand


COACHES

COACH COMPULSORY
C(C)
COACH STAND
I don’t know what the code was for a
COACH STAND sign—possibly C(S)?
COACH COMPULSORY
C(C)
COACH REQUEST
C(R)
COACH REQUEST
C(R)
I don’t know if this particular one-colour variant was ever produced.
COACH COMPULSORY
TfL COACHES
Kim Rennie writes

“I’m sure there was an LT COACH STAND stop at Baker Street in Allsop Place for the 709 until this [route] came off. Also, I think the last LT compulsory coach stop was on the Embankment eastbound just east of the Underground station. Being only used by commuter services, it was only replaced a couple of years ago. In fact, the modern TfL COACHES stop with their orange ring and dark bar look more than the current TfL all-red design!”

Arriva Shires & Essex 4367 on Green Line route 757
Arriva Shires & Essex 4367 [W367XKX] is a DAF SB3000 with a 53-passenger Plaxton Premiere 320 body. It was photographed on 10 April 2008 in Buckingham Palace Road on Green Line route 757.
“Arriva436” photo, from Wikimedia Commons.


COMBINED BUS & COACH

T423 on route 222B(C)C(R) stop flag

Initally, two full-size flags had been used, mounted one abouve the other in a double-height frame. In the late 1940s shared stops began using a single flag split horizontally with smaller bullseyes above and below. No vertically-divided bullseye signs were made for tram stops, as the decision had already been made to withdrawn them over the next two or three years (aside from the fact that there were hardly any spots where trams and buses shared the same stopping places). Although the vertically-divided combination flag became the standard, a few new horizontally-split stop flags were produced. They were reintroduced in 1968 when it became necessary to add the new Red Arrow express service to existing combined BUS & COACH stops.

◀ 9T9 class T423 [CLX 571]—originally a Green Line coach, but now demoted to bus duties—appears to have just pulled away from an original-style B(R)C(R) stop in the then-rural environs of Heathrow Airport whilst working a turn on the 222.
London Transport photo; London Transport in the 1950s.
This extract is from an unfortunately rather poor uncredited picture. It shows a horizontally-split B(C)C(R) stop flag which had survived as late as 1975. ▶
Andrew Colebourne collection
BUS COMPULSORY COACH COMPULSORY
B(C)C(C)
BUS REQUEST COACH REQUEST
B(R)C(R)
BUS COMPULSORY COACH COMPULSORY RED ARROW COMPULSORY
B(C)C(C)A(C)
BUS COMPULSORY COACH REQUEST
B(C)C(R)
BUS REQUEST COACH COMPULSORY
B(R)C(C)
RT 3840 in Regent Street
This triple bus/coach/Red Arrow example was in Regent Street northbound, north of Piccadilly Circus between Swallow Street and Vigo Street. It was photographed in August 1972 with RT 3840 [NXP 847] loading up for a journey on the 15.
Phil Picken photograph; Andrew Colebourne collection

BUS COMPULSORY COACH COMPULSORY
B(C)C(C)
BUS COMPULSORY COACH COMPULSORY
B(C)C(C)
BUS COMPULSORY COACH COMPULSORY
B(C)C(C)
BUS REQUEST COACH REQUEST
B(R)C(R)
BUS REQUEST COACH REQUEST
B(R)C(R)
BUS REQUEST COACH REQUEST
B(R)C(R)
BUS COMPULSORY COACH REQUEST
B(C)C(R)
BUS COMPULSORY COACH REQUEST
B(C)C(R)
BUS REQUEST COACH COMPULSORY
B(R)C(C)

Clive Brown supplied this photo, adding “I’m pretty sure this must have been Farnborough George & Dragon, on 13 June 1981. If it wasn’t there, it was certainly very close, but the fact that it was a FARE STAGE probably means there’s a good chance it was. The next-but-one picture was taken on ‘Farnborough Hill’—there’s a road name plate in the pic.” It was stop number 18204.
BUS REQUEST COACH COMPULSORY
B(R)C(C)

▲ Regarding the split Bus Request/Green Line Compulsory stop flag, Keith Williams writes:

A dual compulsory Green Line/bus request was on the Uxbridge Road, Hanwell for the 607 (later 207), 709, 710 & 711 eastbound, one bus stop before Hanwell LT depot [HL], west of Hanwell clock tower. This is because the next bus stop was immediately outside of the bus garage which of course was a bus compulsory and where there were crew changes and thus parked buses. Hence, the Green Line stop was about 500 yards away at the preceding bus request stop so that stopping Green Lines didn’t interfere with bus movements. I am 100% certain of this fact, because I used that stop myself. I never saw another stop like it, until one day sometime around the mid ’60s, whilst on a 725 in Beckenham on a journey to Kingston, I am 90% certain I saw another one ([in the] Kingston direction).
Now you know of a second, but I feel certain that some Beckenham locals will be able to confirm a third from contemporary photos. The reason I am so confident (90%+) about the Beckenham one is because having seen it whilst on the 725 (in 1964 or ’65 I think). I was in a car in Beckenham a few (eight?) years later, and I am sure I saw it again which is how I knew where I was in otherwise unfamiliar territory. From the picture in my memory I think the Beckenham one did have “E” plate runners. My memory is fading, but I am fairly confident that the Hanwell one had no runners.
[However,] With more thought, I feel the Hanwell one was more to get unimpeded coach access to kerb space rather that what I originally said about not interfering with bus movements. After all, outside of Hanwell garage where there were always parked buses, the need to keep a space clear for a Green Line coach that hardly anyone would have used at that stop would have led to them re-siting that stop to an ‘out of the way’ place—hence it being located west of Hanwell Clock Tower.
I have (not necessarily reliably) been told that the Hanwell B(R)C(C) stop was not there very long. Allegedly it was only there at the end of Green Line days when a C(C) was moved from a pole across the road from Hanwell garage. So this stop may not have been shared with the 607 (only the 207) and may even have only been placed there after the 709 had been re-routed. The stop (which was quite new looking in 1968) may not have been quite so rare in later years if LT had a policy of moving coach stops to “quieter locations” as was the case at Hanwell Garage. There was often a convoy of RMs awaiting crew changes parked outside, and anyone who did want the Green Line (and that wouldn’t have been many) probably would not have been seen very easily by the drivers.

Another B(R)C(C) was in Edgware High Street, northbound. Keith wonders, “Was that [one] perhaps [also] one bus stop before the garage too, which wouldn’t have been a bus compulsory because the next stop would have been the major bus stop for the garage, or would all buses have then turned into the garage whereas the coaches wouldn’t? If so, [it] seems there is a pattern here.”

Laurie Akehurst adds,

Looking at the section on bus stops you refer to the rare B(R)C(C) [flag]. In 1976 I noted the following examples:
Farnborough (George & Dragon)Route 704   southbound
Selsdon (Parish Church)"     706   northbound and southbound
Felbridge (Hobbs Barracks)"     708   northbound and southbound – This is probably the most unusal example: this pair were “general” stops (i.e. with no “E” plate positions) and looked very odd.
Kingston (St. James Road)"     714   southbound
Marble Arch (Bayswater Road)"     715   
"     715A
southbound
Hoddesdon (Middlefield Road)"     715   
"     715A
northbound and southbound – These ones seemed to have had their origins with the Hoddesdon one-way system.
Abridge (Blue Boar)"     724   eastbound
Beckenham (High Street)"     725   westbound (consecutive stops)
Elmers End Green"     725   westbound

There were others about over the years: I can recall one in Walthamstow on the 718, but it had gone by 1976. I did photograph most of them, but in those days I only had a cheap Instamatic camera.

Trams & Trolleybuses Buses Coaches Red Arrow Other Services Information Other Signs
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Previous page ↑ →
Click on any of the tiles below to go to images of the “E” plates and the route descriptions for that number series.
Clicking on any stop flag will return to the home page.
Stops
“E” Plates
Stops
Stop Flags
Maps
Maps

Stamps

Advanced Search
Advanced Search
Sources
Sources
Bibliography
Bibliography
Links
Links