It started on July 20 1960 as a Routemaster running between Highgate Village and Finsbury Square, taking North London’s finest into the heart of the City of London via Archway, Holloway, Islington, and Hoxton. So useful was the 271, the route was extended twice – first out to Hendon Central station between 1987 and 1991 and then on to Liverpool Street station every weekend from 1991 onwards.
The 271 has enjoyed many incarnations over the years, swapping out the AEC Routemaster for Leyland Atlanteans in 1965, then switching to the Daimler Fleetline and back to the Routemaster a year later. It then returned to the Fleetline in 1971 for the next 22 years before AEC handed over the keys to London Suburban Bus who used a fleet of Volvo Olympians.
After a stint with MTL from 1996, the company was consumed by Metroline who ran the route until just last week when after 63 glorious years on Saturday February 4 the 271 made its final journey. A TfL consultation in early 2022 brought an end to a route after 1,520 responses of which 69 per cent said removing the route would have a negative impact on their journey.
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TfL ploughed on and restructuring of routes 21, 143, and 263 should soften the blow. The five mile route can be done on the Northern line in 34 minutes (though it is costlier) or passengers could hop on the 214 (though it is longer). A combination of 263 and 21/43 also takes around an hour, but that brings the variable of a badly timed bus hop.
Luckily the route isn’t completely gone after it was previously given the grave-yard shift, birthing the N271. A Transport for London consultation on the withdrawal of this route was rejected in 2018. And now TfL have promised to extend the night route to North Finchley, most likely turning the service into a midnight vomit comet for suburban party-goers.
To celebrate its final days Londoners have been posting TikToks in tribute to the now dead route. Ethan Sebastien shared a video on the bus’s last day, which was packed out (obviously) and meant he was left waiting for the next one, as is the way for bus users. After getting a seat, he said: “Even though I don’t use this bus, I’ll never forget this moment, riding on the 271 bus on its last day.”
Another fan Donell set an empty evening 271 to emotional music and wrote something of a eulogy. He said: “POV: You went on the 271 bus route on its last day before it gets withdrawn for good. Fun fact: 271 was carrying an above average number of passengers annually, especially for a five mile long bus route. Unfortunately the pandemic has killed it off. RIP 20th July 1950 to 3rd February 2023.”
Commuter Camilla shared her own video of the bus set to Hannah Montana’s ‘I’ll Always Remember You’, cheekily writing “Thank you for never being on time” while videoing herself on her final journey. Of course no TikTok funeral would be complete without some photos of the bus set to ‘See You Again’ by Whiz Khalifa ft Charlie Puth.
While the author of this article would be more upset to see the 263 go, or more recently the 188, the loss of any London bus route is hard to stomach. A Londoner’s bus is like their first love, beautiful inside and out, utterly frustrating, but there when you need it most to provide a helping hand towards your next stop. Rest in perfect peace 271, you will be missed.
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