The longest and most consistent ‘competition’ was on route 383 between Lakeside shopping centre and Chadwell St
Mary, via Grays. Over the years, both companies settled down into a pattern of half hourly services which were timed
such that the passengers got a regular 15 minute service - they even ran opposite directions in a loop around the
Lakeside area, providing a local ‘town service’ between them......how many bus passengers around the UK can claim
that kind of service from competing bus companies?!!
In 1990, following the opening of the Lakeside Shopping Centre, Harris Bus introduced 4 special routes from various
towns in North Kent and Essex which all brought potential shoppers for a day at Lakeside. Such was the success of
the Kent services that duplicate buses were often called for, so more services in Kent were provided and the Essex
routes were dropped. Harris Bus had also secured the contract for the Coach park ‘park n ride’ service, and had, by this time become the contracted rail replacement operator for LTS/c2c.
Harris bus saw a new era of expansion in 1996 when they started to gain work in London for TfL, first with School
route 661 in the Eltham area, then the 108 - quite a biggie at the time as it was the only route to pass through the
Blackwall tunnel on it’s routing from Stratford to Lewisham, and it pre-dated the opening of the Jubilee line. Harris
Bus opened a small base in Crayford which provided some of the allocation for the 108, as well as the vehicle for the
661. Harris Bus made further gains from TfL in the form of Ilford area routes 128,129 & 150 - then followed them up
with the 132 (Bexleyheath) and the 180 (Lewisham). The depot at West Thurrock was getting quite crowded with the
Ilford area buses - given that there were now three routes South of the Thames, and the 108 went South too, the
decision was made to open a fully fledged second depot in Belvedere, with the Crayford based vehicles moving there.
By 2000, Harris Bus had gone into administration - it appears the company got it’s sums wrong when it bid for the TfL work, and as a consequence, TfL set up it’s own bus company and took the routes over themselves, along with the
The full Harris Bus fleet history can now be found within the ‘Miscellaneous Bus Stuff’ area of this website -
click here to go there now.