HistoryWhen London's public transport was brought together in 1933 under the control of the London Passenger Transport Board (LPTB), bus services covered a vast area.
At the time, they served much of what is now Greater London, as well as areas in many of the nearby counties.
Within Greater London, the bus network was supportd by tram and trolleybus systems. Trams were withdrawn in 1952 and the trolleybuses a decade later. Buses replaced both services.
From 1970 to 1984, London Transport (LT) came under the direct control of the Greater London Council. The area for which LT was legally responsible was also reduced to the present 1,580 sq km (610 sq miles). A few services in outlying areas stayed to maintain well-established links.
Under the London Regional Transport Act 1984, LT was again brought under central government control. The Act required LT to set up subsidiary companies to run both buses and the Underground.
The Act also called for competitive tendering to be introduced. This was to make sure LT operated economically and took less money from public funds.
In 1985, bus services outside London were deregulated. This meant that any licensed operator could apply to run a new route even if another company already ran a service along the same roads.
The Government wanted to deregulate London bus services once they had become less dependent on government finance. Competition was encouraged between operators.
In 1985, LT set up a subsidiary known as London Buses Limited (LBL) to run its bus services. Route planning and fare structures remained the responsibility of LT.
In the same year, LT set up the Tendered Bus Division to begin competitive tendering. This required LBL to compete against operators in the private sector for the chance to run individual bus routes on behalf of LT.
The routes were awarded to the operator which could run the best service at the best price. Several of the first routes went to private companies rather than to LBL. It also led to another change as buses began appearing on London's streets in different colours to LT red.
As a step towards the planned deregulation of services, LBL created 13 locally based subsidiary companies.
These companies conducted their own wages negotiations, took steps to reduce their overheads and competed against each other as well as private sector companies for contracts. The subsidiaries became increasingly successful in competing for routes.
In December 1992, the government announced that the LBL companies would be sold into the private sector ahead of deregulation. This was postponed until after the general election in May 1997.
The new Labour government was committed to reintroducing a strategic governing authority for London. In July 2000, London Transport was replaced by a new organisation called Transport for London (TfL), part of the Greater London Authority.
Today London Buses is responsible for one of the largest urban bus networks in the world. In addition to planning routes and monitoring service quality, it is responsible for bus stops, stations and other support services. The bus services themselves are operated under contract to London Buses, largely by private sector companies.