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Lifting the lid on LSPs: Part three

By The Whisperer

With many years in the coach and bus industry, The Whisperer keeps his ear to the ground for all the latest tit-bits and gossip. Tell him what’s going on in your part of the world: e-mail him via

In November I started examining the different types of services that run under London Service Permits (LSPs). This month I will complete my review of the variety of the routes that require these permits in London.

To and from London

While there are many services that are run by Transport for London (TfL) into the areas traditionally known as the Home Counties, there are also some that are run commercially or under contract to local authorities that come into London.

‘Any coach service where the journey distance for customers can be under 15 miles requires an LSP’

Many of these can be traced back to routes that are long standing, such as the 477 (Bluewater-Orpington) or the 8 (Abbots Langley-Mount Vernon, formally the 347/8) – both run by Arriva.

Others are more recent, such as the 614 and 644 (Hatfield-Queensway) run by Uno as the Comet, which have developed in recent years providing links to the growing University of Hertfordshire.

Most of these services come into London and run as far as the first major traffic objective, such as a major town, health facility or rail link.

One comment often levied is that these services do not tend to accept TfL’s bus passes or travelcards and therefore, in many cases, put them at a disadvantage with routes run by TfL.

While there are reasons for this, it is hoped that with the emergence of smart ticketing and contactless payments, ways can be found to harmonise the fares in London for those services where there would be an advantage to the user in doing so.

Commuter coaches

There are still a number of coach services that run in peak periods carrying commuters to and from the centre of London and in some cases the Canary Wharf area.

Most originate from the area of north Kent, but there are still a few journeys provided from areas such as Hemel Hempstead and Leighton Buzzard. Typically, these routes serve areas where the access to London by rail is either not convenient or significantly quicker. They are also generally much cheaper and will always offer a seat.

There is anecdotal evidence to suggest that commuter coaches have had their fair share of challenges in coping with the slowdown of traffic speeds in central London, with some punters turning to other modes despite the price attractiveness.

Links to airports

Finally, a market that has been growing steadily over the years is the links to London’s airports.

Many airports have dedicated links while others such as Heathrow are, in the main, served by coaches calling in on their way along the M4.

In fact, any coach service where the journey distance for customers can be under 15 miles requires an LSP. Again, they can have an advantage over other forms of transport in terms of price, convenience and, in many cases, comfort.

I hope you have enjoyed this look at services operating under LSP’s in London. TfL’s helpful Bus Service Licensing and Permitting Team can be contacted at or alternatively you can always contact the LTCOA at for advice.