The 2 was the last West End route to be operated by multiple-step-entrance buses other than Routemasters. Arriva's policy of purchasing many different chassis/bodywork combinations (apart from Tridents) for its buses produced the VLA-class Volvo/Alexander combination, which is now present in some numbers at Norwood garage, from where the 2 is operated. Conversion took place a few months before contract renewal.
Like most low numbered routes, the 2 was once a cross-London service, running from Crystal Palace to North Finchley (later only to Golders Green), and indeed during peak hours on to Arnos Grove via Whetstone. However, one could argue that that is not the present day route 2. A clue lies in the fact that the 2 then ran via Herne Hill and Railton Road, whereas today's 2 bypasses this area, running over Brixton Hill along the Tulse Hill road instead. In the 1950s the 2 was joined on Mondays to Saturdays by the 2A, diverting from the north at West Norwood to the Rosendale - as the 2 had in the 1930s - and also running via Brixton Road rather than Railton Road. On Sundays, there was the 2B from Golders Green to Crystal Palace, but running via Tulse Hill to cover the 186, which did not run on that day. When the 186 was withdrawn completely the 2B became a daily operation. The 2 was also restored to North Finchley, although the 2A lost its Saturday service.
The 2/2A/2B used London's first bus lane, southbound on Vauxhall Bridge, which came into use on 26 February 1968. At first this was the centre lane of the bridge, it moved to the kerbside in 1974 but was re-established in the centre of the road southbound in 2004 with the redevelopment of Vauxhall Cross.
By the 1980s the 2A was withdrawn completely, and increasingly the 2 was sidelined, being withdrawn north of Baker Street from the September 1982 changes, although an extension from there to London Zoo on summer Sundays was innovative. The more direct 2B took on the prominent role, although that was split in 1986 with new route 82 replacing it between Baker Street and North Fincley. To make room for the 2B at Baker Street, the 2 was further curtailed from the south to Victoria, and lost its Sunday service shortly afterwards. From 1988 part of the 2B service was renumbered 2A.
In 1990 the 2 was rerouted via Lansdowne Way in Stockwell. By 1992 the 2A/2B arrangements seemed more logical, with the 2A running Crystal Palace to Brixton, the 2B West Norwood to Baker Street and the evening and Sunday service running through under the 2A number. But in October that year, the 2 was re-numbered 322 and converted to minibus operation, and the 2B plus evening/Sunday 2A was renumbered 2. At the same time, the northern terminus was altered to Marylebone Station, and use of the number 2A was dropped completely about a year later.
In 2003 the new route 432 took over the Crystal Palace - Brixton section on a daily basis. This was in connection with the introduction of central London congestion charging, the main part of the 2 was boosted in frequency, and at the same time the northern terminus was cut back to Baker Street to make room for route 453. On 24 March 2007, after much delay, the terminus was altered once again to Marylebone, with a new terminal point at Hayes Place.
Route Departing Marylebone
Route Departing West Norwood
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