Today's route 34 commenced operation on 3 October 1934, when the London Passenger Transport Board, which had been responsible for London's buses since 1 July 1933, revised its route numbering system. The 34 ran daily between Whetstone and Stratford via Palmers Green, Walthamstow and Leyton and was a re-numbering of route 604. This was the second time that the route number 34 had been used on a London bus route.
The 34A, also a daily service, ran between Stratford and Chingford Mount with an irregular Monday - Saturday extension to Chingford (Royal Forest Hotel). This route was a re-numbering of route 511.
Also introduced on 3 October 1934 was a Monday - Saturday peak hours route 34B between Lower Edmonton Station and Walthamstow (Crooked Billet) via Lea Valley Viaduct and North Circular Road. This route was previously numbered 167 and was historically part of the 76 group of routes. It remained closely linked to the 76 throughout its lifetime.
In 1936 the route ran from Whetstone through to Walthamstow and Stratford at an impressive 5 minute frequency most of the way (every 3¾ minutes on Saturdays!).
As from 17 February 1937, route 34 was withdrawn between Leyton Green and Stratford. The route 34B journeys to Stratford, which had been introduced in 1936, were also withdrawn at this time.
As a wartime economy measure, the 34A was withdrawn after service on 31 October 1939. At the same time, the 34B was extended from Lower Edmonton Station to Brimsdown (Power Station) via Ponders End, replacing journeys on route 69.
After the war, buses were running from New Barnet via what is now the 326 to Whetstone, and the section between the Crooked Billet and Stratford had been given over to the trolleybuses. Later, the route was extended into Barnet and to Chesterfield Road (present 184 routeing) and by the 1970s the present direct route into Barnet via Barnet Hill had been adopted, the route via New Barnet then covered by part of the 260. At the other end, buses had been restored to Walthamstow and Leyton, reaching Leytonstone (Harrow Green) as from 16 June 1973. Later the route was curtailed to Walthamstow Central.
Major rebuilding of the North Circular Road in the mid 1990s had quite an effect on the 34. As well as the building of the Woodford-Barking link, most of the road between Hanger Lane and north Walthamstow has now been upgraded. Just a few bottlenecks around Neasden, Finchley (Henly's Corner, where it crosses the A1) and New Southgate-Palmers Green remain to be done - if the government allows. The result is a very good road, with lots of new flyovers and underpasses constructed. The 34 does not stick to the fast road, but, as buses do, dives off onto every possible service road and access way. There are still some fast bits though!
However, during the construction, traffic congestion was very heavy, and it was decided to split the route into sections. It had been every 15 minutes Barnet to Walthamstow, but the new sections were Barnet to Edmonton and Arnos Grove to Walthamstow, every 20 minutes each giving a 10 minute service on the overlap. Some of the worst congestion was around Edmonton, where a huge underpass under Silver Street station and Fore Street was built. Once the NCR works were completed, the 34 was retendered, with quite a big improvement in that buses would run every 10 minutes throughout - i.e. the overlap frequency throughout the route.
The 34 is another amazingly well-established route, and also unusually low-numbered for a route that does not serve central London. However in this case there has been a fair amount of fiddling at the ends, even if buses have always linked Whetstone with the Crooked Billet north of Walthamstow via a substantial portion of the North Circular Road.
On Saturday 8th November 2014, Metroline commenced operating route 34 with Dennis Enviro 400s and new Wright Gemini 3s.
Route departing Barnet
Route departing Walthamstow
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