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    We would like to apologise to regular readers of the blog for the lack of posts lately. All members of staff are incredibly busy around this time of year. However, visit us at YouTube where we still do post videos or catch up with us and the news on the chatbox. Expect a large wave of posts starting from the end of June. The tender page is also open once again

  • The West End Consultation

    We provide a full report on TfL's latest proposals.

  • Colours of Barkingside

    TfL are introducing different schemes to help increase bus patronage, one of them involves branding buses and introducing tube style maps

  • About Us!

    Get to know the team who have been fuelling the blogging community for 4 years.

  • Borismaster Watch

    We keep tabs on the Borismasters and provides thorough analysis of their progress after every route conversion.

  • Major Model Change

    The series dedicated to the MMCs in London returns soon. For now, enjoy an early example perform a rare working on the controversially single-decker route 316.

  • Know Your Routes

    Know Your Routes selects a variety of bus services to promote and boast our bus enthusiastic credentials.

  • Electric Buses

    London is a leader for low-emission vehicles and the latest welcomes an emerging demand for electric buses.

  • Restoring Three Classics

    Transport for London (TfL) are raising money to help restore three Leyland buses of a bygone era. Find out how you can get involved by clicking the title!

    © Photo by Mike Sutcliffe

  • Back On Track

    Sometimes we have an article to update you on the latest from the rails.

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The Colours of Barkingside

London arguably has one of the best transport networks in the world. When people around the world think of London, chances are that they will think of the big red buses and London Underground alongside landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament. However even though they may be globally recognised, bus usage is falling in London. People aren't using buses as much as they used to, this is down to a variety of reasons, the growth of companies like Uber provide a more convenient and competitively priced alternative. Different schemes taking place across London such as the construction of Cycle Superhighways and Gyratory works makes bus travel a pain, as buses are always subject to roadworks delaying the service. Making them a pain to use as well as making them extremely unreliable.

TfL are combating this in different ways, trying to make savings across the whole network as well as improving the bus service to make it more pleasant and easy to use. One new way that TfL aim to help bus patronage pick up again is by branding selected routes, introducing new styles of maps as well as assigning each route a colour to identify it with.

The colours which have been assigned to each route can be found below.

- Route 128: Romford Station - Claybury Broadway (Purple)
Route 150: Becontree Heath - Chigwell Row (Light Blue)
- Route 167: Ilford, Hainault Street - Loughton Station (Royal Blue)
- Route 169: Barking Town Centre - Clayhall, The Glade (Green)
Route 247: Romford Station - Barkingside Station (Yellow)
- Route 275: Walthamstow, St James Street - Barkingside Tesco (Pink)
- Route 462: Ilford, Hainault Street - Limes Farm Estate (Orange) 

The scheme was rolled out during the months of April and May, initially colours were applied to stop tiles which had all the route involved in the trial. This was shortly followed by the first branded bus appearing on the 25th of April on Route 150 showing off its new colours. T176 was the first branded bus to appear on the streets, shortly followed by VLA133 of Route 128 coming out to play a few days later. It was shortly joined by 10110 on Route 275, 19778 on Route 169, 36661 on Route 167, 36640 on Route 462 and 17985 on Route 247. New Spider maps were also rolled out in areas which were served by the routes, as well as the stop tiles on each bus stop served by the routes given a coloured flash to make the easily identifiable among other routes.

The new spider map style, and new coloured bus stop tiles on display at various stops
Personally I'm not too sure what the point of introducing these maps is, as it no longer shows you what direction buses leave the area through, and there's almost no geographical accuracy. For example the above map makes it seem routes 62 and 368 go in completely opposite directions, when in reality they weave in and out of each other and both end up in Chadwell Heath. Those of you eagle eyed readers will also notice route 687 has been mistaken for route 689 on the map. It seems to be a question of should it be simplicity over accuracy, and it seems TfL have opted for simplicity.

Barkingside has been given its own variation of the spider map, on display inside the buses along with the route diagrams. The route diagrams are similar to those found plastered on the inside of tube carriages.

The Barkingside Spider map on display inside the branded buses
The route diagram on display inside an Enviro200 MMC on Route 462

Not every route carries the exact same livery, as they all use different vehicles. Each branded vehicle also displays areas of interest that the route passes. On Single Deckers this is displayed on both sides of the bus, whereas on Double Deckers is is only displayed on the nearside advert frame. This information is also displayed on the rear of the bus. The actual style of branding has received a lot of different opinions, some positive and some negative. The buses contain flashes of colour at different locations: on the top right of the bus, on the rear and offside rear and then the top left rear. These colour flashes are in the colour allocated to each route and is to help with easy identification. There are stickers on the rear and on each side stating the frequency of the route, and the times of operation.

Route 128 is allocated ALX400 bodied Volvo B7TL buses. It operates between Claybury Broadway and Romford Station, being allocated the colour purple it contains purple flashes and purple route diagrams on display inside the bus. On ALX400s the large coloured route number is on display above the door on the near side and below the ad frame on the off side.

© LondonBuses72

Barkingside High Street - Valentines Park - Ilford Station - The Exchange Mall - Queens Hospital - Liberty Shopping Centre - Romford Station

© LondonBuses72
Route 150 is allocated Enviro400 buses. It operates between Becontree Heath and Chigwell Row, for most of its route paralleling route 128 between Becontree Heath and Barkingside to provide a bus every 6 minutes. It is allocated the colour light blue and contains light blue flashes and light blue route diagrams. As you can see in the photo to the right, the points of interest the route passes are also on display on the rear window. On Enviro400s the number on the near side is found above the front door and the number on the offside is found above the driver's window.

Chigwell Row (For Hainault Country Park) - Hainault Station - Fullwell Cross (For Leisure Centre) - Gants Hill Station - Ilford Station - The Exchange Mall - Becontree Heath

© LondonBuses72

© EastLondoner
Route 167 is allocated Enviro200 MMC buses. This route switched operator from Go Ahead London to Stagecoach London just as the trial began, so some of the route's buses entered service with their branding in place. It operates between Loughton Station and Ilford, Hainault Street. The route previously used to serve Debden, however a cut in Essex county council funding meant the route was cut back to the London Boundary. The via points unlike Double Deckers are displayed on both sides of the bus, above the windows. The large coloured route number is not as large as on Double Deckers, and is found near the rear view mirrors.

Loughton Station - Redbridge Sports Centre - Fullwell Cross ( For Leisure Centre) - Gants Hill Station - Valentines Park - The Exchange Mall - Ilford Station

© LondonBuses72

© EastLondoner
Route 169 operates between Barking Town Centre and Clayhall, The Glade. The route is allocated Enviro400s and the style of branding is similar to that of the 150. With via points on the rear window, and the large coloured numbers above the drivers cab and above the front doors. The route is operated by Stagecoach London. This is one of two routes to serve Barkingside Station (the other being the 247) as well as being the only route to leave south via Horns Road and Tanners Lane

The Glade - Fullwell Cross (For Leisure Centre) - Barkingside Station - The Exchange Mall - Ilford Station - Barking Station - Barking Town Centre

© EastLondoner
Route 247 operates between Romford Station and Barkingside Station. The 247 is allocated ALX400 bodied Dennis Trident 2s, therefore the style of branding is similar to that found on route 128. However the large coloured number on the offside is smaller in order to cater for the reduced space. The route is operated by Stagecoach London. In my opinion this is the best looking out of all the routes that have been branded.

Barkingside Park - Fullwell Cross (For Leisure Centre) - Redbridge Sports Centre - Hainault Station - Hainault Forest Country Park - City Pavilion - The Liberty Shopping Centre - Romford Station

Route 275 operates between Barkingside Tesco and Walthamstow, St James Street. It is operated by Stagecoach London. It is allocated Enviro400s and the style of branding therefore is similar to that found on routes 150 and 169. The 275 is the only route to enter Tesco, all other routes which go nearby stop on the main road outside while routes 169, 247 and 462 do not go nearby. I'm not a huge fan of the colour chosen for this route as it does not stand out as well as the other colours from the red body.

© EastLondoner
Barkingside Tesco - Fullwell Cross (For Leisure Centre) - Claybury Park - Woodford Station - Highams Park Station - Walthamstow Central Station - The Mall Walthamstow

Last but not least, Route 462 operates between Ilford, Hainault Street and Limes Farm Estate. Like route 167 this route switched operators from Go Ahead London to Stagecoach London. It was allocated new 8.9m Enviro200 MMCs for the new contract and its branding style is therefore similar to route 167. However adapted for the bus' shorter length. The route used to run to Hainault, The Lowe but in 2016 it was rerouted via Fairlop to terminate at Limes Farm Estate.

© LondonBuses72
Grange Hill Station - Fairlop Waters Boulder Park - Fullwell Cross (For Leisure Centre) - Gants Hill Station - Valentines Park - Ilford Station - The Exchange Mall

It's been a few months since branding was introduced to East London, it may be a bit early to say if the branding has properly worked, and will be difficult without any official figures. However the branding continues to divide people. Should it have happened? Was it done properly? I personally feel this was not the best attempt made on branding, however no doubt all this will be picked up in the trial and improved in the future.

Route X26 is next in line for branding, followed by routes in Hayes. Maybe this will be the road to recovery in the declining bus usage in the capital.

Know Your Routes: Route W5

A small single decker route in the heights of North London, the short route W5 runs between Archway Station and Harringay, Superstores.

CiTy Plus

CT Plus have recently introduced their second batch of E40H Citys. These are found on route 388 which also had a short extension from Blackfriars to Elephant & Castle. Providing a very unique link.

2505 turning into Stratford Bus Station
© EastLondoner
CT Plus are one of London's smaller operators, operating out of just two garages at Ash Grove (HK) and Walthamstow (AW).They only operate two routes in central London, route 26 and route 388, Route 388 is the route we will be focusing on in this post. Route 388 up until the 7th of April ran between Stratford City Bus Station and Blackfriars Station. 

HTL2 seen at Stratford City
© EastLondoner
Before we get to some information about the actual service change, let's go over some history about the route. The route was born in 2003, making it relatively young. It was awarded to CT Plus for its first contract and they brought some Myllenium Lolyne bodied Tridents, coded HTL. These buses were to form the main allocation for the route for the next 12 years. The route has grown and changed a lot since it was first formed, initially only running between Hackney Wick and Mansion House, it was extended to Blackfriars station in 2004, then further to Temple Station in August 2008 and even further to Embankment station in November 2008. This made the route very unique, as it was the only route to run along the Victoria Embankment during the day as well as being the only route which directly served Embankment and Temple Stations. However this was not to last and in March 2012 the route was shortened to Blackfriars. 

However in 2013 the route was extended through the Olympic park to Stratford City Bus Station. Providing Stratford with a second bus to central London. From April the 8th 2017, following a consultation the route was extended south from Blackfriars Station to Elephant & Castle, replacing route 100 which was to be cut to the London Wall. This was to provide Elephant & Castle with a link which went deeper into East London. The route was also to be rerouted so that it ran along the London Wall.

2512 on stand at Blackfriars Station
© EastLondoner
In January 2017, route 388 was also retained by CT Plus for a third contract term and new E40H City buses were ordered. Numbered from 2522-2537. These buses are frequently found intermixed with batch 2501-2521 from route 26. Both batches are very similar, if not exactly the same. I had my first ride on one on the 388 in March and wasn't too impressed by their performance on the route. It took us much longer than it should have to reach Stratford due to the high amount of traffic in the city, and when I got off at Stratford I wasn't in the best of moods. 2512 was my bus, a bus from the batch from route 26. However this was before the route was extended to Elephant & Castle. Therefore I decided that I would give the route another chance to impress me with its new allocation once the rerouting had taken place.

I was busy on the day the 388 was rerouted, so I went to do the route the Wednesday after. I did it just before lunch. I arrived at Stratford to find no 388s on stand at all. 2505 arrived 10 minutes later and that was to be my bus. There wasn't that much traffic and it wasn't long until we were in Bethnal Green. However after that point the driver used every chance possible to slow down, he managed to get caught at almost every light possible and would sit at bus stops much longer than he needed to. However that was probably due to the new timetable which probably would have had more running time factored in to deal with the unpredictable traffic situations in the city. 

2505 takes some stand time at Newington Causeway
© EastLondoner
We eventually reached Liverpool Street station, it was at this point where the 388 would separate from its old route and go down the London wall. As soon as we made the turn onto the London wall we were faced with someone spamming the stop bell, something to be expected the first few days of a route change. We reached the Museum of London in almost no time, despite the driver still was cautious about going a bit too fast down the road. We then took the turn into St Paul's and then made our way towards Blackfriars. The bus was almost carrying nothing but air at this point. At Blackfriars a number of people boarded the bus, much to my surprise. The route from this point follows the same line of route the 45 and 63 use to reach Elephant and Castle. We reached elephant and Castle less than 10 minutes later. The route stands were route 100 used to stand at Newington Causeway. 

Below is a list of all the buses allocated to route 388 on paper, these are the 66 plate E40H Citys found at Ash Grove (HK). However they are very frequently mixed in with the 16 plate batch, ordered earlier for route 26. 
2522 SN66WRE
2523 SN66WRG
2524 SN66WRJ
2525 SN66WRK
2526 SN66WRL
2527 SN66WRO
2528 SN66WRP
2529 SN66WRR
2530 SN66WRT
2531 SN66WRU
2532 SN66WRV
2533 SN66WRW
2534 SN66WRX
2535 SN66WRZ
2536 SN66WSD
2537 SN66WSE

2513 arrives at Elephant & Castle after a trip from Stratford
© LondonBuses72
The 388s operation from my experience has always been quite sloppy, and the service will no doubt suffer for a few days while CT Plus get used to operating the route. I think the extension is creating a very unique link, however the real question is if there was demand? Initially when reading the consultation I thought that this was going to be a very cool link but after having some time to think about it, I don't actually see the link being as popular as it may seem. Route 100 used to provide the link quite comfortably with 9.6m single deckers and I never have seen a bus at full capacity down the stretch between Liverpool Street and Blackfriars. Maybe I'm just overthinking it and the link will prove popular with time.

Some Frogs for Edmonton

During February, March and April many of London's bus routes are changing operators and are having various changes to their services. 

A 259 and 102 stand together at Edmonton Green
© EastLondoner
In today's post we will focus on route 259 which runs between Edmonton Green Bus Station and King's Cross.The route has changed hands from being operated by Go Ahead London from Northumberland Park (NP) garage to being operated by Arriva London from Tottenham (AR) with buses being stored at Edmonton (EC). The route was going to get Wright Eclipse Gemini 3/Volvo B5LH buses, known as "frogs" among many enthusiasts. Route 76 went the other way however the information about that service change will follow in a forthcoming post. Route 259 originally started operating in April 1961 running between Holborn Circus and Waltham Cross. In 1970 the route was withdrawn between lower Edmonton and Waltham Cross and then further shortened to Manor House in 1985 however in 1986 it was extended to Ponders End via Edmonton. In 1998 the route was withdrawn between Ponders End and Edmonton Green in the north and between King's Cross and Holborn Circus in the south, forming the 259 route which exists today. 

WVN44 takes stand time at King's Cross
© EastLondoner
During its stint at Go ahead London route 259 was allocated with Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 bodied Volvo B9TL buses. These were originally ordered by First London and Go Ahead London inherited them when First sold Northumberland Park garage along with all its routes and buses. Go Ahead London coded these buses with the prefix "WVN" instead of the usual "WVL" code. The buses were built to the usual First London specification with Lazzerini seats and purple and turquoise interior which they retained when Go Ahead London took over operation of Northumberland Park (NP) garage. Now that they have been relieved from their duties on route 259 they are expected to make their way to South London for the takeover of route 131 this Autumn. 

On the first day of Arriva operation I made my way to Edmonton Green to ride the route and sample the buses. As I arrived HV223 was sitting on stand. It wasn't long until the bus departed and we were cruising down Fore Street. Quite a few bystanders and passengers made some remarks about the brand new bus, even two 102 drivers who were at Edmonton Green Bus Station were making comments about the new bus. We got caught behind a 279 by the time we reached White Hart Lane. 

HV259 is seen preparing to start service at King's Cross
© EastLondoner
We eventually reached Tottenham Town Hall and were met with a load of traffic. It took us around 10 minutes to clear the lights. This was also the point in the journey where we were to have a change of drivers. The changeover didn't take too long, maybe two minutes at most before we were on our way towards Seven Sisters and Manor House. At Manor house were were met with more traffic, however this time it didn't take too long for the traffic to clear and we were cruising towards Finsbury Park. Upon arrival at Finsbury Park most of the passengers got off the bus.  It wasn't long until we reached Holloway, at this point TE684 was in front of our bus and kept on driving very slowly and refusing to let us overtake. This led to the journey becoming much slower than it already was. It wasn't until Caledonian Road & Barnsbury Station where we managed to overtake. However it wasn't long until we were met with roadworks. By the time we reached King's Cross I was looking forward to getting off the bus.  

Nothing really stood out to me about these buses. They were pretty much your average Volvo B5LHs. The bus didn't go into Stop/Start at any point during my journey - However that could be down to an issue with that particular bus. They were good buses, but nothing really stood out to me about them. However they get the job done, and arguably that is the most important thing about a London bus. 

HV264 is seen on stand at King's Cross awaiting departure to Edmonton Green
© EastLondoner

Here is a list of buses allocated to route 259. However we can expect some intermixing between this batch and the batch for route 19, which will also be operated from Tottenham garage (AR) come the 1st of April 2017.

HV212 LK66HCy

HV205 is seen at Caledonian Road
The service has been quite good so far under Arriva, there have been a few odd curtailments but that is to be expected in the first few days of a new operator running the route. Hopefully the service performs well under Arriva for the next 5 or maybe 7 years!