Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Busageddon: Battersea Edition

The area surrounding Battersea Power Station now has more buses serving the area, whilst Central London has lost another trunk route. Following some of the latest TFL changes, route 436 no longer ventures North of the river and the 452 has been extended to terminate at somewhere more civilised than it's former destination. The 436 now runs from Lewisham Shopping Centre to Battersea Park Station using Nine Elms Lane, no longer serving Victoria, Marble Arch or Paddington. As a result, route 36 (which follows the old 436 routeing) has had a significant increase in the number of passengers using it, while 436 carries fresh air. The 452 extension means that it now terminates at Vauxhall, which is a transport hub offering many more onward connections than Wandsworth Road, a small London Overground station between Clapham Junction and Clapham High Street. The 452 follows the 77 and 87 up to Vauxhall, meaning that it now runs from Kensal Rise-Vauxhall.

When the 436 used to terminate at Paddington...
The old 436 was a very busy route, supporting the 36 between Paddington and New Cross, as well as providing a link from the West End-Lewisham, a journey that can't be completed with one bus anymore. However, the homes that will be situated at the site of Battersea Power Station can't be built unless there are sufficient transport links, meaning that a new bus route had to be extended. As TFL wanted to save some money, route 436 was chosen, which is probably the worst example they could've come up with. Although the route has been unchanged for 100 years (and some people may complain about this), I would've extended route 24 from Pimlico down to Battersea Park via Chelsea Bridge, as it would give the area a key link to Central London. Route 24 isn't particularly long, so the extension wouldn't affect the reliability too much. However, TFL decided to re-route the 436 to Battersea Park Station and these changes took place on the 19th November, using Gemini 2 and Enviro 400 Hybrids.

So far, the 436 extension has been unpopular among enthusiasts and the general public, with very few people using the section between Vauxhall and Battersea Park. When I covered the changes on a Tuesday evening, I didn't spot a single bus with more than 2 people on board! If the 156 and 344 don't show up for a while, I imagine the 436 might have some use, but that section will carry fresh air until these homes are built!

WHV16 stands at Battersea Park.
 On the other hand, the 36 has really suffered as a result of the extension. The route has had a PVR increase in the peak hours, but since the 436 doesn't support it North of the river, every single bus is packed. They are impossible to get on and I feel sorry for everyone who has to use that route frequently. However, rich people who can afford luxury flats will always be prioritised over the working class, who rely on the bus service more. Overall, the 436 change has been a failure, and once Oxford Street is pedestrianised I hope they extend the 7 to Vauxhall to give the poor 36 some support!

The other route that has been changed is the 452, which also carries fresh air between Battersea Park and Vauxhall. The service has become very unreliable, with large gaps and bunching a occurring frequently. Additionally, Battersea garage are struggling to allocate the blinded buses on the 452, with 59-reg appearing the route very frequently, displaying Wandsworth Road Station on the front instead of Vauxhall, which is very misleading for the few passengers who want to use it! I waited 14 minutes for one to show up at Battersea Park Station, only to find it had incorrect blinds! The bus was completely empty after Wandsworth Road Station and doesn't serve much purpose along the A306 corridor, merely supporting the 77/87 for a few stops. There is also a driver change at Queenstown Road Station, which makes the journey very cumbersome. There isn't any demand from Battersea Park-Vauxhall either, as the 156/344/436 provide a much quicker alternative.

At Vauxhall, I decided to wait for a blinded 452 to show up, but another 59-reg came after 2 minutes... It was another 17 minutes for the next bus and I was patient enough to wait for it, but the service is very unreliable and the new section is severely underused. Although it makes sense to terminate it at a transport hub with onward tube, rail and bus links, the extension serves no purpose and has made the route almost impossible to use.

After 30 minutes of waiting, this blinded E400 finally decided to show up!
On the whole, these changes have been a failure and TFL seriously need to think about the effects of their actions before putting them into practice!

Poll update: Route 180 is winning by a mile, so if you want your preferred to route to be reviewed, please vote on the poll near the top of the page. There are only 10 votes so far!

Route Ratings update: I finally updated this page with a few routes, so please check it out in case your local/favourite has been updated!

Friday, 23 December 2016

Another (Nine Three) One Bites The Dust

Mobility routes in London are a dying breed. Only three remain, serving tight-knit communities in London, which currently don't have access to a daily route, and in some cases don't warrant it. Soon, these three will be whittled down to two, as the 931, running from Crystal Palace-Lewisham Shopping Centre will be withdrawn from January 2017, forcing its regular users onto Dial-A-Ride. It runs once a week, with a journey from Crystal Palace Bus Station at 10am, returning from Lewisham at 12:50. It is unique because it runs non-stop all the way from Lewisham-Hillcrest Estate in Crystal Palace, one of two key pick up/drop off points. I do think it's a shame that this route is being axed, as it does have the potential to be useful, especially with the dense housing it serves.

I decided to take a look at the route today. The original plan was to take the 10am departure from CP, but the need to sleep demanded me to take the later departure instead. After a slow Southeastern Networker transported me to Lewisham, I was very early, but found the bus to already be on stand, with four people on board. Only three of them were enthusiasts(!), but two other locals joined the party later on. Unfortunately, one of the locals got carried away Christmas Shopping and got left behind, despite the bus waiting out a couple of minutes until 12:52. No one requested the bus at Morley Road and it was straight to Crystal Palace Park Road from then on.

The 931 immediately turns right to serve Ladywell, which seems like the more upmarket part of Lewisham. Whilst the 122 turns right onto Adelaide Avenue, the 931 continues straight on, past more residential housing alongside route P4. The next area is Crofton Park, which is really a run-down version of New Cross that I often forget exists altogether. This areas has the delight of two routes to Central London (the 171 and 172), which makes up for the poor rail service Southeastern provides to this suburb. The section alongside these double deck routes is brief and the 931 turns right again to serve Honor Oak Park, which is the train station for Brockley Rise.

The Horniman Museum is a lovely looking building, but the view is brief and next up is Sydenham Hill, an interesting road shared with the 363 consisting of many different looking houses and flats. Before the first stop is the Astra Palace Hotel, which could really do with a refresh, and the first section exclusive to the 931. High Level Drive is very tight and the 931 has to crawl around the loop road to avoid knocking any cars. Like the 389, the bus driver is a friend to all of the locals and knows exactly where they live, kindly taking their shopping to the door!

Apart from a Premier convenience store, there isn't much there apart from high density housing, which would benefit form a daily bus service, even though other routes like the 227 are a short walk away. The second loop is Kingswood Estate, which is already served by route 450, although the 931 provides a handy link to Lewisham and delves deeper into the housing, making sure everyone living there can catch a bus, even if it's only once a week. However, the bus does not serve Sydenham Hill Station, which happens to be located at the back of this housing area.

After the two other civilians alighted, there were just four people left for the short run to Crystal Palace. However, some people who had just missed a 3 decided to get on the mobility route to shuttle themselves to Crystal Palace, saving themselves a few minutes. The 931 was a very interesting and unique route, the only one in London to have a hail and ride section as well as a limited stop one. It will be sorely missed by (some) of the people living in Kingswood Estate and High Level Drive, which is a shame as the 931 does have potential to be useful. Perhaps with a re-route through Lower Sydenham, Catford and to Sydenham Hill Station, as well as an extension to Elmers End via Crystal Palace Station. This really is the end of an era, as by the end of 2017, I don't think the other two mobility routes are going to survive. I enjoyed my experience on the 931 very much and I will try my best to ride the other two as soon as possible.

Note: I apologise for the extremely long gap between posts, due to illness and work I returned to the blogging scene later than intended. However, I look forward to riding more routes this Christmas Holiday and a poll is up and running near the top of the page, allowing you to decided which route I will be reviewing next as part of the "random route" series.

Merry Christmas!

Friday, 11 November 2016

What To Expect This Month (November 2016)

Unfortunately, this will be the last post until mid-December, as I have more important things to deal with before returning to the bus blogging scene. However, this post should outline what will be going on in the next month and it should allow you to enjoy the bus network as much as possible this Autumn, even if you can't read brand new posts from my blog (I know it's going to be hard!).

Unfortunately, there are some areas you will need to avoid this November, unless you don't mind sitting in traffic for hours on end. The first of these is London Bridge/West Bermondsey (if that's what you call it), because Tower Bridge has been closed since October  and the whole area is full of traffic  at rush hour. Pedestrians can walk across on the left-hand side of the bridge, apart from on the 26th and 27th of November and the 3rd/4th/10th/11th of December, where a free cross-river ferry service will be provided. The bridge reopens on New Years Eve, thankfully.

If you do need to travel to this area, then I strongly suggest you take the underground to the closest tube station and walk, it really is worth it. The Northern and Jubilee Lines serve London Bridge (a short walk from the Southern side of Tower Bridge), as well as National Rail services provided by Thameslink, Southern Railway and Southeastern. For destinations North of the river, the District and Circle Lines serve Tower Hill, which is right next to Tower Bridge. The Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan Lines serve Aldgate East and Aldgate respectively, in case you need to reach these areas.

Lots of bus routes travelling through the area are currently delayed (so if the service has been unreliable lately, you know why!), these include the 15, 40, RV1, 100, 115, 254, 135, 205, 344, 381, 21, 35, 40, 133, 343, C10, 1, 188, 42, 78,  17, 47, 48, 141, 149 and 521. The following routes are curtailed or on diversion due to the road closure:

  • Route 42 is only running between East Dulwich Sainsbury's and City Hall, not serving Aldgate or Liverpool Street. Passengers wishing to travel to these areas should alight at the last stop and walk straight up Tower Bridge and through to Aldgate and Liverpool Street (please use google maps if you need specific directions), or change at Bricklayer's Arms and use bus route 78 towards Liverpool Street, making use of your hopper fare.
  • Route RV1 (Covent Garden-Tower Gateway) is currently on diversion due to the works, not serving Tooley Street, City Hall or Tower Bridge. Passengers wishing to travel to Tooley Street and City Hall should alight at London Bridge and walk the rest of the way.  The route is using London Bridge and Great Tower Street to reach Tower Hill Station, where it terminates. This is round the corner from Tower Gateway and the bus stop for heading Westbound is literally opposite the Tower Of London. 
  • Route 78 has been curtailed to Liverpool Street Station and is on diversion between Grange Road and Aldgate, not serving City Hall or Shoreditch. The route is travelling through Bricklayer's Arms, Borough, London Bridge and Fenchurch Street before reaching Aldgate. Passengers wishing to travel to City Hall should alight at Grange Road/Caledonian Market and walk up Tower Bridge Road until you reach your destination. Please use google maps for specific directions. Passengers for Liverpool Street Station and Shoreditch should alight the 78 at London Bridge and change for routes 35, 48, or 149 to reach your destination (the 344 and 133 take you to Liverpool Street but not Shoreditch). Even though the 78 is still serving Liverpool Street, it is MUCH quicker to change at London Bridge, as this way you bypass Aldgate, saving around 15 minutes journey time. With the new hopper fare, it will still cost the same amount of money!
  • Route 47 has been curtailed to City Hall, not serving London Bridge, Liverpool Street or Shoreditch. Passengers wishing to travel to Liverpool Street and Shoreditch should alight at the last stop, walk up Tower Bridge and Minories to Aldgate and catch a 135 or 205 bus to your destination. Passengers wishing to travel to London Bridge should also alight at the last stop, but walk up Tooley Street instead of turning right onto Tower Bridge.
One of the affected routes is the 381.

For a map showing all of the bus diversions, then please click here. If you need more information on the closure then please visit and hopefully you will be able to find what you need.

The other major road closure is in Upper Holloway, on the A1, whilst the London Overground bridge is replaced. Bus routes using this section of road are either being turned short of their normal destination, or being diverted via Tufnell Park Road and Junction Road. A temporary shuttle bus is in place, running between Upper Holloway Station and Holloway Road, Odeon Cinema free of charge.

If you need to travel to somewhere along the section of Holloway Road that is closed, I suggest you alight your normal bus service at either Holloway Nags Head (if you're heading Northbound on a 17, 43, 271 or N41) or at Archway Station (if you're heading Southbound on a 43, 263, 271 or N41). Until 24th December, the road is closed heading Southbound only, apart from on the weekends of the 19th/20th and 26th/27th of November, where a full closure takes place. Buses will be diverted heading Southbound only (routes 43, 271 and N41) From 25th December-16th January, the road is closed in both directions. Buses will be diverted heading both ways. The free shuttle service will be running throughout the closure.

Go-Ahead London SE147 works the free shuttle service between Upper Holloway and Nags Head (almost).
  • Route 43 is on diversion between Archway Station and Holloway Road Station, via Junction Road and Tufnell Park Road. As mitigation for the delays caused by the diversion, the 43 is only running between Friern Barnet and Moorgate Finsbury Square, not serving Bank or London Bridge. Passengers wishing to travel to these areas should change buses at Moorgate and catch a 141, which serves all the stops the 43 is currently missing out. In most cases, you should be able to use the hopper fare on the 141, meaning you get the second journey for free! However, if you are travelling from Friern Barnet and Muswell Hill you might be better off walking between Moorgate and Bank/London Bridge if you need to save money, as the journey time between the two areas and Moorgate is unfortunately over 60 minutes, unless you're travelling early in the morning or late at night.
  • Route 271 is on diversion between Archway Station and Holloway Road Station, via Junction Road and Tufnell Park Road. As mitigation for the delays caused by the diversion, route 271 is only running between Highgate Village and Old Street Station, not serving Moorgate Finsbury Square. If you need to visit Moorgate, just walk from Old Street, as it really isn't that far. However, if you need to use the bus routes 21 and 141 will take you there from the same stop as the 271 at Old Street. You can also use the hopper fare here, meaning you get to ride the second bus for free!
  • Route 17 is only running between London Bridge and Holloway Nags Head, not serving the rest of Holloway Road and Archway. Passengers wishing to travel to these areas should alight the 17 at the last stop and walk the rest of the way, or use temporary route 563 to reach your final destination.
  • Route 263 is only running between Barnet Hospital and Archway, not serving Holloway Road or Highbury & Islington. Passengers wishing to travel to these areas should alight at Archway Station and transfer to bus routes 43 and 271, which will take you to all stops the 263 used to serve after Holloway Nags Head. If your destination is between Upper Holloway and Nags Head, then you should walk to your final destination after Archway Station down Holloway Road.
  • Temporary route 563 is running between Upper Holloway Station and Holloway, Odeon Cinema free of charge, at a frequency of every 10 minutes. It takes 3 minutes end to end and doesn't actually serve Nags Head Shopping Centre itself, but it is only a few minutes down the road from the last stop. You can catch it from all the existing stops on Holloway Road (Tufnell Park Road, Manor Gardens, Alexander Road, Wedmore Street) and the temporary dolly stops by Upper Holloway Station.  
If you need more information on the closure of the A1, then please click here for a link to the TFL help page, where you should be able to find what you need. Thankfully, there aren't any other long-term road closures, because if there were even more bus routes would be disrupted!

For all of you hardcore bus enthusiasts, here are some of the key changes taking place over the next 4 weeks:

  • Route 307 (Barnet Hospital-Brimsdown) will start running on Friday and Saturday nights, in conjunction with the introduction of night tube services on the Northern Line. A connection can be made at High Barnet Station.(18th November)
  • Route 319 (Sloane Square-Streatham Hill, Telford Avenue) will start running on Friday and Saturday nights, in conjunction with the introduction of night tube services on the Northern Line. (18th November). A connection can be made at Tooting Bec Station.
  • Route 436 will no longer serve Victoria, Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch and Paddington. The route will be diverted from Vauxhall to Battersea Park Station, via Nine Elms Lane. Route 36 (running between Queen's Park and New Cross Gate) will have its frequency increased in the peak hours to compensate. (19th November)
  • Route 452 will be extended from Wandsworth Road Station to Vauxhall Bus Station. (19th November)
  • Route W19 (Walthamstow, Argall Avenue-Ilford, Hainault Street) will be awarded to CT Plus (originally Go-Ahead London) with brand new Enviro 200 "classic" buses. (19th November)
  • Route H20 (Hounslow, Civic Centre-Ivybridge Tesco) retained by Abellio London with new Enviro 200 MMC buses. (19th November)
  • Route 152 (Pollards Hill-New Malden, Fountain Roundabout) will be awarded to Go-Ahead London (previously Abellio London) with existing buses from route 42 or D8. The allocation is still not decided at present. (3rd December)
  • Route 157 (Morden-Crystal Palace) will be awarded to Arriva London (originally Abellio London) with existing Enviro 400 buses from route W3. (3rd December)
  • Route 413 (Morden-Sutton, Bushey Road) will be awarded to Quality Line (formally Go-Ahead London) with new Mercedes Citaro K vehicles. (3rd December)

That's all the new stuff you can cover whilst I'm away for this month. Short New Routemasters are gradually being introduced on route 13, the 74, 430 and 1 are converting to Gemini 3 operation and the 63/363 are receiving new MCV EvoSeti's and Enviro 400 MMC's at present. Hopefully I will be able to catch up on all the service changes eventually, even if it is after the Christmas holidays! For now, please stay safe and enjoy yourselves during my month of absence. Farewell readers!

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

Random Route: Breezer 50

Sometimes, we all need a break from our hometown. When the number 50 turned up on the random number generator, instead of dismissing it and trying again (I haven't ridden the London route 50 yet), I thought about writing a review of the number 50 bus service I have ridden end to end. Advertised as the Purbeck Breezer, the 50 is managed by MoreBus using convertible EvoSeti's, running from Bournemouth Station-Swanage. It is timetabled to take around 70 minutes, but some serious rescheduling needs to be done before next summer, especially after my experience riding this route. It does provide some brilliant views, but definitely avoid the "tourist rush hour", as your journey could be painful!

A convertible EvoSeti stands at Swanage Bus Station, whilst the driver takes a well-deserved break.
I knew very well that the 50 would be a busy service, especially on a glorious summer day. I made my way up to Bournemouth Station just in time to catch the 11:20 service up to Swanage and there was already a fairly large crowd at the bus stop. As most people still pay cash in Dorset, the loading times are significantly longer than in London and the bus didn't actually depart until 11:25. Most of the seats upstairs were taken by the time I joined the bus, but I managed to find some inside the sheltered part of the bus. The EvoSeti turned out of the Bournemouth Station forecourt and took a right turn down Holdenhurst Road, a small parade of shops including Sprinkles Gelato and a sweet Italian place which is always at capacity.

A few more people joined the bus at Gervis Road, a road full of hotels as there is no room in the city centre to build any, apart from a massive Premier Inn, but large chains always get their own way. The 50 then heads straight down the traffic-filled Bath Road, but instead of serving the beach directly the 50 takes a right turn down Westover Road, a street with a couple of restaurants and nothing much else. Bournemouth is a very unique city, mainly because of its structure. As there are cliffs right by the seaside, there are no actual shops along the seafront, instead you have to climb uphill to reach the city centre, until you're basically on top of the cliffs.

The next major stop for the 50 was Bournemouth Square, although I didn't expect many people to board here, seeing as there were only about three or four spare seats upstairs by this point. However, the crowd of 50 people at the bus stop were all heading to Swanage and the bus sat at the stop for a whole twenty minutes loading up. That's 18 minutes longer than the timetable suggests. Many young children were gutted that there were no seats anywhere and people were standing upstairs and down the staircase too. The bus was definitely over capacity by the time it left Bournemouth Square, with people standing right next to the driver in horrid, cramped conditions, which really aren't ideal for a tourist service.

The sheer amount of people on board meant that the bus was struggling when on the road; anything above 15mph was too much. For some odd reason, the 50 does not take the most direct route to Westbourne, instead serving lots of residential streets and taking much longer than routes like the m1 and m2. Just as I thought the bus was at capacity, the MCV EvoSeti picked up even more people at in Westbourne, home to a number of restaurants and expensive homes.

The journey after Westbourne really wasn't interesting, with nothing to see apart from trees and some residential streets. After about 20 minutes of boredom the 50 finally reached somewhere noteworthy. Sandbanks is well-known for it's extremely high property value and the coastline area has been labelled as "Britain's Palm Beach" by the media. The view is stunning and is a popular holiday destination for families, with the water in the sea being incredibly shallow there.

A few people alighted here, but most of us wanted to continue the journey up to Swanage. Sandbanks is a noteworthy location on the 50, because this is where it crosses Shell Bay. However, there is no bridge here and the 50 uses a ferry to cross the water. It was a very interesting experience, being on a double decker bus being powered by something other than itself. The movement was barely noticeable as this particular ferry is one where a rope is used to pull it across the river, so it came as a surprise when it was already time to disembark, when I wasn't even aware the bus had left!

The next stop on the 50 is Studland, which looks like a failed attempt at an upmarket beach and some bushes, where ramblers go rambling... The bus was sailing along quite nicely, not picking up or dropping off anyone, until a quiet country road, where the bus ground to a halt behind a line of cars. Thirty minutes later, the bus still hadn't moved. I blame the National Trust, as their car park seemed to be full and no one could be bothered to divert the cars wanting to get to it elsewhere, so the bus just sat there while all of the passengers listened to cars honking their horns. There was no footpath and I had absolutely no idea how long was left, but I imagined it would be quite a while as all I could see other than car lights were trees. Eventually a steward showed up and some of the cars in front did a 3-point turn and started to head back to Studland. After 40 minutes of doing nothing, the bus was finally back on the move, through more trees and eventually a small village.

Unfortunately, people do live in these villages and our bus was at capacity, so when the bus did show up after 90 minutes it sailed straight past all of the bus stops there. After staring at some more cottages and a nice view of the horizon, some shops and a beach started to appear. Lots of people alighted at the beach and I later found out that the EvoSeti had finally reached Swanage. Most of the standees who wanted to get out at Swanage Bus Station came upstairs for a whole two minutes, before the bus terminated outside the miniature railway station, 70 minutes late. Two minutes later, an Olympus and another EvoSeti turned up, creating a triple bunching on a route that runs every half an hour. Oh dear.

Swanage is a sweet little town with a beach that isn't as heaving or hectic as Bournemouth or Sandbanks and it seems like a nice place to stay in. It's a shame that my journey there really wasn't as nice as it should've been, but I've learned my lesson now, and it's an important one. Whenever I'm riding a tourist route, I will never ride it at hotel chucking-out time again. The 50 does provide a very unique experience, given that there is only one other bus route in the country that uses a ferry (the number 477 from Berwick Upon-Tweed to Holy Island) and it has some pretty amazing views on offer. I do recommend you ride it if you ever find yourself in Dorset, but avoid the 11:20 Bournemouth-Swanage journey at all costs!

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Random Observations: October 2016

Yes, I have returned from my period of absence from the bus scene and I have finally caught up with what has happened over the past three weeks. I've been incredibly busy lately so I can't really document any of the recent service changes at the moment, but what I can put together is a Random Obs post, seeing as it is the most popular series on the blog, so I hope you enjoy it as much as the other ones!

LJ09CCF was chilling in Elephant & Castle yesterday, but a collision made sure it had to work for the day.
The 188 around Elephant & Castle was something of a joke yesterday, with buses leaving and entering service very quickly. It all started when 9440, a recently refurbished Enviro 400, collided with a Toyota Prius at Elephant & Castle roundabout. I happened to be on this vehicle and was forced off at the next stop, whilst another 188 kindly decided to overtake and leave the premises without picking up anyone who was on the E400. The next 188 wasn't due for 9 minutes, so I stood at the bus stop watching the bus driver talk to his friend about what had happened. Eventually, one of them noticed the spare bus, LJ09 CCF, that was lying around doing nothing for no apparent reason. One of the drivers decided to take it and decided that everyone for the 188 should get on. However, it took a good few minutes to get the iBus going on this worn out E400 and in this time another 188 overtook, heading straight for North Greenwich. A minute later, my bus left and didn't stop anywhere until I pressed the stop button to alight at Druid Street. What a mess...

Waterloo Bus Garage, at capacity.
This picture should give you an idea of what's happening at Waterloo Garage to the two Red Arrow routes that are run from there. The seven year old high capacity Mercedes Citaro buses are being replaced in favour of cleaner electric vehicles on an Enviro 200 MMC body, with BYD dealing with all of the electrical stuff. At the moment, the garage is full to bursting with buses coming in and going out every couple of days. There was also a random PVL there for some reason.

Stagecoach London 15118 working route 277 to Crossharbour.
The Isle Of Dogs has received a makeover in terms of changing the bus network, with the 108 and D8 swapping routeing between Poplar and Stratford and the D8 going double deck, the 135 being re-routed around Cubitt Town, the 277 being sent to Crossharbour via Westferry Road and the D3 going to Leamouth instead of Crossharbour. Showing off the new look of the 277 is a Scania OmniCity, which will soon be replaced by newer vehicles when the contract expires in 2017.

Abellio London 2536 working the 344 to Liverpool Street, contrary to what the blind states.
Battersea clearly felt left out when every other Abellio garage had introduced brand new E400 MMCs (the only exception being Fulwell, which doesn't run any DD routes at present), so they  decided to order some to upgrade the 344. They are nice buses and I've heard that they are speedy, although my journey wasn't particularly fast, partly due to the fact the bus left the stand 4 minutes early. Here is 2536 showing the destination of Wimbledon, the terminus of route 156, the other route that serves Battersea Power Station.

Metroline TEH1238 on route 32 to Kilburn Park.
The 189 has finally converted to New Routemaster operation and the Enviro 400 Hybrid buses that used to work the route have found a new home, in Edgware. The 32 used to run with ALX400 buses but now the route has been upgraded to Hybrid standard. TEH1238 demonstrates this at Edgware Bus Station on what could be a nice route. It's a shame that it has to go through Cricklewood to get to Kilburn though...

Little Park Gardens, Enfield.
Enfield didn't sound very promising when I planned to visit there in August, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the town centre was much more civilised than I thought, with a fairly large shopping centre, high street and an interesting Art Cafe, as well as lots of bus services which take you to places like Turnpike Lane, Waltham Cross and Crews Hill. The bus station is very small, but it's a nice place for taking pictures. Overall, a positive experience, see you again Enfield!

Great Western Railway 387 133 at Paddington Station.
I understand that this is not a bus, but my method of selecting photos at random means that anything transport related can show up. GWR can now make a guest appearance on my blog, showing off one of their new Electrostars they've introduced on the Thames Valley local services between London Paddington and Hayes & Harlington. They are 8 carriages long and are far more comfortable than the hot and cramped Turbo trains that still work the route. At present, they only run in the rush hour as connecting services to the Greenford branch line trains that only go as far as West Ealing, but this connection doesn't seem to be working very well as the trains don't wait for each other, meaning that Greenford-bound trains often leave West Ealing completely empty in the evening. Still, they are a nice addition to my local mainline and I can't wait for these trains to start running all day in January 2017.

Arriva London T73 on route 368 to Barking, Harts Lane.
The 368 was won by Arriva earlier this year, with an upgrade to double deckers instead of Enviro 200s. It looks like the route has been given a significant boost in capacity which will help in school run and peak hours, although the buses seem to be carrying air for most of the day. On my journey, no one else dared to climb the stairs to the upper deck for the entire journey to Chadwell Heath and it looks like the new timetable has given the route far too much running time, with my bus regulating for two minutes at what felt like every other stop. However, I'm glad that this route has double deckers now, as it made a fairly boring journey slightly more interesting.

Go-Ahead London WVL98 on route 185 to Victoria.
These buses won't be working the 185 for much longer, as brand new MCV EvoSeti vehicles are replacing them. If you like comfortable seats and front windows without huge side panels blocking the view, then ride this route as soon as possible, as riding a 90 minute long route on a EvoSeti really isn't good for you. I learned this after riding the 35 on an EvoSeti, but I do not have the time to ride the 185 at the moment, so I'm praying for odd workings to happen in the future. Seeing as Camberwell (Q) run it, the chances of other buses straying are very high, but I really shouldn't jinx it!

That's all for now, thanks for reading!

Saturday, 24 September 2016

Busageddon: Harrow Edition

Bus enthusiasts have invaded the area of Harrow recently, as numerous routes there have been given brand new vehicles, and London's first new route in six years happens to serve there. Routes 114, 140 and 182 have all received Gemini 3 vehicles and the 340 has been given Streetdeck's. New route 483, running between Harrow and Ealing Hospital, has been the centre of attention for all bus enthusiasts this month, unless you're one of those people who doesn't care about a new route starting service. A much more detailed post of the 483 can be found here, if you want to find out more about how it's been coping recently.

Chronologically, the first change in Harrow was the 340, retained by Arriva The Shires with Wright's new integral vehicle, the Streetdeck.

Pictured during a blind change, SW7 on the 340 to "Queensbury Morrisons". Unfortunately all of my other 340 shots didn't come out too well, so this is the best I've got. Sorry.
What's odd is that these buses have blinds for "Harrow" and different ones for "Harrow Bus Station", but they mean exactly the same thing. Drivers did not stick to a particular one when I rode the route, so I saw a mix of blinds heading Westbound, which is slightly confusing. The 340 is Garston's flagship route, seeing as it's the only one that doesn't see single deckers frequently (the 142 from Brent Cross to Watford does, ironically), but I can see why as it gets very busy and has quite a lot of end to end riders, with the only other route between Harrow and Edgware being very unreliable (the 186). I didn't expect the 340 to be an amazing route, but the real test here was the buses, this being my first ride on a Streetdeck which had a diesel engine instead of the B5LH one (although they're Gemini 3's, it's very confusing).

After a fifteen minute wait my bus was off. The interior was very clean and everything was working properly as far as I could tell. From Harrow-Wealdstone the route is quite interesting, as it's really two town centres connected by a consistent high street. It's a bit like Lewisham and Catford, with Lewisham being Harrow with a large shopping centre and many streets full of clothes shops and places to eat and Wealdstone boasting only a few shops and the Wealdstone Centre. The only difference between there and Catford is the Catford Centre has a massive cat on top of it, which I've always found mildly amusing.

After stopping at Harrow and Wealdstone Station, the terminus of the grim section of the Bakerloo Line, the 340 stops outside Harrow Weald garage, owned by Metroline, who probably aren't particularly happy that two routes run by Arriva pass by, the 258 being the other one. To save heading out of London, the 340 takes a right turn into quite a rural area, with the centre being Uxbridge Road, which isn't the one that goes to Uxbridge. The next stop is Stanmore, which has a fairly substantial broadway and a clear market for Italian cuisine, with a Pizza Express and Prezzo minutes apart. However, the 340 isn't particularly useful if you need to visit the Jubilee Line station, as it takes a right turn onto Marsh Lane, where my driver decided it was the right time to absolutely floor the vehicle, easily hitting 40mph and not stopping anywhere until Canons Park, where the SW encountered traffic. The run to Edgware was laboriously slow and it would've been much quicker to walk, but the comfortable seats allowed me to relax after the exciting thrash earlier on.

Overall, I think the 340 is a nice route, much better than I expected it to be. It also has wonderful buses, that are comfortable, cool and are capable of a very high top speed, which will be useful on routes such as the 258 from Watford to Harrow.

Metroline VWH2214 on the 140, to Heathrow Airport.
 I think we all know that Metroline aren't very good at entering new vehicles into service on time and this point has been proven once again with the conversion of routes 140 and 182 to Hybrid operation, which has been painfully slow and still isn't complete, even though it started a month ago. However, it is a welcome service change and the vehicles themselves have been praised by enthusiasts, even though some of them do love the crusty old VPs that still work the route. The 140 definitely needed Hybrids and new buses, it is a trunk route and it enters Heathrow, which is very, very polluted for obvious reasons. I'm sure the passengers are grateful for the air con, comfortable seats and quieter journey, even if it does mean visibility is reduced because of the slim windows. However, no change can go without an oddity and this time it's down to the blinds again. All buses terminating at Heathrow Terminals 1, 2 and 3 have stated Heathrow Central on the front, which is the correct name for the bus station. However, the 140's VPs and VWs (there were only six, they can now be found on the 483) always displayed Heathrow Airport, which is very vague as it does not serve Terminal 4 or Terminal 5. This has always been an issue and I was expecting it to be rectified, so when pictures emerged of new-style Heathrow Airport blinds I was very confused. Why does the 140 have this special treatment? Nobody knows...

VWH2217 showing the wrong blind on route 182 to Harrow Weald, Oxhey Lane.
 The other route that's been given new VWH-class buses from Harrow Weald (HD) garage is the 182, another trunk route running from Harrow Weald, Oxhey Lane to Brent Cross through Harrow, Wembley and Neasden. It's outdated VPs are in the process of being replaced and once again, I think this is a change for the best, as it significantly enhances the experience on board for non-bus enthusiasts, unless they like noise and heat, in which they will have to go on the 260 to look for VPs.

However, what's odd about the photo above is that the blind states Harrow Weald, which is the blind for route 140 rather than the 182. Unless this bus was curtailed, then the driver was showing the wrong blinds. To avoid confusion, I think the blinds should state Harrow Weald, Bus Garage for the 140 rather than just plain old Harrow Weald, it's more confusing than you think.
The correct blinds are shown here, on VWH2190.

The other new Gemini 3's in Harrow can be found on the 114, a win for Metroline from London Sovereign. It now runs from Uxbridge garage and has a full allocation of new buses, but an Enviro 400 from the 607 did stray recently. The 114 runs from Mill Hill Broadway to Ruislip, through South Harrow, Harrow Town Centre, Queensbury and Burnt Oak and it gets very busy. Unfortunately, the service under London Sovereign was pretty poor, with very large gaps of over 30 minutes being considered common, which really isn't ideal for a route such as this. However, the one thing which the route now lacks is variety, as you could find Plaxton President's, Vyking's, Scania OmniCity's and Gemini 2 B5LH's on the old 114. An E200 worked the route once. Although I'm grateful that the horrible service has stopped, it was a shame to see LS lose the 114 as they did give the route some character. I'm not sure if Uxbridge garage will be able to live up to BT's standards just yet.

VWH2180 on the 114 to Ruislip.
The first day was full of bunching, gaps and turns but now the service has vastly improved and is much better than it was before, even if the first day might've been even worse. Although I'm not particularly happy about Metroline stealing this route from London Sovereign, the terrible service couldn't be ignored and I'm happy for the residents along this route who can now live in peace, especially as they won't have to hear roaring Vyking's passing their houses at 1am. A welcome service change for them.

Even though I've now covered every thing in Harrow, this is a busageddon post after all and one major part of it was the 483 (written about in detail on a seperate post that I linked at the top), so here's a picture of one for clarity.

Metroline VW1774 on the 483 to Ealing Hospital.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post and thank you very much for doing so!

Saturday, 17 September 2016

Random Route: The 483

London's newest bus route since 2010 has arrived and it's called the 483. It runs between Ealing Hospital and Harrow, through Ealing Broadway, Alperton, Wembley Central and East Lane (North Wembley). The route was created to replace the 83 between Ealing Hospital and Alperton, which has been cut there to improve reliability between Golders Green and Alperton. After Wembley, the 483 goes through North Wembley to provide new links from there to the town centres of Wembley and Harrow. It's not very direct from Ealing to Harrow and the removal of the 83 over here was a major less, but I took it surprisingly well.

As this is a random route post (yes I've combined a contract change/random route post together because I have a huge backlog), there is a review further down, but I feel that I have to document how the first week has been, especially as I can monitor it very closely as this route runs in my local area.

Metroline VW1758 at West Ealing Broadway on the first day.
The first day was pretty quiet, with many confused passengers baffled by the number and destination change and wondering whether to board or not. However, some people used it between Ealing and Wembley Central as it is a direct replacement for the 83, but the section between Wembley Triangle and Harrow was very quiet, with some buses running around completely empty. However, I expect usage to soar once the locals over there are familiar with their new bus service.

The other new route that has been introduced is the N83, a service running from Ealing Hospital-Golders Green, which is basically the old 83, but as the 83 has been cut back a new number was needed. Usage on that route has been about the same as on the 83 by the looks of things. In the week, I noticed some 483's that were relatively busy at Ealing Broadway, which shows that people are aware of what's happened and are (sort of) eager to use the new service.

In terms of reliability, both routes have benefited from the changes, with the 83's service improving massively between Alperton and Golders Green and the 483 running reasonably well, despite passing through traffic hotspot areas Hanger Lane and Wembley. Most people think of the route as the 83 2.0, or the 83 with a 4 in front of it, but the 483 goes to Harrow instead of or as well as Golders Green, depending on the person, which is close enough for "civilians".

Overall, the changes have been successful and TFL have achieved the outcome that they wanted, which is a more reliable service for the Ealing-Alperton-Wembley-Hendon corridor. However, not every change can run perfectly and TFL still haven't updated countdown with maps or times for the 483 yet, meaning people have to just have to wait for the bus to show up, which really isn't ideal! Secondly, the iBus for route 83 is now incorrect, with the bus screen displaying "Alperton Sainsbury's" when the 83 doesn't serve there, it terminates at the bus garage. This needs to be sorted!
I took a ride on Sunday 11th September and this is what it was like.

Metroline VW1774 on route 483 to Ealing Hospital.
 Whilst waiting to cross the road at West Ealing Broadway I could see a 483 in the distance and after a sprint to the Leeland Road bus stop, I caught it and managed to grab the front seats, with only about 5 other people on board. I got a 59-reg VW, which is one of the buses that can be used on the 483/83, as well as some 12-reg drafted in from Harrow Weald and Holloway garages. My last bus journey had started with a 59-reg 83 and I sat in the same seats as before, so it was odd hearing the announcement "483 to Harrow" instead of the usual "83 to Golders Green". The journey to Ealing Broadway isn't particularly interesting, with the only sights along the Uxbridge Road being restaurants, police stations and budget hotels (a Premier Inn and Travelodge almost opposite each other) until you reach Ealing Broadway, where there are lots of shops and places to eat. Being 9.30 on a Sunday morning, the 483 travelled through it with ease and only picked up two people at Ealing Broadway, who obviously weren't shopping as everything was shut, apart from Pret A Manger, Costa and Starbucks (x2). After running alongside Ealing Common, the 483 turns left onto the A406.

Hanger Lane is a road notorious for traffic and if you do the 483, please make the effort to do it early/late, as it takes eight times longer in the rush hour. A journey which took 40 minutes at 5pm took 5 minutes on the Sunday, with some thrash alongside houses and multiple railway bridges. After swinging round Hanger Lane Gyratory, my 483 ran non-stop to Alperton Station, where a few people boarded in the hope of reaching various parts of Wembley. Only some were successful...

Ealing Road is interesting because there is a clear Asian community here and there are various shops that sell Indian suits, dresses, groceries and pretty much anything else you would expect on an Asian high street. Quite a few of these shops were open so the pavements were surprisingly busy for what time it was. The direct way from Wembley Central would be to go up to Sudbury and continue straight to Harrow, just like the 182 does, but the 483 turns right and serves all of Wembley High Street, which was closed. My 483 chose to wait time here and about half a dozen buses overtook VW1774 with five whole people on board. At Wembley Triangle, the bus driver kindly gave an announcement over the PA system, telling passengers for Wembley Park should alight here and wait for an 83. Three out of the five people did just that and I had the whole upstairs to myself.

VW1772 starts a journey from Harrow Bus Station to Ealing Hospital. The 12-reg buses are snakes and I still don't have a picture of one yet, sorry!
Something TFL are very proud of is that part of Wembley Hill Road now has a bus service for the first time and it is the only exclusive section of route 483, apart from 10m it has to itself for the bus stand at Ealing Hospital. What I learned is that is a very steep road and it would be useful for people if there were any stops along it. Instead, there is a huge gap between Wembley Triangle and East Lane where the 483 passes countless houses but fails to stop near any of them. North Wembley is an interesting area, with the roads all centered around the Bakerloo Line station and when the other passenger on board alighted here, the bus was mine! If you like greenery and staring at huge playing fields then the 483 is for you, as the area just South of Harrow Town Centre is full of them (the 182 also serves there), with nothing apart from a road which can be used for thrashing and Northwick Park Hospital to look at. After that, the 483 swings left into Kenton Road but quickly passes over the Met Line tracks before serving some of Harrow High Street and into Harrow Bus Station, the last stop on this route.

The 483 isn't as good as the old 83, but it's a fairly interesting route and I gave it 7/10. For people that like a variety of places to look at then the 483 is for you, passing through urban, rural and residential areas on the route. If you do the route at rush hour it will take about 80-90 minutes end to end, but it's possible to complete the route in just under an hour if you're very lucky. My experience was fairly enjoyable and the service is running well, so it's turned out well after all. Thanks for reading!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Farewell 83

From Saturday 10th September (tomorrow), the 83 will be cut from Ealing Hospital, meaning it will only run from Alperton-Golders Green, thus not calling at Hanger Lane, Ealing Broadway, West Ealing or Ealing Hospital anymore. A new route, numbered the 483, will take its place, running from Ealing Hospital-Wembley Stadium via the current 83 route and then up to Harrow via East Lane, North Wembley and Northwick Park Hospital. I am against these changes but unfortunately they are going ahead, but I'd like to give the 83 a good send off, so that's what I'm going to do here.

Back when First had the 83, LK59 CWF at Leeland Road in my early days of photography.
I started using the 83 when B7TL Plaxton Presidents and Gemini 1 Eclipse buses were the allocation. The Eclipse Gemini's were very nice buses and I enjoyed riding them on short journeys between Ealing Hospital and Ealing Broadway before they were replaced by B9TL Gemini 2's. The 83 was the first route in London that was given B9TL's and they eventually entered service in late 2009. They're not the best Gemini 2's, but they are decent buses and didn't change my views on the 83 at all.
The future.... VW1768 curtailed to Alperton.
 A couple of years after the B9TL's were introduced, I started to use the 83 a lot more, particularly on short trips to Ealing Hospital, but also on journeys up to Wembley and even Golders Green when the traffic wasn't too bad. The 83 also helps out the 207/427 between Hanwell and Ealing Broadway and it's saved me on numerous occasions. It was at this point when I started to really appreciate the 83 as a local route, particularly as it gets me quite far away from my local area. It goes to Golders Green, an area which I like visiting frequently and the routeing itself is very interesting, passing through Ealing Broadway, Alperton, Wembley, Kingsbury Green, Hendon and Golders Green.

Metroline VW1372 on the 83 to Ealing Hospital.
The 83 hadn't seen any odd workings for four years by the summer of 2013, with the 59-reg B9TL's being the only double deckers at Alperton and putting a single decker on the 83 would cause all sorts of problems. However, the conversion of route 24 to New Routemaster operation meant that the almost new 62-reg Gemini 2's transferred to Alperton (ON) garage for the double decking of the 245, running between Alperton Sainsbury's and Golders Green via Cricklewood and North Wembley. However, these buses frequently strayed onto the 83 and when they first arrived I decided to ride the route end to end.

It was a Friday afternoon and the journey took two hours, but I enjoyed my journey very much. The air-conditioning was working and it kept me cool whilst waiting in Hanger Lane traffic for 40 minutes. I hadn't ventured beyond Wembley on the 83 for a long time before I rode it with a 62-reg, so it was a great refresher and I got to know the route really well after. That was definitely my favourite ride on the 83, with some other good ones after that!
Metroline VW1765 on route 83 to Ealing Hospital.
The main reason why I've loved the 83 is because it takes me far away from my local area, unlike most of the buses here, which either go to Greenford or Westfield, with one link to Chiswick and another to Kingston. Ealing doesn't have a bus link to Central London, so nearly all of my journeys start with a train of some sort, unless I'm going to North London and I could treat myself to an 83 ride. However, when the 483 is introduced I won't be able to get any further North than Harrow, which is too far West for my liking and because of the roundabout route the 483 will be taking, I'll probably bail at Wembley and get a 182 instead.

Metroline VW1377 on the 83 to Golders Green.
The main reason why TFL have cut it back is because of reliability problems and the fact that additional driver breaks are required as the route is so long (taking over 2 hours end to end). I do understand that the service hasn't been brilliant ever since the contract was renewed in 2009, but for some reason it's always been there for me when I've needed it. With most of my local bus routes I can name several bad experiences whilst waiting for one, but I'm struggling to think of a time when I've had to wait ages for the 83 and it's turned up packed, because it hasn't. I've stood on packed 83's in rush hour before, but that's because the 207/427 had huge gaps in the service and the 83 came to the rescue. I get the feeling I'm not going to be so lucky with the 483.

An 83 heads through Northfields whilst on diversion due to the Ealing Half Marathon.
 I've always rated the 83. It's constantly been my second favourite local since I was introduced to the route. The only route that beats it is the 65 to Kingston and that's only because I find the routeing of the 65 more interesting, so it came as a shock when TFL released the consultation about cutting the 83 to Alperton and introducing the new route 483. After reading it I was absolutely gutted that I would be losing out on the 83 if the proposals went ahead and I desperately tried to object to the consultation as much as I could, but the tender result for the 483 was announced and I figured out I had less than a year of the 83 left. Nothing will ever make up for the 83 and no matter how good the 483 is, it will never make up for the memories I've had of it.

On Saturday 6th August, Perivale East (PV) garage reopened and the 245 transferred there with the 62-reg buses, meaning the 83 was fully 59-reg once more, for the last month of it going as far as Ealing, a bit like how it was in 2009. The news was disappointing, but it did mean I lost the 62-reg and the 83 separately, meaning it was more gradual than sudden. It would mean my last journey on the 83 would be on one of the original buses, not one of the B7TL's but one that I may have ridden back in 2009.

VW1767 stands at Golders Green, with a very large Metroline logo.
VW1767 won't be my last 83 ride ever, but it was my last Ealing Hospital-Golders Green journey on the route. Even if I ride the N83 (a new route running along the 483 from Ealing Hospital-Alperton and then via the 83 to Golders Green, replacing the current 24 hour service the 83 provides), it still won't be the same. I arrived at 9am on a Bank Holiday Monday, aiming for a traffic-free Hanger Lane. I managed to get a front row seat, which was perfect for the occasion and the bus was speeding along the Uxbridge Road to Ealing Broadway, possibly the fastest journey I'd had along that section. There was only one other person upstairs and seeing Ealing Broadway closed in the daytime was a nice experience.

VW1767 then turned left onto Hanger Lane, which was clear for once and I got to fully appreciate the section between Ealing Broadway and Alperton for the first time and I enjoyed it very much. It crosses several railway lines and the stops are quite far apart, offering some thrash early on a Monday morning. Something odd about the 83 is that there are two stops called "Audley Road", one in North Ealing and the other in Hendon. How confusing!

After navigating Hanger Lane Gyratory with success, I went through Alperton and Ealing Road, which was already buzzing despite it being 9:30 am and not a working weekday! At this point the bus got very busy and it stayed this way until Wembley Stadium. The view of Wembley Arena was lovely and the section from Alperton-Blackbird Cross is probably my favourite part of the route. The 483 turns off at Wembley Hill Road, meaning that I can't even take one bus to Wembley Park anymore....

The road from Wembley Park-Kingsbury Green is mostly residential, but the houses did not bore me and I was soon in Hendon, which was full of Northern Line replacements that day. My 83 got stuck behind a Sullivan Buses Vyking with it's rear blind stuck on 699! The section from Hendon-Golders Green is definitely the most interesting one, with a whole string of Kosher shops on the parade to Golders Green. My bus then arrived at the final stop, with only a wasp and I on board and I got off an 83, having ridden it from Ealing, for the last time. It is quite fitting that my last journey on the 83 was an end to end ride, but it's a shame that I'll never be able to ride the route from my local area ever again.

New blinds for the 83.
 Over the past couple of days (Thursday and Friday) all of the Gemini 2's at Alperton (ON) have received new style blinds in preparation for the introduction of the 483 and some of the 12-reg buses from Harrow Weald (HD) and Holloway (HT) have made appearances on the 83 in advance of the changeover tomorrow. The bus stops between Ealing Hospital and Alperton have already been changed to have 483 and N83 on them and the number 83 has vanished from them completely, which is a bit confusing for people still using the service.

Tomorrow will be an interesting and sad day, with many enthusiasts visiting the area of Ealing and trying out London's first brand new route since 2008 (the 433 is just a new number). I will be taking a ride on Sunday and I'm not exactly looking forward to it, but riding a route from Ealing to Harrow will certainly be an interesting experience.

I'm really going to miss the 83, but I guess you can't have everything and the changes are for the best in terms of reliability.

Farewell 83!

Saturday, 3 September 2016

Where You Can Go To From Ealing Broadway

Ealing Broadway is a great place for tube/rail links, but when it comes to the buses, it's not brilliant. What I'll do is run you through each route that serves Ealing Broadway and where you can go, then afterwards I'll run through every area which doesn't have a link from Ealing that is close by.

London United VH45186 on route 65 to Ham.
The 65 is one of the more useful routes in Ealing, in that it's the only one that heads further South than Brentford, which is just 20 minutes away. You can get to the Watermans Centre, Kew Gardens, Richmond and Kingston using this route, which means it gets very crowded, having no support from other routes at all throughout it's journey. TFL did increase the frequency to every 6 minutes by adding four Gemini 3's to the PVR, but what the 65 really needs is another route that ventures South of the river from Ealing. That's why I use the 65 a lot, it's pretty useful.

A Gemini 2 with the unusally large logo on route 83.
The 83 is a long route from Ealing Hospital-Golders Green. It has the potential to be useful as it acts as a support route for the 207/427 from Ealing Hospital-Ealing Broadway and it serves Alperton, Wembley, Kingsbury Green, Hendon and Golders Green, but it also uses Hanger Lane to get to those places, a road infamous for its terrible traffic. The 83 sometimes takes 2 hours end to end, meaning that most people take the 297 to Wembley instead and then change buses. However, TFL have decided to cut back the 83 to Alperton, meaning that it won't serve Ealing anymore. A brand new route numbered the 483 will take its place, running from Ealing Hospital-Harrow via the current 83 routeing to Wembley Park and then up to Harrow via North Wembley.

When I first heard that Ealing was getting a link to Harrow, my first reaction was "brilliant, I can finally head North West without having to change buses". However, the 483 is going to use Hanger Lane and take the most indirect route possible to get to Harrow, meaning that most people will use the 297 and 182 instead. What we can learn from this is that the 483 will be useful from Ealing Hospital-Ealing Broadway and for people in North Wembley (who get another bus service without losing another), but if you want to head North from Ealing just take the 297 and thank me later.

Metroline DEL2069 at Ealing Broadway
The 112 is that route that tries to be useful but fails. There are only 4 reasons you might want to use it and even then some of them are questionable. The 112 spends most of its time on the North Circular Road, which can be full of traffic, although you can get some pretty fast journeys at night. One of the main attractions on the route is the Easy Food Store, a budget store where everything costs 29p and usage on the route as increased since it opened, bearing in mind it's the only route that stops outside. You can also use the 112 if you want to visit Stonebridge Park, not that there's much there. You're better off taking the 297 to Wembley... Another place the 112 serves is IKEA in Neasden (advertised as Wembley, but geographically it's not very close to there at all), but it's no good taking the bus if you have more than a couple of bags of shopping. The last destination on the 112 is Brent Cross, a shopping centre for people who think Ealing Broadway is too small but don't fancy getting lost in Westfield. However, the A406 puts people right off this route and that's exactly why I've only used it once.

When First London still had the 207....
The 207 is one of the busiest routes in London, running from Hayes By-Pass to White City through Southall, Hanwell, Ealing and Acton. It is a trunk route that used to have bendy buses, but now it has become extremely overcrowded, being the main route out of Ealing heading East or West. It's pretty useful, which is proven by the amount of people who use the service. I use it a lot and even if this route is not your local, I'm sure you've ended up on it at least once!

A rather unusual blind display on DE1641 working route 226 at Ealing Broadway.
The 226 will now be the only route from Ealing Broadway-Golders Green, with the removal of the 83 from the area. It's a busy route, linking Ealing Broadway with Park Royal, Central Middlesex Hospital, Harlesden and Cricklewood, which desperately needs double deckers or a frequency increase. The overcrowding makes this route unattractive for me and I try to avoid it as much as I can, but it's annoyingly useful in that it's the quickest route to lots of places in North West London and it will soon be the only route from Ealing-Golders Green, making it even busier. Hooray!

Metroline VW1207 on route 297 to Ealing Broadway

The 297 is a nice route from Ealing Broadway-Willesden, Bus Garage, mainly because it has double deckers. In terms of creating new links, it really isn't that useful, going to lots of places that the 83 and 226 already serve. However, it can be useful if you need to visit Perivale CELF Centre and it can be faster than the 83 to Wembley in the rush hour, because this route goes along residential streets instead of Hanger Lane. So yeah, not that useful but handy in some ways.

Metroline VW1820 on route 427 to Uxbridge.
The 427 creates no new links whatsoever, following the 207 and 607 for the entire journey, unless of course you live in Hillingdon and you can't be bothered to walk from the 607 stop. However, the 427 is a route I have to use frequently if the 207 is overcrowded, as this route does try and support it a lot of the time, even though it's unreliable and gets packed itself!

A 607 on diversion.
The 607 is the express version of the 207 and 427 and it's well used too, especially since Westfield opened in 2008. It's the fastest way to get to Westfield, Southall and Uxbridge and Ealing really couldn't do without it, despite it following two other routes for the whole journey.

Abellio London 2444 on the ridiculously short E1.
The E1 is one of six bus routes that go from Ealing-Greenford and it's the most useful one for getting between the two, as it's the quickest and it's fairly frequent. Despite it only taking 15 minutes end to end, it gets packed at rush hour as it's the only bus that takes people from Ealing Broadway to Drayton Green. The E11 doesn't count as it runs every 30 minutes and takes the long way round.

Metroline VW1213 on route E2 to Greenford Broadway
The E2 is fairly useful, because it's the quickest route from Ealing to Brentford High Street (the 65 only takes you to the Watermans Centre), it's the only route from Ealing Broadway to Northfields and it's more frequent than the E9, which is the other route that serves Pitshanger. It's very unreliable and gets crowded if a gap more than 12 minutes is present.

An E7 passes Greenford Lidl.
The E7 isn't very useful if you want to head to Greenford, but it does take you to West Ealing Station, Yeading White Hart and Ruislip, which is as far North as you can get from Ealing. It isn't overcrowded but it's consistently busy throughout the day, one for a frequency increase I think!

An E8 overtakes a 117 at West Thames College, Isleworth.
The E8 has been made very useful recently, with the double decking of the route and the extension of the route from Brentford, Commerce Road to Hounslow, Bell Corner, finally linking Ealing and Hounslow, two town centres so close but yet so far. It is well used as it links Ealing to Boston Manor and Hounslow, but the E2 is much quicker if you feel the need to visit Brentford. It still gets crowded at rush hour though, so get on at the first stop in Ealing!

An Enviro 400 takes a rest from duties on route E9.

The E9 is more of a relief route rather than one that creates new links, assisting the E2 up from Ealing to Greenford and then following the E7 up to Yeading, White Hart before doing a loop of the Barnhill Estate, where it terminates. TFL gave the route double deckers recently, as it can get very busy in the rush hour if the E2 fails to show up, but in the daytime you'll rarely see over 10 people on board so that's definitely the best time to do it!

Arriva TGM 3427 on route E10 to Northolt.

The E10 isn't very useful unless you live in Ferrymead and Smith's Farm, or you need to get to Northolt. It follows the 297 and E2 up to Greenford and then goes round-the-houses all the way up to Islip Manor, where it terminates. It's certainly not the most direct route to Northolt, but it'll get you there, unless you have to wait 60 minutes like I did once....

London United SDE11 on route E11 to Greenford Broadway.
The E11 really isn't useful unless you live on it. It runs every half an hour and is the longest route from Ealing-Greenford, taking you on a tour of many residential streets around Drayton Green and Elthorne Heights. Unless the E11 is the only route in the area, it is the slowest route to anywhere along its line of route, including Drayton Green, Greenford Avenue and Greenford Broadway. Avoid this route at all costs unless you live on it. If you do, you have my sympathy.

So, that's all of the day routes from Ealing Broadway. You're probably thinking 'you can get to lots of places from Ealing, what's he on about' but let's breakdown where you can get to and where you can't.

  • You can get to Brentford via the E2, but there are two other routes which can take you there too.
  • You can get to Hounslow via the E8, which is very useful.
  •  You can get to Richmond and Kingston via the 65, which is useful too.
  • You can get to Acton using the 207, but the 427 will take you there too. The 607 is only useful if you want to reach the Town Hall as it doesn't stop at Morrisons...
  • You can get to Uxbridge, Westfield and Southall using the 607, but there is another route that takes you to both of those places.
  • You can get to Greenford Broadway using the E1, but there are another five bus routes which do the same.
  • You can get to Yeading, White Hart using the E9, but the E7 takes you there too.
  • You can get to Northolt by using the E10.
  • You can get to Northfields using the E2.
  • You can get to South Ealing and Kew by using the 65.
  • You can get to Park Royal, Harlesden, Cricklewood and Golders Green by using the 226.
  • You can get to Brent Cross and Neasden by using the 112.
  • You can get to Alperton and Wembley by using the 83, but the 297 will take you there too.
  • You can get to Perivale by using the 297.
  • You can get to Ruilsip by using the E7.
                         Here is a list of everywhere you can't get to from Ealing in one bus:

  • There is no bus to Greenford Station, despite it being 5 minutes up the road from Greenford Broadway, with 6 routes going there. Extension of the E1 please!
  • There is no bus to Hayes and Harlington (where the train station is and where lots of shops are) despite there being 3 buses serving the other part of Hayes. Not everyone uses GWR!
  • There is no bus to Osterley, which has a retail park and a huge Tesco.
  • There is no bus to Chiswick Business Park, an area which needs a link to Ealing Broadway  Station, bearing in mind it has three lines! Extension of the E9 please!
  • There is no bus to Chiswick itself, perhaps the E9 could go here too.
  • There is no bus to Hammersmith, a very popular destination from Ealing. Not everyone uses the tube!
  • There is no bus to West, North or East Acton, despite Ealing Broadway being a popular shopping destination for people living there. The Central Line is busy enough thanks!
  • The only bus that will serve Harrow is stupidly indirect, therefore making it unattractive and forcing more people to either change buses or pay more to use the train.
That's my rant over, thanks for reading!