|Go-Ahead London SOE33 on route 455 to Wallington Station, not immediately obvious in the picture.|
|Arriva London ENS25 leaves East Croydon on route 410, bound for Crystal Palace.|
|Tower Transit MV38238 on route 308 to Wanstead.|
|What's different about this one?|
|A brightly coloured bus stop in Fulwell Crossm displaying 6/7 routes involved in the process.|
|Stagecoach London 36151 waits at the new stand at Leamouth Orchard Place.|
Less than a week before the scheduled start date, TFL announced that the D3 would be receiving a new routeing in Leamouth, via housing on Blackwall Way. It wouldn't terminate outside Tower Hamlets Council Offices, serving the new London City Island development instead. This change interested me because no consultation was published on the matter, and TFL gave no clue as to where the D3 would terminate and why they were changing the route. Near Leamouth is the desolate Trinity Buoy Wharf, which has been isolated from any accessible public transport for over a century, despite being a (sort of) well-known tourist attraction. There are also some schools nearby, which would benefit greatly from a bus service; as a result I anticipated that the D3 would be sent through to the end of Orchard Place (yes, TFL only gave a street name). TFL didn't make any changes to the countdown map beforehand, meaning that travellers may have thought that they could still reach Leamouth by bus! The iBus stops weren't recorded or uploaded, meaning that buses would simply "vanish" off LVF just before the extension and live bus apps wouldn't work for the new section. I wanted to test out this farce as soon as possible, so I went out to cover the extension on the third day of operation.
|The glamorous new bus stop at Leamouth.|
I arrived at Canary Wharf and eventually my D3 rocked up, still displaying "Leamouth" on the blinds and iBus, not advertising that it was taking a completely new routeing at all. TFL quickly wrote up a
half-hearted scrolling iBus message, although they didn't mention exactly where the new D3 was going. I was surprised to find that two other passengers stayed on beyond Billingsgate Market, which suggests that the new extension will be very popular. After diverting from the previous route the bus thought it was on diversion and the first dolly stop could be seen, placed conspicuously in the middle of nowhere. East India Station now has a bus service and this was where my two fellow passengers alighted on the first trip. At what seemed like the penultimate stop, the driver announced that the bus terminated there and then proceeded to drive off to the garage. I was puzzled at this point as advertising that the bus went to Orchard Place would be a tad pointless if the bus wasn't actually allowing passengers to get off there. I had to walk there in the torrential rain and wait for another 15 minutes before another D3 showed up in this isolated area. The stand is in the middle of nowhere and the route doesn't serve Trinity Buoy Wharf, nor London City Island, suggesting that the route will be extended further into the development in the future, as this new bus stop isn't visible or in an attractive location. I asked the driver if he was meant to pick up passengers and he simply shrugged his shoulders, suggesting that no one really knew what was going on and the drivers were just following the temporary signs put in place for the weekend.
|Someone stuck a tile in the wrong place and didn't even remove it properly!|
On the return trip I realised that the driver may have used the confusion to his advantage, by dropping us off early he could save a couple of minutes and get back to the garage and his home sooner. A few more people boarded on the return trip to Canary Wharf, with East India being the primary focus with this re-routing. Now, the new stops have been uploaded onto iBus and the countdown map has been updated today, four weeks after the service changes, although I'm not sure if announcements have been recorded and uploaded yet for the new stops. I think that this service change could be somewhat useful in the future, if the route was to be extended further into London City Island, or even to Canning Town, but the last-minute nature of this change only reinforces TFL's recent disorganisation. The fact that a D3 tile was placed in Blackwall (which the route has never served before and won't for the forseeable future) and they didn't even bother to remove it properly, instead using some childish squiggles, really shows that this change was literally thought and introduced on the spot, without much planning at all. Nevertheless, I hope that TFL are successful with these new changes to the D3 and the residents of Blackwall Way are happy with their new bus service.
Thanks for reading and stay safe during my absence, the news slider icon will still be updated for another week or so.