- In terms of tenders, there have been quite a few announcements recently, as a result of purdah finishing two weeks ago. More detail can be found on the tenders page, but the significant upcoming changes are the 153/214 being lost to Go-Ahead London with electrics (contracts starting in Feb 2018 and August 2019 respectively), the 274 will gain a full allocation of new double deckers from June 2018 and the 138, 284 and 161 have all been lost to Stagecoach with new MMCs from March 2018.
- TFL have consulted on diverting routes 53 and 363 over the Bricklayers Arms flyover in order to speed up journey times, click here for more detail.
- Route 7 will receive new Wrightbus Gemini 3 B5LH vehicles soon, sending the current allocation to the 4/17.
- Route 320 has gained a partial allocation of Enviro 400 Hybrid vehicles displaced from the 436. After a shaky start they are seeing daily usage and will be supplemented by Gemini 2 vehicles from August.
- Route 258 will see a partial allocation of 4 Enviro 400H MMCs for the new contract next year, being the first examples of the type for RATP.
- As a result of the Central London Bus Consultation, last week the 6 was re-routed to serve Park Lane and Piccadilly, the 242 was cut back to St Paul's with the 172 being re-routed to Clerkenwell Green as a result, the 390 was re-routed to serve Victoria with the 73 being cut back to Oxford Circus. The next set of changes will take place on 15th July, more detail on tenders page.
- Existing LTs are starting to takeover routes 48 and 254 and route 137 has seen new examples enter service.
- The first Enviro 200 MMC has entered service for route 411, coinciding with the merging of Quality Line and London United from today. Identical vehicles have entered service at Shepherd's Bush (S) garage for the temporary allocation of route 70, before electric vehicles arrive.
- New Wrightbus Gemini 3 B5LH vehicles have entered service for the 120 contract change and these have already strayed onto other routes at Perivale (PA) garage including the 90, 105 and 297. Similar examples are slowly starting to debut at Willesden (AC) garage for routes 260 and 302, sticking to the latter for the time being, as well as other local routes.
- Since the end of May new MMCs have entered service at Sullivan Buses for route 217 and at Tower Transit the 236 has almost converted to Wrightbus Streetlite operation.
- It's been confirmed that the 5, 115 and 176 will receive ADL E40H MMCs upon contract their new contracts, the 188 will receive Wrightbus Gemini 3 B5LH buses and the 22 will receive MCV EvoSeti vehicles.
|London United DE126 on route 33 to Hammersmith.|
|VH45186 works route 65 on a curtailed journey to Ham. Unfortunately the picture looks blurry on this page for some reason, however if you click on it you should be able to find a clearer version.|
|Metroline DM969 is curtailed at Hammersmith, before starting a 190 trip back to Richmond. The 190 is the only route that uses this type of bus in London.|
The 190 is mostly a single decker route, but occasionally Metroline send out one of their various Gemini 2 vehicles out for the day. It doesn't get particularly busy, partially due to its low frequency of 4 buses per hour. It runs to West Brompton via Chiswick Riverside and Hammersmith and mostly follows other routes, providing one unique section near the infamous Hogarth Roundabout, which causes the route to be frequently delayed, making the 391 more attractive for trips to Hammersmith or West Brompton. Some residents around Chiswick use the service, but for the rest of the public, this service is slow and pretty useless, having quicker alternatives for the majority of the places it serves. The 190, 337, 391 and 419 are the only routes that terminate inside Richmond Town Centre, because there's no stand space elsewhere and routes coming from the West would have to negotiate a complicated one way loop to serve both the shops and the bus station, so only these four routes have gained this privilege, which is why so many routes run empty East of Richmond (more on that later).
|A rare working showcasing PVL232 on the 337 to Clapham Junction.|
|An Enviro 200 works the 371 on a rainy day in Kingston.|
|This working only happened once and it shouldn't happen again, whilst the E3 allocation was temporarily used on the 391 whilst its Optare Versas transferred to Fulwell (FW) garage.|
Unfortunately, all of my 419 pictures are terrible, but click here for an accurate representation of the current allocation of the 419's current allocation, which is currently full of Dart Pointer vehicles. It's one of the shortest routes in Richmond, terminating at Hammersmith and running through Mortlake and Castelnau, Lonsdale Road. It's not very frequent, running every 15 minutes throughout the day, but it's one of the faster options into Hammersmith and it also provides a handy link to Mortlake and Barnes Bridge, as well as the residential area around Lonsdale Road. Even though I've never used it, I'm sure it has a valuable purpose in Richmond Town Centre for the locals and perhaps it's one of the most suitable routes for extending to create new links, or for swapping to improve reliability. (more on that later).
|Abellio London 8512 works route 490 to Heathrow Terminal 5.|
|An Enviro 200 serves Richmond Bus Station, nearing completion of a lengthy 493 journey.|
The 969 is the most elusive bus in the Richmond area, only running twice a week, providing one return trip on each day. As a result, I don't have any pictures of the service, but click here for an accurate picture of the current allocation of the service (I've highlighted the most relevant one). It doesn't provide any new links, apart from to the residential area in Whitton and to Roehampton Vale Asda (after taking a roundabout route through Barnes) and it doesn't run frequently enough for anyone else to take notice of it, but it's a unique addition to the Richmond area and I'm sure some elderly residents along the route greatly appreciate the minimal amount of service.
The H22 is another route that has escaped my camera and is also one of my most hated routes in London, for being a particularly tedious residential route running between Hounslow and Richmond, via a seemingly endless assortment of side roads in Whitton and Twickenham Town Centre, using neglected Dart Pointer vehicles. It's definitely worth avoiding and the only useful link it provides is to the area of Whitton, which is only used by local residents. It does terminate at Hounslow, but using the H37 is much more sensible. It can get pretty busy and it runs every 12 minutes, but I tend to just ignore the route in Richmond.
|London United OT2 pauses at West Thames College en route to Richmond, Manor Circus.|
|Abellio London 8511 works route R68 to Hampton Court.|
|An Enviro 200 works the R70 to Hampton, The Avenue.|
The R70 runs from Richmond, Manor Circus-Hampton, The Avenue (which is in Nurserylands) via Twickenham, Fulwell and Hampton, taking a reasonably direct route to the residential area. The loadings are inconsistent but sometimes it can get incredibly busy, notably on Saturdays, where residents in the R70-only area come out to Richmond for shopping. It's also the fastest route to Fulwell and Hampton which is why buses can turn up packed if you're waiting in Twickenham. It runs with bog standard E200s at a bog standard 10 minute frequency, but instead of having a fixed turning point in Nurserylands, buses run in a massive clockwise loop around the housing area, providing an efficient method of quickly serving everyone in the catchment area. It can be considered useful and this concludes the somewhat detailed analysis of each route in the town centre.
On the whole, we can infer that each route in Richmond has some sort of functional purpose, from constantly transporting large numbers of people to town centres (65), to serving a few houses and a gridlocked roundabout only (the 190), or only running twice a week for the benefit of a few people in Whitton (the 969). Generally, the bus network in Richmond should be commended, even if some routes are in need of a capacity boost, it proves that the routes are successful and people are recognising the bus as a method of transport for shopping/commuting purposes, even with the high quality train service on offer. Buses often parallel this (four buses go to Hammersmith despite it being on the District Line), although many bus routes cater for where the rail lines don't reach and at an adequate "replacement" frequency. However, there are a couple of missing links and this is what I propose to sort it:
- Extending the 337 from Richmond-West Middlesex Hospital, via the H37 routeing through St Margaret's and South Street and then up Twickenham Road for a couple of stops to WMH. The route isn't particularly long at the moment and this 20-25 minute extension would effectively cease overcrowding on the H37 and you could possibly cut the frequency on the H37 with this new extension. The link to the hospital would also be greatly appreciated by locals.
- Double deck route 493 (provided that there are no restrictions, there aren't any low bridges I think) to make members of the public aware of this potentially useful cross-London route.
- There currently isn't a link from Westfield to South West London, so I suggest modifying the following routes to solve this issue: re-routing route 391 so it runs from Richmond-Chiswick and then runs via the 237 to White City, giving that overcrowded route some well-deserved support. There is also room for an extension further into South West London, although there are multiple options to consider and I don't have time to make a substantiated judgement, so I'm just going to leave it as the core section for now. Then, I would extend route 283 to Fulham, Sands End from Hammersmith (it's very short now and has a similar frequency to the 391) and extend the 419 to West Brompton to Hammersmith, providing a more reliable service on this section than the traffic prone 190, which I would curtail to Hammersmith to improve the quality of service in Chiswick Riverside and ideally make the service more attractive. Even though a number of links are broken, some valuable new ones are created here (North End Road-White City, White City-Richmond etc etc) and I feel that overall, it would improve travel patterns in West London.