Warning: minority interest post Bow's buses are changing. Changing a bit, anyway. And I know that some of my readers actually live round here, and occasionally catch buses, and might care, so here's the heads-up. Other readers may want to come back tomorrow, when I'll be visiting somewhere you've actually been.
Route 8: Bow Church - Victoria It's fiveyears this month since London's beloved Routemasters were withdrawn from Route 8, which kicks off in Bow. Five years on something else is being withdrawn, at the end of service tomorrow, and that's the last mile of the route. Number 8s have been chugging down to Victoria since 1992, but from Saturday they'll be stopping short and terminating at Oxford Circus. There's a good reason for this curtailment, apparently, which is that Oxford Street is seriously over-stuffed with buses. By stopping the number 8s short there'll be 20 fewer buses an hour clogging up the 500 metres of road between Oxford Circus and Bond Street stations, and every little helps. To make up for this break of service, and to ensure that buses still serve the middle of Mayfair, another route is being extended. Buses on Camden route C2 (which currently terminate at Oxford Circus) will now continue down to Victoria, carefully avoiding Oxford Street along the way. East London residents will then need to take two buses to get to Victoria, not one, which'll cost a few pay-as-you-go users twice as much. On the plus side, however, a shorter journey for the 8 ought to make the service more regular and reliable.
Route N8: Hainault - Victoria The N8's also being cut back from Victoria to Oxford Circus. Need to get a night bus from Victoria to East London? Sorry, but from Saturday no single bus will take you further than Liverpool Street.
Route 15: Blackwall - Paddington The 15 may not stop in Bow, but many of the fleet are currently based at Bow Bus Garage in Fairfield Road. Not after tomorrow, though. From Saturday they're all being transferred to West Ham Garage, a huge new complex built as overspill to make up for lost garages within the Olympic Park. Yes, I know, who cares. But...
Route 15 (heritage): Tower Hill - Trafalgar Square TfL still run two Routemaster services, one of which is on route 15. Ten old buses are used to run the timetable, and the entire stock is currently held at Bow Garage. This means that the buses have to run empty into town from Bow in the morning, and trundle back to Bow at night. So if I'm ever outside my house at quarter past nine in the morning, there's often a big red Routemaster trundling by on its way to the City. The sight never fails to make me smile, because it means that RMs linger on in Bow even five years after they were officially culled. But not any more, not after tomorrow. On Saturday these heritage Routemasters are also being relocated to West Ham Garage. Off will come the "BW" plate outside the driver's cab, to be replaced no doubt by a less local "WH". And I'll never see these characterful workhorses chugging round Bow Church again, which is a damned shame. Ding ding.
Route 25: Ilford - Oxford Circus It's five years tomorrow since bendy buses were first introduced on Route 25. Sorry, they're not changing at all. By rights the 5-year contract ought to be ending this weekend, but a two year extension means Boris can't remove Bow's bendies until at least 2011.
Route 205: Mile End - Paddington And one bit of good news for local residents, but you'll have to wait a bit. At the moment there's only one bus that goes down Bow Road to central London and that's the 25. From 29th August there'll be another, because the 205 is being extended from Mile End to Bow Church. At last, a choice of bus that isn't bendy. At last, a choice of central London destination that isn't Oxford Circus. And (even better) the 205's a 24 hour service, so if you're staggering east to E3 after a heavy night out and the bendy 25s are full, at last there's an alternative. You lose some, you win some.