diamond geezer

 Thursday, February 18, 2021

I don't know about you, but I've reached the Tracking Down an A-Z of Bus Stops stage of lockdown. As you can see, I did quite well.



Many London bus stops have a letter on top to make them easier to identify. These 'point letters' are particularly useful in busy locations with several routes heading in various directions, and can be helpfully depicted on maps, timetables and in apps. Very very roughly speaking half of London's bus stops display a single letter, a quarter display two letters and a quarter display none at all. A, B, C and D are the most common single letters, with about 500 of each across the capital, whereas by the time you get down to X, Y and Z it's more like 200.
[Bus stop data comes from an FoI database released in 2014]

Letters generally appear in clusters and were probably once allocated alphabetically, although subsequent changes can muddy the water somewhat.



For example, whoever first lettered the bus stops in Bow placed A and B outside the station, C and D up Fairfield Road and then turned their attention to the church. The north side would originally have had E, F and G, although F had disappeared before I moved here, while across the road were J, K and L. The Bus Stop M debacle of 2015, inspired by the evolution of a cycle superhighway, rather mucked things up. E vanished, G was replaced by M, K was removed and L no longer takes passengers... and this is why the lettering of bus stops sometimes appears to make no sense.

The task I set myself was to try to take a photograph of a complete alphabet of bus stop letters while sticking as close to home as possible. As you can see A, B, C, D, J, L and M were easy to find, and the rest of the alphabet required a bit of searching. I scrolled around TfL's online maps, which are better at showing bus stops than bus routes, to try to find the nearest example of each letter, then went out for a long walk with my camera. It took an hour and twenty minutes. It turns out a wet weekday morning during lockdown is ideal for such purposes because a) most of the stops had nobody waiting at them b) the sun never caused problems with dazzle and shadow c) what else am I going to do?



A/B: Outside Bow Church DLR station. Easy.
C/D: Up Fairfield Road. Easy.
E: This required my greatest deviation from Bow Road. Originally this stop was called M but when G got renamed M in 2015 that meant there were two Ms on the same spider map so they changed this to E because there wasn't an E locally any more after the previous E near G (now M) had been removed.
Former Bus Stop E still appears on TfL's digital map despite being removed six years ago.
F: This required the longest walk from home, almost a mile down to the Regent's Canal.
G/H: Mile End has the perfect A-H collection on the four arms of its big crossroads.
J/L: The two remaining stops south of Bow Church. All buses stop at J because L is now solely a bus stand so goodness knows why it still has a letter on it.
K: The disappearance of Bow Church's K meant a hike down to Coborn Road.
Former Bus Stop K still appears on TfL's digital map despite being removed five years ago.
M: The legendary Bus Stop M is easily reached.
N: This one's on Tredegar Road (opposite the E that used to be an M).
P: The westbound Bow Flyover bus stop.
Q: Top of Fairfield Road (opposite a P, but I've already got a P).
R/T: The last surviving stop in Bromley High Street.
S: Tailstop at the top of Campbell Road. This required my longest wait because the two people waiting definitely wouldn't've appreciated being photographed and the next 108 was still some way off.
T/U: Northbound on St Leonard's Street (for buses nipping off the A12 to serve actual houses).
V: The bus stop outside Tesco (currently the first stop on route 488).
W: The other Bow Flyover stop (possibly the only London bus stop preceded and followed by a Bus Stop M).
X: The last stop on route 488, so you can't actually catch a bus here.
TfL's digital map thinks you can catch the 488 and D8 at Bus Stop X but you can't (and indeed never could).
Y/Z: Finally, the important pair outside Bow Road tube station. I was lucky to find a Z, there are fewer than 150 in London.

If you've been paying attention you'll have noticed that I've only visited 24 different lettered bus stops, not 26. This is because Is and Os are rare beasts and there aren't any near where I live.
"I asked TfL about this and apparently they try to avoid using O and I these days because they look too much like 0 and 1. Reportedly, the team responsible were “surprised” that there were still O and I stops at all, which is slightly disconcerting." (Ed Jefferson, City Monitor, 2018)
Only about 30 bus stops in London are lettered with an O, which averages out at one per borough. In fact Tower Hamlets has one, Hackney has two and Newham has two, and these are the only Os within walking distance of my home. The nearest is outside Cambridge Heath station, and that required an extra mile's hike on top of all the wandering I'd done so far. I'm still not 100% sure why I made the pilgrimage but I can confirm, yes, the stop by the chicken shop does indeed have a letter O on top.



But I has stumped me. I believe there are only six Bus Stop Is in London and none of them are anywhere near me. One's in Southall, one's near Sudbury Town station, one's in Whetstone, one's round the Sutton ring road, one's in the centre of Wimbledon and one's on Bromley High Street. The latter is closest to where I live but it's still 9 miles away so there's no hope of getting there... which means my A-Z bus stop tally falters at 25 out of 26.

So is there any neighbourhood in London where the A-Z bus stop challenge can be completed? It'd have to be in one of the six locations in the previous paragraph, all of which I've checked on Streetview to confirm that Bus Stop I genuinely exists. This Bus Stop I then has to be somewhere near a Bus Stop O, and all the other 24 letters have to fall into place.

Sudbury Town fails big time. Wimbledon's missing O and Q. Whetstone nearly works if you head towards Finchley but the end of the alphabet's absent. I don't think Bromley succeeds (but TfL's online map is littered with fake bus stops so I can't be sure). Southall ticks off the lot but only if you include a walk to Dormers Wells. So the sole true winner seems to be Sutton town centre where the entire alphabet from A to Z appears in and around the ring road, suggesting the whole thing was carefully planned. I'd like to show you this on the Sutton spider map but TfL's Cartographic Pulp Squad have withdrawn that so you'll have to search things out for yourself. But hey, if you are in Sutton and have nothing better to do, why not enliven your day by tracking down an A-Z of lettered bus stops?


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21
Jan20  Feb20  Mar20  Apr20  May20  Jun20  Jul20  Aug20  Sep20  Oct20  Nov20  Dec20
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19  Jul19  Aug19  Sep19  Oct19  Nov19  Dec19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

» my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
blue witch
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
in the aquarium
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
dirty modern scoundrel
from the murky depths
exploring urban wastelands

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
The DG Tour of Britain
#coronavirus

read the archive
May21
Apr21  Mar21  Feb21  Jan21
Dec20  Nov20  Oct20  Sep20
Aug20  Jul20  Jun20  May20
Apr20  Mar20  Feb20  Jan20
Dec19  Nov19  Oct19  Sep19
Aug19  Jul19  Jun19  May19
Apr19  Mar19  Feb19  Jan19
Dec18  Nov18  Oct18  Sep18
Aug18  Jul18  Jun18  May18
Apr18  Mar18  Feb18  Jan18
Dec17  Nov17  Oct17  Sep17
Aug17  Jul17  Jun17  May17
Apr17  Mar17  Feb17  Jan17
Dec16  Nov16  Oct16  Sep16
Aug16  Jul16  Jun16  May16
Apr16  Mar16  Feb16  Jan16
Dec15  Nov15  Oct15  Sep15
Aug15  Jul15  Jun15  May15
Apr15  Mar15  Feb15  Jan15
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

the diamond geezer index
2020 2019 2018 2017 2016
2015 2014 2013 2012 2011
2010 2009 2008 2007 2006
2005 2004 2003 2002

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
unlost rivers
cube routes
Herbert Dip
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv