diamond geezer

 Sunday, May 22, 2022

It's the weekend before Crossrail so several bus routes in south Newham have been significantly tweaked to provide better rail connections. "We need more buses at Custom House", they said, "so let's break existing routes and then break others to fill the gaps and then cut others short while we're at it".
The U-shaped 104 has been split into two straighter routes, the 104 and the brand new 304.
The 241 has been curtailed to Prince Regent, so the 474 has been diverted along its former route, so the 330 has been extended to cover the 474's former route.
The incredibly twisty 300 now twists down very different roads.
The 101 no longer goes to Beckton Retail Park, and the 262 now goes no further.
I went out yesterday to experience the changes first hand, and it may not surprise you to hear that the changes have been implemented badly. I know I slag off The Bus Change People a lot, but this is even more of pissup in a brewery than usual. Missing timetables, wrongly-placed tiles, out-of-date maps and useless generic advice all contributed to a lot of mystified passengers and some rather angry ones too.

With changes of this magnitude what you really need is a summary map, but no such map has been provided. I can't even show you a summary map from the original consultation because there wasn't one, plus that consultation's been deleted, plus this is actually two consultations combined, plus a number of the routes aren't doing what was suggested anyway.

So I've made my own summary map, given TfL can no longer be arsed. It's based on the maps they gave up making in 2016 and it's a bit rough and ready, but it's probably the only way you'll get your head round what's going on. Click to embiggen.

See how Custom House is now served by six bus routes (it used to be three). See how you can now get to Custom House from every direction (except south). See how TfL have stopped duplicating the DLR (you can no longer get a bus between Prince Regent and Royal Albert, nor between Pontoon Dock and City Airport). And see how Beckton Asda is now the terminus for five routes (it used to be three) which may be why the bus station was seriously clogged up yesterday.

But this yellow notice is all that's been posted up at affected bus stops. It does mention there's a brand new bus route, so that's a plus, but everything else is unhelpfully vague. It relies on you checking a webpage which, as we discovered with buses in Abbey Wood last weekend, isn't even the page where the changes are listed. Even if you get that far the text doesn't link to the individual route maps on the TfL website, perhaps because nobody's updated those yet so they still show what these buses used to do. Also, although a dozen spider maps have been updated on the TfL website I didn't spot any of these in real life, only old maps rendered obsolete overnight. All that useful information and they keep it to themselves.

The most useful place for proper information would be Custom House station, given TfL have tweaked all these routes ready to cater for onward passengers, but no such luck. The bus stops immediately outside only display timetables for a nightbus, i.e. nothing for the existing 147, the new 304 or the newly diverted 474. The bus stop facing the platforms still has a spider map dated August 2013, so is egregiously wrong, while the bus stop across the road is still stuck in October 2021. I think there's a new spider map just inside the ticket barriers where nobody can yet see it, but there's nothing outside on the footbridge nor any signs pointing to where the buses are nor anything whatsoever useful at ground level.

On my travels I discovered that timetables for the 241 have been updated but not those for any other route, suggesting TfL's contractors only printed one set before heading out in the van. I also discovered several stops where the yellow notice had been stuck on top of a correct timetable concealing it, while leaving a now incorrect timetable on full display. If you can't get a change right that's been five years in the making, what hope is there?

The most disgruntled passenger I met yesterday was a pensioner at Beckton bus station. He'd travelled here on the 300, discovered how mangled the new route was and was now waiting to go home. He was not happy and shared his disquiet with fellow passengers and an off-duty bus driver. "What's happened to the 300?" The bus driver was very knowledgeable, and politeness personified. "Well how is anyone supposed to know that?!" None of the maps or timetables at the bus stop had been updated. "Gordon Bennett!" He admitted he'd seen the yellow notice but had disregarded it. "Never in my wildest dreams did I believe it would mean this." He was a pensioner with an app on his phone so fairly alert, but in the absence of a map all he could do was read out a list of stops. "It no longer goes down Stansfeld Road, it's a ridiculous route." He advised another passenger not to take the 376 instead. "It goes all round the houses, it takes forever." He grumbled with the actual bus driver as we boarded. "I can't believe it, this is stupid." And he prolonged his disappointment by engaging a growing entourage all the way to Plaistow. "A lot of people are going to go to the wrong place today." He was not wrong.

As well as riding the 300 I also rode the brand new 304 from end to end. This is the eastern half of the former 104, broken at Prince Regent Lane and extended to a new bus stand at Custom House. It starts and finishes at a Crossrail station (which you might think was unique but the 86 does too). And it wasn't busy...

Route 304: Manor Park to Custom House
Location: London east, purple zone
Length of bus journey: 5 miles, 30 minutes

The first stop on the 304 is just opposite Manor Park station (whose roundel looks to be retaining its TfL Rail branding to the bitter end). The 474 also starts here and follows the same route south through East Ham for the next two miles, so that's the bus most Day One passengers were going to catch. They'd never heard of the 304 and there wasn't a map or a timetable, so when a bus came along saying Custom House on the front they gave it a miss. At least someone had been along and changed all the tiles from 104 to 304, but it clearly wasn't yet enough. On Forest Drive a lady waved us past. Across Romford Road a mum refused to let her son board on the way to his violin lesson. On High Street North a dad asked the driver if she was going to the market and decided to give the 304 a punt. Everyone massing outside the tube station piled aboard the 474 behind us instead. One day they'll learn but in the absence of useful information that day was not today.

Not everybody bailed. A dozen folk boarded by the town hall, having deduced that a route number ending in 04 might be what they wanted. A dishevelled man clutching a plastic dinosaur flagged us down with deliberate intent. But at the next stop an old man carrying two stuffed Asda bags was not so fortunate. He stared bemused at the front of the bus, checked the timetable except there wasn't one, looked briefly inside the shelter for a bus map, raised his eyes to read the Countdown display which didn't help, and before he'd finished faffing we'd driven off. If only he'd read the yellow notice and put his shopping down and got his phone out and checked tfl.gov.uk/buses as the Bus Gods intended... but there wasn't time and he didn't look like he owned a smartphone anyway.

Just before the dual carriageway the 304 bears off down a residential backroad running parallel to the Greenway. This is Lonsdale Avenue where for a confusing half mile the old 104 and the new 304 coincide. A mother with a tiny baby stopped us to ask if the bus was going to Stratford, like every bus down Lonsdale Avenue has since the 1980s, but we weren't so she had to wait for an original. Levels of confusion were not helped by the tiles at two stops now saying "towards Newham Hospital, Beckton or Upton Park", whereas for Beckton you actually needed to be on the other side of the road. Just before we reached the brand new section the only other passenger upstairs alighted and I was left with the upper deck all to myself.

We crossed the Greenway and entered Newham General via a bus gate. Two of the stops along this section don't yet have a 304 tile, which thus far is a rare mistake. But on the far side of the A13 the Tile People have totally buggered it up for a different route, the much maligned 300. Perverse tweakage means the 300 now follows Prince Regent Lane in the opposite direction to before, i.e, you need to be waiting on the other side of the road, but for some reason all the tiles have been removed so it looks like the 300 doesn't run this way at all. This is what happens when you send rank amateurs out to do a job of work.

The 304 terminates after a brief run along Victoria Dock Road parallel to Crossrail's tracks. I spied a purple train pulling out of the platform, running empty while operating yet another test service for the umpteenth month in a row. When we finally stopped there were only three of us left on board, including the man with the plastic dinosaur so I reckon he must have known what he was doing. The driver parked up on the 'new' stand, which has actually been waiting for this moment since 2020, and a phalanx of Day One bus photographers excitedly captured the moment. I checked the bus stop and obviously there was no map and no timetable because why would anybody bother? As you listen to the fanfare of Crossrail publicity over the next few days listing all the train facts in copious detail, remember that nobody gives a stuff about the buses.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan23  Feb23  Mar23  Apr23  May23  Jun23
Jan22  Feb22  Mar22  Apr22  May22  Jun22  Jul22  Aug22  Sep22  Oct22  Nov22  Dec22
Jan21  Feb21  Mar21  Apr21  May21  Jun21  Jul21  Aug21  Sep21  Oct21  Nov21  Dec21
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
our bow
ian visits
blue witch
on london
the great wen
edith's streets
spitalfields life
round the island
wanstead meteo
christopher fowler
bus and train user
ruth's coastal walk
the ladies who bus
round the rails we go
london reconnections
from the murky depths

quick reference features
Things to do in Outer London
Things to do outside London
Inner London toilet map
20 years of blog series
The DG Tour of Britain

read the archive
Jun23  May23
Apr23  Mar23  Feb23  Jan23
Dec22  Nov22  Oct22  Sep22
Aug22  Jul22  Jun22  May22
Apr22  Mar22  Feb22  Jan22
Dec21  Nov21  Oct21  Sep21
Aug21  Jul21  Jun21  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
2021 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
capital ring
river fleet

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
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

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
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
doctor who
blue peter
peter pan
feng shui
leap year
bbc three
vision on
ID cards