West Goes East!

To cover the withdrawal of 588 and the extension of 388, the west London-based bus blog travels to east London.

HTL5 (LR52 LWE), an East Lancs Myllennium Lolyne bodied Trident 2 allocated to CT Plus route 388.
Stratford City Bus Station. ©London Bus Breh.
The weekend beginning 14th December didn't dawn too long ago on us, which called for the final service extension of the year - CT Plus's flagship route 388 to be extended from Hackney Wick to Stratford City Bus Station. This meant temporary route 588, operated by Stagecoach London from West Ham (WH) depot, was to be withdrawn on the 13th December 2013. Yet the next day it was still operative ...
18459 (LX55 EPF), an Alexander ALX400 bodied Dennis
Trident 2 allocated to Stagecoach: East London route 588.
Stratford City Bus Station. ©London Bus Breh.
Route 588 was supposed to be withdrawn on the 13th December, however Stagecoach forgot to put a notice up on the bulletin and so buses still ran as normal on the 588, although the iBus weren't working on any of the 3 buses that run the route. So buses ran until the early hours of the 15th December where 588 ceased operation around midnight.
The Hackney route deemed unpopular since birth in Summer 2013, as many trips didn't even INVOLVE a single passenger boarding the bus throughout, which takes 12 minutes around the now desolate construction site which was the Olympic Park, E20. This could prove double decks weren't needed for a route like this, and besides, the PVR only needed to be 2, not 3.
18459 (LX55 EPF), an Alexander ALX400 bodied Dennis Trident 2 allocated to Stagecoach: East London route 588.
Stratford City Bus Station. ©London Bus Breh.
Route 588 was operated from Stagecoach's West Ham (WH) garage using 55reg Alexander Dennis ALX400, which were spare inside the garage. Not many know this, but route 588 was actually supposed to be single-deck, although when awarded to Stagecoach, they didn't have any spare single deckers to use, shared between D3 and 488 only. So spare double deckers had to be used instead.

The numbering of route 588 is said to be obvious, and any logical person knows that TfL like to use the 500-599 numbers as temporary route numbers (Excluding 507, 521, 549) and that route 588 is the temporary route of 388, which will soon form (back) into the route numbered after.

HTP6 (PN03 ULY), a Plaxton President bodied Dennis Trident 2 allocated to CT Plus route 388.
Stratford City Bus Station. ©London Bus Breh.
The whole point of 588 was so that 388 can be absorbed into one route and be earmarked 388. CT Plus operate the route with an excellent service, and had a PVR if 11. Now it has been risen to 14, using 3 spare buses. The Trident Presidents (HTP) see more use and so does EO1 and HEA1. PN08 SWJ (EO1) is a bus allocated to routes 388 and W13 (Double deck journey) and that more buses are in use.
'The New One' as this photo is entitled. Anyone recognise? HTP5 (LR52 KWG) is seen at Blackfriars, for route 388. CT Plus's latest entry to the fleet. ©Lewis JN

Do you recoginse the fella above?
Also, CT Plus have now added a new HTP to their fleet: HTP5. North-west Londoners will recognise this vehicle and will be familiar with it, as it is ex-Metroline TP365, which ran out from Cricklewood (W) garage. The bus was withdrawn in 2010, and was returned back to Dawson's Rentals (As they are leased). 2013 saw CT Plus lease out the bus again, to cover the 388 extension.

New Blinds for HEA1
The only hybrid that lives on the CT Plus side of Ash Grove (HK) is HEA1. On the first day of the extension, due to HEA1 not having blinds for Stratford City, it unusually spent the day out on route 212. Amazing photographer Thomas Drake caught up with the bus.

BEFORE: SN62 DND/ HEA1 is seen on route 212 at St James's Street Station as it makes a rare appearance.©Thomas Drake.

AFTER: SN62 DND/ HEA1 is seen with new white-on-black blinds on route 388. ©Lewis JN

Just under a week later, HEA1 recieved the new blinds that were on order, which do have the destination set for "Stratford City". This bus now can run on 388 as destined to, with the new TfL spec blinds, white-on-black.

Panaroma of Stratford City Bus Station as HTP5 on route 388 enters the bus station.©London Bus Breh.

The route extension sees an additional three stops en route Stratford City from previous terminus at Hackney Wick Trowbridge Road. This extension, providing a new albeit desolate scenery around what I believe is the old Olympic Park, is a useful one, its extension route similar to that of an express with a longer than usual distance between each stop. A noticeable frequency increase is sure to impress communities along the route.

That's the end of the post. Credits to Thomas Drake for allowing us to use his photo of the rare working on route 212. Hope you enjoyed the post and please do stay safe!