Some changes for the Dogs

Over a course of two weekends, there were changes to services in the Isle of Dogs.  Routes were changed to help provide a better, more frequent and a less crowded service to certain areas. 

Two Scanias take rest at Crossharbour
© EastLondoner
Routes 135, 277, D3 and D8 all had changes made to them. The changes were made in two phases. One phase on the 17th of September 2016 with the second phase of changes made on the 1st of October 2016.

TfL had been keeping a close eye on passenger flow between Canary Wharf and Crossharbour and they came to a decision that capacity along that corridor should be increased. That corridor was served by routes 135, D3 and D8 with the latter two routes confined to Single Decker buses because of various restrictions on their route preventing useage of Double Deckers.

In February 2016 TfL proposed a package of changes to the area to help improve adjust the capacity in the area so that it was used where it was needed. This package included:

  • - Rerouting route 108 to Stratford International Bus Station via route D8 so it passes Carpenters Road and Stratford City Bus Station. The route would also start to use 12m buses
  • - Rerouting route 135 via route D3 so that it passes Island Gardens Station
  • - Rerouting route 277 to Crossharbour Asda via route 135
  • - Rerouting Route D3 to Leamouth via route 277
  • - Rerouting Route D8 to Stratford Bus Station via route 108 so that it passes Stratford High Street Station
These proposals would mean that the corridor between Canary Wharf and Crossharbour would be fully operated by Double Decker routes.

The consultation report was published in July 2016 and TfL had decided to go ahead with the proposed changes to routes in the area. The changes were to be delivered in two separate stages. On the 17th of September routes 135, 277 and D3 would change followed by routes 108 and D8 on the 1st of October.  I went out on the 1st of October to catch up on the changes that had taken place in the area. 

Route D3 used to go to Crossharbour Asda prior to the changes
© EastLondoner
Route D3 was the first on my list of changes to cover. The Leamouth Peninsula is located by East India Station so I hopped on the DLR. When I arrived on the DLR, there were two D3s on stand however one left by the time I managed to make it to the stand. I then resorted to a 10 minute wait for the next bus. However I did make use of the opportunity to chat to the very friendly driver of the second bus.

He said he quite liked the rerouting of the D3, Leamouth is a nice and quiet place with the added benefit that you don't have to drive around in circles looking for a spot to park your bus up. He did also mention to me that route D3 might also be rerouted in the future to serve the houses behind Aspen Way, providing further new links. He then also proceeded to tell me that Canary Wharf was closed that day due to roadworks at Westferry Circus preventing any traffic from getting into the area. 

36351 takes some stand time at Leamouth
© EastLondoner
I then proceeded to Crossharbour to try out the new routing of route 277. After getting off the DLR the first thing I noticed was two 277s standing on the overflow stand located on East Ferry Road. Crossharbour Asda has a reputation for frequent overcrowding and the addition of the frequent 277 hasn't helped matters in the area. 

12307 prepares to turn into Crossharbour Asda
© EastLondoner
The bus stop was crowded with people waiting for routes, although I initially assumed they were waiting for other routes such as the D6, D8 and 135 I was proved wrong when almost all of the people waiting got on the 277 that pulled up. We then left Crossharbour Asda then swiftly moved onto Mudchute and the Millwall Docks. Throughout the new routing we were constantly picking up healthy loads of people, something I certainly did not expect just 2 weeks following a service change, it usually takes people some time to get used to a new route in their area. The ride itself was great fun especially in the Enviro400 Hybrid that I was on. However there was a bit of irritation from the iBus as it kept on announcing "277 to..." as TfL had recently changed the Highbury terminus to "Highbury Corner" instead of "Highbury and Islington" and hadn't recorded the new announcement for the changes. 

I alighted at Westferry Station after seeing the immense traffic in the area, presumably down to everyone using the Rotherhithe Tunnel as Tower Bridge was closed. Overall a useful route change, it was certainly getting more useage in the area than it did while going to Leamouth. 

15115 takes some stand time at Crossharbour
© EastLondoner
Route 135 was the third route to have changes made to it on the 17th September. It was rerouted in the area to cover the lost section that was previously covered by route D3. It also provided a Double Decker route making the link between the East side of the Docklands and Crossharbour. The new route would take it north of Crossharbour and then to Isand Gardens via Cubitt Town. The new route wasn't very popular when I covered the change, with more people opting for the 277, however I imagine with some time the route will eventually gain some popularity.

EHV11 is seen at Island Gardens along the new routing
© EastLondoner
After covering route 135, I proceeded back to Crossharbour to try out the service change that interested me the most. Route D8 was now running with Double Deckers for the first time since the Olympics in 2012. When the consultation results were announced in the summer, nobody knew what buses would be cascaded to the D8 and there wasn't much information on what would be moving in the weeks leading up to the conversion. 

A month before the D8s change, route 64 was awarded to Arriva London from Metrobus. This displaced the Scania Omnicities that previously worked route 64. Many people speculated that the Scanias would be withdrawn from London service, however mid September some transferred to Silvertown (SI) garage and it was made known that these buses were going to be used on the D8 for the upcoming change. 

963 is seen on Diversion at Westferry Station
© East Londoner
971 was going to be my bus on the day I covered the changes. I managed to go upstairs and grab a front row seat. We departed on our way to Canary Wharf, however due to the closure of Westferry Circus, we were put on diversion via Aspen Way. The bus was really enjoyable along this section, especially with a front row view, however it wasn't too long until we were met with a load of roadworks around Blackwall. When we got back to Line of route, we were met with a woman complaining that the route had gone Double Deck (not everyday you hear that) and that she almost missed the bus because she didn't recognise it. We then moved onto the new part of the route that takes us to the Blackwall Tunnel Approach. 

However when we reached the Blackwall tunnel approach, the bus started to roar out of the blue. The bus was also starting to struggle keeping up with speed along the route,. we eventually reached Bromley High Street and the driver pulled into the stop despite nobody was waiting there. He was then trying to contact the garage, by which point the bus had cut off. We then got told that we had to get off and wait for the bus behind. Luckily it wasn't too long until 961 pulled up behind.

There were quite a few people upstairs on 961, it was nice to see that people had already warmed to the addition of Double Deckers on the route, however it was quite irritating I couldn't bag the front two seats. However I don't think I missed much, the journey from the Bow Interchange to Stratford Bus Station was just non stop sitting in traffic with many people choosing to get off early and walking the rest of the distance.

We eventually reached Stratford Bus Station about 30min later with the area completely crowded with people, and not a single D8 in sight (a quick check on LVF showed the bus ahead of us had a 30min lead). The area was crowded with people going to see West Ham play. Not the best first day of a new routing, however since then the service of the route has considerably improved.

961 alights at Stratford Bus Station
© EastLondoner
The final change in the area was also arguably the most controversial change. The rerouting of route 108 via Devons Road and Carpenters Road to go via Stratford City Bus Station to Stratford International station. The route would also get some 12m buses as part of the package. 

DWL37 seen at Devons Road
© EastLondoner
On the day that I covered the change, the route was in a huge mess with West Ham playing home leading to the buses being diverted around Stratford City, as well as a closure of the Blackwall Tunnel. So it was pretty annoying upon arrival at Stratford City Bus Station to see that no buses were serving the bus station at all. I then made my way to Stratford International station, however there were no buses there either. A quick check on countdown showed that the next bus was 28 minutes away.  I then made use of the DLR and made a quick trip down the line to Devons Road Station. A 108 pulled up shortly after, something which caught my attention were the lack of "Stratford International" blinds. 

Route 108 was also meant to gain a full allocation of Mercedes Benz Citaros on this day made available from the conversion of routes 507 and 521 to electric buses. However the Citaros were not all released from their duties as early as was initially hoped, and they all needed to undergo a refurbishment prior to starting service on route 108. MEC42 however transferred to New Cross (NX) garage to serve the 108 a few months prior and I have included a picture of it to illustrate the face of the 108 for the next 5 (or 7) years to come.

MEC42 is seen at Stratford City Bus Station
© London Bus Breh
These changes should hopefully help increase the capacity of all the routes involved, as well as providing a handful of new links to certain areas. Something which is needed as the population of East London continues to grow.