CiTy Plus

CT Plus have recently introduced their second batch of E40H Citys. These are found on route 388 which also had a short extension from Blackfriars to Elephant & Castle. Providing a very unique link.

2505 turning into Stratford Bus Station
© EastLondoner
CT Plus are one of London's smaller operators, operating out of just two garages at Ash Grove (HK) and Walthamstow (AW).They only operate two routes in central London, route 26 and route 388, Route 388 is the route we will be focusing on in this post. Route 388 up until the 7th of April ran between Stratford City Bus Station and Blackfriars Station. 

HTL2 seen at Stratford City
© EastLondoner
Before we get to some information about the actual service change, let's go over some history about the route. The route was born in 2003, making it relatively young. It was awarded to CT Plus for its first contract and they brought some Myllenium Lolyne bodied Tridents, coded HTL. These buses were to form the main allocation for the route for the next 12 years. The route has grown and changed a lot since it was first formed, initially only running between Hackney Wick and Mansion House, it was extended to Blackfriars station in 2004, then further to Temple Station in August 2008 and even further to Embankment station in November 2008. This made the route very unique, as it was the only route to run along the Victoria Embankment during the day as well as being the only route which directly served Embankment and Temple Stations. However this was not to last and in March 2012 the route was shortened to Blackfriars. 

However in 2013 the route was extended through the Olympic park to Stratford City Bus Station. Providing Stratford with a second bus to central London. From April the 8th 2017, following a consultation the route was extended south from Blackfriars Station to Elephant & Castle, replacing route 100 which was to be cut to the London Wall. This was to provide Elephant & Castle with a link which went deeper into East London. The route was also to be rerouted so that it ran along the London Wall.

2512 on stand at Blackfriars Station
© EastLondoner
In January 2017, route 388 was also retained by CT Plus for a third contract term and new E40H City buses were ordered. Numbered from 2522-2537. These buses are frequently found intermixed with batch 2501-2521 from route 26. Both batches are very similar, if not exactly the same. I had my first ride on one on the 388 in March and wasn't too impressed by their performance on the route. It took us much longer than it should have to reach Stratford due to the high amount of traffic in the city, and when I got off at Stratford I wasn't in the best of moods. 2512 was my bus, a bus from the batch from route 26. However this was before the route was extended to Elephant & Castle. Therefore I decided that I would give the route another chance to impress me with its new allocation once the rerouting had taken place.

I was busy on the day the 388 was rerouted, so I went to do the route the Wednesday after. I did it just before lunch. I arrived at Stratford to find no 388s on stand at all. 2505 arrived 10 minutes later and that was to be my bus. There wasn't that much traffic and it wasn't long until we were in Bethnal Green. However after that point the driver used every chance possible to slow down, he managed to get caught at almost every light possible and would sit at bus stops much longer than he needed to. However that was probably due to the new timetable which probably would have had more running time factored in to deal with the unpredictable traffic situations in the city. 

2505 takes some stand time at Newington Causeway
© EastLondoner
We eventually reached Liverpool Street station, it was at this point where the 388 would separate from its old route and go down the London wall. As soon as we made the turn onto the London wall we were faced with someone spamming the stop bell, something to be expected the first few days of a route change. We reached the Museum of London in almost no time, despite the driver still was cautious about going a bit too fast down the road. We then took the turn into St Paul's and then made our way towards Blackfriars. The bus was almost carrying nothing but air at this point. At Blackfriars a number of people boarded the bus, much to my surprise. The route from this point follows the same line of route the 45 and 63 use to reach Elephant and Castle. We reached elephant and Castle less than 10 minutes later. The route stands were route 100 used to stand at Newington Causeway. 

Below is a list of all the buses allocated to route 388 on paper, these are the 66 plate E40H Citys found at Ash Grove (HK). However they are very frequently mixed in with the 16 plate batch, ordered earlier for route 26. 
2522 SN66WRE
2523 SN66WRG
2524 SN66WRJ
2525 SN66WRK
2526 SN66WRL
2527 SN66WRO
2528 SN66WRP
2529 SN66WRR
2530 SN66WRT
2531 SN66WRU
2532 SN66WRV
2533 SN66WRW
2534 SN66WRX
2535 SN66WRZ
2536 SN66WSD
2537 SN66WSE

2513 arrives at Elephant & Castle after a trip from Stratford
© LondonBuses72
The 388s operation from my experience has always been quite sloppy, and the service will no doubt suffer for a few days while CT Plus get used to operating the route. I think the extension is creating a very unique link, however the real question is if there was demand? Initially when reading the consultation I thought that this was going to be a very cool link but after having some time to think about it, I don't actually see the link being as popular as it may seem. Route 100 used to provide the link quite comfortably with 9.6m single deckers and I never have seen a bus at full capacity down the stretch between Liverpool Street and Blackfriars. Maybe I'm just overthinking it and the link will prove popular with time.

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