Has it already been 5 years?

The year of 2017 has been a hard year for Stagecoach, losing the contracts to many long standing routes that they have operated for years, the 5, 15, 48, 101, 103, 115, 175 and 387. However underneath all these losses included a few retained contracts to routes 97, 273, 277, 314 and 380. Some gains were also present, mainly in the East London area in the form of routes 167, 362, 462, 549, 677 and 678. The latest route to join this list of gains is route 257 which operates between Walthamstow Central and Stratford Bus Station.

Two 257s and a 238 stand at Stratford Bus Station
© EastLondoner
Before we actually get onto some information about the service change, let's go through some history about the route. The route started off in November 1988 replacing the withdrawn part of route 262 operating from Stratford to Chingford Mount, operating from West Ham (WH) garage (an old one, not the one we have today!). In 1989 the route was transferred from West Ham (WH) to Leyton (T), then in August 1990 the route was extended to Fantaseas Leisure Park during the day. In 1992 the route was awarded to Capital Citybus from Northumberland Park (NP), at the same time the route was withdrawn between Chingford and Walthamstow Central providing the route that we are used to today. 

WVL193 seen at Stratford Bus Station
© EastLondoner
Since then the route has had its fair share of garage reallocations and operators! In 1996 it was moved from Northumberland Park (NP) to Hackney Wick (H). In 2001 the route was even converted to Single Deck operation for a few months before reconverting to Double Deckers later in the year. In 2005 Hackney Wick (H) which was now part of First Capital lost the route to Stagecoach London from their Stratford (SD) garage. Following a compulsory purchase Stratford (SD) was closed and the route was moved to a new West Ham (WH) garage. However in 2012 a shock tender saw the route announced as passing to Go Ahead's Blue Triangle division. But during the time between the announcement and takeover, Go Ahead successfully purchased First Capital's Northumberland Park (NP) garage and the opportunity to operate the 257 from there was taken, with the route returning there after a 16 year absence.  Go Ahead operated the route with Wright Eclipse Gemini bodied Volvo B7TL buses made free from Putney (AF).

WVL192 seen at Stratford Bus Station
© EastLondoner
A tender result on the 9th of February 2017 revealed that route 257 was once again going to shift operator and garage, this time returning to Stagecoach London operation and back to Leyton (T) garage following a 25 year absence. The route would use existing Alexander Dennis Enviro400 buses made free by the losses of route 101 earlier in the year as well as the loss of route 103, which would move to Arriva London on the same day the 257 was taken over (another post about that coming soon). These would be topped up by 7 brand new Euro6 Hybrid buses, which were later revealed to be Alexander Dennis Enviro400 MMC bodied E40H buses. The new buses started to arrive towards the end of September, and it wasn't long until they started service on one of Leyton garage's other routes, the 55! A route normally allocated with New Routemaster buses.

One of the 257s new buses out on the 55
© EastLondoner
On the morning of the 14th of October Go Ahead London finished off their phase on route 257 with a bang...literally. The last bus (WVL194) was seen broken down by Sir Alfred Hitchcock Hotel. I went out later in the day to see how Stagecoach were getting on with the service. I arrived at Stratford Bus Station just after 11am and was greeted by three 257s on stand. Two were Ex 103 Enviro400s while one of them was a new Enviro400 MMC. I opted to get the MMC as I already had plenty of experience with the 62reg Enviro400s during their time at Rainham (RM) and Romford (NS). It wasn't too long until the MMC rocked up at the bus stop, it was 12428 and a large crowd was waiting for it. This was not helped by a large gap on the 69. After the bus loaded up it wasn't that long until we were heading past Maryland towards Leytonstone. Many people who boarded made positive remarks about the new bus, referring to it as "piff". 

12428 seen at Stratford Bus Station
© EastLondoner
It wasn't too long until we were heading towards Whipps Cross along Whipps Cross Road, the bus was empty by this point with only a handful of people on board. However upon arrival at Bakers Arms the reason for the lack of people on board was made evident in the form of another 257 ahead of us. It didn't take us long to get past the Bakers Arms junction, however it wasn't long until I saw an all too familiar sight along Hoe Street, non stop traffic reaching out into the distance. It must have taken us around 25 minutes to simply go two stops from Grove Road to Walthamstow Bus Station. If the bus wasn't comfortable and smooth to ride I'd have certainly got off and walked the rest of the journey to Walthamstow. Upon getting off I was considering taking back a 257, however looking at the traffic heading out of Walthamstow I decided against heading back and opted for a London Overground train instead. 

Below you can find a list of the buses which will form the face of route 257 for the next few years...

10155 EU62AXT
10156 EU62AXV
10157 EU62AYB
10158 EU62AYE
10159 EU62AZA
10160 EU62AZO
10161 EU62AAE
10162 EU62AAO
10163 EU62ADZ
12426 YX67VBC
12427 YX67VBD
12428 YX67VBE
12429 YX67VBF
12430 YX67VBG
12431 YX67VBJ
12432 YX67VBK
19847 LX12CZA
19848 LX12CZB

10155 at Walthamstow Bus Station
© EastLondoner
Service on the first day of the route was nowhere near perfect, however it was far better than could have been expected considering the terrible traffic in Walthamstow and crowds the route had to deal with. No doubt Stagecoach will improve following the usual first day antics and the 257 seems to be under a safe and watchful eye for the next 5 or maybe 7 years.