Sunday, 21 February 2016

Consultation for routes 108, 135, 277, D3, D7 & D8 and A Buses Bill

TFL has put forward proposals for changes to the London Bus Routes serving the Tower Hamlets borough.

We have reviewed bus routes serving Canary Wharf, the Isle of Dogs and Bow, to make sure that services can match future travel demand in the best way possible.

We’re proposing changes to the following bus routes:
·         108 – would be rerouted via route D8 between All Saints and Bow roundabout and at Stratford
·         135 – would be rerouted to serve more of the Isle of Dogs
·         277 – would be rerouted to Crossharbour and no longer serve Leamouth
·         D3 – would be rerouted via route 277 to Leamouth and no longer serve Crossharbour
·         D7 – would run less frequently
·         D8 – would be rerouted via route 108 between Blackwall Tunnel and Bow roundabout and at Stratford

What is proposed for routes 108 and D8?

Current situation
Route 108 runs between Lewisham and Stratford serving Blackheath, North Greenwich, Bromley-by-Bow and Bow every 10 minutes during the day. It also runs every 30 minutes during the night.

Route D8 runs between Crossharbour and Stratford International serving Canary Wharf, All Saints, Langdon Park, Devon’s Road and Bow every 12 minutes during the day. The route broadly follows the Canary Wharf – Stratford DLR line.

Our proposals
We are proposing to swap routes 108 and D8 between East India Dock Road and Bow roundabout and at Stratford (see map).

108 – would be rerouted to serve Chrisp Street, Violet Road and Campbell Road (instead of route D8). It would also be rerouted to Stratford International along Carpenters Road serving Stratford City.

This would create new direct bus connections for example from North Greenwich to the Devons Road area and to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It would also introduce a 24 hour service to the Devons Road area. Additionally frequency would be improved on the new roads served by the 108 as it runs more frequently than the D8.

We also propose introducing larger single deck buses, capable of carrying up to 70 passengers meaning capacity is increased across the whole length of the route.

D8 – would be rerouted to serve Blackwall Tunnel Northern Approach (replacing route 108) and rerouted to Stratford bus station.

Further information
Route 108 is busiest south of the river between Blackheath and North Greenwich. A height limit in the Blackwall Tunnel means we can only run single deck vehicles on this route. We are therefore proposing to use larger capacity single deck vehicles helping provide some additional capacity on the route.

Many of the journeys on route D8 can also be made on the DLR. Swapping the D8 with the 108 creates new direct connections which overall may prove more popular. For example, those living in the Langdon Park and Devons Road area would have improved access to North Greenwich for the Jubilee line and entertainment venues. Similarly passengers south of the river would have direct access to the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and Stratford City.

Swapping the routes would mean that some passengers would no longer be able to make the journey they are used to on one bus. However we have tried to keep this disruption and any increases in interchange to a minimum.

The larger single decker buses are going to be the Mercedes-Benz Citaro (fleet code MEC) from routes 507 and 521 which in turn will be taken over by the battery electric single deck buses which are expecting to enter service on route 507 and 521 on 27th August 2016. The Citaro’s on route 507 and 521 have a lack of seats as TFL wanted to increase standing capacity as they are short routes operating in Central London.

What is proposed for routes 135, 277, D3 and D7?

Current situation
Route 135 operates between Old Street and Crossharbour via Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf every 10 minutes during the day. In the Isle of Dogs it uses Westferry Road and East Ferry Road to reach Crossharbour.

Route 277 operates between Highbury & Islington and Leamouth serving Dalston, Hackney and Canary Wharf every 6-7 minutes during the day and every 30 minutes each night of the week with double deck buses.

Route D3 runs between Bethnal Green and Crossharbour serving Wapping and Canary Wharf every 10 minutes during the day using single deck buses. A low bridge prevents double deck buses being used on the route. Within the Isle of Dogs it serves Spindrift Avenue.

Route D7 runs between Mile End and Poplar serving Canary Wharf and Westferry Road every 6-7 minutes using double deck buses.

Our proposals
We are proposing to substantially increase capacity to and from Canary Wharf along Westferry Road by swapping routes 277 and D3.

Westferry Road has seen significant growth in bus usage over the past 15 years as new development has been built in the Isle of Dogs. It is the busiest point on routes 135, D3 and D7 and demand is expected to continue growing as a consequence of further development and Crossrail.

Route D3 is a high frequency single deck route that passes under a low bridge in Bethnal Green preventing double deck buses being used. Although the route remains busy between Crossharbour and Canary Wharf, usage on the route overall has decreased, mainly due to rail improvements on the Overground and Jubilee lines.

Route 277 would be rerouted to start and finish at Crossharbour. From Canary Wharf, buses would go along Westferry Road and East Ferry Road. This would provide additional capacity along Westferry Road as buses run every 6 -7 minutes for most of the day using double deck buses. Route 277 also runs every 30 minutes each night of the week meaning Westferry Road and East Ferry Road would have an enhanced night service. It would also provide new connections between the Isle of Dogs, Mile End, Hackney and Dalston at night.

D3 – would be rerouted to serve Leamouth (for Tower Hamlets Town Hall). This would replace route 277 east of Canary Wharf. It is also proposed that route D3 would serve Baffin Way and Blackwall Way rather than Aspen Way (as the 277 currently does) between Canary Wharf and Leamouth. The rerouteing would create new direct east-west connections to / from Leamouth and better serve residents south of Aspen Way.

135 – to and from Crossharbour would be rerouted to serve Limeharbour and Manchester Road instead of East Ferry Road. This would provide for many of the journeys currently made on the D3 as well as create new connections. It would also mean additional capacity along Manchester Road as buses are double deck.

Diverting route 135 along Manchester Road would replace some of the direct links that the D3 currently provides as well as creating new direct links to Commercial Road and the City. However, these proposals do result in Spindrift Avenue no longer having a bus service on it.

Route D7 would be reduced in frequency so that buses run every eight minutes most of the day. Combined with proposed enhancements to routes 135 and 277 there would be a bus every two to three minutes on Westferry Road which is slightly higher than at present. However, with double deck buses being used on all routes, capacity on Westferry Road would increase by around 20 per cent.

Routes 135, 277 and D7 would serve Heron Quays and Bank Street once the roads reopen. Until then access into Canary Wharf from the south will be along West India Avenue.

The consultation ends on 20th March 2016 and you can take part in it here.

As the bus services are still regulated by London Buses, a short while ago the Department for Transport announced a ‘Buses Bill’ which brings more power to local authorities to improve bus services.

New Buses Bill to deliver a better deal for the public
·         councils will be given more freedom to run their own bus services
·         Oyster-style ticketing could be rolled out across the country
·         new bus travel apps possible as companies are made to share more details about services

Bus travel is to be made more passenger-friendly as councils will be given more freedom to improve services, under measures set out today (11 February 2016).

Roads Minister Andrew Jones said reforms will help deliver better journeys across the country, as he delivered a keynote speech at the UK Bus Summit.

Under the changes in the Buses Bill, councils will be given the choice to franchise services and enter into new partnerships with providers.

Roads Minister Andrew Jones said:
·         “Good bus services can help communities thrive and grow and we want to make journeys better so everyone has the choice to leave their car at home.”
·         “Passengers want to see Oyster-style ticketing, better information on fares before they travel and live updates about when their bus is going to arrive at their stop.”

All companies will have to share information about routes, fares and timetables — paving the way for programmers to develop new apps passengers can use to plan their journeys.

Councils will not have to use the new powers and they may decide they are happy with the arrangements already in place. The reforms are designed to give them new tools to drive up standards in the interests of residents.

Local authorities will be given new powers to enter into stronger partnerships with bus companies, and agree minimum standards for services, improving reliability and punctuality.

They could make sure buses run more regularly, to avoid several being timetabled to arrive at once.

The new partnerships will also be given the power to set standards for local buses and introduce standard ticketing rules over wider areas, paving the way for Oyster-style schemes.

The government will also honour its devolution deal commitment to provide local authorities with bus franchising powers — like those used in London.

A Buses Bill to implement these changes will go before Parliament later this year.

It’s interesting that the government are giving more powers to local authorities in order to improve bus services. Presently, various councils subsidise various bus routes and some routes are formed by the council to fill the areas which have a lack of bus services.

Looking at the bus information for the Thameside area which is provided by Kent Council Council - their role says:

“Most bus services are run for profit but some would not be viable without subsidy. KCC devotes over £6 million annually to supporting local buses. These subsidised services are operated by local bus companies on behalf of KCC.”

I may write more about the councils subsidising bus services later and I'd also like to note that there are bus companies which are owned by the local authority.

As London Bus routes are still regulated by Transport for London, it’s interesting how TFL are still purchasing the 3 door 2 staircase hybrid bus called the New Routemaster. With the routes being tendered out to private bus companies it enables them to buy their own buses which are more suited to the needs of the driver, garages, mechanics and the route. As we have more bus types which feature a similar design to the New Routemaster, we may see more bus designs like this in the near future.

What is more important for you? Bus types like the 3 door 2 staircase New Routemaster for your bus route or improvements made to your bus service? Feel free to give me your opinion in the comments section below.

As always, you can follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Google Plus which is @CLondoner92

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