Saturday, 17 September 2016

Random Route: The 483

London's newest bus route since 2010 has arrived and it's called the 483. It runs between Ealing Hospital and Harrow, through Ealing Broadway, Alperton, Wembley Central and East Lane (North Wembley). The route was created to replace the 83 between Ealing Hospital and Alperton, which has been cut there to improve reliability between Golders Green and Alperton. After Wembley, the 483 goes through North Wembley to provide new links from there to the town centres of Wembley and Harrow. It's not very direct from Ealing to Harrow and the removal of the 83 over here was a major less, but I took it surprisingly well.

As this is a random route post (yes I've combined a contract change/random route post together because I have a huge backlog), there is a review further down, but I feel that I have to document how the first week has been, especially as I can monitor it very closely as this route runs in my local area.

Metroline VW1758 at West Ealing Broadway on the first day.
The first day was pretty quiet, with many confused passengers baffled by the number and destination change and wondering whether to board or not. However, some people used it between Ealing and Wembley Central as it is a direct replacement for the 83, but the section between Wembley Triangle and Harrow was very quiet, with some buses running around completely empty. However, I expect usage to soar once the locals over there are familiar with their new bus service.

The other new route that has been introduced is the N83, a service running from Ealing Hospital-Golders Green, which is basically the old 83, but as the 83 has been cut back a new number was needed. Usage on that route has been about the same as on the 83 by the looks of things. In the week, I noticed some 483's that were relatively busy at Ealing Broadway, which shows that people are aware of what's happened and are (sort of) eager to use the new service.

In terms of reliability, both routes have benefited from the changes, with the 83's service improving massively between Alperton and Golders Green and the 483 running reasonably well, despite passing through traffic hotspot areas Hanger Lane and Wembley. Most people think of the route as the 83 2.0, or the 83 with a 4 in front of it, but the 483 goes to Harrow instead of or as well as Golders Green, depending on the person, which is close enough for "civilians".

Overall, the changes have been successful and TFL have achieved the outcome that they wanted, which is a more reliable service for the Ealing-Alperton-Wembley-Hendon corridor. However, not every change can run perfectly and TFL still haven't updated countdown with maps or times for the 483 yet, meaning people have to just have to wait for the bus to show up, which really isn't ideal! Secondly, the iBus for route 83 is now incorrect, with the bus screen displaying "Alperton Sainsbury's" when the 83 doesn't serve there, it terminates at the bus garage. This needs to be sorted!
I took a ride on Sunday 11th September and this is what it was like.

Metroline VW1774 on route 483 to Ealing Hospital.
 Whilst waiting to cross the road at West Ealing Broadway I could see a 483 in the distance and after a sprint to the Leeland Road bus stop, I caught it and managed to grab the front seats, with only about 5 other people on board. I got a 59-reg VW, which is one of the buses that can be used on the 483/83, as well as some 12-reg drafted in from Harrow Weald and Holloway garages. My last bus journey had started with a 59-reg 83 and I sat in the same seats as before, so it was odd hearing the announcement "483 to Harrow" instead of the usual "83 to Golders Green". The journey to Ealing Broadway isn't particularly interesting, with the only sights along the Uxbridge Road being restaurants, police stations and budget hotels (a Premier Inn and Travelodge almost opposite each other) until you reach Ealing Broadway, where there are lots of shops and places to eat. Being 9.30 on a Sunday morning, the 483 travelled through it with ease and only picked up two people at Ealing Broadway, who obviously weren't shopping as everything was shut, apart from Pret A Manger, Costa and Starbucks (x2). After running alongside Ealing Common, the 483 turns left onto the A406.

Hanger Lane is a road notorious for traffic and if you do the 483, please make the effort to do it early/late, as it takes eight times longer in the rush hour. A journey which took 40 minutes at 5pm took 5 minutes on the Sunday, with some thrash alongside houses and multiple railway bridges. After swinging round Hanger Lane Gyratory, my 483 ran non-stop to Alperton Station, where a few people boarded in the hope of reaching various parts of Wembley. Only some were successful...

Ealing Road is interesting because there is a clear Asian community here and there are various shops that sell Indian suits, dresses, groceries and pretty much anything else you would expect on an Asian high street. Quite a few of these shops were open so the pavements were surprisingly busy for what time it was. The direct way from Wembley Central would be to go up to Sudbury and continue straight to Harrow, just like the 182 does, but the 483 turns right and serves all of Wembley High Street, which was closed. My 483 chose to wait time here and about half a dozen buses overtook VW1774 with five whole people on board. At Wembley Triangle, the bus driver kindly gave an announcement over the PA system, telling passengers for Wembley Park should alight here and wait for an 83. Three out of the five people did just that and I had the whole upstairs to myself.

VW1772 starts a journey from Harrow Bus Station to Ealing Hospital. The 12-reg buses are snakes and I still don't have a picture of one yet, sorry!
Something TFL are very proud of is that part of Wembley Hill Road now has a bus service for the first time and it is the only exclusive section of route 483, apart from 10m it has to itself for the bus stand at Ealing Hospital. What I learned is that is a very steep road and it would be useful for people if there were any stops along it. Instead, there is a huge gap between Wembley Triangle and East Lane where the 483 passes countless houses but fails to stop near any of them. North Wembley is an interesting area, with the roads all centered around the Bakerloo Line station and when the other passenger on board alighted here, the bus was mine! If you like greenery and staring at huge playing fields then the 483 is for you, as the area just South of Harrow Town Centre is full of them (the 182 also serves there), with nothing apart from a road which can be used for thrashing and Northwick Park Hospital to look at. After that, the 483 swings left into Kenton Road but quickly passes over the Met Line tracks before serving some of Harrow High Street and into Harrow Bus Station, the last stop on this route.

The 483 isn't as good as the old 83, but it's a fairly interesting route and I gave it 7/10. For people that like a variety of places to look at then the 483 is for you, passing through urban, rural and residential areas on the route. If you do the route at rush hour it will take about 80-90 minutes end to end, but it's possible to complete the route in just under an hour if you're very lucky. My experience was fairly enjoyable and the service is running well, so it's turned out well after all. Thanks for reading!