Saturday, 6 May 2017

Random Observations: May 2017

Sorry for the non-existent post last weekend, I was out snapping buses for future posts and installing the brand new "latest news" slider icon found near the top of the page, along with a new poll. I hope you enjoy this break from Busageddon, as we're back on it next week!

WLT 882 runs on the Visions International "Arriva and Hills" tour, at Little Park Gardens.

 The Enfield Transport Bazaar coincided with my North London trip and Visions International were running one of their various tours on that exact day, after running up some of London's most torturous hills. As my 329 pulled into the last stop I saw a well-loaded Routemaster standing outside Little Park Gardens and I instantly knew what the occasion was, as I spotted many enthusiasts on board. You can just about someone's camera peeking through at the front, and their face would also be visible if the windows were bigger. Some of these tours do look fairly interesting and I've been considering taking a ride on one for a while, but there don't seem to be any more after next week, which is pretty bad timing for me! Hopefully the tour was successful, even if the Bazaar was somewhat unattractive (I was going to pop in if it wasn't for the price and the discouraging smell that wafted out of the hall).

DE1014 was actually working the 117 in Isleworth when this photo was taken, but the front number blind was randomly displaying 209, suggesting that there had been a blind failiure, or the driver couldn't be bothered to change it to 117 from its last trip. It's been on the 117 various times after this photo was taken, which confirms that this was human error rather than the bus. I found this quite amusing, as this bus route is normally packed and desperately needs a frequency increase, but this new number clearly put people off and no one was on board the vehicle! Thankfully, the 209 and 117 operate in different areas, preventing any sort of mix-up and some very angry passengers. If the 209 did go to Staines it would be one heck of an extension!

TFL Destination Discrepancies.

The W8 is heavily residential, running from Chase Farm Hospital-Lea Valley, specifically terminating at either a Leisure Centre or a Leisure Complex, as the two different blinds in this picture contradict each other. Personally, I would call the terminus a "Leisure Complex" as there are multiple facilities available for relaxing and socialisation, including a cinema, restaurant and leisure centre. The route itself is decent, passing through a variety of housing areas in addition to a couple of town centres. My refurbished 60-reg TE was lovely and contained padded seats, although the temporary lights at Bush Hill Park halted my progress and the bus turned straight back round again at the Leisure Complex. If you like going through residential areas then I highly recommend this route, as some other routes with similar characteristics are pretty tedious, especially ones that use 1 door E200s.

Go-Ahead London SE243 takes a break at Clapham Common, Old Town.
I rode the 322 on a beautiful sunny day, all the way from Clapham Common-Crystal Palace, through an assortment of back streets and town centres. Even though I'm generally not a fan of most residential single deck routes, I really enjoyed this one for it's unique features, including travelling up Gipsy Hill, the tight turn into St Gothard Road, but the highlight for me was that narrow road right in the heart of Brixton Market, where the bus had to crawl along to avoid bumping into anything on either side. I got to really see inside a pedestrian area on a bus, which was certainly a rare treat. The quirky ZF E200 buses allocated to the route are interesting too, and lots of people knew each other on the West Norwood residential section, bringing a sense of community. I gave this route a high 7/10, which is rare for an SD route!

Tower Transit VH38104 on route 212 to St James Street.

There are two bus routes between Walthamstow and Chingford, one of them only running between the two places. However, the 212 runs a little further than Walthamstow Bus Station, as there is no room to accommodate all terminating routes there, and this is probably the shortest one out of the lot. However, the 215 is much shorter than the 275, so maybe it would be more logical to send that one over to St James Street rather than the lengthy 275. Anyway, Tower Transit won the 212 recently with smiley-face Gemini 3 buses, and they are the only examples of this type with TT. Even though Lea Interchange (LI) garage run many routes that venture into the polluted Central London, these hybrid vehicles generally stick to the 212 for some reason. The route runs along some tight residential routes, but it is efficient and fairly interesting.

One of the oldest buses in London, DMN1, stands at Enfield on the unique W10.

The W10 is an oddball route, running between Enfield and Crews Hill every 60 minutes using a single bus, but only from 10am-1pm during the week, and for three hours longer on Saturday. It uses a mixture of buses found at Northumberland Park (NP) garage, but it consistently uses an ageing Dart Marshall (DMN1) every Saturday for some reason, so I took the trip down to Enfield on 8th April to try out this quirky route. There was also another enthusiast on board, but the majority of passengers on my bus were elderly, heading home after a shopping trip. There were certainly friendly relationships between most of them, emphasising the connotations of a community on board this route. The route along Willow Road was a residential hail and ride section, where a lot of the passengers alighted, although after a brief intersection with the 191, the bus travelled through the countryside, before entering Crews Hill, which consists of a few houses completely isolated from the rest of North London. This area does actually have a train station, but it seems to be located in the middle of nowhere and the W10 doesn't actually serve it, so I'm probably never going to end up there. Overall, my W10 experience was brilliant, with the combined uniqueness and fascinating routeing, it's one of the best SD routes in London. I highly recommend you ride this route if you have a spare 45 minutes in Enfield, it will certainly be worth it.

The only B-route in Orpington

Orpington Town Centre mostly consists of R-routes, although one route from the Bexleyheath "B series" breaks the prefix trend and terminates at Orpington Station, providing the only bus link between these two major town centres in South East London. Unfortunately, this route is limited to 8.9m single deckers and it also runs at a relatively low frequency, resulting in some packed buses, full of a combination of e2e riders and commuters. It is also pretty indirect, so I've always been hoping for a faster service between the two places of interest. I'm sure this tedious route is a nightmare in rush hour and I'm really not looking forward to riding it. This is the sole Esteem at Bexleyheath (BX) garage and it generally sticks to the B14, running alongside Enviro 200s. Here it is at the Walnuts Centre.

Arriva London DW104 is near termination point.
The 403 terminates in the village of Warlingham, which is technically in Surrey. It's a fairly short route, terminating in the vast town centre of Croydon, using a mixture of buses found at the garage. The DAF DB250 vehicles are a dying breed, with only around 30 of them left in South London, so I'm hoping to catch one of them when I attempt to ride this route. They are certainly interesting vehicles and have the potential to perform well, despite their age.

Hybrid 329.
This is an uncommon working, one which doesn't happen very often, but isn't exactly rare. I managed to randomly snap this in Enfield whilst waiting for the W10, so I didn't even have to use LVF for this one! Some of the 329 Ts are knackered so I hope that the regular users of this route were pleased when a beautiful hybrid turned up, equipped with comfortable seating and air-conditioning. The 329 is a very short route, running between Wood Green and Enfield through Winchmore Hill. It gets exceptionally busy with e2e riders between the two town centres, as well as residents in Palmers Green and Bush Hill Park. It's not particularly interesting, but I didn't hate my ride either, so all in all, a meh route.

Metroline London VW1765 working the 483 to Ealing Hospital.
The 59-reg VWs at Alperton (ON) garage are currently receiving their well-deserved refurbishment, after almost eight years on the tough-going 83/483. These worn out vehicles are now in a better state, although I'm not a fan of the removal of the black surrounds at the front, every time I see these vehicles I can instantly sense there is something missing. The rear looks ugly too (click here for an example) and the seats are now rock hard and have received a minimal amount of padding, which isn't ideal for a route like the 483, that takes over 2 hours from start to finish. However, they are in a reasonable condition now, and I hope that they last until the end of the contract.

I hope you enjoyed this post, despite the influx of Enfield pictures in this edition of Random Obs. Please check out the new poll and my latest news feature, and stay safe!