Thursday 17 May 2012

Stratford Bus Stations : Baffling Search [1]

Seen at Kings Cross, recently
It's hard to know what to make of this. Clearly the window hasn't moved; it is very much still there. Its function may have been transferred to another window elsewhere. But what does the East Coast company need a "night window" for? A means of egress for the station cat? [Picture courtesy of chum, Alan]
And now ...

A first for an fbb blog ...

Not difficult, eh? It's a London Buses D8 loading a busy bus stop, somewhere. But where?

The answer will be revealed later in this blog. In the meantime, another, less taxing question. What is a bus station for? In the good old days it was where all the buses ran from; maybe all the out-of-town buses; maybe all the buses of one operator; but often it was a place where you could safely plan to interchange from one bus to another.

When fbb visited Stratford (London) recently, he was perplexed by bus departure locations. Four routes leave from an impressive new facility called ...
... and it looks very, very impressive. But it isn't. 
Transport for London shows it on the northern side of the new footbridge linking Stratford (and its "real" bus station) with the huge Westfield shopping development. It has four stands, labelled S, T, U and W, but ...
... only one, Stop W, is used. And, amazingly, this one stop is used by all four routes that venture into this outpost of bus stationitis in Stratford.

So a correct caption for the puzzle picture above would be "Stratford City Bus Station". The rest of this new, high profile facility appears to be used as a expensive park for vehicles "waiting time".

If you are changing buses in Stratford, or transferring from train to bus, you need to be aware that these four routes do not serve the "real" bus station which is located outside the main entrance to the Stratford stations. See "That's the Wonder of Westfield" (read again).
 97  runs due north to Chingford : this route was extended south to Stratford City from its opening date.
 339  runs south to Shadwell and misses Stratford Centre, joining the main road via Warton Road south west of  Stratford High Street (Docklands) Station.
Not many Fish at Fish Island?

The service was extended to Stratford City from its previous Fish Island terminus.
 D8  follows the same route on exit from Stratford as the 339.
Presumably the gates on Warton Road are now opened and hopefully both routes are single deck? D8 to Crossharbour was diverted to the "City" bus station from Stratford itself.
Which leaves service  241  which does pass through Stratford Centre, having been extended from there to the new terminal and will be dealt with in tomorrow's blog.
It is hard to see what the new facility is for; is it just because there was insufficient room back over the bridge? Whatever the reason, intrepid traveller in the Metropolis, your first lesson in the Transport for London game of "hunt the bus" is that you need to go to Stratford City bus station for the  97  241  (possibly),  339  and   D8 .

It is worth remembering that the land used for the Westfield Stratford shopping centre and Stratford International station was originally all in railway ownership. This 1940s map extract shows the extent of sidings and depots.
Many an avid trainspotter has crept furtively and uninvited round Stratford steam loco shed.
Somehow, the shopping centre seems to lack that essential "character" that was associated with the sound and the smell of steam. Hey ho, you are getting old, fbb!

Anyway, you would expect everything else to serve the original bus station, wouldn't you?

So tomorrow, "hunt the bus" round TWO.
 Next Blog : Friday 18th May 


  1. Glad our party of six did not need to use buses.
    Finding our way from Stratford UG to the Westfield Premier Inn late at night was chinese style interesting.

  2. This whole establishment is a misnomer. A bus station is normally a place where there are multiple picking up places. Layover can be taken anywhere, so the presence of layover stands does not, of itself, denote a bus station. Since there is only one bus stop for passenger use, this can hardly be defined as a bus station. Comment has previously been made about the lamentable amount of weather protection for passengers. You photo of Stop W illustrates this miserable provision very clearly.

    And a City was historically associated with the presence of a cathedral. This convention has broken down in recent times, but it is still a matter of civic competition to achieve city status. I recall that Reading had more than one try to achieve the status and other large towns failed to make the grade. By any measure, Stratford is not a City.

    So, by reasoned argument, Stratford City Bus Station should really be called 'Stratford Bus Stop'. But what would Westfield, God of Mammon have to day about that, I wonder ?

  3. Whilst Stratford City Bus Station only has one bus stop Lewisham Bus Station does not have any at all.
    The passenger boarding points are normal bus stops in the main road outside.

  4. "It is hard to see what the new facility is for; is it just because there was insufficient room back over the bridge?"

    Passengers/normal people want to go to the shopping centre or the station. The new "City" bus station is north of the station, and is right next to Westfield shopping centre. Buses from the north don't have to go all the way around via the road to reach Stratford "normal" bus station (at huge cost and with no benefit).

    The normal bus station is south of the station, next to the station and is close to the shopping centre (i.e. just over the big bridge).

    Distance between the two bus stations is less than 350m on foot. That's less than the aim that everyone's house should be at most 400m away from a bus stop. I don't see a problem with the distance between interchange at all (not to mention the fact the vast, vast majority are going to that monstrous shopping centre or the station, and don't want to change anyway).

    Predictions for tomorrow's blog: Issue that the 241 follows the one way system around Stratford, and only serves Stratford "normal" bus station northbound.

  5. Naughty, naughty, nonymous, A!
    You've given part of the game away.
    Despite your early revelation
    My blog reveals more complication
    In hunting buses at Stratford East,
    The layout is a horrid beast!
    Boris should create a fuss
    For just ONE place to catch your bus!