Tagged: bow

All change: 108 bus to link SE London with Olympic Park from October

108 bus
Greenwich and Lewisham’s only bus service to east London, the 108, will be re-routed to run via the Olympic Park from October.

The current service runs through the Blackwall Tunnel to Stratford bus station, via the A12, Bow Flyover and Stratford High Street.

From 1 October, it will run via Chrisp Street in Poplar and Campbell Road in Bow, before running through Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to Stratford International station, with stops outside the London Aquatics Centre, Stratford station and the Westfield shopping centre. While the 108’s connection at Bromley-by-Bow tube station is lost, it gains a new one at nearby Bow Road.

But while 108 passengers will escape jams in Stratford town centre as well as on the A12 heading towards the Blackwall Tunnel, they could face new hold-ups due to traffic congestion on the East India Dock Road, which links Chrisp Street with the tunnel.

In its response to a consultation into the proposals – which sees the 108’s north-of-the-river route swapped with another service, the D8 – the agency admits that congestion could affect both routes.

TfL says: “We note this is a risk. However, in developing the scheme, regard was had to existing traffic conditions and it is considered possible for both routes to offer a good quality service to passengers. We will continue to monitor service quality on both routes to ensure a service is being provided.”

It’s also not known what will happen during West Ham home matches at the Olympic Stadium – the current D8 service is diverted during stadium events.

Larger buses, which can hold 70 people, will be used, providing some very limited relief for those caught in the 108’s notorious rush-hour overcrowding. There are no plans as yet to increase the number of buses, although details of a new contract to run the route are yet to be released.

Neither Greenwich nor Lewisham councils responded to the consultation, while Tower Hamlets objected to the changes.

This website mentioned the idea in 2013 as a partly tongue-in-cheek response to Greenwich Council’s “all out” campaign to build the Silvertown Tunnel. It was followed by a surprisingly high number of responses suggesting the switch to a TfL consultation into which routes should serve the Olympic Park.

Route 108 set for bigger buses and switch to Olympic Park

108 bus

Greenwich, Blackheath and Lewisham could soon have a direct bus link to the Olympic Park under plans revealed by Transport for London today.

The 108 service through the Blackwall Tunnel would have its route altered north of the river so it runs via Stratford City bus station, beside the Westfield shopping centre, to Stratford International station. The new route would see it run alongside the edge of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, with a stop at the London Aquatics Centre.

The route would gain bigger buses – though still single-deck, due to height restrictions in the Blackwall Tunnel.

It would also be rerouted away from the Blackwall Tunnel’s northern approach to serve Chrisp Street in Poplar, passing Langdon Park and Devons Road DLR stations rather than Bromley-by-Bow tube.

The change is part of a revamp of routes serving the borough of Tower Hamlets. Another change sees the 277 rerouted through the Isle of Dogs, bringing Greenwich town centre within walking distance of a 24-hour bus from Dalston and Hackney.

Bigger buses on the 108 would certainly provide some relief on what’s a chronically overcrowded route – although without an increase in frequency the route will continue to struggle with demand.

A switch to run via Stratford City would cause some problems for people changing buses in Stratford itself – in 2013, TfL said it would break 600 trips each day – although the two bus stations are only separated by a short walk via the Westfield centre. What’s not clear is if the diverted route would be affected by West Ham United moving to the Olympic Stadium this summer.

And while rerouting the 108 via Chrisp Street would mean the service avoids the A12 traffic jams, some passengers may miss the link to Bromley-by-Bow, although the new service passes close to Bow Road station.

Tower Hamlets2

What’s the view from north of the river? Bow’s Diamond Geezer thinks this is more about getting double-deckers on another bus…

There’s a consultation now open on the scheme – if you’re a 108 user, have your say by 20 March.

PS. You read it here first, three years ago…

Ikea claims Greenwich store ‘would improve air quality’

Ikea planning application

Furniture giant Ikea claims its proposed Greenwich store would improve air quality in the local area, according to documents sent to Greenwich Council.

But its detailed figures show any improvement would be “negligible”, while pollution would actually get slightly worse at Greenwich Millennium Village.

It says its plans to encourage traffic to use travel to the store via Blackwall Lane and Bugsbys Way, rather than coming off the A102 at Woolwich Road, would help cut pollution around the notorious junction.

The company claims the store will not result in any extra traffic heading to the site, which is due to be vacated by Sainsbury’s and Matalan in 2015 – it actually claims “there will be a slight reduction in traffic generation compared with the previous use of the site”.

Letters were sent to residents who attended November’s consultation event claiming the development would be “beneficial” for air quality. Now it is asking for outline planning permission for the scheme, and residents have two weeks to get their views to Greenwich Council.

Letter sent to local residents

Ikea’s air quality assessment shows the company has not commissioned any air pollution monitoring itself. Instead, it is relying on figures estimated from Greenwich Council monitoring stations and diffusion tubes.

While all local sites will still break European legal limits of 40 micrograms per cubic metre of nitogen dioxide, Ikea’s figures claim a “slight beneficial” effect on areas to the south of the flyover along with a small worsening of quality around the Millennium Village.

Ikea air quality assessment

Ikea’s plans to encourage consumers to use Blackwall Lane and Bugsbys Way to access the store would mean extra traffic passing to the south of Greenwich Millennium Village, as well as the site of a new primary school planned by Greenwich Council. Ikea’s estimate for Southern Way (42.6) is lower than figures recorded by the No to Silvertown Tunnel campaign in June 2013 of 50µg/m3.

Ikea’s transport assessment claims there “will be a reduction in vehicle trips during the weekday PM peak as a result of the development proposals, and only a slight increase in vehicle trips on the Saturday peak”.

It adds “a lower level of parking at the Millennium Retail Park will mean that trips generation will be more constrained compared to the existing London stores. This will encourage the uptake of sustainable means of travel”. It predicts 65% of customers will come by car.

It says the Greenwich store will have a smaller catchment area (of 2.17 million people) than its other stores. This roughly runs from the West End to Dagenham and Crayford, and from Orpington to Leytonstone. But other figures included with the application show areas as far out as Canterbury and Ashford, Kent, will be within an hour’s drive of the store.

Ikea says 39.1% of that figure will come from north of the river – a change to existing travel patterns which will put more pressure on the Blackwall Tunnel and the congested A12 through Poplar and Bow. 13.4% of trips would come from “Woolwich Road west” – largely via the central Greenwich world heritage site.


The application contains a letter from the Greenwich Society saying it “welcomes the coming of the Ikea store”, although calling for the existing Sainsbury’s store to be retained.

The application can be viewed at Greenwich Council’s planning site by entering reference number 13/3285/O. Comments need to be with Greenwich Council by 11 February.

Surprise support for the 108 bus to the Olympic Park

108 bus
Here’s a turn-up for the books – a TfL consultation has found support for rerouting the 108 bus route so it runs into the Olympic Park, rather than Stratford Bus Station.

Alright, it’s not massive, but 32 separate responses were received by TfL suggesting either diverting the 108 into the Park, or introducing another route from south-east London. In addition, a further two responses suggested extending the 129 (Greenwich town centre-North Greenwich) to the area.

All this means TfL has actually had to give a response. And here it is…

Can route 108 be extended to East Village to serve the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park?

There are no plans at present to change the routeing of the 108. Diverting it into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park would break around 600 trips per day. It currently serves High Street, Stratford which was an access point for the Olympic Park during the Games. It also serves Stratford Bus Station from which Stratford City and the East Village can be accessed.

As the south of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park becomes more developed in Legacy and new development comes forward south of High Street, Stratford more changes to the bus network may be required. The routeing of the 108 will therefore be kept under review.

Well, it’s not a complete “go away and leave us alone”… here’s the results of the consultation and responses to issues raised. Neither Greenwich nor Lewisham councils responded to the consultation, which was aimed at boroughs north of the Thames and focused on routes there.

The idea got an airing on this website in February, so if it prompted you to drop TfL a line – thank you.

Is extending the 108 into the park a good idea? Sorting out its dreadful rush-hour overcrowding’s a bigger priority, but the park should have links to the south and I’m delighted the idea’s been taken up by a decent number of people.

For all the dismal rubbish about how we apparently need a new road crossing on the Greenwich Peninsula – and I had the unfortunate experience of seeing Boris Johnson say it in the flesh the other night – it shows there’s still a demand for better cross-river public transport crossings. Hopefully it’s been noticed.

A real river crossing campaign – run the 108 to the Olympic Park

108 bus

Amid the row over Greenwich Council’s dumb Bridge The Gap campaign, a little opportunity to improve cross-river links is looking set to be squandered. Ever one to leap on board a passing bandwagon, this website is today launching an “all-out” campaign to extend the 108 bus to the Olympic Park.

You what? I’ll explain. Transport for London’s launched a consultation on which buses should run into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park when people start moving in later this year. It suggests seven services, including a night bus, should run into the park.

All well and good. But one’s missing. Why can’t we have a bus from south of the river to the Olympic Stadium?

General bus map, 1930The 108 is one of London’s oldest bus routes – it’ll celebrate its centenary in March next year. In 1930, it schlepped all the way from Clapton to Crystal Palace, charging a shilling if you were mad enough to want to ride all the way, but there was never long to wait – double-decker buses ran every three and a half minutes through the Blackwall Tunnel back in those days.

The route’s shrunk, grown, shrunk again, gone 24-hours (a lifesaver) and been tweaked since – the double deckers vanished in the late 1960s, but the Stratford to Lewisham service has been the sole bus service through the tunnel for decades. For many years, it was the only public transport link across the Thames east of Rotherhithe. Back then, it actually wasn’t a bad service, if the tunnel was behaving itself – in the mid-90s, when I lived in Greenwich and went to college in Clerkenwell, it only took 20 minutes or so to get me to Bromley-by-Bow station so I could get a Tube to Farringdon; making it pretty much the equal of taking the train.

But while other transport links have got better, the poor old 108’s been left in the shadows – an enforced diversion around the Millennium Dome building site months before North Greenwich station opened ruined it as a commuting route to anywhere but North Greenwich, but despite the idiotic transport arrangements around the Dome, it still carries healthy numbers through the tunnel each day. Remember, it’s a damn sight cheaper than the Tube.

I’ve heard loads of horror stories of endless waits for people in Blackheath who depend on it for travel to North Greenwich – they desperately need extra buses, but instead those get thrown into the schedule late at night for chucking out time at the O2. It’s time for someone with felt pens and a bus map to get to work and rearrange matters – but so far, there’s no sign of progress.

But there’s one change to the 108 that could gives us a real – yes – Olympic legacy, and might also improve the service. Tweaking the end point so it ran into the Olympic Park, rather than Stratford bus station, would still enable it to serve Westfield and the massive transport interchange there; but would also get it away from the awful traffic in Stratford, bring a 24-hour bus service from south of the river to the Olympic Park, and help us get to and from events there.

It’s a change that’d cost very little, but would make the regenerated Olympic Park feel a bit closer to us in an area that’s not been left with many physical reminders of the Olympics (especially once the mud goes).

Obviously, I’ll now be arranging a photoshoot with various pub landlords, kebab house magnates and the Stratford Westfield Massage Angels as part of my “all out” campaign to bridge this gap, but in the meantime, if you want to suggest it to TfL, head to its consultation page – it closes on 22 February.

Capital Ring 9: Stoke Newington to the Olympic Park

One of the most striking things about living in London is that it is always changing, often before our eyes. Tourists may come to visit ye olde London town, but the city we know is always in a permanent state of flux. New buildings go up, old ones are torn down. People settle down, people move on. Not all change is good, and some change is bewildering. But one of the few things that stays the same in London is its constant reinvention. The end of my penultimate Capital Ring walk certainly showed that off – but it began with corners which have barely been touched for decades.

The Egg Stores, Stoke Newington
Stoke Newington
Once a week?

Social change was on display as the walk kicked off in the back streets of Stoke Newington. Together with nearby Stamford Hill, this area has one of the capital’s biggest Jewish communities, and certainly the most visible one. But there’s also a large Muslim community here, too. Any bother? No sign of it in these leafy streets. In 2002, one of the founders of the local Muslim Jewish Forum told N16 magazine: “When they’re house-hunting, Muslims often choose a Jewish road, they see Jewish neighbourhoods as safe and peaceful.”

Into east London
Springfield Park, Clapton
Springfield Park, Clapton
Springfield Park, Clapton
Springfield Park, Clapton
Springfield Park, Clapton

The neat, snug streets didn’t last for long, though, as N16 became E5 and I entered Clapton. If you’re not local to that area, it’s unlikely you’ll have heard of Springfield Park. But it’s a beautiful green oasis, with well-kept lawns and views out across north-east London. At the foot of the park is the River Lee, and Walthamstow Marshes, and a marina for boats to moor up in. The path crosses the river, and for a while you’re on the Walthamstow side of the river – or, once upon a time, the Essex side.

River Lee, Walthamstow Marshes
River Lee, Walthamstow Marshes
River Lee, Walthamstow Marshes
River Lee, Walthamstow Marshes
River Lee, Walthamstow Marshes
River Lee, Walthamstow Marshes
Walthamstow Marshes

There’s very little marshland left in London – the last remnants of Greenwich Marshes vanished 20 years ago, Plumstead and Erith marshes are now Thamesmead. So Walthamstow Marsh is special, almost unique – and almost eerily quiet and still; well, until a rush of sirens from distant Lea Bridge Road. The wetlands now form a nature reserve, and with some of the land also used for grazing, there’s even a cattle grid on the route. Railway arches cut across the land, and it was here that aviation pioneer AV Roe tested his early aeroplane designs. A century on, this side of the Lee probably looks much the same as it did then. Across the river, back on the Clapton side, the Anchor and Hope pub looks tempting… but the High Hill Ferry which used to cross the Lee here, and gives its name to the street along the water, ceased many ago.

Millsfield Park
Princess of Wales, Clapton
River Lee Navigation, Clapton

Eventually, it’s back across to Clapton, through Millfields Park, across the Lea Bridge Road and down to where the River Lee Navigation splits off – it’s this route the Capital Ring will follow. Outside another pub, the Princess of Wales, an old lady was having a bizarre row with a mum and kids. From someone’s back garden, a greyhound stuck its nose through the gate to see what I was doing. Back across the water again, and now on the edge of Hackney Marshes as the Lee Navigation continues ahead. Alongside are the Middlesex Filter Beds, once a part of London’s water supply; now a nature reserve.

River Lee Navigation, Clapton
River Lee Navigation, Clapton
River Lee Navigation, Clapton
River Lee Navigation, Clapton
River Lee Navigation, Clapton

Narrowboats are moored along the water, their owners stopping to chat – it dawned on me that it’d probably be very easy to live up here and completely disappear from the rest of civilisation… all wistful thoughts ended, though, with the discovery that the tow-path was flooded. A sign had warned of some flooding that was due to be fixed “by September 2009”. It was the end of October, and the contents of a Thames Water main were still streaming into the canal. There was no other option than to take a deep breath – and go for it, though the water…

Matchbox toys - not long left
Matchbox toys - not long left
Matchbox toys - not long left
River Lee Navigation
River Lee Navigation
River Lee Navigation

Squelching on down the pathway, I reached the old Lesney toys factory at Homerton. Formed after World War II by schoolfriends Leslie Smith and Rodney Smith, Lesney began life as a die-casting factory, diversifying into toys in the 1950s. The Matchbox line was a roaring success, with the Lee Conservancy Road complex opening for business in the 1960s. The original Lesney firm folded in 1982, the Matchbox name was sold and production eventually moved overseas. With so much change in east London over recent decades, the Matchbox factory looms over the Lee like a relic – but not for much longer, as demolition teams have already bulldozed part of the site and are currently stripping out the rest.

Olympic Park starts here
2012 media centre
River Lee Navigation
First sight of the stadium
River Lee Navigation

Recently-built housing mixed with light industry on the other side of the Lee Navigation, but the greenery on my side came to an abrupt halt at a sign pointing out that there may be some diversions to the Capital Ring. This was the start of the Olympic Park. It was a hive of activity, but the 2012 media centre is shaping up to be a squat, ugly building. In fact, I didn’t quite twig it was part of the Olympic Park at first, thinking it might just be some kind of warehouse. No wonder the residents of Leabank Square, opposite, aren’t impressed. (“If we were across the canal from Hampstead Heath or Wimbledon Common – they would have been to scared to design something like this! But it’s only Hackney Wick – so let’s lay a tower block on its side and the scum locals will absolutely love it!”) The huge Olympic Stadium suddenly appears behind the media centre, and starts to dominate the view.

Lock Keepers' Cottages
Old Ford Lock
Old Ford Lock
Old Ford Lock

Further down, a familiar tune came into my head – I’d reached Lock Keepers’ Cottages, the home of Channel 4’s The Big Breakfast for nearly a decade. Now a private home, it’s dwarfed by the Olympic Stadium just behind. The cottages, by Old Ford Lock, only date back to the late 1940s, but in 60 years have already seen dramatic changes to their surroundings. The next few years will see even more change as a whole new district emerges behind the cottages. I’d last walked up here in June 2007, shortly before the bulldozers moved in. Blue hoardings block off the old Lee riverside path, which now leads up to the stadium. There’s enough in place now for the imagination to fill in the gaps on how this will look in 2012.

Olympic Stadium
Olympic Park
1,003 days to go
Olympic Park
Olympic Park

The path finally leaves the Lee at the Greenway – the walkway on top of the Northern Outfall Sewer. It’s shared with Olympic workers and construction traffic, and offers an uninterrupted view of the stadium and the complex work going on around it. There’s a diversion off the Greenway further down, onto Pudding Mill Lane, passing its eponymous DLR station, and across Bow Back River. Suddenly very familiar territory came into view – Stratford High Street. After waiting an eternity to cross the A11, something even more familiar appeared. I put my still damp-feet into motion and ran for a 108 bus home.

Bow Back River
Bow Back River

So now, the end’s in sight. If all goes to plan, there’s one more leg to go – Stratford to Charlton. It’s strange to think I’ve covered nearly 70 miles already. At least I know what to expect at the end of the final 10 – but there’s still plenty of exploring left to do in east London.