Update 28 (May 2nd 2017)

No change at Bow Road  

Since they were raised with TfL Customer Services a number of issues related to misinformation in the Stratford and Bow areas have been resolved. As mentioned in Update 26 the map and information sheet adjacent to the Information and assistance booth at Stratford City Bus Station was updated before the end of 2016 and now passengers for the 108 are no longer sent on a wild goose chase across the footbridge to Stratford Bus Station. The relevant TfL department placed bus stop X in the correct position on the map at about the same time. Also, as mentioned in Update 27, although the Information and assistance booth is still closed the digital information post now shows departures from bus stop X. The cartographic issues on the 108 route, also raised in Update 27, have been sorted out too and bus stop F on the 339 route is now a permanent fixture and busses do stop there (see Update 25). The 25 no longer goes over Bow flyover (see Update 18), having returned to its original route. On the other hand, unfortunately, nothing has changed outside Bow Road Tube Station.

It is just three years since the 339 route was changed to run along White Post Lane and yet, as indicated in Update 23, the map outside the station still shows the old route. The other map on the concourse is also out of date, for the reasons also given in Update 23.

It is now nearly six months since TfL was informed, directly, of the out-of-date information on the boards for which it is responsible at Bow Road Tube Station. One would imagine it would be a core priority of any transport organisation to ensure that, by careful planning and monitoring, its customers were always given the most up to date information possible on all the modes of transport over which it has oversight. It doesn’t seem too contentious to suggest the methods through which the organisation chose to disseminate this information would be given equal weighting and, if became clear it was incapable of making updates in a reasonable time, it would ensure that out-of-date and therefore misleading information would be removed from public view. And surely, three years is way beyond what can be considered reasonable!

When alerted to the situation at Bow Road Tube Station (in mid November 2016) the response from TfL Customer Services was to say that the publicity team had been asked to check the maps. A suggestion that there might be a rolling programme to update maps elicited the response that there once was such a programme but this had been discontinued due to ‘prohibitive costs’. Without knowing how much these prohibitive costs were it is impossible to take an informed view as to whether this was a justifiable reason, but it should be noted that a considerable amount of money has been spent on projects that can hardly be called core. Take the proposed Garden Bridge across the Thames. This has always been contentious, a motion presented at the London Assembly in June 2015, for example, asserted the project serves no transport function, and it is therefore inappropriate that £30 million of Transport for London money has been committed to it. This TfL commitment was eventually reduced to £10,000,000 supplemented by a £20,000,000 loan but even £10,000,000 would be a big help in reinstating the rolling programme of updated maps, improving the way TfL monitors its own performance and even opening Information and assistance booths which have Position Closed blinds pulled down for months (perhaps years) on end. As it is it looks as though the whole bridge project will be abandoned as Mayor Khan has recently refused to underwrite the annual maintenance costs. The figures for maintenance were vague, the Garden Bridge Trust website indicates £2,000,000 was initially anticipated but the latest estimates (carried in several newspapers) are in the region of £3,500,000. And, whatever the figure is, it would be needed every year and would, quite clearly, rise as time went by. In a way this money will be ‘saved’ but the loss to the public purse as a result of abandonment is estimated as at least £37,000,000. Presumably the £10,000,000 committed by TfL will be part of this sum.

Update 29 (May 31st 2017)

Where do the 276 and the 488 go from?

On Saturday, 13th May, Parnell Road, between the Roman Road junction and Tregedar Road, was blocked off for the whole day due to construction work. Bus stop OA was directly affected. You may see from the first photograph which buses serve the stop and, from the second, the notice which was posted. There was no indication to any passengers as to where they might catch the 276 or the 488 - only the 8 and N8 are mentioned.

Saturday is, of course, market day on Roman Road and the single decker buses get quite busy taking people to Hackney, Stratford and the Tesco at Bromley by Bow.  Potential passengers, who had arrived by a different route but who wanted to catch the 276 or the 488 towards Hackney had no idea if a diversion was in place or, obviously, where to go even if there was one. It turned out that other passengers were also left waiting in vain for the 276 and the 488 on that part of their route from which the buses had been diverted.

A complaint to TfL Customer Services on May 14th, which also raised the issue of the out of date maps on the concourse at Bow Road Tube Station elicited this automatic acknowledgement.

Thank you for contacting us at Transport for London.

If you have requested a response, we aim to send you a personalised reply within 10 working days. If we are unable to answer your query within this time, we will keep you updated about the progress of your case until you receive a full response.

Nothing heard since.

Update 30 (June 2nd 2017)

A result at Bow Road Tube Station - well at least partly!

In the past couple of days the out of date map on the Bus Information board outside the entrance to Bow Road Tube Station has been replaced with one which shows the 339 route as it is has been since April 2014. Unfortunately, the other map on the concourse has not been replaced (see Update 23). Anyone using that map in planning to travel on to Westfield shopping centre should remember it is the 108 that goes to Stratford City Bus Station, not the D8.

Update 31 (June 4th 2017)

A diary of a diversion – Stratford City Bus Station again

A short walk from Stratford City Bus Station a new development is taking place, which includes a splendid new Transport for London building. The top picture to the left shows the computer generated image displayed on a hoarding and the photo below shows how close the architect’s plans are to coming to fruition. No doubt the building will be opened with some fanfare. Let us hope that if any of the guests arrive by bus they are not subject to the kind of delay and inconvenience which customers at the bus station were subject to between May 22nd and May 31st.

The situation which arose was almost an exact replay of what happened in July of 2016 (see Updates 16 and 17). At that time, when a complaint was made about the information which TfL had provided, a customer service adviser apologised and said,

Please be assured that we are currently looking at ways where we can improve how we give this information, and provide a more efficient, and cost effective way.

If you are not aware of the layout of Stratford City Bus Station, click on the sketch-plan to the left. Below is a more detailed account of what happened.

Monday May 22nd

At 9 am on Monday, May 22nd several passengers were waiting at bus stop X for a Shadwell-bound 339. They saw the bus approach but, rather than heading towards the stop, saw it turn into the bus station. It dropped passengers at bus stop T and picked more up at bus stop W before leaving the station. Then instead of turning right towards bus stop X it turned left and continued on its way, leaving passengers at stop X confused. Naturally some were irritated at having missed their bus.

Close inspection of the notice board on stop X showed the only diversion notice relevant to that day concerned one between 00.01 and 05.00. In any event, this did not advise 339 passengers to go to stop W (see picture to the left). The digital Bus Information post outside the yet-to-be opened Information and assistance booth was showing nothing for the Shadwell-bound 339 at all and there was, as usual, no-one from TfL on hand to ask about the situation. If those passengers with access to a smartphone had viewed the TfL Journey Planner they would have found this message,

Route 339 will be on diversion and unable to serve Loop Road Carpenters Road or Pool Street due to Shell Eco Marathon on various dates. Please use stop 'W' in Stratford City Bus Station

But, of course, by the time they did the bus would have come and gone.

Later in the day TfL was called on 0343 222 1234 and the situation was explained in detail to a customer service adviser. He was sympathetic but said he could do no more than pass the message on. No complaint reference number was given.

Tuesday, May 23rd

On the following day things had changed - for the worse. There was no new notice on stop X and no-one from TfL on hand to assist, but the digital information post was now carrying the message that the next Shadwell-bound 339 would call at stop X!  This was in direct contradiction to the Journey Planner, which still indicated that 339 passengers should go to stop W. Some, probably regular, passengers were picking up on the changes and waiting at W even though there was no notice on W to say the 339 would call there. However, many passengers were not picking up on the change and throughout the day a succession of TfL customers waited at X for a 339 that would not arrive. This included two women, each with a pushchair and two small children in tow. A particularly exasperating situation for them.

As on Monday TfL was called and the on-going events were explained in detail to a customer service adviser. Like the previous adviser he was sympathetic but said he could do no more than pass the message on. No complaint reference number was given.

Wednesday, May 24th

No change from the position as it was on Tuesday. It should be noted that a further element of confusion was added to the situation by the Leytonstone-bound 339 picking up at stop W too. Two buses with the same number but going to different destinations calling at the same stop. Each bus had the destination shown on the front but, of course, passengers had the right to be wary about this given the confusion caused by the ambiguous and contradictory information they were being given elsewhere. The drivers, who work for Tower Transit and not TfL, were the ones who had to field questions about the diversion. It is not surprising they were frustrated with TfL too.

Thursday, May 25th

No change. Customer Services were called in the afternoon and the situation explained for the third time. The adviser (not the same person who had answered the phone on either Monday or Tuesday) appeared sympathetic but when asked if there was an internal procedure for escalating complaints said he didn’t think there was, complaints usually being dealt with between five and ten days. When it was emphasised that immediate action was needed and, given the previous two calls, it was not clear why it had not been, he said he would investigate and call back in an hour or so. No-one rang back so TfL were contacted again at later in the evening. A fourth customer services adviser said he would immediately call someone who could ensure a relevant diversion notice was posted at bus stop X on the morning of Friday, May 26th. When asked how the information posted on the digital information board and the Journey Planner could be contradictory he said he was puzzled as they both drew their information from the same source. He then gave a complaint reference number.

Friday, May 26th

No new notice appeared on bus stop X, the digital board indicated Shadwell-bound 339 would call at X, the TfL Journey Planner said all 339 customers should wait at stop W. There was no sign on bus stop W to say the 339 (going to either Shadwell or Leytonstone) would stop there. The Information and assistance booth remained closed.

Saturday, May 27th

As Friday. It should be noted that if a 339 did not stop at T and went straight round to W, some some speed was needed to get from X to W in order to catch the bus. This might mean rushing over two lanes of traffic (which could be moving quite fast). It would be possible to use the nearby controlled crossing, but by the time that route had been taken the bus would have gone.

Sunday, May 28th

Still no change.

Bank Holiday Monday May 29th

No change again.

Tuesday, May 30th

Over a week had passed since the diversion had begun and TfL were first contacted about the confusion on the 339 route at Stratford City Bus Station. No action whatsoever had been taken and the TfL Journey Planner gave no indication of how long the diversion would last. In the evening there was something of an altercation between a Tower Transit driver and passengers on at least one bus. This was clearly caused by pent-up frustration due to the incompetence of TfL. Customer Services contacted (for the fifth time) at about 10 pm. The adviser said the diversion was due to last until June 6th (this may well be the case as it is possible further diversions will be needed before that date).

Wednesday, May 31st

No new notice appeared on bus stop X, the digital board indicated the Shadwell-bound 339 would call at X, the TfL Journey Planner said all 339 customers should use stop W. There was no sign on bus stop W to say the 339 (going to either Shadwell or Leytonstone) would stop there. Information and assistance booth remains closed.

Thursday, June 1st

Normal service resumed, though for how long was unclear. So now the Shadwell-bound 339 did stop at X, just as both the digital notice board and the TfL Journey Planner said it would. Curiously, in the evening, a yellow banner appeared on the Journey Planner. It was precise about timing.

HARFORD STREET / MILE END ROAD, E1: Until 1900 Friday 02 June, route 339 is diverted via Burdett Rd, St Pauls Way Rhodeswell Road due to emergency gas repairs. Reverse diversion on return.

Why couldn’t the Journey Planner have been as precise as to when the May 22nd - May 31st Make the Future diversion would end?

Update 32 (June 22nd 2017)

A notice now posted at bus stop X indicates that on Friday, June 23rd the Shadwell-bound 339 will not stop there but will stop at bus stop W instead. Bus stop W will also be used by Leytonstone – bound 339s. The digital post outside the (still closed) Information and assistance booth has not been operative for several days. Let us hope that when it is operative again customers will not be mislead to waiting at X, when they should be waiting at W.

Letters, which were sent by recorded delivery and signed for on May 25th and June 3rd, about the situation that faced Shadwell-bound 339 passengers between May 22nd and May 31st remain unanswered.

Work on the prestigious new  TfL building in the Stratford International Quarter continues apace.

Update 33 (July 20th 2017)

Stratford City Bus Station - back to square one?

At the moment the World Para-Athletics Championships are taking place at the London Stadium. This is flagged on the Queen Elizabeth Park website. A grid showing road closures during the period the events are taking place can be accessed through ‘The London 2017 summer of Athletics road closures’ page on that website. Montfichet Road, where bus stop X is located, is one of the roads which is being closed everyday for at least several hours. The page contains the following statement;

Buses will also be on diversion routes on these days, please see TFL website for more details on diversion routes during this period.

Clicking on the TFL website link within that statement will bring up the Status Updates page (why not try it today?). Enter 339 in the box and TfL may indicate that there are no disruptions on route 339 towards Leytonstone Station / Grove Green Road. There is no mention of the route towards Shadwell. Try entering Stratford City Bus Station and a message will come up about bus stop S, which serves the Leytonstone-bound 339 (which of course, in the event of a diversion is routed via bus stop W). There is nothing about bus stop X. Those in the know and with a good sense of the layout of the bus station might be able to locate the position of bus stop X on the adjacent map (it is not shown as such) and in that case they will be able to see if there are any disruptions on that route in the direction of Shadwell. It would, however, be unwise to anticipate that this will be accurate, as the situation last Monday morning showed, and anyone who does not know the layout of the bus station may be left with the impression that the Shadwell-bound 339 is not passing through the bus station at all.

It might have been expected that TfL would have carefully planned how customers would be informed as to where they should catch their bus when stop X was out of action. On the morning of Monday, July 17th at 09.00, which was two hours after Montfichet Road was closed on that day, the situation potential passengers for the Shadwell-bound 339 met was very similar to the one which had occurred between May 22nd and May 31st and about which TfL had been immediately notified (see Update 31 above). When TfL eventually responded (see Update 32) it indicated that the comments which had been made will be taken into account when reviewing any upcoming diversions on the route.       


On the morning of July 17th  Montfichet Road was closed by a large metal barrier, but some bus passengers did not seem aware of this or may have thought it would closed be for a very short period.

Bus stop X was closed but despite a hood indicating that the stop would be closed during the days and times detailed below i.e on the post notice board, there was no ‘change alert’ notice to let passengers know where they could catch the 339 (or the 108 or the Here East shuttle for that matter).

The bus station Information and assistance booth remained closed and the digital information post was blank (it was operational for a few days in the week beginning Monday, July 10th). There was no-one from TfL on hand to give assistance to anyone waiting for a bus at stop X.

Any customer logging on to the TfL Journey Planner would find it was showing the Shadwell-bound 339 would depart from bus stop X, when it was actually departing from bus stop W. A regular customer, aware of previous failures by TfL Bus Operations, might have made their way to stop W, but others had no reason to.

The photograph to the left shows an advert for the tfl text service on the 339 route and one might expect that the information this service provides (especially as TfL charges for the information) would be updated when pre-planned diversions were in place. Some customers might keep the number of a stop they use regularly, or even occasionally. This would, for example, be useful to Westfield shoppers planning to use stop X to catch the 339. They might text the number shown on the post (91364) before they reached the stop so they could ensure they arrived in time to board. However, a text received from TfL on the morning of Friday 23rd June (when a diversion was in place) indicated the 339 would stop at X whereas the ‘change alert’ notice on the post indicated it would go from W. It was exactly the same on the morning of Monday 17th July, although there was no ‘change alert’ notice on that day.

On the evening of Wednesday, July 19th bus stop X was open when passengers who had consulted the Queen Elizabeth Park website might have anticipate it would be closed. The digital post was working and showing accurate information. It is understandable that Montfichet will be kept open as long as possible, even during those times when it is shown to be scheduled for closure, and keeping bus stop X open is clearly less disruptive than closing it. However, when it is closed it is up to TfL to give timely, co-ordinated and accurate information about this on all the channels of communication it chooses to use.

The right priority?

Given the fact that the Information and assistance booth remains closed and the operation of the digital post is intermittent one would think that TfL would at least make sure both maps by the side of the booth were accurate. But the spider map is now out-of-date  and the information on it does not correspond with that given on the updated spider map on the stop X shelter. Passengers looking to catch a D8 may well be confused. It is a puzzle as to why the booth-side spider map was not replaced at the same time as one on the bus shelter.

The good news  is that TfL has found the time and money to put a No Smoking sign on the ground to supplement the ‘No smoking in this area’ sign on the eternally pulled down Position Closed blind in the window of the Information and assistance booth.

Update 34 (July 31st 2017)

Yesterday there were a number of bus diversions, in east London and elsewhere, due to the Prudential RideLondon event. As this had been planned long in advance and was evidently supported by TfL it would seem to be a reasonable expectation that bus passengers would be inconvenienced as little as possible due to these diversions and that information provided by TfL would be in a form easily accessible to anyone and placed in suitable locations.

Although it is only one stop from Stratford City Bus Station to the London Aquatics Centre it is a fair walk over what is essentially a hump-backed bridge so quite a number of passengers often take either the Lewisham-bound108 or the Shadwell-bound 339 to make the journey. However, from to 4.30 am to 11.00 am a diversion was in place for a number of bus routes.

During this period both the 108 and the 339 services were leaving bus stop X. Unfortunately, the digital post by the yet to be opened Information and assistance booth carried no information about either the 108 or the 339 going either way. Moreover, the screen itself was unpredictably intermittent. It would go blank for a few seconds, then come back on again for a short period and then go off again. It was the same this morning. On one occasion yesterday a yellow banner briefly appeared, which indicated that the Shadwell-bound 339 was being routed via Warton Road and Fairfield Road before rejoining the normal route at Tredegar Road. By following this route it would clearly not be calling at any of the usual stops between Stratford City Bus Station and Tredegar Road. Unfortunately, there was nothing on the information panel on the bus stop X sign post to let customers know about this diversion and consequently, when a Shadwell-bound 339 appeared at about 9.50 am it is not surprising some passengers who wanted to go either the London Aquatic Centre (or beyond) boarded the bus. Naturally they became confused when the bus did not turn into Pool Street and continued along Montfichet Road and into Warton Road. At least one passenger was using a smartphone to try and find out what was going on via the information TfL was providing but only when the driver was asked where the bus was heading did everything become clear. Fortunately, the driver was prepared to let the passengers off the bus at the stop in Warton Road and they all set off back on foot to where they wanted to go. A minor inconvenience perhaps but one which may have been avoided if TfL had put a notice on the bus stop X information panel drawing attention to the diversion. None were impressed with the diversion information provided by TfL Bus Operations.

To the left is a photo of the bus alert sheet that was placed on the information panels at both the London Aquatics Centre stops (J and H) in Pool Street. Both stops were closed for the Shadwell and Leytonstone bound 339 services, as were all the other stops between Stratford City Bus Station and bus stop E on Tredegar Road. However, I think there is a possibility that no alert sheets were placed on the information panels of any of the other stops – there were certainly none at either stop OV or stop QS at Autumn Street. Consequently, customers would have been left waiting for a bus that would not come – until after 11.00 am anyway.

Update 35 (August 8th 2017)

Stratford City Bus Station - contradictory information leads, once again, to a hazardous situation.

The IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federations) World Championships are taking place at the London Stadium at the moment. As is to be expected diversions are being made to the 108 and 339 routes. The photo to the left shows the notice that has been put up on the post at bus stop X in Stratford City Bus Station by TfL. It is clear and accurate, although one has to be careful not to confuse the blue C stop with the red C stop or the red F stop with the blue F stop. One would have thought it would have been possible for all stops in, and within the vicinity of, Stratford City Bus Station to have been given different identity letters, especially as, in some cases, TfL uses two letters on some bus stops.

Unfortunately, and despite TfL being told about this repeatedly, the digital information post out side the permanently closed Information and assistance booth, was, once again, giving contradictory information. It was indicating that Shadwell-bound 339s would call at X well after the time they were actually calling at W. Consequently, some passengers waited at X, unsure as to where the bus would go and then made a dash for it, across a road with two lanes of traffic, when they saw a 339 turn into the bus station itself.

Update 36 (November 2nd 2017)

No more confusion at Stratford City Bus Station.

Update 33 (see above) contains the following paragraph;

Given the fact that the Information and assistance booth remains closed and the operation of the digital post is intermittent one would think that TfL would at least make sure both maps by the side of the booth were accurate. But the ‘spider’ map is an out-of-date one and the information on it does not correspond with that given on the updated spider map on the stop X shelter. Passengers looking to catch a D8 may well be confused. It is a puzzle as to why the booth-side spider map was not replaced at the same time as the one on the bus shelter.

Any confusion has now ended. The out-of-date spider map was removed from the map panel several weeks ago. So the Information and assistance booth, which has never been opened, provides even less information than before (no local area maps, incidentally, have ever been offered to the travelling public from the slots below the map panel). The more up-to-date spider map remains on the stop X shelter, but this would not be immediately apparent to someone gazing at their reflection in the map panel at the point where the Information and assistance spider map had once been.

I am not sure how long it would have taken to write out and put up a notice indicating that an up-to-date map could be found on the bus stop X shelter, but doubt it would have been more than five minutes. It remains a puzzle as to why a copy of the up-to-date map was not available to replace the one removed - surely a few spares could have been printed and even if none were maybe a ‘print on demand’ facility might be activated. Little point in asking TfL Customer Services about this, of course.

The new TfL building is now open in ‘London’s new home for modern business’ a few hundred yards away. Behind the reception desk visitors will see the usual TfL statement that Every Journey Matters and, doubtless, be duly impressed by the excellent work stations and splendid views on each of the upper floors. It is to be hoped, however, that none of these visitors will be going home by bus from Stratford and, being unclear as to which bus goes where, head for the Information and assistance booth. When searching for information and assistance, especially on a cold and wet autumn evening, disillusionment is likely to set in quickly.

Update 37 (November 19th 2017)

During last summer it would appear TfL ensured that, with the exception of a few stops, all buses routed along all, or part, of the A11 between Stratford and Aldgate gave an audio warning to passengers as the vehicle approached a bus stop island. The danger to both bus passengers and cyclists of a collision at a bus stop by pass has long been apparent and could have been predicted at the planning stage. The TfL response to queries about this danger on this particular road did not inspire confidence. In the summer of 2015 an assurance was given by TfL Customer Services that the matter would be investigated and the ‘findings would be conveyed as soon as they were received’ (see Update 10). None ever were. Still, better late than never.

An interesting view of the commitment of TfL to the safety of bus passengers is given in a London Assembly report called Driven to Distraction, which was published in July of this year. It is well worth reading. Click here to read the report.

At Stratford City Bus Station no sign of a new spider map by the yet-to-be opened Information and assistance booth a few hundred yards from the new TfL offices. No sign either of a note on map board to point out that there is an up-to-date spider map on the opposite side of the road at bus stop X.


Archive 4 - 2017

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