Catford Bus Garage open day, 10 May 2014

This is arguably a little south of my patch but since I’ve been passed this info and it doesn’t appear to be among TfL’s online press release archive I thought I’d share it. After all, virtually all the bus routes based at Catford Bus Garage serve Lewisham town centre!

Pic by Eddie, on Flickr (licensed by Creative Commons)

TfL say the following, occasional bits of which you may wish to take with a pinch of salt and/or contrast with their current Chair’s approach to the bus service (raise fares, freeze virtually all expansion, pour money into a vanity bus staffed by a health+safety inspector):

On Saturday 10 May 2014, the Catford Bus Garage in south east London will open its doors to members of the public in the first of a series of bus garage open days across the capital in celebration of the Year of the Bus.

Visitors to the Catford Bus Garage, which is operated by Stagecoach London and celebrates its centenary this year, will get the chance to:

  • Take a free ride on vintage and other interesting buses – 54v (Catford Bus Garage to Elmers End Station) and 47v (Shoreditch to Farnborough via Catford Bus Garage);
  • View the Year of the Bus mobile exhibition which tells the story of the London Bus and looks to its future;
  • Ride on a bus as it goes through the bus wash;
  • See behind the scenes in the maintenance area;
  • Take part in family activities about how to use the transport system safely and responsibly with the Transport for London (TfL) Safety and Citizenship team and pick up your free bus-themed family activity pack;
  • Get up close and personal with objects from the London Transport Museum collection and find out more about the stories behind them with the Tickets Please! handling collection;
  • Browse the London Transport Museum pop-up shop selling exclusive Year of the Bus gifts, and stalls selling centenary merchandise and bus-related memorabilia.

The bus garage open days are part of TfL’s celebrations to mark the Year of the Bus, in partnership with London Transport Museum and the capital’s bus operators.

Events and activities are being held throughout 2014 to celebrate the role that London buses, bus drivers and the staff who support them play in keeping the capital moving, and mark a number of important anniversaries. These include 60 years since the creation of the original and iconic Routemaster, 75 years since the launch of its predecessor the RT-type bus, and 100 years since hundreds of London buses were sent to the Western Front to play a crucial role during the First World War.

Catford Bus Garage was opened on 11 May 1914 and closed under a year later when it was commandeered by the War Department for use as a repair depot for buses during the First World War. It re-opened in October 1920 and in the early 1930s had its roof raised to accommodate double decker buses and again in 1948 to make space for the RT-type bus. It has been modernised a number of times over the years but its attractive exterior remains the same as it was 100 years ago.

Buses are a vital daily service for millions and one that is very local, with the vast majority of Londoners (95 per cent) never more than 400 metres from a bus stop.  Buses link homes to jobs, schools and hospitals in every part of the capital.  They are the backbone, and often the forgotten workhorses, of London’s transport network.

Other London bus garages opening their doors on Saturdays this summer are Alperton Bus Garage (7 June), Stockwell Bus Garage (21 June), Fulwell Bus Garage (28 June), Potters Bar Bus Garage (5 July) and Walworth Bus Garage (19 July). There will also be an open day at Dartford Bus Garage on Sunday 7 September.

Further information about bus garage open days and other Year of the Bus events can be found at and

They also provide some ‘notes for editors’, or ‘additional information’ as I like to call it before pasting it below:

  1. Catford Bus Garage has 152 buses operating on 17 routes. There are 450 staff based there. The bus garage has operated route 124 continuously since 1938.

They don’t list the routes, so I will, thanks to 47, 75, 124, 136, 178, 199, 208, 273, 354, 356, 380, 621, 660, P4, N47, N136. (Yes, that is only 16 routes, not 17 – I wonder if the 54’s moving back there on 3 May when Stagecoach take it over from Metrobus?)

  1. Free vintage bus rides are available throughout the day from Catford Bus Garage on Saturday 10 May. Timetables for both services – 54v and 47v – are available at
  2. The 54v will leave Catford Bus Garage every 20 minutes for Elmers End Station between 11:00 and 15:00 (journey time: 21 minutes). Buses will travel back from Elmers End Station to Catford Bus Garage every 20 minutes from 11:21 to 15:21.
  3. The 47v will leave Shoreditch High Street stop N at 08:03 and travel via London Bridge, Canada Water Station, Lewisham Station, Catford Town Hall, Catford Bus Garage (arriving 09:01), Bromley South Station, Bromley Bus Garage and terminate at Farnborough Village at 09:37. The 47v will then leave Farnborough Village for its return journey at 09:52 arriving at Catford Bus Garage at 10:30. It then leaves Catford Bus Garage at 16:18 and arrives at Shoreditch at 17:25.

Since I found this canvas cruelly discarded in my block of flats’ bin room, and obviously rescued, fixed and hung it, I feel a particular affinity for the 47 route of days gone by, so you’ll no doubt find me on the 47v!

I should probably nick this (broken) from the bin room before the refuse collectors come tomorrow, shouldn't I?

Lewisham Now (then)

Two years ago today, local infectiously-catchy-tunesmith Cesar Laser uploaded onto YouTube this wonderful tribute to his home borough (the song refers to town but I’d say from the video he probably lives in Catford) – Lewisham Now:

I only became aware of its existence late last year, when Londonist found and shared it, but since then it’s a near-guaranteed earworm whenever anyone says “Lewisham” to me – and, since I live near the station and use a lot of public transport with automatic destination announcements, that’s pretty often.

The track shows its age only insofar as it would surely be impossible to write such a song now without referencing our more recently famous hospital, and I’d like to think quick shots of 2013/14-opened Coffee Addict and Bucketmouth would also have fitted the mood nicely, but other than that this still very much captures the town, and indeed borough, I know and love.

Since my blog is no longer dormant, I thought I’d mark this second anniversary of YouTube gaining this local delight by attempting to spread it into a few more people’s ears. Reader, I bought the MP3.

Lewisham Gateway: 2013 evolution

This is probably getting unnecessarily nerdy now but when I received the Lewisham Gateway bus plan from TfL last month, I noticed two stops were missing from the numerical sequence – 11 and 12 – and that the plan was subtitled “mitigation measure: bus stop 11 and 12 removed”.

So I followed up that Freedom of Information request with one asking for the previous version of the plan, showing those stops, and yesterday TfL responded with it –

– along with this obvious word of warning and brief explanation:

Please note this drawing is out of date and no longer relevant as it reflects the proposed bus stop arrangement for the highway layout which was approved in 2009. The highway layout has changed as a result of the work done recently to ensure that the road space is managed as best we can for all road users.

It’s an interesting form of words: can removing two bus stops really be for the benefit of all road users, including bus passengers? In fact it may be a borderline case where you could just about argue that.

Cops’ stops

The stops in question were basically the same ones as the two outside the police station now. These are notably absent from the current working plan PDF (drawn up in April 2013) but are still there in the plan as it stood in January 2013.

Bus stops 11 and 12, outside Lewisham police station, before and after removal

Bus stops 11 and 12, outside Lewisham police station, before and after removal

Under the new plan, there’s very little need for the vast majority of Lewisham visitors to use the pavement outside the police station. The station and all bus routes are now planned to be so well connected directly through the Lewisham Gateway development site to the town centre, that it’s no great hardship to choose between the new stops nearest the station and the old stops down on the high street near the market, so making about 13 bus routes perform an additional stop on their way southwards is arguably just slowing them down to relatively few people’s benefit – although I’m sure residents of the area around St. Stephen’s Church and the police station would disagree!

It’s not an unquestionably good decision though: it may well mean less road space specifically allocated to buses. Presumably this is a result of traffic modelling showing forecast congestion before they made this amendment, eased by making it, but as a public transport advocate it’s not a pleasing sight.

Quaggy Quarter?

Assuming this is the way forward, though, isn’t there now an opportunity for some additional public realm improvement work? The pavement outside the police station is pretty enormous, and only very occasionally used by TV crews filming pieces to camera about disgraced newspaper editors being questioned under caution there. I assume the reason for this expanse of paving is because no foundations for anything else could go there as it has the river Quaggy running beneath it.

So, with the bus stops being removed and that pavement becoming less used, couldn’t more of the Quaggy be uncovered, opened up, turned into another river-centred public space like the new Confluence Place? (Or would that be too prone to flood Europe’s biggest police station, literally frightening the horses?)

Crossings out

There’s one other change I’ve spotted between the two plans, from January and April 2013. The January one shows three separate small crossings between Lewisham Station and the Lewisham Gateway ‘island’ (as I like to call the big chunk of land containing the bulk of the DLR station and the majority of the planned Gateway flats and shops), while the April one shows one far larger one.

Station Road crossings before and after the change of plan in early 2013

Station Road crossings (shown in solid black on the road) before and after the change of plan in early 2013

Again, there are pros and cons here – the new plan may seem a little less ‘desire line’-matching, attempting to funnel everyone going in or out of the various access points for the station and along any of the routes through the Gateway island onto a single crossing, but the April crossing is wide enough that its central position compared with two of the January crossings means very little diversion from where they were planned to run to use it – and the January third crossing only really seemed to cater for people wanting to get from Confluence Place to the taxi rank, a group arguably small enough not to warrant an entire separate bus-slowing intervention.


Meanwhile, nothing noticeable has happened since my previous post – but the official Lewisham Gateway News page really does make it sound like we’re not far away from Month 1 of 27 now – watch this space, or perhaps this space:

Work begins?

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Lewisham Gateway: official news (and olds)

A month ago today, with next-to-no warning or explanation, big changes took place to bus running around Lewisham station. In the absence of any official communication, I revived this blog and shared what I knew and could figure out, drawing a couple of thousand interested/baffled people to that post in its first few days. There was clearly an appetite for information, but a shortage of it from official sources.

Last week, the Lewisham Gateway developers circulated a leaflet to homes in the area. The Lewisham Gateway Site Preparations Update leaflet (PDF) said it was the second such leaflet recently, but only this one got as far as my flat (near Tesco) – or rather as far as a pile on the floor of my block’s lobby, not anyone’s individual letterbox, but that’s progress. The leaflet repeatedly encouraged readers to visit their web site and follow them on Twitter – but at that stage the site contained less news than the leaflet and their Twitter had been dormant since last April, so anyone following this advice would have been a bit disappointed and not encouraged to return.

Map from Lewisham Gateway leaflet, 27 March 2014

Map from Lewisham Gateway leaflet, 27 March 2014

But now, one month on from the initial bus changes, finally the Lewisham Gateway developers have tweeted for the first time in 347 days, and updated their web site’s News page to contain, well, news. And indeed olds, since I’m not sure you can really call retrospective updates about what happened up to a month ago ‘news’.

Let’s have a look at their three news updates, the first two of which are backdated to when they happened but have only appeared this week.

1 March 2014

Preparations start on site:

As a large number of buses use this area it has not been possible for all buses to continue to terminate next to the DLR (at bus stops C, D and F), as doing so would cause unnecessary congestion and pinch points in the area, causing significant delays to services. We have produced an online map showing the bus stop moves – click here to view map.

The information in the PDF linked to first in the second bullet point would certainly have been useful a month ago, but by now regular Lewisham station-goers will have figured all its contents out the hard way.

The Google map at the end, although it contains a few minor inaccuracies, is also a nice bit of online info-sharing, but a month on from the changes it describes kicking in.

Bridging the Ravensbourne?

11 March 2014

Ground investigation work starts:

  • At the Molesworth Street/Loampit Vale junction
  • On the roundabout island

Work should not affect any travel arrangements. To see a location map of where we’re working click here.

So that explains what I’d seen going on on a few evenings recently – again, weeks after I saw it. Also, the (again, promisingly clear) location map and the above bulleted list don’t mention any work in the semicircular park to the east of the roundabout, but that’s currently shut and being dug up too, so that seems a bit of an oversight.

Utilities works in the park

The top news update is indeed actual news – current, relevant and informative, if vague date-wise:

Spring 2014

Construction work is expected to start on site. In the coming weeks we plan to close the section of Station Road between the DLR and Lewisham Road. The route will be signposted and you can also click on this online map to see the site and location of the first two new buildings and park.

Another useful and clear Google Maps overlay. This quality of information presentation bodes well for future updates.

We will update this page and circulate an update to residents, businesses and other interested parties, with more details ahead of construction work starting. You can register for updates by emailing

Great! I’ll certainly be registering for updates, as you’d imagine, and I’d encourage you all to do so too. If Lewisham Gateway’s developers can just keep the updates timely, open and clear, their long overdue web site update suggests my (guess)work here may yet be done.

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