The London Bus Page In Exile

Thursday 14 December 2006

New route 452

Filed under: Service Changes — londonbuspageinexile @ 9:49 pm

Travel London Dennis Trident TA 116 (LG52 XZB) at Notting Hill Gate, Saturday 2nd December 2006 (17:03)On Saturday 2nd December the opportunity was taken to introduce a new route in advance of the extension of the Congestion Charge westward into Kensington from early next year. But the new route, known as 452, doesn’t seem to have much of a purpose.
Much like the 414, a route introduced during the initial period of breakneck expansion that came grinding to a halt once the money ran out (hence the massive increase in the Charge and its impending extension), the 452 doesn’t perform the vital role of taking passengers from the suburbs into town and out again, stopping just short and then veering off at an angle. Commencing from Kensal Rise, where it follows the 52 to Knightsbridge, the 452 then picks up the 137 as far as Chelsea Bridge, after which it terminates at Wandsworth Road station. Critics have complained that not only is Wandsworth Road not much of a traffic objective and that the route would be better served continuing to Clapham Junction, but that it has forced a substantial reduction in the PVR of the 137; the increase of buses to that route was perhaps the only good thing that came out of its OPO conversion on 10th July 2005 (and it was certainly necessary, given the decreased speed of one-man buses).
Perhaps the 452 will come into its own once the Charge takes effect, and hopefully it won’t be snarled up by the inevitable increase in traffic pushed further west out of central London. Travel London at Battersea garage (QB) have been given the honours, and are using Tridents like TA 116 (LG52 XZB), seen at Notting Hill Gate on the evening of the first day of the route.


  1. To benefit passengers the 452 should go to Vauxhall. Loadings on routes 77,87 and 344 are horrendous in the peak between Clapham Junction and Vauxhall. The 452 going there would relieve some pressure.

    Comment by Simon — Tuesday 19 December 2006 @ 10:40 am

  2. Where would the intended passengers be going under such an extension? They’d have to board at the other side of the road and be taken not into town, but to the fringes.
    I wish Oyster could provide records of where people get off as well as where they got on (perhaps drilling passengers with the ‘always touch out’ mentality of the Tube would do the trick).
    I think the policies of curtailing routes short of town are starting to come back to haunt TfL – both the 77 and 77A (the latter now known as 87) were successively cut back, and the 344 is only the middle section of part of the old 44 and 170.
    London’s bus passengers have to (not necessarily want to) to get from ‘out of town’ ‘into town’, and the vast majority have no choice as to what time of day they can pick to do it, so the planners need to take that simple maxim into account. Suggestions welcome!

    Comment by londonbuspageinexile — Tuesday 19 December 2006 @ 8:39 pm

  3. Passengers would go to Vauxhall. This is a major traffic objective to connect to the underground and other services. Stand in Wandsworth Road at 08.30am Monday to Friday and try and get on a 77 or an 87 towards town. When you finally get on one see how many people leave the bus at Vauxhall.

    However, I in no way disagree with you that route 452 seems lacking in purpose. Starting at Wandsworth Town, heading up Queenstown Road to Sloane Street and then off up Piccadilly to terminate in town would make more sense and be used a lot more I think. Can’t think of anywhere spare in Central London to stand though…maybe Baker Street when route 2 makes it back to Marylebone (that would make the useful run down Piccadiily awkward though. Perhaps send it up Park Lane. Then it would nearly be a 137. Dilemmas.)

    Comment by Simon — Friday 22 December 2006 @ 11:41 pm

  4. Surely you are all missing the point. The 452 is IMO designed to cater for those people who won’t use their cars across the new section of the congestion-charge zone. At the moment it is easier to use a car say Clapham to Willesden than to use a bus. (If anyone does?) But that will soon change.
    OK, not many are using the 452 now, but word will get around and IMO by June 2007 it will have its own clientel.
    It’s also a bit unimaginative to extend it to Vauxhall. Perhaps via Lansdowne Way to Stockwell (& Brixton) would be better?

    Comment by IsarSteve — Saturday 23 December 2006 @ 4:18 am

  5. Hi my name is Brian and i do miss the route masters

    Comment by BRAIN FREEAMAN — Saturday 23 December 2006 @ 4:15 pm

  6. I had always thought that to make its existance worthwile the 452 should have followed the 137 as far as Clapham Common, and then onto Brixton, providing a new link from Battersea to Brixton, thus generating a bit more traffic than it currently does (which is very little seemingly). In the north it would have made more sense to run from Ladbroke Grove to Willesden Junction instead of Kensal Rise, as that is already well served from the south, and thereby creating another new link. TfL really seems to lack imagination!

    Comment by ejc — Wednesday 3 January 2007 @ 12:07 pm

  7. Hi Matt – great website and it’s good to see you back.

    Re: 452 – what can i say? I am a member of a small commuter group (Clapham Transport Users’ Group) and we plus lots of local people, councillors and others all told TfL that the 137/452 proposals were bad. TfL deliberately avoided publicising the ‘proposals’ to ensure few objected and hence ‘agreed’ with them. According to TfL, local bus stops are “not the best means of attracting the attention of bus users” (er, why not?). We told TfL that Wandsworth Road Station was an absurd terminus (and no bus route has ever terminated there), that the 452 should either go to Vauxhall or Clapham Common. We recommended Kensal Rise via Victoria and Paddington, so as to put some really useful destinations onto the route. The Clapham area lack a direct Victoria bus link, and South London Line is only half hourly, so Victoria would have attracted a lot os passengers.

    TfL obduracy seemed to be some kind of contest in corporate virility: “consultations are not referenda” and “hard choices” have to be made.

    TfL argued that cutting the 137 frequency was justified as “according to our data” the 137 is not crowded and has spare capacity at peak-time (which will come as a surprise to any who does commute on the bus). TfL argued that the 452 would take the heat off the 137 – an absurd suggestion, as it imples the core market of the 137 is between Queenstown Road Battersea and Knightsbridge rather than Streatham/Clapham and Marble Arch/Oxford Circus.

    The net result: crowded 137 buses and near empty 452 buses south of Knightbridge. I’ve never seen more than 7 people at most on the 452. Indeed often it’s not even reaching Wandsworth Road but turning round in Battersea Park instead.

    Had TfL listened then the 452 could have been a useful new cross-London route like the 36 or 88.

    TfL Stakeholder Staff, a large department set up to “consult” totally ignored local views. They talk jargon rather than common sense and will contrive consultation to get the so-called “agreement” with proposals. TfL seriously claim that Clapham/Streatham residents were in favour of the 137/452 proposals (really, so they approve of cutting 137 frequency in Clapham Park Road then?).

    Stakeholder staff are effectively bureaucrats hired from the nebulous world of business consultancy, and it shows. They answer any argument or query with the non-language of jargon. If South Londoners call a spade a spade, then TfL will hold seminars on spade nomenclature.

    So the 452: a wasted opportunity and even bigger waste of money, all because TfL is too arrogant to admit when it gets it wrong or listen to the local users. The result is a dysfunctional, poorly-designed route. It is way below the normal standard of TfL, let alone the old London Transport.

    Transport expertise isn’t to do with attending business seminars, but building up a canvass of knowledge and a sense of what works in order to plan accordingly. Evidently TfL will never make proposals that all would agree with. But there’s a difference between that and just railroaded ill-thought out proposals through. Without an innate interest in, or understanding of, transport then the 452 debacle is the result. And we’re stuck with it for a few years’ grace.

    Time for TfL to switch off the computers stop recruiting management consultants, and stepped out into the real world. Best seen from the top deck of a bus.

    Comment by NICK BISKINIS — Friday 5 January 2007 @ 9:48 am

  8. Sorry for the delayed post to this piece, but just thought i’d get my point accross.

    I think that the 452 is a bit of a pointless route and with the frequency reductions to the 52 & 137, this takes a lot of any benifit off the new route. Would TfL not have been better off increasing the frequencies of key services such as the 7, 44, 49, 28, 328, 344, 77 & 87? IMO route 7 should also be extended to Acton and cut back to Oxford Circus.

    When the original congestion charge was introduced, one of the best new route IMO was the 148, a cross-London service, although I think it could continue from Camberwell to Peckham.

    Just a few of my thoughts on the matter.

    Comment by GJ — Sunday 28 January 2007 @ 7:24 pm

  9. It would be more use to go to Herne Hill, rather than Peckham………..

    Comment by ejc — Monday 29 January 2007 @ 12:35 am

  10. #9 Fair point

    Comment by GJ — Monday 29 January 2007 @ 1:19 am

  11. thankyou, i’m glad someone agrees with my comments!! ( a selfish one i feel though- it would make my commute much simpler!)

    Comment by ejc — Monday 29 January 2007 @ 1:23 am

  12. IMO the 452 is intended to cater for the congestion charge extension and will come into its own then. IMO the Clapham Transport Users’ Group formed their own opinions about the extension by looking at a map themselves and are unable to face the fact that their warnings of crowding and disaster on the 137 have not been borne out – quite a humiliation.

    Comment by Rik — Monday 12 February 2007 @ 9:08 pm

  13. Well Rik, we forecast that the 452 would not be well used south of the river and that cutting the 137 was not necessary. Our views were also those of local councillors and many commuters we spoke to.

    And guess what: the 452 carries at the very most about ten people maxmimum in peak-time south of Sloane Square, whilst the 137 is now more crowded than before. In fact the 452 often turns around at Battersea Park because there’s no-one on it.

    Yes, Rik, some ‘humiliation’ – we were proved right. You believe it was worth cutting the 137 for this? Or is Matt Wharmby wrong also for criticising the route design of the 452?

    South of Sloane Square 452 therefore is less than half full at its busiest time and empty all other times. Great success in your view Rik? Do enlighten us with your brilliance

    Comment by Nick Biskinis — Saturday 17 February 2007 @ 9:33 pm

  14. I think the western extension of the congestion charge might actually be working. I saw a 452 at Notting Hill Gate earlier today, and it was almost half-full!! Not something i ever thought anyone would see….

    Comment by ejc — Tuesday 27 February 2007 @ 11:31 pm

  15. But that’s in West London where you would expect the 452 to be more popular – in South London it’s running empty and even at peak-time can’t muster enough demand that would half-fill a single decker. It in no way justifies cutting the 137, as Rik bizarrely argued. He also seemed to criticise the fact that our group looked at a bus map and decided on thwe usefulness of the 452. Er – well how else should people gauge the usefulness of a potential route other by analysing where it’s going? I guess TfL people dislike others making independent judgements.

    And as to the extension of Congestion Charge Zone, surely it would have made more sense then to increase the 137 which would be well used, rather than the pointless 452 that must have the lowest patronage of any bus route that crosses London? TfL have shot themselves in the foot with the 452. Either they should have kept the 452 in West London, or else they should have re-designed it to make it a proper north/south link for the benefit of all. Certainly the low usage of this route ia going to be raising concerns at TfL no matter what they (or Rik) might publicly say.

    Comment by Nick Biskinis — Wednesday 28 February 2007 @ 10:33 am

  16. #15, i completely agree with you. I was just being flippant!

    In its current form the 452 is largely useless. Although it offers a resonable alternative to parts of the 52, the rest of it appears to have no particular purpose except for TfL to show that they were going to increase services for the congestion-charge extension.
    I have always thought that it had the potential to make a really good trunk route, by extending it to Clapham Common via the 137 and thence onto Brixton via the 35/37.

    I think TfL are very stubborn though, we won’t see changes to it until there is a change of management within that organisation, as at the moment they seem to be operating very arrogantly- they are right and no-one else has a valid opinion.

    It’s a real shame as they used to be innovative and adaptable, just look at the 148.
    Now they just waste money on farces like the 452.

    Comment by ejc — Thursday 1 March 2007 @ 1:58 am

  17. EJC #16

    You are absolutely right, TFL’s management system is to tell us Londoners what we need and want.

    As long as you understand that us plebs have no say. then you will understand the beast so much more.

    Look at the protest with RM’s everyone of us got the same bog standard reply. we typed letters, the cut and pasted your email in an already typed letter, which told you what you really wanted.

    if Londoners lost the battle of the bus. you’ll never win the battle of the 452!

    Unless things change.

    We need to start with Livingstone

    Comment by Steve — Monday 26 March 2007 @ 6:32 pm

  18. Last night at a meeting with Lambeth Council Transport Forum, TfL revealed they are ‘reviewing’ the 137 peak-time frequency. This was cut by 30% to make way for the 452. Since then overcrowding on the 137 has shot up – entirely as i and other warned TfL, whilst the 452 never carries more than 18 passengers at peak-time, and is empty the rest of the day.

    TfL have cut the frequency of the 452 in a desperate bid to up the numbers, but in South London at least, it is a near useless route. The very low usage (18 passengers tops in a bus with 70 seats) makes the 452 possibly the least used Cross-London bus route.

    So i assume TfL’s ‘review’ of the 137 frequency is an acknowledgement they got it wrong. But it is to be done in the Summer, when we’re all on holiday and hence the peak-time usage will of course be lower. I don’t want to be a cynic but..

    Comment by Nick Biskinis — Thursday 17 May 2007 @ 3:28 pm

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