Olympic bus changes: What’s planned, what’s not planned (yet)

A handy document’s just appeared on Transport for London’s website detailing changes to capital’s bus services during the Olympics and Paralympics. The changes aren’t major, mostly a few snips here and there for security reasons and extra buses on a handful of routes, although not in the morning rush hour. If you’ve been following the Olympic road closures closely, they won’t come as a major surprise. They’ve been out to consultation to the boroughs, and now they’re back with us, the great unwashed, to give us warning.

The full document is here, but here’s a rundown of how routes in Greenwich, Woolwich, Charlton, Blackheath and possibly Lewisham could be affected.

Firstly, the gyratory around Greenwich town centre will mean diversions around Norman Road for routes 177, 180, 188, 199, 386 and N1. The 129 and 286 aren’t listed as being affected by this, but there has been talk of some buses using the “pedestrianised” part of Greenwich Church Street to turn around (because Greenwich Council wasn’t happy about it). Here’s a map.

Secondly, much of the area around Woolwich Common – particularly Ha Ha Road – will be closed during the Olympics and Paralympics, meaning a couple of services will have to run into Queen Elizabeth Hospital from Shooters Hill Road, then double back out of it again to cross the common at Academy Road. That could take a while – and there’s also some uncertainty over whether Woolwich Common itself (the South Circular) will be closed; the document only mentions a “possible” closure in regard to route 386. Here’s some maps.

As for individual routes:

Route 53: More buses (10 an hour instead of eight) during the daytime (Olympics only) but is diverted across Blackheath as Charlton Way is closed.
Route 108: More buses – with an extra four double-deckers running between North Greenwich and Lewisham – all day during the Olympics, and in the evening during the Paralympics. That means up to 10 buses an hour.
Route 129: Converted to double-deckers during the Olympics and most of the Paralympics.
Route 161: Diverted away from Queen Elizabeth Hospital to run direct to/from Woolwich.
Route 177: More buses – 10 an hour instead of six – during daytimes and the evening rush hour during the Olympics only.
Route 178: Doubling-back out of Queen Elizabeth Hospital and running up/down Academy Road.
Route 188: Extended to Euston. More buses – up to 10 an hour during the day and four at night during the Olympics, seven-and-a-half buses an hour in the evening and four at night during the Paralympics.
Route 291: Diverted via Woolwich New Road, Academy Road and Shooters Hill Road to reach Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Route 380: May be diverted away from Hare and Billet Road, Blackheath – not decided yet.
Route 386: Doubling back at Queen Elizabeth Hospital to run via Academy Road, may be further diverted via Herbert Road May also be diverted away from Hare and Billet Road, Blackheath – not decided yet. More buses – six and hour rather than four in the daytime, during the Olympics only.
Route 469: Diverted via Academy Road and Shooters Hill Road to reach Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Route 486: Diverted in Charlton via Cemetery Lane and Charlton Park Road.

But what seems to be missing from the document are measures to lessen the impact of losing Southeastern commuter rail services at several stations. If you look at TfL’s “travel during he Games” page, there’s very little mention of trains it doesn’t run itself, leading me to wonder if TfL is worrying more about Tube and Overground passengers than us who are stuck with Southeastern and their friends.

We’ll need to be a lot more flexible in our trips around town during the Games. For example, I imagine a lot of people from the Deptford and Greenwich areas will end up using Lewisham station during the Games, so why not put on extra buses on routes 180 or 199? While extra buses on the 108 are a good thing, people who’d use Westcombe Park (cut to 2 trains/hour) might appreciate them in the morning rush hour too so they can use North Greenwich instead. The same applies for Maze Hill and the 188. As for the poor souls stuck without Woolwich Dockyard station, an enhanced 380 service would help them out too.

Unfortunately, there’s no chance for direct public input on this – TfL is “engaging with the London boroughs” instead. If you think your journey needs a hand during the Olympics – tell your local councillors. And hopefully, the message will somehow get through.


  1. Not really Olympics-based, but as your resident bus anorak, I understand the 129 extension to Peckham via Convoys Wharf and Deptford has been formally cancelled. Of course, it was unlikely to happen any time soon but if Sainsburys moves to the new site, it does make you wonder whether the route’s current resources could be used more effectively.

    Slightly more Olympics based, I understand the speed humps and width restriction in Charlton Park Lane are being removed so it can be part of the Olympic road network. I think there is a strong case for running a service along here post-Olympics, as parts are quite remote from the existing bus network. This is probably one for the Charlton Champion though.

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