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Having been run since inception by Blue Triangle, the 372 was lost to the East London group, who run it from their separate operation at Rainham now branded "Thameside." The new buses were a few months late being delivered, but are now in place, and are represented by 36040 (LX09 ACY), 10.8m long Enviro200Dart model.
|Photo © John Rowland.|
The route was introduced by Transport for London as a partial replacement for 324, a route created by Ensignbus, but latterly with Town & Country buses. TfL, before their current budgetary crisis, had a brief spell of taking responsibility for cross-border routes, and the 372 is one beneficiary. However the sections of 324 between Hornchurch and Romford and between Lakeside and Bluewater were not replaced, although Ensignbus has more recently re-launched the latter link as route X80.
Initial operation was on a temporary 18 month contract to Blue Triangle, and the 4 Darts were obtained from dealer stock. This probably explains why they are single door, despite being longish (10.7m) versions, which is very unusual for a TfL route. A new 5 year contract was awarded to blue Triangle from March 2004, which apparently specified that the vehicles should be converted to dual door, though this did not happen, perhaps because it was realised this would be rather a daft use of money!
The basic service at the outset was half hourly (hourly evenings and Sundays). I remarked on the previous version that the schedule appeared to be rather inefficient, with large quantities of layover, but not quite enough to save a bus, and that one extra bus would be sufficient to provide a 20 minute service. This increase in fact happened from 7 October 2006, just in time for the Christmas shopping season, along with an evening/Sunday increase to half hourly, but using two extra buses in the peaks, and thus still having just as much layover! However, after taking over, East London found that the running times were impossible, buses being scheduled at over 30mph average in places, and an extra 10 minutes was inserted in each direction.
As hinted above, the 372 gets very busy in the run-up to Christmas, and at one time it was common for journeys to be duplicated and/or double decked at the weekend using buses spare off the 248. Last year the route was boosted at weekends to every 15 minutes on the Saturday and every 20 minutes on the Sunday; it remains to be seen what will occur this year, as the 372 has been re-united with the 248 at Rainham garage, so double decking would be possible again!
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