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Recent tendering in East London has unvolved an unusual amount of upheaval, with Go-Ahead winning work, First and Stagecoach losing some routes but gaining others, and Arriva on the whole coming out rather badly. Nonetheless Arriva has picked up one route, the short W11 linking Walthamstow with the suburbs to its immediate north. Initially elderly Dart SLFs displaced from other routes were used, but new E20D/Enviro200 single deckers have just been introduced, and ENS19 (LJ12 BZC) sets off from Walthamstow bus station on 5 July 2012.
|Photo © RNAM200 (Robert Mighton).|
The W11 is a product of the 1980s minibus revolution, initially providing a useful local link from the Billet Road area into Walthamstow town centre, also providing a bus through the Priory Court Estate for the first time. Initially London Forest ran the route with MCW MetroRiders, but its demise at the end of 1991 saw operation transferred to Thamesway, which drafted in some Mercedes minibuses from its Essex operations to cover.
In 1994, the route received a northwards extension from Billet Road to Chingford Hall Estate, off Chingford Mount Road. Despite this, the route remains quite short, with an end-to-end running time of around 20 minutes. Buses also deviated to serve the ground of the new Sainsbury’s store beside the Crooked Billet roundabout.
The W11 was one of a decreasing number of routes operated by Thamesway in Greater London, and by 1998 the company was in common ownership with Capital Citybus within FirstGroup. It was therefore decided, logically, to move the remaining routes (apart from the isolated 193), together with their Ponders End operating base, into the hands of First Capital. The Thamesway minibuses moved across to begin with, though the W11 gained new low floor Marshall Capital bodied Dart SLFs in 2000. Around the same time, in readiness for the closure of the remote Ponders End garage, the W11 was moved into the slightly closer base in Waterden Road, Hackney, leaving just routes 362 and 462 at Ponders End. Waterden Road itself closed to make way for the Olympics, with operations transferred to the nearby massive new Lea Interchange garage.
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