LIVE: As London’s bus drivers strike, keep updated with what’s happening in the EastLondonLines area

East London bus garage today Pic: Richard Gough

In spite of a last minute injunction covering three bus companies, today’s bus strike has gone ahead with up to three quarters of all routes affected by strike action. The drivers, all members of the Unite union are demanding extra pay for working during the Olympic period.

Follow our LIVE reporting for news as it happens around the EastLondonLines area, which has been badly affected. Picket lines are outside garages in Bow, New Cross and other areas, while long queues have built up at bus stops by those hopeful that some buses will still be running.

There are more than 8,000 buses and 70 depots in the capital. Unite said that pickets had been set up and the strike was “well supported” by workers at the 17 bus operators involved in the stoppage.

Unite says it would cost £14m to provide a £500 bonus for every bus driver pointing out that workers at Heathrow Express are already getting £700, Network Rail £500, Docklands Light Railway £900, London Overground £600 and London Underground at least £850

London Mayor Boris Johnson has called the strike “extremely frustrating” and accused Unite of using it as a ‘political tool’.

Although many Underground and Overground lines have been busier than normal, services are still running frequently and the East London Line of the Overground is unaffected.

Further details of all services can be found on the Transport for London website here.

You can Tweet us with your news and pictures from around to area to @eastlondonlines with #busstrike or email us on

Our LIVE reporting starts here:

5.00: Latest reports suggest that despite widespread action, almost a third of all London’s bus routes have been running but that there has certainly been a huge amount of disruption for travellers in and around the EastLondonLines area. Although TfL have been promising an update for several hours, none has been forthcoming, but here is the link again to the Tfl website: 

It is time for ELL to sign off for now, so good luck with your journey home and keep those Tweets coming in.

4.30: Some links to reports and pictures in the London Evening Standard on the strike:

4.20 Our reporter Celine Chaplinhas been in Croydon today, where she took this picture:

Croydon bus depot. Pic Celine Chaplin


Celine Chaplin also spoke to drivers at the South London Bus Depot in Croydon, which is run by Aviva.

Paul Watt, union representative said: ‘’What I would say to the people who use buses and can’t today is to kindly remember, every time the Underground has failure, or goes on strike or closes a station for overcrowding or staff shortages, who carries them? We do. When the riots kicked off in Croydon and other areas of London who stayed out there and did their best to get people out of the affected danger areas, at risk to themselves? We did.

‘’This is the first time since 1982 that bus drivers across the whole of London have decided to make a stand because we feel we have been treated as second class citizens for far too long. And I hope the public can understand that.

‘’If you’re going to give a bonus to the Underground, Overground, DLR, Heathrow Express, people who clean the trains, don’t the london bus drivers deserve a share of that cake? If you’re going to give something to all the other groups then we have a claim.’’

Joseph Brennan, a driver said: ‘’When I heard that the Underground drivers were getting a bonus, frankly I thought that wasn’t fair. I don’t think their workload is going to change that much. A full bus is a lot harder to drive. You have the lives of 80-90 people in your hands, so you have to concentrate really hard and it’s tiring and emotionally draining to do this.’’

Teresa, (who declined to give her second name) also a driver, said: ‘’I don’t care what the bonus amount is. It could be £500 or £1. I’m striking here because of what’s been happening the past few years. I’ve been a bus driver for ten years and our pay has been frozen, our working conditions have changed so that the average working week is 60 hours and not 37.’’

4.15: See Busworker blogspot, a forum for bus worker trade unionists, for their reaction to today’s strike as well as proposed future action.

4.00: Here is an update Tweet from LBC 97.3@lbc973 on the situation around London:

”As rush hour gets underway during the #busstrike, 37% of buses are running. Here’s the full list of routes still going:

3.45: A Tweet from Croydon feed@Croydonfeed:

”#busstrike #Croydon #Metrobus staff on the picket line lots of support frm passers by 

3.30: The Guardian has interviewed some strikers:

3.15: EastLondonLines reporter Emma Marvin has been out talking to pickets and members of the public around New Cross. Here are some of the things they told her:

3.05 Our reporter Lauren Buljubasic has been talking to some union leaders and members at New Cross garage. The Unite Branch Secretary at New Cross, Chris Jeffrey (on far right in picture below) said: “Certainly in this garage it be a bit of a wider issue. It is not just about the Olympics bonus.” At New Cross garage 90 per cent of buses are still in the garage, he said.

Pickets at New Cross today Pic: Lauren Buljubasic

Dougie McDonald, 36, Catford, another union representative at New Cross said: “It’s been 30 years since bus drivers have struck across London” All of the other transport services received the bonus but bus drivers didn’t, that’s not fair. We provide transport just like train drivers so why are we ignored? We wanted to talk back in December but no one wanted to talk to us until Wednesday when we announced the strike.”

And Barry O’Grady, 46, had this to say: “It is pretty terrible what they do to us here. I’m surprised no one has come in and put a bomb in the building from years ago the way they treat people here is absolutely disgusting. I’m 46 and I’ve been working since I was 16, and I’ve had a lot of jobs working in different environments and this has got to be the worst working environment I have ever worked in. It’s the kind of job you have to do to see how difficult it is. I take my hat off to these drivers. They deserve a medal.”

Barry O'Grady

“I personally believe we will achieve nothing at all except for the £500 because I am personally surprised that we are striking for this. I would rather we had been striking for something else like 2P regulations or conditions” He explained that 2P regulations govern the fact that if a route goes up for tender and another garage wins it, the driver must move to the other garage, to another company, and it can be over 50 miles away.”

“Most people don’t understand, and to a certain degree why should they know these things. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve been spat at. The last time was when I arrived at a bus stop a minute early and there weren’t many people on the bus and an old bloke got on and starting swearing and spat at me. It just shocks you what you see as a bus driver.”




3.00 And here is a blog in support of the strikers:

2.50 Meanwhile, here is another side to London’s buses, thanks to Hackney blogger @KatyEvansBush who has alerted us to this rather lovely blog, which describes the efforts of a group of London ladies to ride every bus route in the capital. Katy’s own blog is here

2.45: A online poll on the Huffington Post reveals that 57 per cent of respondents do not support the bus strike. You can read the full post here

2.30 And here is more from Kavanagh:

“The strike should be a wake up call to the bus companies and TfL. They now need to negotiate meaningfully about rewarding bus workers for the massive increase in workload they will face over the Olympics.” Read the full statement here

2.18: Evening Standard reporter Peter Dominiczak@peterdominiczak Tweets: Unite’s Peter Kavanagh: “Further action will be bigger if TfL and the bus operators continue to bury their head in the sand.” #busstrike

1.30: Some images from around our area:

New Cross bus stop Pic: Lauren Buljubasic

Pickets at New Cross today Pic: Lauren Buljubasic

Norwood garage. Pic: Unite

Thorton Heath garage. Pic: Unite

And one that is not, but its such a good picture of an unfamiliar Oxford Street, we thought we would share it with ELL readers:

Oxford Street this morning. Pic: Rebecca Williams


1.15 Reporter Leila Zerai has sent these interviews with union representatives from Bow garage:


Strikers at Bow. Pic: Unite

Bow garage today Pic: Leila Zerai

1.00: Our reporter Leila Zerai has been talking to people in Tower Hamlets about how they are affected by strike:

Liane Small, 37, an administrator, who lives in Bow said: “I agree with the bus strikers. They will have a lot more on their plate during the Olympics. It doesn’t really affect me as I can just walk to work. I’ve just walked past them now round the corner. I think they are justified in what they are doing.’’

Andy Little, 33, said: ‘’I’ve not really been affected by the bus strikes today. I just took the DLR to work. I’m not entirely sure whether they are justified in what they are doing. Thet are paid to drive a bus at the end of the day, whether it is full or empty.”

Jeanette Tew, 53, an airline sales representative from Berkshire said: ‘’I don’t live in London, I’m just visiting, but I did check out what was happening before travelling down today. They bus drivers are the same as everyone else, and I’m not being paid any extra during the Olympics. I don’t think that they are justified in what they are doing.”

12.45: The strike has not been all bad news – some Londoners have profited from today. Our reporter Mario Seisdedos has been talking to Dominic Aybun, 40, the manager of a Hackney mini-cab office: “The bus strike has been good for business and we have received a lot of calls.” He added: “I understand they want more money. It’s going to take longer to go from A to B. Buses will be packed down and the traffic is going to be horrible. Black cabs will be more expensive as well, because it will take them longer and consume more petrol, so charges will go up.”

But others are not so happy: One woman, G. Viskin, 63, retired and from Hackney said: “The strike has been very inconvenient. I suffer from asthma and struggle to walk. But I support them. Everyone is getting extra money for the Olympic Games, so why shouldn’t they do too?”

Also in Hackney, Mario Seisdedos, talked to Ozy, 37, chair of the Clapton branch of Unite, who said he did not want to give his second name. He said: “We ask for 500 pounds net and 100 pounds extra for every time we strike. The strikes will continue until we get what we want and there are already talks for another strike, but the timing has not been confirmed yet. None remember the last strike we went on, because we never do it and what we are asking for is reasonable.”

12.30: Our reporter Rahat Mustafa has this statement from London’s Transport Commissioner Peter Hendy:

“It is now clear that the leadership of Unite were intent on a strike all along. They have pursued this unnecessary course of action despite an extra £8.3m being brokered by the Mayor that would allow every bus driver in London in a garage where one or more routes were affected by the 2012 Games to gain, over the 29 days of the competitions, about £500.

“Despite additional offers to supplement this from the bus companies the Unite leadership have refused to defer the strike to give time for further negotiations or for any of the offers to be put to their members. I’m sorry that Londoners are therefore going to be disrupted today. “

12.20 Here is a list of all the firms affected

  • London United
  • London Sovereign
  • Stagecoach East
  • Stagecoach Rainham
  • Stagecoach Selkent
  • Arriva North
  • Arriva South
  • First Capital
  • First Centre West
  • London Central
  • Abellio West
  • Abellio South
  • Metrobus
  • Docklands
  • Blue Triangle
  • CT Plus
  • Arriva Southern Counties

12.15: sufian ahmed ‏@paktographer has Tweeted this picture of  Mare Street garage in Hackney:

12.05: The BBC have been reporting on scenes in Hackney, noting that ‘tempers were distinctly frayed as dozens of people mobbed a single bus stop.’

Here is the report:

11.49: Tom Edwards ‏@BBCTomEdwards Tweets:

”No buses going in or out of this depot in East London. Drivers extremely angry – not going to back down. #busstrike

11.30: BBC London Travel ‏@BBCTravelAlert Tweets:

”#busstrike some more figures: currently 35% of buses running. Arriva usually have just over one thousand buses on the road- today 129.”

11.00: Our East London Lines reporter Ines O’ Gorman has been talking to local Unite members outside the New Cross garage this morning:

Outside the garage, a group of over twenty Lewisham-based drivers waved banners and help signs up reading “Fair Play 4 Bus Pay”.

Local Unite union leader, Jimmy Clifferoe, said: “The aim of the strike is fair play for the bus drivers.”

Clifferoe explained: “With the amount of the people we are going to carry extra during the Olympics, the amount of revenue they [TFL] are going to earn through us, they’ve given it to all the train drivers, the tube drivers and everyone else, so we and our union think we are entitled to five hundred pounds.”

Buses that did pull out of the Lewisham depot where greeted by angry jeers and chants of “Judas, Judas!” from the pickets.

Clifferoe believes there will be another strike if their demands aren’t met: “What we’ve been told from our union is that there will be another strike. Hopefully something can be done, they can get together and rectify the situation.”

10.30: Jorge Martin posted this picture on Twitter with the message: “Bow garage picket line, #busstrike solid in East London, way to go.”

‏@EEHresident tells us: ” No buses in Mile End E3 – 25 205 323 277 D7 D6 339 – bus stand empty the #bustrike solid in the east.”

Dolores ‏@iloverugbyboys Tweets: “There is a 75 bus going past my house only to Catford though not to Lewisham as usual”.

8.30: Thanks to  @emilyfordham: #busstrike @eastlondonlines update for Lewisham peeps… I’ve seen a 199, 436, 261, 75 and a 321 running. Hope that helps!

Thanks to Tom Rogers who Tweeted us that the 343 from Peckham to City Hall and 344 from Elephant and Castle seems to be running.

But Ewa Jasiewicz ‏@ewajasiewicz told us: Walworth bus depot shut down – blockaded. Solid pickets. Only 18 out of 70 buses managed to get out. Buoyant pickets.

A Tweet at 8.25 suggests that Croydon is not doing well: Steve Quarshie ‏@SteveQuarshie: “The strike is for pay over the olympics, you’re driving in south croydon no where near fucking east london or the olympics..”

However @Traceyrauf tweets that the Croydon trams are working.

There is a fair amount of positive comment about the strike on Twitter. For example read Adam Michael’s blog in support of the action.

7.35: Tweet from Linda_Marric  says 73 and 67 are running from Stoke Newington.

TFL says that  30 per cent of buses are un- affected this morning so its worth checking your bus before you leave. However TFL bus updates are only providing very general information. Tweet at @eastlondonlines to let us know how your bus route is affected.

TFL list of buses not affected by strike- but none of them are in the EastLondonline boroughs.

TFL has said that you cannot use the bus lanes – even if there are no buses.

Bus passes being accepted on: Tube, DLR, London Overground and Greater Anglia according to BBC travel alert.

Tweet from New Cross suggests that buses are thin on the ground: “Due ther bus strike, I’ve had to walk frm new cross 2 elephant…” Alex M.

@therubykid tweets that there are no 25 or 205 buses on Mile End or Bow Rd.

@MustafaHassanA tells us on Twitter that the only buses working in the East of London are 357 and W16.

7.20 pm: Thursday

According to a BBC report   Arriva, Metroline and London General  companies had applied for injunctions.

In the east of London it seems likely that the strike will go ahead as planned. A Tweet from the Unite London and Eastern branch union last night said: “Unite members are still taking strike action across 17 of the 20 bus companies in London tomorrow.”

Hendy continued: “It is, and always has been, for the bus companies and Unite to resolve this dispute. Given their inability to do so, the Mayor obtained – unprecedentedly – £8.3m from the Olympic Delivery Authority. This would allow every bus driver in London in a garage where one or more routes were affected by the 2012 Games to gain, over the 29 days of the competitions, about £500.

“As I understand it, the bus companies made three offers to supplement this with more of their own money, but the Unite leadership have refused to budge from their position of £500 after tax for everybody, and indeed have asked for more during the course of the negotiations. The union leadership have also refused to defer the strike to give time for further negotiations or for any of the offers to be put to their members.

“The Mayor has made it clear that the money he obtained from the ODA is only available if there is no strike. Our message to London’s bus drivers tonight is – you should work normally tomorrow and, if you do, the extra money brokered by the Mayor is still available.

The Rail union (RMT) has also  warned  of a “massive impact” on services on Friday as millions of passengers try to find alternative means of travel as a result of the bus workers strike.

They have suggested that, if congestion gets too bad as a result of the strike, it may be necessary to close tube stations for “health and safety reasons”.

We will be updating you on travel arrangements tomorrow so watch out for our Tweets and come back to the site for updates.



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