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Route 58 started out to replace the 685/687 trolleybuses between Walthamstow Crooked Billet and Canning Town, via Blackhorse Lane, Leyton, Cann Hall Road, Forest Gate, Green Street and Plaistow (although the 687 ran via Upton Lane, covered instead by the 278 and now 325). Both ends of this original 58 route have subsequently been altered to provide new links and make the route a bit shorter at the same time.
First to go was the northern section beyond St. James Street, which was transferred to new route 158 (Chingford Mount – Stratford) and which parallels the 58 between St. James Street and Leyton. The 58 was diverted via Selborne Road to join the increasing number of buses terminating at Walthamstow Central. Initially this arrangement applied only during the day on Mondays to Saturdays, with the evening and Sunday service remaining in its old form as route 58A, but this has now been standardised.
More recently, in the 1993 Newham area scheme to be precise, the 58 was altered at Upton Park to run to East Ham instead of Canning Town, replacing the middle section of route 162 (Wanstead – Forest Gate – Upton Park – East Ham – Barking – Mayesbrook Park). Links between Forest Gate, Upton Park and Canning Town have been maintained by new route 330.
In March 2005 a major re-tendering exercise in the Walthamstow area saw route 58 awarded to First Capital; Stagecoach gained route 97 instead, which seems more economical as the 97 passes Leyton garage, where the 58 previously ran from, while the 58 doesn't. The buses on the two routes, all Tridents, were simply swapped; Stagecoach used long wheelbase Alexander bodied examples while First used short wheelbase Plaxton bodied ones. First also have extra generous legroom specification, meaning a reduction by 8 seats overall on the 58 (and corresponding gain on the 97). To compound matters, the Saturday service, which is apparently extremely busy with shoppers for both Walthamstow and Green Street, was reduced from 6 to 5 buses an hour!
The contract was retained in the March 2010 tenders with an improved frequency, with buses running every 10 minutes during Monday to Saturday daytimes (as called for on this page 5 years ago!). The evening and Sunday service had already been increased to every 15 minutes in 2005. This time new buses were specified, and First have put in the new B9TL model from Volvo. First took mostly Dennis chassis in London until recently, but has been leading the orders for the new B9TL, specifying Wright Gemini 2 bodywork. Confusingly the type code is the same as earlier Plaxton President bodied B7TLs – the V denotes chassis manufacturer, but N simply means "low floor double decker;" an optional third letter to distinguish bodywork or other features has not been used. VN37829 sets off from Walthamstow Central bus station on Wednesday 10 March 2010.
|Photo © Brian Creasey.|
One other retrograde step with the 2005 tenders was the withdrawal of the night service on the 58. Five new night routes were introduced at Leyton garage on 8 April 2001, one of which was the N58 (also routes N55, N69, N101 and N106). All four of the suburban routes were very quiet to start with, with most of the activity at night being away in the West End. The N101 was the first to be dropped, and the 58 also lost its night service at the end of the contract (the N prefixes having been dropped by then). However, it is reported that loadings had been picking up quite well, especially at weekends! The N106 has also been withdrawn, but the 69's night service survives albeit that the 69 itself has been shortened.
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