Hackney’s Rio misses the bus in Dalston

THE RIO Cinema has been fobbed off by Transport for London (TfL) over renaming two bus stops for the cinema.

More than two years ago it asked TfL to name the stops for the Rio, only to be told that the quango did not name stops for commercial outfits. Bus-stop names are commercially valuable.

The Rio asked supporters for evidence to the contrary and was getting nowhere. Loving Dalston suggested the admittedly obvious step of consulting a TfL online map, which would reveal names as brazenly commercial as Dorchester Hotel, Brent Cross Shopping Centre and the Nags (sic) Head.

A petition was circulated and presented to TfL. The Rio, probably the most fiercely defended cultural venue in Hackney, joyfully reported that London Buses had reconsidered its initial rejection “of our request to rename the bus stops adjacent to the Rio”.

The cinema had been told by bus big-shot Beverley Hall, who had the grandiloquent title “head of surface transport communications and engagement”: “The bus stops in question will be renamed ‘Rio Cinema’, most likely with the detail ‘Sandringham Road — Rio Cinema’ and ‘Shacklewell Lane — Rio Cinema’ to make the two stops more identifiable for those who are visiting the area and who may not be as familiar with the cinema as local bus users. [Apologies for not paraphrasing the Bollocks-speak. — Ed.]

Hackney Picturehouse Mare St Lon E8
New arts venue: the Attic in Hackney Picturehouse

“Our on-board audio and visual bus announcement system, iBus, will also be amended to reflect the name changes proposed. The change will take place as part of our on-going stop maintenance programme  [Ditto. — Ed.] and should be in place in a few weeks’ time.”

The Rio, naturally thinking the battle won, issued “sincere thanks to everyone who… expressed their support”.

That was in June 2010: the Rio signs should have appeared two years ago.

The Rio now says that things have since been “very quiet” so it has asked TfL what is happening and has had a reply.

The cinema adds: “It would seem that their promise still stands but for some reason it has not yet been actioned. We now have their reassurance that the bus stops will be renamed, once the Olympics and Paralympics are over.”

The lack of action may worry Rio fans. The Picturehouse, the Rio’s Mare Street rival, has quickly built an art-house following and, by staging screentalks, promotions (film companies, BBC Radio 1 and others), music and comedy is increasing it.

Would the Picturehouse have allowed itself to be held at bay so easily for so long?

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