diamond geezer

 Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Hurrah, this is yet another post about three bus stops on Bow Road.



Because yesterday, at last, everything got sorted out. Apart from the things that didn't.

Nothing new happened on Sunday.
No change. Still a total organisational mess with passengers running from one stop to the other, and buses stopping mostly at G, sometimes at E, and occasionally at both.
And nothing had happened by daybreak on Monday.
A lady waiting at Bus Stop E looks up at the sign reading ALL BUSES STOP HERE and wonders why the last three didn't.
But on Monday morning, official things started to happen. I know this because somebody called Ray left a comment telling me all about it.
DG, your blogs WERE read by TfL and things started happening this morning.

I arrived to have a look at 11.45 and a guy in a TfL hi-viz was there to have a meeting at midday with a couple of people from the Cycle Superhighway project. While he was waiting, I mentioned Diamond Geezer and his somewhat lengthy reply made it plain that you were the reason that he was there. He explained that the Cycle Superhighway people have been doing work ahead of the date that had been agreed and scheduled, with the result that TfL were not aware when changes had been made around bus stops. Judging by the vehemence of his explanations and his determination to show that TfL were in no way at fault, it would seem that your blogs have been rattling around the command structure.

The Cycle Superhighway people arrived at midday and I left, as it had started raining. Hopefully, if you check this evening, the problems with the bus stops will have been sorted.
I arrived home after dark, and I was delighted to see that changes had indeed been made.

Stop E


Two very important things have happened here. Firstly the temporary bus stop sign on the lamppost has been removed, so there's no longer a roundel with the message ALL BUSES STOP HERE to lure in passengers. And secondly a proper 'Bus stop closed' sign has appeared. It's yellow, and proper, and stuck to the bus shelter so it's legible from within and without. We at last have conclusive proof that Bus Stop E is intended to be closed, and if the Cycle Superhighway upgrade continues as planned, it'll never open again. So that's all clear.

Not everybody's noticed yet, of course. You'd think a 'Bus stop closed' sign would be pretty unequivocal, indeed it's hard to do much more to get the message across. But some people are still waiting at what used to be Bus Stop E through passenger inertia, because it's been a bus stop for years, and for the last six weeks it's been the only bus stop hereabouts. And whilst it'd be good to think that people only wait where they see a bus stop sign, in fact they'll happily wait wherever they see a bus shelter, and it'll be a while before that's physically removed. But I was surprised to see a few buses still stopping at ex-Bus Stop E - during the couple of minutes I was there a 25 pilled in followed immediately by a 276. Perhaps a bus stop isn't truly closed until someone tells all the drivers... or perhaps the drivers are simply being thoughtful in rescuing passengers who shouldn't have been waiting there in the first place.

Stop G (or is it M?)
Where once there were three bus stops, now there's only one. Bus Stop G is the great survivor, mothballed for six weeks so that a bus stop bypass could be carved out behind, and now mostly unveiled in linear island form. Only one change took place at Bus Stop G yesterday, which was a tweak to the timetables on display. You'll remember that the pole for Bus Stop G has been recycled from Bus Stop M down the road, where the buses were the same except that route 25 didn't stop. So the important change has been to remove the yellow notices stating that 'Route 25 is diverted and will not be serving this stop', revealing the timetable for route 25 underneath. This is all good.

But everything else that's on display here is simply what was on display down the road uprooted. The pole says M on top instead of G. The timetables are very definitely those for the Bow Flyover stop rather than Bow Church - no more than a minute out, but technically inaccurate. And nobody's altered the 'next bus information' panel at the top of the pole, so if you text '55457' to 87287 you still get the next bus information for the bus stop by the flyover, where the 25 didn't stop, and so whose services do not appear. I'll return to this mysterious G/M dilemma shortly.

Stop M


Meanwhile down by the flyover, as suspected, the former Bus Stop M appears to have absolutely definitely closed. A 'Bus stop closed' sign has been pasted up on the bus shelter, the same as at Bus Stop E, to warn passengers that there is no point in waiting here... even though the occasional bus still stops. More importantly, a proper individualised notice has gone up too, officially printed with specific information. It too says 'Bus stop closed.' It gives an actual start date, which is Monday 5th October, despite the fact the stop's been dormant for over a week. It says the closure is 'until further notice', which is the polite way of saying forever, because Cycle Superhighway plans require that it never reopens. And that's the niggle-free part of the notice.

The remainder isn't quite so helpful. Underneath the headline somebody's printed out a list of what they think are the affected bus routes, namely the 25, 276, 425, D8 and N205. But unfortunately they've missed two routes out, namely the 8 (which has stopped here since the 1980s) and the 488 (which has stopped here since 2008). The list of affected routes would be correct if this was Bus Stop G and it was last year, but it's not, and so the list is 28% incomplete. The notice then goes on to advise passengers to use the bus stop on Bow Road at Bromley High Street, which is not a helpful way of describing the location, indeed it suggests what whoever wrote the notice has never been here. And most importantly the notice tells passengers, indeed urges passengers, to please use Bus Stop M.

Hang on, this is Bus Stop M! The bus stop pole always used to have an M on it. If you look at the bus map in the bus shelter it very definitely describes this stop as Bus Stop M. If you head to the TfL website, Bus Stop M is still this stop, the bus stop by the flyover. And yet - as we've seen - what used to be Bus Stop G up the road now has an M on top, so maybe that's the new Bus Stop M, even though the TfL website still thinks it's G. Perhaps the final outcome of this major bus stop reshuffle is that bus stops E and M have closed, and Bus Stop G has survived but been renamed M.

And by this point you might think I'm merely quibbling, but there is a reason why this matters. TfL are currently running a consultation regarding the rerouting of route 25 over the Bow Flyover which will involve the skipping of certain stops. In that consultation they clearly state that route 25 will no longer be serving Bus Stop M, but will continue to serve Bus Stop G, indeed there's even a helpful map showing where bus stops G (Bow Church) and M (Bow Flyover) are. But the consultation no longer matches the situation on the ground, where M is G or G is M and the old M no longer exists, or something, my brain is quietly throbbing at this point.

It's also made clear that Bus Stop M will be closing later this year, which (if it's the old M) it already has, and (if it's the new M) it had better not. Whichever is actually the case, there's now an official consultation giving entirely contradictory information to reality, or a reality giving entirely contradictory information to what's intended, it's hard to be sure. And the consultation still has ten days to run. I hope that somebody can clarify which stop's actually called what before the deadline passes.

Sorry, I never meant to write four long posts about three bus stops you'll probably never use. But I hope it's been illuminating to see how poor communication and poorly thought-out processes can impact on bus users in unanticipated ways. It's amazing how long a misinformation issue can go unnoticed, with the travelling public inevitably the losers. Equally it's been encouraging to see the bus companies, Cycle Superhighway contractors and TfL management finally talking to each other, and if this blog gave that a nudge, then hurrah. I don't think the situation's yet sorted, and there are still some illogical inconsistencies in labelling and in the provision of customer information. But give it a few days and I suspect Bow's bus passengers will finally work out where they ought to be standing, as if none of this ever happened.


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