diamond geezer

 Sunday, October 11, 2015

Last month there were three bus stops along my local bit of Bow Road.

Now there's only one.

Thanks cyclists, you did this.

Old Bus Stop M was incompatible with the Cycle Superhighway, blocking access to the segregated lane immediately before the Bow Roundabout, so had to die. Only the shelter now remains, barriered off and awaiting removal. Anyone who used to catch the bus here now has to walk 200 yards up the road to catch a bus, which is hardly the end of the world, but annoying all the same.

Bus Stop E was also incompatible with the Cycle Superhighway, there being insufficient space behind to carve a bus stop bypass, so had to die. On Wednesday the bus shelter was surrounded by barriers, but on Friday it was removed altogether. Workmen moved in to wrest it from the pavement, making good the paving slabs in its wake, and creating ample space for pedestrians for the first time in years. So thorough was their work that there's now no clue that a bus stop was ever here... apart from the words BUS STOP written in the road, and that won't last long once the Cycle Superhighway drives through.

Which would be the end of the story, indeed for passengers turning up to catch a bus it is. They all now head for New Bus Stop M, on the site of Old Bus Stop G, and nobody waits at Old Bus Stop E at all. But one outstanding issue remains, which is that the electronic information regarding New Bus Stop M is incorrect, and all because somebody took a cheeky administrative shortcut behind the scenes.

To explain the mess I need to go back a year. Back then every bus stopped at either Stop E or Stop G, and then every bus stopped at Stop M. Here's a list.

Old Bus Stop E (Bow Church): 8, 488
Old Bus Stop G (Bow Church): 25, 276, 425, D8, N205
Old Bus Stop M (Bow Flyover): 8, 25, 276, 425, 488, D8, N205

Today there's only one bus stop, and every bus stops at it. So it must have made sense to somebody somewhere to hang on to that bus stop, and its letter, and its timetables, and shift it 200 metres up the road.

New Bus Stop M (Bow Church): 8, 25, 276, 425, 488, D8, N205

Contractors were ordered to rip out the bus stop pole by the flyover and reinstate it by the church, remembering to change the nameplate (from Bow Flyover to Bow Church) in the process. None of the route number plates or timetables would need changing, and all the electronic "next bus" jiggery pokery would work too - it should have been the perfect easy option. Apart from three things.

Firstly, buses reach New Bus Stop M a minute earlier than they reached Old Bus Stop M. This means all the timetables are wrong, both at the stop and online, because nobody's bothered to adjust them. They're only a minute out, which you'd think ought to be no big deal. But this means app users who turn up when a bus is "due" will actually have missed it, because it'll already be a minute down the road. And there are accurate timetables, I know, because they were posted up at Bus Stop G when it stood in precisely the same spot in August. In a world of accurate data this smacks of slapdash inconsistency.

Secondly, if you're on board any bus heading east, the electronic display shows the wrong name for the stop. It should say 'Bow Church', but instead it says 'Bow Flyover', because that's the name in the database associated with the bus stop lettered M. This too suggests that somebody behind the scenes hasn't completed all the digital changes associated with the switchover.

Thirdly, and more awkwardly, route 25 stopped stopping at Old Bus Stop M back in March. TfL rerouted the 25 over the flyover to speed up the service, skipping Old Bus Stop M and the next bus stop on the other side of the roundabout in the process. They've since decided to make this rerouting permanent, and are currently running a box-ticking consultation to ensure this happens. But this diversion meant the list of bus routes stopping at Old Bus Stop M became one bus short, with the 25 deleted...

Old Bus Stop M (Bow Flyover): 8,     276, 425, 488, D8, N205

...and TfL's computer still thinks this is the case.

The 25 bus does stop at New Bus Stop M - it's the last stop before the flyover. But the 25 doesn't appear in the list of departures on TfL's webpage for Bus Stop M, even though all the other buses do. If you text '55457' to 87287 you get back a list of departures in which the 25 does not appear. In fact I believe it's impossible to get next bus information for route 25 at new Bus Stop M, whether you use the TfL website or an app, now that Bus Stops E and G have been electronically eliminated. And all because somebody somewhere decided it would be a smart idea to switch Old Bus Stop M 200 metres up the road, rather than retaining Bus Stop G and amending the routes served.

Nobody outside Bow cares, I know, but when you actually live here this stuff matters. It also matters that Old Bus Stop E used to have a Countdown display in its shelter, but new Bus Stop M doesn't, so the people of Bow Road are now making do with less information than they had before. And I haven't even started to tell you about the other problem with New Bus Stop M, namely the big gap in the middle. Once the lamppost stump is removed and the final barriers come down, I'll be back to tell all.

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