diamond geezer

 Wednesday, October 14, 2015

This is yet another post about three bus stops on Bow Road...

...becoming one.

Last week the last remains of Old Bus Stop E were removed, and this week Old Bus Stop M's gone the same way.

With both superfluous bus shelters removed, only one bus stop remains, and passengers cannot possibly be confused as to where to wait. And wait in the right place they do, so that's no longer the issue. The issue remains what the one remaining bus stop is called.

We now know for definite what the new bus stop is called, because yesterday TfL updated their consultation on diverting route 25 permanently over the flyover. They added a big extra chunk of text at the top, confirming that Old Bus Stops E and M are dead and Old Bus Stop G is indeed new Bus Stop M, and extended the consultation's closing date by a fortnight.
Update - 13 October 2015

Changes to Bow Church and Bow Flyover bus stops

As a result of the Cycle Superhighway 2 upgrade, bus stop M (Bow Flyover) is now closed and bus stops E and G at Bow Church have been amalgamated into one stop, which has been re-designated as bus stop M.

Route 25 will continue to serve this new stop M, as will all other routes that previously served stops E and G. These changes do not affect the proposals for route 25.
Nothing changes the proposals for route 25, whose permanent diversion will still go ahead, indeed is already in place and has been since March. Closing one bus stop and renaming another doesn't materially change the outcome of the consultation at all. But that renaming continues to be only skin deep, in a way which does affect passengers on route 25 and will continue to do so until fixed.

Nobody on the ground gives a damn about the letter stuck on top of the bus stop pole. The fact this bus stop used to say G but now says M is irrelevant to passengers waiting for a bus. The fact that the bus stop two hundred metres down the road used to be called M, and now this stop is, is also irrelevant. The fact that all bus stop M's timetables are one minute out, because they've been physically relocated from the flyover, is of no interest whatsoever. Everyone just gets on the bus when it comes, and everything's much as before.

But the electronic systems underlying the re-designation are bust. The entire switcheroo was most probably based on the idea that moving bus stop pole M up the road provided the simplest underlying digital transition, but things haven't quite worked out like that.

To explain, I need to list what the iBus system has been saying about each of the three bus stops during the transition period. Starting back in January when everything was normal.

January 2015 IDLocationRoutes stopping
Old Bus Stop E50834Bow Church8, 488
Old Bus Stop G77309Bow Church25, 276, 425, D8, N205
Old Bus Stop M 55457  Bow Flyover 8, 25, 276, 425, 488, D8, N205 

For example, an eastbound number 25 bus would have stopped first at stop G (by the church), then at stop M (by the flyover), then continued round the roundabout. If only this had stayed the case, we'd have no issues today.

But instead in the spring it was decided to divert route 25 across the flyover, to catch up time lost to Cycle Superhighway works back near Aldgate. This meant missing out stop M, so the iBus data ended up like this instead.

April 2015 IDLocationRoutes stopping
Old Bus Stop E 50834 Bow Church8, 488
Old Bus Stop G77309Bow Church25, 276, 425, D8, N205
Old Bus Stop M 55457  Bow Flyover 8, 276, 425, 488, D8, N205      

Over the spring and summer each eastbound number 25 bus stopped only at stop G (by the church), then skipped stop M (by the flyover) before flying over the roundabout. If you asked the TfL website or an app for a list of departures at stop M, buses on route 25 never appeared - quite rightly, because they were no longer stopping.

Now let's jump ahead to this month. Old Bus Stop E is closed so TfL have deleted it from the database, and querying it now generates an empty list of departures. Old Bus Stop M also closed, but TfL didn't delete it from their database, they deleted old Bus Stop G instead. They could have chosen to add route 8 and route 488 to Bus Stop G and everything would have worked perfectly, but no. Instead they re-designated what had been G as M, because that looked like the least work, and transferred across the existing list of bus routes. But somebody forgot about the flyover diversion, and they've continued to forget about it for well over a week.

This is what the current real life situation is.

October 2015 IDLocationRoutes stopping
New Bus Stop M 55457  Bow Church 8, 25, 276, 425, 488, D8, N205 

But this is what TfL's database thinks it is.

October 2015 IDLocationRoutes stopping
New Bus Stop M 55457  Bow Flyover 8, 276, 425, 488, D8, N205      

And now we have our disconnect.

So there are two main issues. The first issue is that, according to TfL's database, route 25 no longer stops at Bow Church, even though it does. If you get out your favourite app to see what's stopping here, it says the 25 isn't. If you text '55457' to 87287 you get back a list of departures in which the 25 does not appear. If you want to check when the next number 25 bus is due, you can't, and all because somebody chose to delete bus stop G rather than bus stop M.

And the second issue is that, if you're a passenger aboard a bus, the next stop appears wrongly named. Approaching Bow Church on a 276 or 425 you ought to see 'Bow Church' on the electronic display, but you don't, you see 'Bow Flyover' instead. The iBus system remembers what Old Bus Stop M was called, which is not what New Bus Stop M ought to be called, so flashes up the wrong name instead.

And these two issues combine in one glorious failure if you try to ride a 25 bus eastbound along Bow Road. If you get on at Bow Church DLR station then the list of consecutive stops ought to read as follows...
Bow Church Station
Bow Church

(whizz across the flyover)
Warton Road
But TfL's database no longer includes a stop at 'Bow Church', only at 'Bow Flyover', where the 25 (as you'll remember) doesn't stop. So the onboard display thinks the stops are...
Bow Church Station
(whizz across the flyover)
Warton Road
which is just plain wrong. If you board a 25 at Bow Church station the next stop is now given as 'Warton Road', which is three quarters of mile distant, even though the bus will in fact be stopping at Bow Church inbetween. Passengers on board hoping to alight must be mystified by the error. I could add to the confusion by pointing out that Warton Road is also designated Bus Stop M, which means there are two consecutive stops with the same letter, but that'd be a mere sideshow, so probably best I don't.

TfL appear to be intent on calling Old Bus Stop G New Bus Stop M, despite the electronic balls-up this redesignation has wrought. In which case all somebody needs to do is a) rename the stop 'Bow Church' instead of 'Bow Flyover' b) add the 25 to the list of buses that stop here. In an organisation that prides itself on agile digital development, how difficult could that be?

I have my fingers crossed. I mean, imagine how nice it would be to fire up this blog in the morning without the fear I might have written about those bloody Bow Road bus stops again.

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