diamond geezer

 Friday, March 31, 2017

As of today, every number up to 217 is the number of a London bus route.

But as of tomorrow, bus route 13 is being scrapped. And this means London will only have a bus route for every number up to 81.

Let me try to explain the magic trick that's been pulled.



The number 13 bus has been running from Golders Green to Aldwych since 1970 (and from Golders Green to central London since 1952). It runs via Finchley Road and Baker Street, before nipping down Oxford Street, then Regent Street, then round Trafalgar Square and up the Strand. It's been doing this for years. Tomorrow it won't be doing this any more.

When TfL first proposed scrapping route 13, in March 2015, there was uproar. Local residents got angry, local politicians kicked up a stink, petitions were raised, and over 3000 consultation responses were received. You can't scrap a much loved bus route, they said, we love our 13 and we use it a lot. [consultation 2015]

Stop panicking, said TfL, we know what we're doing. Bus route 82 already runs along the majority of this route, indeed all the way from Golders Green to Baker Street, so you can catch that instead. What's more the 82 starts in North Finchley, which is better, and it goes to Victoria, which is still in the West End, so what's the problem? Having said that, we do recognise that this change is contentious, so we won't scrap route 13 after all, we'll go away and have a think.

So TfL went away for about a year, and had a think, and last July they came back with a cunning plan. [consultation 2016]

What we're going to do, they said, is extend the starting point for route 13 back to North Finchley, and divert it to Victoria at the southern end. This way we haven't scrapped a much loved bus route, we've made it better. And then we're going to scrap route 82 instead.



There was again a furore, though not quite such a large one. Local residents were angry, local MPs complained, and one politician gathered a petition with 1870 signatures. We see what you've done, they said. You're planning to rename the 82 bus the ‘13’, and then remove the 13 bus route by stealth. It's exactly the same plan as before, but with the numbers swapped.

Ha, said TfL when the consultation closed. Only 32% of you supported or partially supported our proposal to extend route 13 to North Finchley and re-route the service from Aldwych to Victoria. And only 26% of you supported or partially supported our proposal to withdraw route 82. But we're going to do it anyway.

TfL said their proposals "were made in light of a significant and sustained change in passenger demand, and were designed to better match demand to capacity." They said their proposals "were designed to help ensure our financial resources were being used in the best way possible." And they said their proposals "took into consideration recent improved services on the Tube and London Overground, the forthcoming introduction of the Elizabeth line and the introduction of the one-hour “Hopper” bus fare, which has proved incredibly popular."

Basically TfL said they can't go running empty buses where they're not needed, there isn't the money. Also they said they'd reinvest the money in other bus services in outer London that are well used. But mainly they said it's now free to change buses, thanks to the “Hopper”, so even if you have to change buses it won't cost you extra. Expect to hear a lot more of these three arguments over the years to come.

And the end result is that the number 13 bus route is being scrapped, but the number 13 route number isn't. What's called bus route 82 today will be bus route 13 tomorrow.

TfL aren't admitting that this is what they've done, they're playing the game of pretending that route 13 has been extended at one end and diverted at the other. If you go to the Bus service changes webpage - a recent innovation - you'll see they still claim that...
Route 82 no longer runs.
Route 13 is extended from North Finchley and rerouted at Oxford Street to Victoria to replace it.
I should point out that TfL will be increasing the frequency of route 13/82 from once every eight minutes to once every six minutes, so the total number of buses hasn't plummeted and it should still be possible to get on board at peak times. I should also point out that there will also be tweaks to routes 113, 139 and 189, which I haven't gone on about here. But the overall effect is a cut in peak frequencies on Finchley Road from 27 buses an hour to 22, whilst maintaining the illusion that the number 13 bus still exists.

I took a ride on the doomed number 13 bus earlier this week. I saw no information on any bus stops about the change, save in the bus shelter at Golders Green where the bus currently starts. The electronic displays inside the bus gave regular reminders to check tfl.gov.uk/buschanges, but didn't tell anyone without a smartphone what the upcoming changes actually were. The Men Who Change The Tiles had been out early - too early - removing 82s from numerous bus stops and replacing them with shiny new 24-hour 13s. And I had a nice ride, to start with at least.

All the way to Baker Street the journey on the 13 bus was fairly smooth. Even Oxford Street was fine (it's worth pointing out that one of the reasons the 13 is being scrapped is to ease congestion here). But Regent Street was a nightmare, a snail's pace jam of red buses, and most of these I noted were pretty much empty. Indeed when we finally reached the Strand, I observed that three consecutive number 13 buses going the other way had no passengers on them at all. This is another reason why the West End end of the number 13's route is being scrapped - there are far too many buses in central London moving too slowly with too few people on board.

The number 13 bus was doomed in this modern cost-cutting climate because it did nothing unique. North of Selfridges it was shadowed perfectly by the 82, and east of Selfridges it was shadowed perfectly by the 6, the 23 and the 139. Why run a bus that merely copies others, especially now changing buses is free?

That's why the number 13 bus route is being scrapped tomorrow. And devious scheming is why the number 82 dies instead.




<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream