diamond geezer

 Saturday, September 02, 2017

It's hard to slim down a bus network without people noticing.

TfL can't shorten a route or cancel one completely without a public consultation. But what they can do to a bus route, with utterly minimal fuss, is reduce its frequency.

They even have a phrase for it.

"To better match how often buses run with demand"

Cut the number of journeys that a bus makes and plenty of money can be saved. Fewer vehicles are required to run the service, fewer people need to be employed to drive the buses, and cheaper contracts with bus companies can be agreed. Even cutting just one bus an hour removes almost 10000 journeys a year, and that's a sizeable economy.

Today's a particularly good example of TfL cutting back bus services by stealth. Nine buses are having their frequencies cut, including two that go past my front door, which is why I have a particular interest. This table shows today's changes to normal daytime frequencies (or weekend frequencies for nightbuses).

RouteFrequency yesterdayFrequency todayCut in frequency
29every 5 minsevery 6 mins2 buses an hour
205every 7-8 minsevery 8 mins1 bus every 2 hours
269every 10 minsevery 12 mins1 bus an hour
488every 12 minsevery 15 mins1 bus an hour
H14every 8-9 minsevery 7-8 minsgain 1 bus an hour
N8every 7-8 minsevery 10 mins2 buses an hour
N29every 3-4 minsevery 8 mins8 buses an hour
N91every 15 minsevery 30 mins2 buses an hour
N98every 10 minsevery 15 mins2 buses an hour
N207every 7-8 minsevery 10 mins2 buses an hour

There are of course several good reasons for reducing bus frequencies, particularly if fewer passengers are using them. Greater congestion in central London slows traffic to a crawl and deters people from boarding buses. That may well be why routes 29 and 205 have been cut back. Better train services, for example the introduction of the Night Tube, divert passengers away from slower modes of transport. That may well explain the cull of nightbuses. It's clearly pointless maintaining high frequencies merely to transport empty seats around the capital, so cutting back makes sense, and the consequent financial savings are a happy by-product.

But that cut to the 488 looks a little more suspect. The 488's been running every 12 minutes since it began in 2008, on a minor route from Bromley-by-Bow to Clapton and then on to Dalston. Now suddenly it's dropping back to every 15 minutes, one less bus every hour, for no readily obvious reason. This only increases the average waiting time by 90 seconds, so most passengers won't even notice, but either the bus has been running too often for the last nine years or this is a cost saving.

It's not all bad news. Route H14 is increasing in frequency by one bus an hour, this out in the suburbs of Harrow, providing valuable additional outer London capacity. But the overall direction of change is frequency contraction.

For example this happened last month...

RouteFrequency beforeFrequency afterCut in frequency
5every 6-7 minsevery 7-8 mins1 bus an hour
N15every 7-8 minsevery 10 mins2 buses an hour
N41every 20 minsevery 30 mins1 bus an hour

...and this happened in July...

RouteFrequency beforeFrequency afterCut in frequency
14every 6-7 minsevery 8 mins1½ buses an hour
22every 7-8 minsevery 8 mins1 bus every 2 hrs
31every 6 minsevery 7-8 mins2 buses an hour
63every 5-6 minsevery 7-8 mins3 buses an hour
74every 8 minsevery 10 mins1½ buses an hour
253every 5-6 minsevery 6 mins1 bus an hour
384every 15 minsevery 20 mins1 bus an hour
C1every 10-11 minsevery 12 mins1 bus every 2 hrs
C11every 8 minsevery 10 mins1½ buses an hour

...and this happened in June.

RouteFrequency beforeFrequency afterCut in frequency
48every 8 minsevery 10 mins1½ buses an hour
176every 8 minsevery 10 mins1½ buses an hour
390every 8 minsevery 6 mins gain 2½ buses an hour
E3every 6 minsevery 7-8 mins2 buses an hour
N73every 12 minsevery 15 mins1 bus an hour

Route 390 is a special case because it's been extended to Victoria, and the additional journeys are replacing other buses diverted elsewhere. But overall the relentless underlying theme is "fewer buses", with 25 bus frequencies reduced over the past three months and only two increased.

Obviously it pays to provide a bus service which matches public demand, otherwise TfL are simply throwing public money away. If more people are travelling by train or tube or app-taxi, then running less frequent buses is surely fine. Most passengers won't even spot there aren't as many, so you could argue where's the harm?

However this isn't only about reduced demand, this is about cutting back and spending less. With money tight it must be better to cut frequencies than actual routes, so that a comprehensive bus network can be maintained across the capital. But it does feel as if a tipping point has been reached, and perhaps passed, with an increasing population now being served by fewer buses.

Meanwhile this is what's being cut back later in September...

RouteFrequency beforeFrequency afterCut in frequency
11every 7-8 minsevery 10 mins2 buses an hour
47every 10 minsevery 12 mins1 bus an hour
156every 8 minsevery 10 mins1½ buses an hour
210every 8 minsevery 10 mins1½ buses an hour
222every 8 minsevery 10 mins1½ buses an hour
345every 7-8 minsevery 8-9 mins1 bus an hour
391every 10-11 minsevery 12 mins1 bus an hour
N5every 10 minsevery 30 mins4 buses an hour
N16every 20 minsevery 30 mins1 bus an hour
N20every 10 minsevery 30 mins4 buses an hour

How many more buses will be stolen away before the general public notices?


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
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