diamond geezer

 Tuesday, October 03, 2017

London has the finest public transport network in the world. But that doesn't stop us moaning about it, disregarding all the great bits and grumbling instead. So yesterday I took a swift efficient multi-modal journey around east London - something I simply wouldn't have been able to undertake in any other part of the country. And all I'm going to do is gripe about it, ungrateful traveller that I am.

Bus Stop MI see there are still four timetables missing. I don't understand this yellow diversion notice for the 488, it's only helpful for journeys going the other way. Why is the 276 driver refusing to allow the lady with two pot plants on a trolley onto his bus? I have to walk in the cycle lane to be able to read the Next Bus display in the shelter. I don't care what buses are coming 8th, 9th and 10th. Will someone please collect that bag of recycling, it's getting in the way of people trying to get off the bus.
Bus (25)It may be London's busiest bus but there are only four of us upstairs. It's like this bus exists solely to transport air. Who left an empty Cherry Coke can at the front of the upper deck? Look, that bike's just jumped the lights at the Bow Roundabout. It would've been almost a minute quicker to go over the flyover. Look, that bike's riding on the pavement rather than in the Cycle Superhighway. I can see so many knocked-down buildings ready to become flats, so many. Look, that bike's just jumped the lights at the top of Abbey Lane. Surely that workman doesn't need to block the Cycle Superhighway with his temporary orange barrier. Why are they playing an announcement to warn passengers there's a bus stop bypass immediately behind this bus stop? Nobody would be that stupid, surely. Look, that same bike's just jumped the lights at the end of Warton Road. The bus stop called Stratford High Street station is a heck of a walk from the station of the same name. You don't need to stick your arm out to stop the bus. I don't believe the 'Next Events' in the Olympic Park can be on 23rd and 30th September. Sigh, temporary lights. Sigh, that 86 has parked up blocking the lane into the bus station. Oh, we're not stopping at the drop-off point outside Stratford station because it's all been fenced off for an upgrade, so we'll have to waste an extra minute by heading round into the bus station itself.
StratfordWhy are there never Countdown displays at bays in bus stations? Grr, there are too many annoying people blundering in the opposite direction. Which idiot installed several electronic survey points asking passengers 'How was your experience at this bus station?' When I try using it, all that flashes up is a choice of Yes or No without revealing what the question was. This touchscreen is useless, it won't let me press either. I think I interrupted someone else's attempt at answering the questions except they walked away partway through. The Evening Standard prints earlier and earlier these days. No I do not want to stop and talk to you about the work of Amnesty International. The lights on the barrier gates have faded, so it's hard to spot which are green for in and which are red for out. I could get to my train easier if you hadn't plonked a barrier in the way.
DLROf course everyone piles on at this end of the train, because they can't be bothered to walk down the platform, and so the other end is empty. I hate the way the seating's gone all longitudinal. The poles now get in the way, especially if you insist on sitting there with a big suitcase. Who's eating something smelly? What's the point of having a pushchair section with pop-up seats if you're going to sit on them and then position your pushchair in front? The light green line on this new map is pathetically indistinct. Asking for trouble, it was, calling this station Abbey Road. That advert about there being staff on all DLR trains invites me to search 'TfL improvements' for further information, as if anyone's going to do that... and if I do do that, all I get is a page that links to another page that contains nothing about there being staff on every train, muppets. Oh hang on, everyone piled on at this end of the train because that's where all the exits are at the other stations - bad planning.
West HamCrossing from one platform to another is always a hassle here. Come on, keep to the left on the stairs, that's the unwritten rule. But they keep changing which side of the corridor you're supposed to walk on. Sigh, now I have to cross the flow of all the people pouring off the escalator to get to the top of the stairs. Sorry, I didn't mean to walk in front of you, sorry. I'd have caught that train if I hadn't got stuck behind a slow lady with a big bag. Bugger there's now a five minute gap before the next train. This is the Jubilee line, how can there be a five minute gap? There are nowhere near enough benches at the north end of the platform, which is the only efficient place to wait for a train that's only going to Stratford. The Berkeley Homes billboard on the wasteland opposite claims that over 3750 new homes are COMING SOON, but I've checked, and 'soon' actually means 2021. TRAIN APPROACHING definitely flashed up too early. I'm not convinced that was actually five minutes, I bet it was six.
TubeGrrr, after a five minute gap this train is of course really packed. I'll try sitting on this perch you can't actually sit on. Look, everyone's on their phone. Those poles are yellow, but shouldn't they be grey? Actually some of the trains do now have grey poles, why hasn't this one? Oh, so we're going to sit outside the station for a couple of minutes, are we? And then move forward a bit and wait again? This always seems to happen. Why hasn't the driver made an announcement yet? Ah, finally, here's his announcement... and hilariously, the train starts moving again before he's got to the end of the sentence. That took a bloody long time.
StratfordOur wave of passengers sweeping up the platform is met by obstructive passengers swarming down. Poor them, they had to try and squint at the teensy Next Train Indicator to work out which train to get on. Nobody cares that the third train from this platform is going to Willesden Green in 21 minutes. Oh god, a busker with a guitar. Don't throw money, it only encourages them. The one-way system is a sure sign that this station can't have been extended sufficiently in 2012. That sign says platform 5 is off to the right, across a stream of people, whereas you can go up to the left avoiding the crowds. This platform smells of talc. Some sadist has replaced the previous benches with some shiny metal curves it's very difficult to sit on. The tannoy announcements give the departure time of the next train but the Next Train indicator merely says how many minutes away it is, how confusing. Meh, I just slipped off the seat.
TfL RailDamn, this is one of the super new Crossrail trains, I was hoping for a crappy old train so I'd have something to moan about. Worse, I was going to complain about the lack of forward-facing seats, except there are plenty of those in this carriage and nobody's sitting in them. These armrests aren't going to be popular with obese passengers. I can't read the display from here because it's at a funny angle and all the small text is shifted over to the far side of the screen where the overhead lights reflect. Does anyone really need to know 'Liverpool Street for Spitalfields Market'? Definitely nobody needs to know 'Liverpool Street for Southend Airport', because you could have caught the same train to Southend from the previous station. A man is actually filming the view out of the window, how sad. I forgot to walk through the train to save time at the final destination. I will die before I start calling this the Elizabeth Line.
It's so annoying having to touch out through one set of barriers and then back in at another. Damn, there's a really long wait for my next train. The ticket office has disappeared behind a set of hoardings so it can become yet another row of shops. Who the hell wants an Oliver Bonas anyway? Or a Moleskine? Or yet another TM Lewin? When these shops finally open I bet all these useful seats will be taken away. Several people are treating the seats as litter bins. Ah, a new smaller ticket office is hidden on the other side of the concourse. Some member of staff has jumped on the bandwagon of writing a Thought For The Day on the whiteboard, except it's nowhere near interesting enough to Instagram so I don't know why they bothered. This TfL Visitor Centre is a blatant moneygrabbing tourist trap - you can't even pick up a tube map without queueing (or walking through a gate which says No Entry). Are you wearing that knitted cap for a bet?
RailSheesh this train is old. Our destination's only thirteen characters long but won't fit on the display in one go, so repeatedly flicks between Hertford and East. It's a bit mucky in here. Bit dingy too. I can't see out of that window, it's almost opaque. Why do commuter trains still bother with first class seating, what is the point? If you're going to walk through to the next carriage, have the decency to shut the door behind you rather than leaving it flapping open. The scrolling message says 'Please make sure you have thecorrect ticket for your journey', because I guess nobody proofread it properly. It is not possible to 'read the safety notice at the end of the carriage' without peering over the top of someone's head. Even this part of town is gentrifying. Who'd sit on that balcony with all these trains going past? I hope this door opens when I push the lumpy pad. Let me off rather than trying to board immediately, cheers.
These stairs are a bit steep, and seem to be suffering from an advanced case of rust. That's a lot of orange paint. Please don't stand halfway up the stairs to check your phone, please move on and out of the way. It's a long walk to Hackney Central, isn't it, especially from any platform that isn't platform 1. The pink reader in this long passageway says 'Touch your card here if changing trains', but I don't actually have to do that, do I, I thought pink readers were optional?
I just missed a train, so that's a nine and half minute wait, dammit. The pair of line diagrams by the passageway exit show the stations served on each platform, but nowhere does it say whether Platform 1 is this one or the platform opposite. A man actually stops and asks me if this is the right platform for Stratford, that's how ambiguous those signs are. Sigh, now it's raining. This Next Train Indicator supposedly shows trains at Hackney Downs, but has been programmed by miserable jobsworths so that trains mysteriously vanish from the list eight minutes before they depart... despite the fact I've just walked from there in less than five minutes. A crowd's building up now. It's never obvious how far down the platform the train will stop, so everybody dashes down when the train arrives.
OvergroundIt's packed, it's always packed. They should run these trains more often and then they wouldn't be so rammed. Shift up and I can rest against that pad it's impossible to actually sit on. If you weren't leaning on that central pole people might be able to walk past. That Overground map is awful, isn't it. Just awful. Two people too close to me are making loud boring phone calls. Someone hasn't washed recently. Why are we repeatedly subjected to announcements that 'You must have a valid ticket to travel on this train' when other modes of travel don't get the same? Do you get a different class of fare-dodger on the Overground? The line map I'm facing isn't actually for the line I'm travelling on. Please turn round slightly and move your rucksack out of my face.
Hell, what have they done here now? This is regeneration writ large. Are you seriously expecting me to exit the platform via that temporary wooden elevated walkway? Have you seen how many rickety-looking scaffolding poles are holding it up? When will the new station building finally be finished? This area is going to be unrecognisable as Hackney Wick by the time everyone's finished. Blimey, there are even homeless people begging here in E9 these days. The bagel factory is now the skeleton of a five storey block of flats. It's going to look aesthetically dead round here soon. It almost does already. Someone's left a coffee cup and an empty bottle of vodka rammed down the back of the so-called bench in the bus shelter. The bus map has slumped down inside its case so is pretty much unreadable. It's also three years out of date, like nobody gives a damn.
Bus (276)Please don't sit there with your leg blocking the aisle. Blimey this bus is so old it rattles. One of the adverts advises passengers what to do if their Freedom Pass expires on 31st March 2015. That is one large shopping trolley, madam. Someone is making a foreign language phone call immediately behind me and doing more than 80% of the talking. A lady with a buggy is trying to manoeuvre her way up the gangway, past the enormous trolley, without falling over. I preferred that building when it was a fire station, not a school. Damn, I appear to be on the bus at school chucking-out time. Do all schoolkids buy chicken and cheesy chips on their way home these days? The lady with the buggy is having trouble getting off because the driver's stopped immediately opposite a lamppost. That boy has been on the bus for just two stops, are today's children too lazy to walk anywhere?
Bus Stop MA speeding bike almost runs me over as I step off the bus and cross to the pavement. Why didn't they play an announcement warning me there was a bus stop bypass immediately behind this bus stop?

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