diamond geezer

 Thursday, January 03, 2019

All is quiet at Bus Stop M. None of the timetables are missing. The Countdown display works. The bus stop bypass is unobstructed. But there is a problem because something hasn't happened that should have done. One of the tiles is wrong.

At the start of December bus route 25 was cut back from Oxford Circus to Holborn Circus... except at night. That meant there were suddenly two route 25s, a daytime version still called 25 and a new nightbus version called N25. And this required changing all the tiles at all the bus stops.

Every tile saying 25 (24 hour) had to be replaced with a tile saying just 25, (or else removed because route 25 no longer stopped). And an extra blue tile had to be added saying N25, for the benefit of anyone travelling overnight. Two tiles where there had previously been one. Like this.

Elsewhere the changeover took place on or around the weekend of 1st/2nd December, with the new tiles standing out as brighter than the rest. But at Bus Stop M only the timetable-swappers turned up and did their thing. The tile-switchers never arrived.

I checked the other side of the road at Bow Church, and that was fine. The tile-swappers had even been cunningly economical, squeezing N25 and N205 onto the same blue tile to avoid having to start a whole new row. But although they tweaked Bus Stop J, so must have been in the vicinity, they never did Bus Stop M.

So I decided to check the rest of the route to see if Bus Stop M was unique or part of a wider malaise. I have nothing better to do with my time, and we should not expect TfL to squander salaried personnel on checking the entire route themselves.

It took an hour and twenty minutes to ride the length of route 25, scrutinising all the tiles on all the bus stops (in both directions) from the front of the top deck. I additionally checked out the three sections where the road splits to make sure I didn't miss anything. That's 98 bus stops altogether. You can see why nobody else has bothered checking for themselves.

This is the first eastbound bus stop at Holborn Circus. It's had its tiles changed, although as you can see the tile for the N25 is white rather than blue. The next three stops are similar (that's City Thameslink, King Edward Street and St Paul's). I also spotted white tiles instead of blue tiles on four bus stops at the other end of the route in Ilford. Maybe the tile manufacturers ran out of blue backgrounds, or maybe they used the wrong ones. It's hardly a gross transgression, but it's not correct.

Other things were amiss in Ilford. The last two stops on the eastbound route don't show a 25 tile at all, although the N25 tile is present. That's certainly an error. Meanwhile the second, third and fourth stops on the westbound route don't show an N25 tile at all, even though a new 25 tile is present. That's also certainly an error. Ilford's '25 tiles' are a bit of a shambles, to be honest. But none of the stops have the same issue as Bus Stop M.

But this one does. This is Bus Stop Z at St Mary Axe, immediately outside Lloyds of London. It also still has its 25 (24 hour) tile and no N25 tile because nobody changed anything. Bus Stop LR on the opposite side of the road is fine and correct, but Bus Stop Z was overlooked. The tile switchers missed Bow Church (eastbound) and they missed St Mary Axe (westbound), and how the hell did they manage to miss just those two?

In conclusion, two stops haven't been changed over at all, three stops have a new 25 tile but are missing an N25 tile, and two stops have a new N25 tile but are missing a 25 tile. A further six bus stops have white N25 tiles rather than blue. The other 85 bus stops are fine.

One month on, it doesn't look like anybody is coming back to make amends. And I wouldn't have noticed if Bus Stop M hadn't been one of the duffers. If TfL would like to hire someone to check their bus stops, some of us have a very reasonable daily rate.

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