diamond geezer

 Saturday, November 14, 2015

A lot has been happening at my local bus stop in Bow Road, although I doubt whether most passengers using it have noticed. That's bus stop M, formerly bus stop G, combined with bus stop E, if you remember. Here's a list of what was wrong two weeks ago, and what's been fixed since.

1) Bus Stop M has no road markings (nor the words 'BUS STOP' written in the road) [FIXED Thursday 29th October]
On the precise day I last reported on the absence, workmen rolled up at half past ten at night and started coning off the street. And hey presto, by midnight BUS STOP had been painted (twice) in a rectangle on the road. Result. Or total coincidence, who knows?

2a) New bus shelter has no bus maps, even after being open for four weeks [MINOR SUCCESS Friday 30th October]
There used to be a bus map here, but when contractors started remodelling the bus stop in August they took the old shelter away. A brand spanking new shelter later appeared on bus stop island, personalised with the name 'Bow Church', but nobody thought to put a map inside. The day after my last report a bus map did appear, but it was only the East London Night Bus map, so useful for only a few hours a day. But as for a proper daytime bus map, nothing, because nobody's yet updated the old spider map. This still shows bus stops E and G, and not M, so to paste it up here would be misleading. One day.
2b) Timetables displayed at stop don't match times at new location (and route diagrams incorrectly shaded) [NOT REPLACED]

3) Bus Stop M displays a tile for route 205, which has never stopped here [TILE REMOVED Tuesday 3rd November]
It had been a mystery to me why the 205 tile had been included at this stop. But the tile was a very deliberate addition, the original pole transferred from the flyover didn't include it, so I wondered if there were fresh plans for the 205 to terminate here. No, it turns out the tile was another mistake, and so has been taken down. Well done.

4a) Bus stop bypass remains blocked by the stumpy base of a former lamppost [REMOVED Wednesday 4th November]
Lampposts are some of the biggest obstacles to creating a Cycle Superhighway. They line the former edge of the pavement where you'd like to add a segregated lane, so they have to go. A surprisingly large amount of money is being spent all the way down Bow Road removing lampposts installed as recently as 2013 and installing lampposts of a different type in more suitable locations. It took more than three months for this particular lamppost remnant to be removed, and the new cycle bypass lane is now finally clear. But it's not yet smoothed or surfaced, so remains barriered off, and cyclists have to battle through the traffic instead. This lengthy holdup looks unnecessary, indeed pathetic, but seemingly nobody has the time to come back and paint the last few metres and finish off the job they started.
4b) Bus stop bypass has yet to open [UPDATE Monday 16th November - all barriers removed apart from four blocking the cycle bypass]
4c) Replacement lamppost not functional, so it's unexpectedly dark here in the evening [STILL AWAITING ELECTRICIAN]
4d) New bus shelter not plugged into electricity supply, so this provides no light either [STILL AWAITING ELECTRICIAN]

5a) Buses approaching Bus Stop M display an incorrect next stop (Bow Flyover) [FIXED - Friday 13th November]
Every other Thursday night, so I'm told, the iBus system that powers London's network of bus stop locations is updated. It's taken three fortnights, but the change of name at Bus Stop M appears to have been finally rolled out. Up until Thursday the display on all the buses arriving here said 'Bow Flyover', which was the name of the now defunct stop M down the road, but now they say 'Bow Church' which is correct. What took you so long?
5b) Mismatch between name displayed at stop (Bow Church) and digital name (Bow Flyover) [UPDATE Tuesday 17th November - Bus Stop M is now definitely called 'Bow Church', and has a new web address as a result]

6a) On the TfL website, and various apps, Bus Stop E still appears even though it's been erased in real life [MOSTLY ERASED - Friday 13th November]
In conjunction with the iBus update, all the digital information associated with Bus Stop E has finally been deleted. If I go into this countdown page, the dot representing Bus Stop E no longer exists. If I log into Citymapper on my phone, Bus Stop E no longer appears in the results. However the Bus Stop E page on the TfL website lingers on, unhelpfully subtitled "This stop does not serve any TfL routes" when in fact "This stop no longer exists at all." Job nearly done, but the corpse still twitches.

6b) On the TfL website, and various apps, Bus Stop G still appears even though it's been erased in real life [NOT FIXED] [UPDATE Thursday 26th November - MOSTLY ERASED]
Somebody's also had a go at erasing Bus Stop G, but made a mess of it. It no longer appears as a blob on this countdown page, so that's a start. But if I go into Citymapper on my phone, or visit the Bus Stop G page on the TfL website it's still there. There is an error message - "There are no buses due within the next 30 minutes" - which is an understatement because there are no more buses due ever. But in Thursday night's digital update somebody has somehow managed to associate the 276 bus with this non-existent stop, even though it can't stop here, adding a label where previously there was none. How difficult can deleting a bus stop be?

7a) On the TfL website, and various apps, the list of routes serving Bus Stop M fails to include route 25 [NOT FIXED] [UPDATE Thursday 26th November - FIXED]
And yet nobody's been able to add the 25 to the list of buses that serve Bus Stop M. Six weeks it's been stopping here, and yet if you checked the digital list you'd never know.
7b) On the TfL website, most of the time, the list of departures at Bus Stop M fails to include route 25 [NOT FIXED] [UPDATE Thursday 26th November - FIXED]
Even if it's not in the headline, the 25 does at least appear in the list of departures. Or at least it sometimes does, depending on which website or app I view the list of departures in. The countdown list works fine, and I can see departures on Citymapper. But whenever I surf into the Bus Stop M page on the TfL website I get a list that includes all the buses other than the 25, which is a fat lot of good when the 25 is the most useful bus that serves this stop.

I've said it before, but most of these digital errors have resulted from a baffling decision to physically relocate former Bus Stop M to the spot where Bus Stop G used to be. Former Bus Stop M no longer exists, it's been physically eradicated, so by rights its digital counterpart should should have been deleted too. But no, instead there's now an M on a pole where there used to be a G, and as yet nobody's fully thought through the consequences.

And yes, most passengers continue to use the new bus stop without showing any signs of distress. It's a bit dark sometimes, and there are still barriers around the cycle lane, and the timetables are technically wrong, and there isn't a bus map, but it is still perfectly possible to catch a bus. It's not necessarily easy to get off that bus, but this is a conversation we'll have at another time.

And all this is important because of how it fits into the wider scheme of cycle-related roadworks across London. Several roads are currently being upgraded with the inclusion of segregated lanes - Andrew Gilligan reckons that the maximum impact will be just before Christmas - and Bow Road is currently a major roadworks nightmare. If one piddly little bus stop where I live can have all these problems, imagine the scale of incompetent errors that could be multiplied across the capital.

It should all be worth it in the end, of course, as road and pavement space is permanently re-purposed for considerably safer cycling. But there are five other sets of bus stops along Bow Road which have yet to be temporarily closed for Cycle Superhighway upgrade works, sometime between now and Easter, and imagine the mess we could be in when that begins.

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