diamond geezer

 Saturday, March 18, 2023

TfL are running fewer replacement bus routes than they used to.
And not because there's less engineering works but to save money.
And not to save your money but to save theirs.

It's been a very gradual process.

For example a decade ago there'd always be a replacement bus service if the DLR was closed between Stratford and Poplar but then they stopped that, expecting passengers to take a different route or hop on a normal bus instead.
For example back then they'd always run a replacement bus service if the Hammersmith & City line was closed between Hammersmith and Paddington, but last weekend they just left passengers at intermediate stations to cope without.
For example the Overground between Romford and Upminster is often closed at weekends but they just expect the handful of passengers to catch the 370 bus instead, indeed they could probably make that one permanent.

And now they're not running replacement buses through Bow when the District line's closed.

They ran replacement bus DL-6 repeatedly last year, a regular free shuttle from Tower Hill to Barking via Mile End and Canning Town. But they're not running it this year, other than very early in the morning or very late in the evening, and we're all being left to make do. Back in January I stood opposite Bromley-by-Bow station waiting for the replacement bus that always runs and took 20 freezing minutes to work out that it wasn't, because I hadn't read the poster in the station I'd just assumed.

The District line's closed again this weekend.

It's a complicated closure linked to the introduction of improved signalling at the far end of the District line. The entire line's closed before 8.30am on Saturday morning, then just Whitechapel to Upminster until 2pm, then just Barking to Upminster, and on Sunday just Becontree to Upminster. But in short it means no tube trains through Bow before 2pm on Saturday. And no replacement bus.

Here's what TfL are suggesting passengers at Bromley-by-Bow do instead.

For central London stations, take bus D8 to Stratford for the Central or Elizabeth lines.

The D8 runs every 12 minutes, which is less often than the replacement buses used to. Riding the D8 before catching a train will add £1.75 to the cost of your journey. But in the absence of the District line it's probably your quickest way into town.

For stations between Plaistow and East Ham, take bus D8 to Stratford and change there for bus 241 or 262 to Plaistow, bus 104 to Upton Park or bus 238 to Upton Park and East Ham.

Riding two buses will still cost £1.75 thanks to the Hopper fare. But even after you've waited for the D8 your expected journey time to East Ham is another 30 minutes. To be fair you couldn't have got the replacement bus to any of these stations either.

For stations between Upney and Dagenham East, go to Plaistow, Upton Park or East Ham (see above) for replacement bus service DL7.

Catch two normal buses and then catch a replacement bus is appalling advice. The replacement bus actually runs from Canning Town, and it turns out the 323 runs straight there every 15 minutes so you'd be better off catching that. The previous replacement bus connected direct to Barking which was fast and easy, but that's the bus they're not running because you're on your own now.

For Hornchurch and Elm Park take bus D8 to Stratford. Change there for the Elizabeth line to Romford and take bus 252.

A bus plus Crossrail plus another bus costs £1.75 + £2.60 = £4.35, whereas had the District line been running the fare would have been just £2.00. Also the 252 is not the quickest bus from Romford to Hornchurch, it goes all round the houses and takes 25 minutes whereas the 193 takes less than 20. Who wrote this advice?

For Upminster take bus 323 to Star Lane for the DLR to West Ham. Change there for c2c services.

Finally they've mentioned c2c services, the fast line that doesn't collapse when the District line closes. Unfortunately getting to it from here is a bit of a pain, and likely slow, but the last bit of the journey makes up for it. This is probably also the quickest way to get to Barking, certainly much faster than that three bus shuffle they suggested earlier.

For stations between Bow Road and Whitechapel take bus 323 from stop BH to Mile End. Change there for bus routes 25 or 205.

What seriously? As any Bromley-by-Bow resident knows, if you want to catch the 25 you walk up to Bow Road and catch it there. You do not walk to Devons Road and catch the occasional 323 for a meander to Mile End that drops you 250m short of your next bus stop. This is particularly the case if you're trying to get to Bow Road station because that is the most extraordinarily roundabout route wasting on average half an hour. Any sane human would walk, assuming they were able, rather than following this ridiculous charade.

A lot of this advice sounds like someone asked "what's the simplest route to describe?" rather than "which route is best?", or felt they needed to give step-free routes rather than offering faster alternatives for the majority. Sometimes the best advice is JUST WALK, not what some muppet who's never been here thinks.

But this is what happens when TfL can't be bothered to run a rail replacement bus and want us to spend our own cash instead. Let's hope it's a temporary lapse and not a bloody awkward rigmarole on multiple future weekends.

Update: You're right, it might just be a serious shortage of drivers.
You're right, how to get to Barking isn't mentioned anywhere.
You're right, it is less than impressive.

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