Transport Watch February 2013

 

In last month’s column we reported than most of Ealing’s bus routes were now under active review by TfL and during the Summer they will assess all suggestions before inviting bus operators to bid for new contracts. These contracts would start at various dates in 2014 and run through until at least 2019. During that time much will change in the area, in particular the start of Crossrail and revised NHS plans which may require Ealing residents to attend other hospitals. With such major changes to the way people in the Borough will choose to travel we have suggested that London Buses simply extend present contracts for a further two years whilst they get round the table with the council and try to assess our future needs.

 

But just in case common sense does not apply it has been suggested that the route 7 should serve Acton Mainline Station and that route 95 be extended to Southall Station and on to the Bridge Road Industrial Estate where employers have great difficulty recruiting staff because of the lack of public transport. For the same reason, inaccessibility, firms on the Windmill Lane Industrial Estates suffer hence the suggestion that the 83 be extended there.

 

However extended routes need to be paid for and London Buses, in spite of the recent increases in fares, refuse to increase expenditure so we may not see many of the readers' excellent suggestions being adopted. One idea that falls within the TfL budget is to divert the 112 along Madeley Road now full of flats and bedsits. By avoiding the extra mileage that following the 83 up to Ealing Common might save, the route could be extended to Bond Street. This would reduce the number of buses parked on Haven Green and not cost TfL anything extra but the chances of running the 112 beyond Bond Street in order to ease overloading the 65 looks like a non-starter.

 

Reducing parked buses on Haven Green is on many people’s wish-list and combining two E routes to run as one route through central Ealing has wide appeal but finding two routes with similar frequencies and capacity is more of a problem. Making sure 2 routes heading in the same direction don’t leave at the same time is easier to resolve. Routes E7 and E11 have been cited as “guilty” but so too has the H32 and 482 which often run bumper to bumper from Southall to Hounslow West.   

 

Providing bigger bus shelters and restoring stops to their pre bendi-bus positions was mentioned by several people ringing the EPTUG line (020 8998 0999). The 207 westbound stop in the Mall, and the stop at Herbert Road were moved to a less convenient place to accommodate the longer bus but these should now be restored to the original places. Herbert Road, as well as Southall Police Station and Southall Railway Station were quoted as places where a larger shelter is required. The stop at Southall Station has a special place in EPTUG’s history for getting a shelter installed was one of our earlier victories. For months TfL claimed they were not allowed to put a shelter on a railway bridge until EPTUG proved them wrong.

 

Southall Station stop is also one of the Borough’s busiest stops, served by 6 bus routes, yet it does not have a Countdown installation. Extending Countdown is something many would like to see. 

 

These and many more ideas have been put forward but there will be little if any consultation. The lack of consultation is also apparent with Crossrail who keep putting back revealing plans for the 5 stations in the Borough much to the concern of EPTUG and other local groups. Unless our elected councillors and MPs take immediate action to force Crossrail to discuss ideas there will be little time for local expertise to be incorporated in the plans before contracts are awarded and the builders move in. Unless our politicians follow Angie Bray’s example we could find a new Ealing Broadway Station with plenty of new shops but only 2 extra ticket gates or Southall Platform 4 with an even gap to mind.

 

The WCML franchise debacle has been much publicised but it has led to the First Great Western franchise being extended by 28 weeks (from 31st March 2013), with an option to continue for a further 2 years. But whilst life on the Paddington Line may be much as before, be aware that from 10th February a new late night and weekend timetable is being introduced to allow work on Crossrail to continue. Check before you travel. Frequencies will be halved or suspended and platforms changed.

 

Compared with FGW passengers on Chiltern services have suffered far worst with service reliability over the Christmas period reaching an all time low. We would like councillors in the North of the Borough to join with us and representatives from Harrow and Brent to demand better from Chiltern.

 

We would also like some active participation from councillors in the South of Ealing and neighbouring Hounslow to add their weight behind the campaign being waged against Heathrow Connect whose punitive fares are driving Heathrow passengers and their considerable luggage on to the Piccadilly Line to the detriment of Ealing passengers who have no alternative service. Please register your concern to the local residents association or see the entry on our Home page