Transport Watch – January 2013
The London Buses division of TfL do not operate buses. Instead they outsource the work to companies such as “First” or “Metroline”. These operators are given a contract to operate services on behalf of London Buses in strict accordance with time tables and schedules etc laid down by London Buses. The contracts usually last for 5 or 7 years and it is only when those contracts are up for review that changes are made to the schedules, the route to be followed or the type of vehicle.
This autumn many of Ealing’s bus route contracts are up for renewal giving us, the customers, the opportunity to make our recommendations as to how those routes can be improved. The suggestions must however be made within the next two weeks and are usually of a minor nature, such as moving a bus stop or starting the service earlier or later in the day. Naturally we would all wish for a better frequency of service but anything requiring an outlay of money is likely to be turned down without reason, (even though, again this year, bus fares have continued to rise).
But changes made this year will cover the introduction of the new Crossrail service and the completion of the NHS reorganisation, both events of course leading to major changes in the pattern of travel by local people. In addition the Council has announced its wish to see Haven Green become less of a bus station with more routes passing through rather than terminating there. So EPTUG is very anxious to hear from users either by phone, 020 8998 0999 or email to email@example.com but please do so without delay. The routes due for re-tendering are 7, N7, 65, 72, 112, 272, 395, 398, 440 and all the “E” routes except the E6. Great opportunity to plan afresh, but be quick with your suggestions!
When the cross country rail service linking the Midlands via Reading and Ealing to Brighton ceased operation some years ago it threw a legal spanner in the works for although the train never stopped at Ealing Broadway the loss of a passenger service between Ealing and Wandsworth required a long and expensive consultation process during which the infamous ghost bus ran once a week between these two points. Now the tribunal has decided to allow “the withdrawal of passenger facilities between these two points and the rail replacement bus will no longer run. But, say London Travelwatch, evidence supplied by many including the West London Line Group and EPTUG, has shown that there is a strong case for providing a rail service between these two points.
The lead up to Christmas witnessed yet more and more passengers to and from Heathrow clogging up space on the Piccadilly Line rather that paying the higher fare imposed on the Heathrow Connect service which was, after all, designed to take passengers and their baggage to Heathrow. The result of course is that passengers on the Piccadilly Line suffer unnecessary overcrowding sometimes even being unable to board the train. EPTUG together with local residents groups are petitioning the Mayor to ask Heathrow Connect to waive the excess fare charged for the Hayes to Heathrow sector and to encourage more passengers to use the service. If you would like to add your name to the petition please contact www.eptug.org.uk or your local councillor.
At our recent EPTUG meeting members asked First Great Western and Network Rail why announcing the departure platform number was withheld until minutes before departure leading to unnecessary and potentially dangerous headlong rush to the train. After all if you plan a journey using the brilliant www.nationalrail.co.uk site it will tell you weeks in advance which platform will be used. But say the operators there is always the possibility of a last minute change which is why we hold back the announcement. But which would you, the passenger prefer, an early announcement with the risk of a last minute change, or a last minute announcement? Do let us know by ringing 020 8998 0999 or by email.
Finally a reminder that 2013 marks the 150th anniversary of the world’s first underground railway with steam trains and beautifully restored carriages operating on the 13th January and other selected dates. But if you are not lucky enough to get a ticket to ride on the steam specials you can always buy a specially designed Oyster Card to mark this great event.