Transport Watch - July 2009


London Buses have given way to pressure from users and have agreed to introduce a Sunday service on route 607, the popular limited stop service running from Uxbridge to White City through the heart of Southall, Ealing and Acton. Buses will run every 12 minutes from 9.00 am until 9.00 pm. No start date has been given for the Sunday service but when the service does start, frequencies on the 427 route which follows the route as far as Acton, will be reduced.


Meanwhile the 207 service which also follows the line of the 607 from Hayes By-pass to White City will remain unchanged for at least another two years. The existing operator using the existing fleet of articulated buses will follow the same timetable until April 2012 at least. Suggestions that at the western end the service should be extended to Coldharbour Lane to connect with routes serving Harrow and Heathrow, or to run the service on to the large industrial estate at Pump Lane have been rejected.   


Other services where London Buses say no changes are planned for at least another two years include the 112, from Ealing to Brent Cross, and route 282 running from Ealing Hospital via Northolt to Mount Vernon Hospital. Leaving service levels unchanged may help TfL’s financial situation but it clearly ignores the rapidly changing environment in which we live.


Around 1500 extra passengers a day now use service 195 since the suggestion made by Ealing Passenger Transport Users Group and others was adopted and the route extended to Brentford, showing that listening to local people can improve local services. Many of these ideas start when local people ring EPTUG on 020 8998 0999, and leave messages for this group of volunteers. The ideas are then investigated and if thought viable recommendations are made to the authorities. Not all are accepted and often no reason is given for their rejection but if you have an idea don’t keep it to yourself. Tell EPTUG.


Congratulations to Mal Thurman, the recently appointed First Great Western area manager who, when the Tube drivers went on strike recently arranged for two HST  trains to make unscheduled stops at Ealing Broadway to pick up local travellers struggling to get to work. He also instructed staff to accept any valid ticket to travel regardless of the issuer or operator’s restrictions.


Yet more congratulations to First Great Western who, at the Railway Industry Innovation Awards 2009 held in London recently, won the prestigious award for being the most improved train operating company in the UK. Less than two year’s ago FGW were in danger of losing their franchise because of poor performances, and few local users of their services would have shed tears if this had happened. Their managing director at the time, Andrew Haines, instigated sweeping changes designed to turn around performances at all levels, a programme continued and improved upon by Andrew’s successor, Mark Hopwood. Soon performances had improved with FGW now regularly appearing in the industry leading performer’s lists.


Countdown, the much appreciated information service installed at many bus stops is now nearly 20 years old and can no longer cope with the number of routes and the 17,000 London bus stops. Instead London Buses are planning a newer modern system using global positioning, or GPS, the same system used by in-car satellite navigation systems. The old system relied upon lamp post mounted detectors which recorded buses as they passed, (so long as a high sided parked vehicle did not obstruct its view). It also suffered a major blow when Ofcom took away the radio frequency used by the system. In the meantime development finance was diverted to installing iBus, the onboard information system now installed in all 8,256 London Buses. That exercise is now complete so please TfL, can we now have our new Countdown please.


Travel London, who operate several bus routes in west London has been sold by the National Express Group to NedRail, the Dutch rail operator, a move which has surprised many in the industry. National Express successfully operate many services in co-operation with other local authorities such as Birmingham and Dundee and it is not clear why they no longer wish to operate in London. It is the Dutch company’s first UK bus operation. Transdev, the company who operate route 65, 120 and H32 amongst others is of course already French owned.


London Underground has announced that its first experimental air conditioned train is likely to be trialled on the Metropolitan Line next summer and if successful will be introduced to the District, Circle and Hammersmith Lines in due course. In the meantime LUL can only implore passengers to carry a bottle of water with them when temperatures rise. Cooling fans in deep level tubes are of little value since they themselves generate heat and if run at full power would stir up clouds of health impairing dust. Bus travellers fare a little better. All new double deck vehicles are now fitted with air cooling systems and all double deck buses have been fitted with extra windows. There are now 2041 buses with air cooling or forced air ventilation systems.


A nationwide competition to recognise good bus drivers has been launched by Bus Users UK. Passenger are invited to nominate drivers whose attitudes and standards of driving are above average, recognising that high standards add to the quality of bus travel. Nominations can be sent electronically, or in writing via EPTUG at 3 Gordon Road,W5 2AD. Entries must be in by the end of July, the award ceremony will take place in London in November.


Representatives of all the political parties in the Borough have been invited to tell residents of their plans and ideas for improving transport at a public meeting arranged for September 21st at Ealing Town Hall. Speakers will be invited to talk about such diverse matters as bus lanes, parking, the need for a bus train interchange and gaining the maximum benefits that Crossrail will bring. Other topics might include the West London Orbital, the Fastbus Project,  or even congestion charging and road pricing. If there is a transport matter you would like to raise at the meeting please drop a line now to EPTUG at 3 Gordon Road, W5 2AD.