Transport Watch – June 2014

 

Passengers in the east of the borough can expect massive disruption to bus services during the whole of June and July whilst waterproofing the Hammersmith Flyover, which recommenced on the 30th May continues. The flyover will re-open on the 30th June but then the other side of the flyover will close from the 4th July to the 4th August. We know disruption in the vicinity of Hammersmith will be great but TfL have no plans to operate extra vehicles to plug gaps in the bus services affected. Traffic will be encouraged to use the A40 Western Avenue rather than the A4 whilst work continues so added congestion can be expected there too.

 

Putney Bridge will also be closed for most of the Summer adding yet more disruption to bus routes crossing the bridge and its surrounding roads.

 

London Underground is experiencing record passenger numbers, (36 million passengers during 2013 – 2014, a rise of 33% since 2004). The most noticeable increase has been amongst shoppers and leisure travellers so increased frequencies are planned for the Piccadilly Line, one of the most affected. The frequency of trains on the Piccadilly Line between Saturday midday and 5.00pm will rise from 21 to 24 trains per hour, and on weekday evenings up to 11.00pm an extra 3 trains per hour will operate. Meanwhile London Buses have no plans to increase capacity on its routes to match this growth in traffic.

 

London Buses also carried record numbers of passengers, 2.4 billion of them. They have increased the fleet of vehicles by 266 but many of these will merely replace the much greater capacity bendi-buses. TfL hopes that by co-operating with local boroughs and providing bus priority measures this will help meet the extra demand. Yet they steadfastly refuse to learn the lessons gained by the popular route 607 and introduce more limited stop services across the capital. Surely, completing a 60 minute journey in 40 minutes is a more efficient use of driver and vehicle.

 

The Tube bosses are still determined to close all London Underground ticket offices - not just the lightly-used offices but also those at Tube Stations adjacent to mainline stations, and even those at Heathrow Airport where ticket clerks battle with hoards of non-English speakers. I was on a train from Manchester recently and was asked whether a Zone 1 ticket to the hotel and a peak time single to Heathrow next morning would be better than an Oyster Card. We tried to find a machine to tell us but couldn’t find one. Thankfully a helpful ticket office clerk quickly resolved the matter and cash changed hands. Please write to TfL and plead for sanity in this matter.

 

The new Crossrail trains will have a capacity of 1500 passengers but EPTUG has been assured that they will provide seats for at least 600. Most seats will be inward facing (as on the London Overground trains) but there will also be some cross carriage seats.

 

Hospital A & E closures get ever nearer and still no one in TfL has addressed the problem of getting to the newly-designated out-patients and other hospital departments. In some neighbouring boroughs councillors are trying to meet the transport planners but finding little success or co-operation. Harrow, for example, are pressing for extensions to route H14 and route 395 to serve the Northwick Park Hospital but so far no concessions have been forthcoming. Getting to hospitals scheduled to serve Ealing residents are even more complex so lets hope the newly-elected council will push this matter higher on their agenda.

 

Many local bus routes, the E1, E2, E3 and E10 are now being operated by a different company. This change of operator usually hails the start of a new contract with slight improvements to the frequency of service but this year EPTUG has not been advised of any changes. Next local route to change operator will be the 112 in August. Let's see what enhancements that will bring.

 

Early morning commuters to Heathrow’s Terminal 5 from the North and the West of the Borough complain that often when they arrive at Harlington Corner to connect with service 423 to T5, that it has just departed, and at 3.00 or 4.00 in the morning that means a long and often chilly wait. Since the opening of Terminal 5 in 2008  many jobs moved there from the Central Area. For those with established jobs at the airport they were obliged to move but for others looking for work, the difficulties of reaching Terminal 5 without adequate direct bus services meant they no longer looked to Heathrow for work.  EPTUG is hoping to engage Heathrow Airport Ltd to see if a solution can be found.

 

A reminder to users of the Rayners Lane to Uxbridge service that there is major engineering work planned for th line from July 19th onwards.