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"Dreadful" bus service on routes 1 and 78: Val Shawcross investigates

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Friday 13 February 2009 12.54pm
I was glad to see this report. I have never seen the number 1 come on its own, there is always a second one immediately behind it, and then a really long wait for 2 more to come. My heart just sinks when I have to take the 78, I know I will be very cold by the end of the wait.

I was beginning to wonder who to complain to, so I'm glad to see a politician doing something!
Friday 13 February 2009 2.25pm
I have to use the 78 to get to work, and I've often stood for upwards of 20 minutes waiting for a bus.

It does seem that the bus at half 8, is always full of school girls who all get off at the stop by the shops on Dunton Rd, if I'm waiting at the previous stop, the bus doesn't stop.

sometimes there will be no bus for ages, and then the one that turns up is full and won't stop, but an empty one turns up three minutes later.

most of them will say they're going to Shoreditch, but then they change and only go to Aldgate.

on the way back this is a problem, as I've waited at the first stop, on Shoreditch High St, for over half an hour, knowing that there wasn't a bus at the terminus, and having not seen one go past, and then two go past the other way, but the first one back is out of service! Grrr.

This is one service that definitely needs looking at - more capacity needed at peak hours.
Friday 13 February 2009 3.15pm
I had just been saying to myself recently, no, this is getting ridiculous, it's time to complain. I just emailed her, said thanks for doing this and please add the number 42 to that list. It follows much the same route as the 78, and those two buses are the only ones between me and my job. Waiting a half hour for one bus is bad enough, but I've waited a half hour and neither of two routes show up, and then when they finally do they're so full you can't get on. The only thing I like about how early I have to get up is that when I'm on time, I can usually get the 42 or 78 and maybe even have a seat, but lately it seems like it's getting a tiny bit worse every day. This morning at 7:45AM the 78 was late and it was packed.

Also, yesterday on the 42 I had to sit behind a guy with a disgusting knot on the back of his head with a raw bit in the center and it looked like a backwards third eye and when he slid down in his seat it rested on the top of the seatback and totally grossed me out. I'm still unsure where to send my complaint about that.
Friday 13 February 2009 3.45pm
I used to catch the bus everyday to go to work but in the end I got fed up with waiting at bus stops, getting cold, being late for work. Then, one weekend 9 years ago I hired a bicycle and found out how easy it was to go around London in no time at all. Now I can't believe I ever wasted so much time, money and energy. My bike cost me 250 quid and so far I must have saved over 5 grand on transport and I have gained immensely on the health side.
Now, if I have to use the bus to go to the centre at weekends, I always find it a nightmare : demonstrations, festivals, there always seem to be something going on around Trafalgar/Picadilly/Whitehall that slows the whole traffic.
I say get on your bike, be richer, healthier and on time!
Friday 13 February 2009 4.05pm
The problem on the Number 1 in terms of service gaps is caused by the fact that bus companies pay a bigger "fine" for a bus service running late than they do for a bus service being cancelled entirely. It is therefore logical for them to stop a bus and turn it round.

I have many times been turfed off a full Number 1 at Bricklayers and told to get on the one behind as it is turning round, only for the one behind to be far too full for many of the ditched passengers to get on!

Bunching of buses when they all arrive together is harder to tackle, since it's inevitable that if a bus gets delayed at all, the delay will worsen as it has more passengers to let on at each stop, whereas the one behind it will have fewer. The only real solution is for the front bus to refuse to stop for a couple of stops, but that wouldn't be very popular at all, I think!
Friday 13 February 2009 4.29pm
living on Grange Road, this does nor surprise me, may I suggest is that part of the problem lies with Southwark, they insist on jamming so many vehicles along Grange Road that buses stand no chance.

Both buses must suffer from the tailbacks westbound, and the inadequate road design at the junction with Long lane/Abbey Street does nothing to smooth traffic flows.

Its' long overdue that Southwark decided how best to allocated road space, allowing buses to get to the next bottleneck quicker is not a solution, Grange Road is a Priority Bus Route with Penal Parking Controls, yet it still clogs up, and buses are delayed by skips rat running the OKR from Lewisham.

I too ride a bike, its' the best way around the confused state of roads in Southwark
Friday 13 February 2009 5.35pm
I've already had a reply from Valerie Shawcross, who says that the more emails and letters she receives on this matter the more pressure she can put on TFL to do something. The 78 is up for contract review, so start writing!
Friday 13 February 2009 5.56pm
The No.1 service, though not brilliant, is a MUCH IMPROVED service compared to when it was operated by First London. I think it's really important to get that on the record. Moreover, the drivers are (largely) extremely pleasant; again, not the case under First London.
However, when it's having a bad day, it has a really bad day. Also, in the morning and evening peaks, it simply does not have enough buses on the route: there are supposed to be between 5 and 7 buses an hour (according to the timetable) but I don't think it is ever at this level. As a result, it is frequently (IMO) overloaded (i.e. more passengers on it than it is legally supposed to carry).
But to reiterate, I rarely complain to TFL about the bus service under the current operators, whereas I used to be on the phone several times a week (and sometimes several times A DAY) to TFL about First London. I even e-mailed the Mayor about them.
Friday 13 February 2009 6.49pm
I have emailed Valerie, hopefully other people will as well.

I accept the point about cycling, but I find cycling in London quite frightening. I don't want to cycle on Long Lane, it just seems too busy and narrow. Is there a better route to Spa Road from borough, avoiding Long Lane?
Sunday 15 February 2009 1.02pm
Val's team have produced a video too

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