Down here in North Peckham, we've been lobbying TfL for some time for improvements to our local bus services. Although our main focus has been Southampton Way/Wells Way and route 343, we're also keeping an eye on crowding on route 63.
TfL have assured us that, in their view, capacity on route 63 is "adequate". This doesn't match our experiences - during the morning peak, we find buses are often full and leaving people behind even as far back as the St Georges Way stop on Sumner Road.
I would be very interested to hear the views of people who use (or attempt to use) the 63 from Old Kent Road/Bricklayers Arms/New Kent Road during the morning rush hour. Is the service adequate? Can you always get on the 63, or do they sometimes leave you behind?
The 63 has always been a problem, but it does seem to have been getting worse recently (past 6 months)
I get the bus at the Old Kent Rd, East Street stop between 7.45am and 8.30am.
On most days, the 63 either drives straight past without stopping or stops to let a few passengers off before driving off (no passengers allowed to board)
In the past, you could normally rely on a 363 arriving soon after a 63 with space for passengers but I increasingly see the 363 arriving completely full as well.
It is clear to me that there are many more people living in the area, (local shops and supermarkets are also busier) but the bus service hasn't caught up yet. Every time I've written to TfL, they say that there is plenty of capacity, I think because only 4 or 5 stops have this problem as most buses empty out at Elephant.
I think 3 things need to happen:
1) the drivers of the 63 need to allow more passengers onto the bus. Since the new buses arrived last year, the drivers seem less happy to completely fill the bus.
2) the 363 needs to be extended to Southwark tube or Blackfriars as can be seen by the scrum for the 100/45/63 when a 363 arrives at Elephant
3) More buses during the morning and evening peaks, particularly on the Tesco to Elephant section. I've previously suggested the 100 or 139 could be extended during peak hours but TfL assured me there was no problem.
I use the 63 route every day to work and travel from Blackfriars to Honor Oak. Although I manage to escape the rush in the morning as I leave home at 7.30, I find that there are many occasions when the drivers do not stop at bus stops, and the route is often terminated at Nigel Road. When I ask for an extension ticket I am met with a sarcastic comment or a glare from the driver,although I don't see why I have to re-pay my fare!
4) People already on the bus need to move down the bus/go upstairs when other people get off.
The driver is more likely to let people get on if everyone else moves down. If people get off and the others don't move down then the driver is a bit stuck since he still has no space to let new passengers on.
I find that buses are often a good example of the selfishness of London travellers - once people are on the bus they don't care if others can't get on, they just want to get to their destination as quickly as they can. Same with the tubes, people will make an effort when they're getting on, but once they are on they are far less likely to move down to make space.
I use the bus 63 from the Bricklayers Arms Roundabout stop to Farringdon, I am at the bus stop for 7.30 to 7.45 a.m. and find it is nearly impossible to get on that bus at that stop. I now take any bus to the Elephant and change and wait to get on the bus there. I think a lot of the problem is that the upstairs seating is not used, and I notice that a lot of school children sit downstairs as opposed to taking seats upstairs. Could tfl consider running a certain amount of buses just specifically for children that might help ease the problem.
I spent a several mornings watching buses at different stops on Old Kent Road a few weeks ago. Each morning, I saw buses leaving full, and buses leaving people behind - not just on route 63, but the 63 did seem to be struggling to cope more than other routes (although the 53 and 172 were also quite crowded).
The worst problems I saw were at the stop on Old Kent Road just north of East Street - in the space of an hour, of twelve 63s seen, seven of them didn't let anyone on board at all.
I've passed my observations to TfL, but they are maintaining their view that capacity on the route is "adequate". If anyone disagrees with this (or has ongoing problems with any other bus route for that matter), it's worth e-mailing TfL - there's a contact form on their website - to try to raise their awareness of the problems.