Monday, November 21, 2011

Bus Arrivals Boards

I don't know how long this info has been available but I noticed today that you can now see bus arrival times in the same way as for trains. On the LU web site you can select a location to bring up a street map then click on a bus stop symbol on the map and up pops a list of the buses due to call there with estimated times of arrival. I don't travel much by bus but for those who do this information is a real boon. I wonder if there is a smart-phone app for it? Bus travellers have it worse in some ways because they have nobody to ask if the buses don't run. At least we have the pleasure of clicking on a big green "Help" button and hearing a recorded announcement that there is nobody available to answer the call.

I exaggerate, of course [No! Really?: Ed]. In the main there is plenty of information about the state of the Tube and I think the service level has been pretty good in recent months. I don't bother about the Help buttons because I can see on the phone how the trains are running. It is not easy to convey how amazing this facility still is to me. I once stood for an hour at a bus stop, ignorant that they had cancelled the services for a while.  I have spent God knows how many hours wondering where my Piccadilly service had got to - in the bad old days when I had to go that way into London. The buses may be stuck in traffic and the trains held up by signal failures but at least you can get to know about it and knowledge is power.

Friday, November 11, 2011

A matter of timing

There has been some interest, in the local online paper in Ruislip, the Ruislip Online forum and on District Dave, about changes to the Metropolitan Line timetable due to commence in December. They want to move from the current 10 trains per hour at peak times and 6 off peak, to a steady 8 tph all day. The reasoning behind this is not at all clear. The system has always run more trains at peak because, well, peak means peak, dunnit? That's when more passengers travel. Having more trains off peak that will be simply be emptier than at present, whilst forcing more people to stand for longer thanks to the fewer seats in the new S stock trains as well as a reduced service, seems fairly illogical, Captain.

Having to wait a minute or so longer for a train to arrive is neither here or there. The problem is that they fill up so quickly and any delay, or longer gap in the normal service, makes it unpleasant to travel the relatively long distance to central London. However if, as may also be planned, there will be more fast trains from Harrow then changing there may make more sense than at present, where you never quite know if the so-called fast train will actually overtake the slow train you left and whether you will get a seat on it.

These are considerations lost to passengers on all the other lines (perhaps with the exception of the District/Piccadilly junction at Acton Town) and I think they are therefore not important to the people planning the Met schedules. Shame really. When you have to pay zone 6 fares, you might at least be sure of a seat. Just think, once upon a time the Met proudly ran Pullman coaches out to Amersham, Aylesbury and on into the wilds of outer Buckinghamshire. Of course, in those days it was a proper railway service, not a business with "customers".