Saturday 19th February 2022
I’d planned to use this blog to write about the fourth funding settlement agreed between DfT and TfL yesterday including the controversial stuff like Travelcards ending.
But I guessed a settlement wouldn’t be agreed. And instead there’d be a further extension from last night’s midnight expiry of the already twice extended third funding settlement.
DfT have got form here.
Three previous temporary emergency funding deals have been agreed between the DfT and TfL. And up to last night there had been five extensions.
The first settlement lasted from 1 April 2020 to 17th October 2020. As the clock ticked towards its midnight expiry on 17th October 2020 and TfL said they had contingency plans to close down the system if no agreement was reached, an eleventh hour and fifty-ninth minute agreement was made to extend the deal by two weeks to expire on 31st October 2020.
A second deal was then put in place on 1st November 2020 to last until 31st March 2021.
On 18th March 2021 the DfT proposed a short-term two-month extension of that funding package to 18th May 2021. A further extension was announced at the last minute that day for another ten days until 28th May 2021.
On 1st June 2021 it was announced a third funding settlement had been agreed for the period from 29th May 2021 until 17th December 2021.
As the 17th December deadline was about to expire, funding was extended to 4th February 2022.
On the evening of 4th February 2022 a further extension was agreed to 18th February 2022.
Which is where we were yesterday.
When Andy Byford was appointed Transport Commissioner in May 2020 one of the first things he said was it was essential TfL received a long term funding settlement. Three short term deals and six even shorter extensions later I guess he probably thinks that even more.
So I’m sorry I can’t bring you news and comment on the fourth funding deal in today’s blog; there’s been no public announcement as I write this late on Friday night/early on Saturday morning although sources tell me TfL are scrutinising a DfT letter received yesterday which mentions the word billion but it’s not known precisely how much or what strings are attached.
There must be a letter of some kind, saying something about funding, otherwise legally, no TfL services should be running this morning.
What a way to run the Capital’s public transport – lurching from one midnight deadline to the next, not knowing what funding will be available. Yet, this model of running public transport is hailed by naive politicians as how the whole country’s bus networks should be run.
Imagine a bus company in a large conurbation put fares up by 1% more than RPI, never mind CPI. Imagine if that bus company had reduced service frequencies consistently over the last six months taking out 263 peak vehicles from its network with more cuts coming almost week by week. Imagine if that bus company said it was planning to pull out of a long standing and hugely popular integrated ticket arrangement whereby passengers buy a rail ticket to travel into the conurbation by train from outside and use all services within the area using that one ticket, but it’ll no longer be available. Imagine if a bus company increased the age for concessionary travel from aged 60 to aged 66. Imagine if that bus company for years has refused to take part in day ticket schemes when its longer distance services cross the border into neighbouring areas. Imagine there are no bus maps or timetables available to tell you where and when that company’s buses operate. Imagine one bus route which crosses the border ceasing in a few weeks with no announcements of any replacement for passengers left stranded. Imagine its so called integrated ticketing regime charges different fares for exactly the same journey depending whether you travel by a train that goes on tracks at ground level or on tracks in a tunnel. Imagine if the bus company gets round to offering luxuries like a usb socket, mobile phone holder, (sort of) head rest on a seat, wood effect flooring and a window in the roof at least five if not about ten years after all other leading bus companies introduced them but thinks they’re a major innovation…..
…. yes, you’ve guessed it …..you don’t have to imagine ….. welcome to “London style” buses.
And another thing….
Wandsworth’s disappearing bus stops
Long time readers may recall a blog from 6th April last year when I wrote about the phantom bus stops which had appeared in Osiers Road, Wandsworth much to the puzzlement of local residents. TfL had launched a consultation back in March 2018 about a proposal to double the frequency of route 485 from half hourly to every 15 minutes, divert the route via Upper Richmond Road instead of Putney Bridge Road and extend it from Wandsworth town centre to “Wandsworth Riverside Quarter” and serve a swathe of new flats built in Osiers Road.
Despite no word on the results of that consultation, three years later, residents’ expectations were heightened last March when TfL’s contractors installed bus stops in Osiers Road ready for buses to arrive.
Except they didn’t. Instead, after my blog was published the contractors returned and covered over the bus stop flags as well as inserting ‘Bus stop closed’ signs in the timetable cases which only added to the consternation among residents.
Now, almost another year later and four years on from the consultation, the contractors have been back again, and this time removed the bus stop flags and fittings as well as the complete bus stop pole, and filled the hole in where it stood.
It doesn’t look as though “Wandsworth River Quarter” will be receiving it’s route 485 buses any time soon. If ever.
However, all hope might not be lost. TfL still have the three bus stops concerned in their online database. You can still find Osiers Road (eastbound), Osiers Road (westbound) and the terminus at Wandsworth Riverside Quarter Pier listed on these links.
My grateful thanks to local resident and blog reader Paul for keeping me appraised of bus stop developments in the area and supplying these latest photographs.
While Paul and his neighbours might be disappointed not to have received their 15 minute bus service they can enjoy a new edition of Mike Harris’s splendid Greater London Bus Map if they want to see what other bus routes they’re missing out on.
Mike has been painstakingly updating his wonderful map and has just published the latest digital edition on line with a promise of a printed update to follow in May. You can order a download of the latest map for the amazing price of just £1 through this link. It’s highly recommended for all bus map lovers.
So that’s it for today. A few London matters. After all, the Mayor rightly tell’s us London’s transport does matter. He’s certainly right about that. But what a state it’s in.
If you’re reading this when first posted on Saturday morning, I’m out and about enjoying some rail replacement bus rides as the Brighton Main Line begins its nine day blockade for the second time in three years.
I checked to see if the marquee was back again at Three Bridges on Wednesday.
Although whether it’s still there after Eunice is another matter, but those concrete blocks look sturdy enough and I’m told it can withstand winds of up to 90 mph.
Contractors were at work widening the steps to allow two way movement from the station to the adjacent car park and its “bus hub” as there’s no overhead walkway this time.
More on all this in tomorrow’s blog.
Blogging timetable: 06:00 TThSSu.
Next blog, Sunday 20th February 2022: Britain’s biggest rail replacement ever. Part 3.