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Bonkers Blog July 2017

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21 July - Trains are cancelled regularly and their managers follow suit at meetings

It was announced at the Transport Users’ Sub-Committee meeting last night that we were to be treated to “an experiment”. The desks were placed in a horseshoe shape - better - and the microphones were not going to be used. It worked quite well. Bexley Council’s sound system is a long way from being good and causes an echo when listeners are close to the the speaker - that’s the human speaker, not the wall mounted loudspeaker!

Whether someone depending on the hearing loop would be happy is another matter.

ChairmanThe Transport meeting is a good one - in theory anyway - because it deals with things that interest us all and Councillor Clark conducts it in a relaxed and easy going manner, far removed from her Mayoral days.

Roads, both maintenance and accident statistics, trains, buses and cycling are all up for discussion but yesterday the Safer Transport Team cops did not show up and neither did the Network Rail and Southeastern bods. The meeting was reduced to little more than buses and bikes. The Youth Council representatives did not show up either, well what would you expect on the last day of term?

The TfL presentation on new and revised bus routes (click to see slides photographed from the screen) was the same as the one delivered to the Crossrail Liaison Panel meeting a month ago so I didn’t learn an awful lot that was new.

We were reminded that the government had reduced TfL’s grant by £700 million which will have a big impact and new services “must stack up”. Passenger numbers have fallen by 5% over the past year which also impacts the budget.

The proposed 301 from Woolwich Arsenal Crossrail station to Bexleyheath via Abbey Wood’s Crossrail terminus which is currently down to be a large single decker every 15 minutes is just a tentative proposal and could be a double decker or the frequency might change. It was felt that some minor works might be required at the top of Knee Hill and anyone who has been forced into the kerb by the driver of a descending vehicle who ignores the white line will no doubt agree. There will be trial runs.

All the current proposals will commence service “a few days before” the Elizabeth Line opens, so that’s somewhere around the middle of December 2018.

The 180 will be extended to Erith Quarry via Erith town centre. At the other end it will be diverted to North Greenwich as Lewisham would be too long a route and become unreliable. There will be greater demand around North Greenwich too. (I’d be showing my age if I recall how the 15 passed my office every few minutes on its way from East Ham White Horse to Ladbroke Grove not many years ago.)

Travellers needing to get to a Crossrail station will want to do so quickly hence the more direct routing and the increased use of main roads. (I assume the TfL man has never seen the queue in Long Lane in the morning rush hour.) TfL thought that Welling residents would take the bus to Woolwich Arsenal. Bexley Councillors familiar with the congestion in Plumstead thought they wouldn’t. Councillor Stefano Borella advocated a direct Welling to Abbey Wood bus, “it’s not very far”. He is not wrong.

Councillor John Davey who lives by the top end of New Road (it runs parallel to Knee Hill) was critical of the meandering B11 bus route and “it takes too long to get to Bexleyheath”. He is right of course but at the moment it is the quickest way to get to Bexleyheath from Abbey Wood station. He was also right when he said there would be a massive movement to the 301 with its promise of a quicker connection. He advocated a double deck 301; right again.

Naturally this prompted the naysayers about the use of Knee Hill. Well straighten the kink at the top then! (The TfL bus consultation is open until 17th September.)

From new bus routes the meeting moved on to old ones. As must be fairly well known by now the 96 bus to Blue Water (running nonstop from Dartford) will divert to Darent Valley Hospital. The agreement with Kent is not actually signed yet but it is anticipated that the service will start in September.

The 89 and B15 have become unreliable and it is due to road works in far away Kidbrook Park Road and the knock on effects in Eltham and Shooters Hill.

When the cyclists took over the agenda all they seemed to want was more and more parking stands and the continuation of the single narrow temporary lane at the northern end of Harrow Manorway which is speed restricted to 20 m.p.h while the Crossrail related regeneration is underway. Bexley taxpayers have just provided an extra 38 cycle parking bays across the borough. More are on the way.

With no railway industry presence, Councillors were reduced to talking trains among themselves. Councillor Davey reminded everyone that there will be no trains to any of the regular terminals while London Bridge station goes through a critical phase. No one could remember the dates. (It’s Saturday 26th August to Saturday 2nd September.)

CalendarCouncillor Borella took the opportunity to ridicule the lack of twelve car trains long after they were promised. He was also unhappy - aren’t we all? - about Bexley residents paying more for Southeastern journeys which end in TfL territory than any other rail travellers.

Bexley Council is concerned about the loss of North Kent line services to Blackheath and Lewisham especially with the loss of the 180 bus too.

Cabinet Member for Transport Alex Sawyer has invited all the potential rail franchisees to come to Bexley as he doesn’t want Bexley residents to be “screwed over” again.

Chairman Clark asked the relevant Council officer to ask Network Rail to invite the Committee for a look around the new station at Abbey Wood, like the one I was offered in May.

On road accidents it wasn’t all good news although the relatively small number of casualties mean that the percentage change can look on the large side.

The number of vehicle collisions is up and the number of seriously injured casualties with it but the numbers are less than they were between 2005 and 2009.

There are some good points hidden among the figures; child injuries are down but one must suspect that the reversal of the previous decade’s improving trend is due to Bexley’s obsession with narrowing roads and poorly designed roundabouts that force dangerous lane changes.

The Chairman is particularly keen on road safety and praised the Lollypop ladies (Stop means Stop) now under threat from Sadiq Khan’s proposed cut to Bexley’s grant. She has also been campaigning in schools and elsewhere for child seats not to be sold second hand. There is no way one can tell if they have been internally damaged in crashes. However charity shops were not cooperating.

I shall ask my son - when he gets back from a road safety conference in Germany - who has been professionally involved in car crash tests for many years what the official position is with second hand seats. Personally I wouldn’t risk any child in a seat with an unknown history whatever the official line.

Stop means Stop. It is the law that drivers must stop when directed to do so by a School Crossing Patrol. It is not optional and there have been prosecutions.


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