The G1 bus on Sabine Road
The G1 bus on Sabine Road

I have a soft spot for the G1. It has always struck me as a cozy route and is probably the most friendly bus on which I have ever travelled in London. However, not everyone is a big fan of the route, so Transport for London are consulting on re-routing it for part of its journey through the Shaftesbury Park Estate.

In essence, the proposals would mean that on its journey southbound it would remain on Eversleigh Road, rather than travelling half-way along Eversleigh Road before turning up Grayshott Road and then along Sabine Road before leaving.

TfL made the proposal in response to complaints residents of Sabine Road made to the council about, among other things, speeding buses, damage to cars and traffic congestion caused by the buses.

To deal with the bread-and-butter of the issue first the formal consultation runs until 12 July, and a letter and map of the changes should have been sent to all households in the area. However, following the negative response from Eversleigh Road it looks like they will be extending that consultation period. As councillors we are trying to organise a public meeting on the issue in conjunction with TfL. If you would be affected, positively or negatively, by the proposed changes I encourage you to respond directly to TfL.

Less straightforward is how to satisfy everyone. Or, if you assume that not everyone can be satisfied, how you achieve the most satisfaction for residents.

The G1’s route was changed fairly recently. Until a few years ago its southbound journey took it on a dog-leg out of the estate via Eland Road. While that change was not universally popular I have no doubt that Eland Road was unsuitable for a bus, aside from being a fairly steep hill, there are no natural passing places and the entry onto Lavender Hill is narrow.

To my mind—which is only that of a mildly well-informed layman on traffic management matters—the arguments between Eversleigh and Sabine Roads are less clear. Indeed, they are so unclear that some of the arguments can be made both ways depending on viewpoint. One argument raised is that the change will mean some less mobile passengers will have further to go to catch the bus. The obvious counter argument is that some less mobile passengers will not have to go as far to catch the bus.

But cherry-picking that argument should not detract from some of the real concerns about the impact on traffic at the junction, the loss of parking spaces on the final corner and the impact of the bus on a road that already has significant noise issues from the railway line to the north.

At the risk of being overly philosophical (and as ever, I considered self-censoring, before deciding to publish and be damned) there is a utilitarian dimension to the issue. There is clearly dissatisfaction with the current route from Sabine Road residents. There is also dissatisfaction with the proposed change from Eversleigh Road residents. Given that no-one is suggesting removing the route from the estate and there isn’t a magical solution that pleases everyone (unless I lack the imagination to see it) which option creates the fewest problems and least unhappiness?

I’m happy to admit that, at this stage, I just don’t know. Indeed, this may be one of those issues where there is never enough concrete evidence to favour one option over another. I suspect that TfL are in a similar position, so whatever your views, I’d recommend making sure they know.

Transport for London have finally started working on the entry treatments to the Shaftesbury Park Estate that will make it a 20mph zone.

Local residents will know that equipment and stock from the works they did to the entries to Amies Street have sat on Sabine Road for some time. And Wandsworth Council have been placing 20mph signs up around the estate in preparation.

However, yesterday they closed Sabine Road at the junction with Latchmere Road and began work. Along with the cushions already in place within the Shaftesbury Park Estate area it is designed to improve safety and reduce speeding along the long straight roads of the estate.

I’ve posted about this a few times before, but investigated a little further when asked by a resident recently if it was still happening. They had not seen any of the works they expected taking place.

I was also a little confused when Transport for London (TfL) started working on the other side of Latchmere Road. Part of me did wonder if they had made a mistake!

However, it is all going ahead as planned. If you wander down to Tyneham Road the preparatory work on the some of the junctions there has already taken place, with the junctions further in the estate next in line. In fact, the whole programme is going more or less to schedule, although the start was delayed slightly by the adverse weather.

The TfL works are down to them having decided to implement a cycling scheme. This will see the two junctions of Amies Street and Latchmere Road along with the junctions with the Poyntz Road triangle at Knowsley Road and Shellwood Road get entry treatments. The Heathwall Street and Sabine Road treatments will be completed as part of this work (and in the same style as the road cushions inside the estate).

Incidentally, while trying to find out about this I came across TfL’s roadworks map. It’s not the most accurate, it’s showing the us as the ‘owner’ of some works that are theirs and lists one of the schemes as cancelled, which it certainly hasn’t been. However, it’s a potentially useful resource – or just interesting if you are geeky like me.

The results of the council’s consultation on traffic control in the Stormont Road area (which in reality is most of the roads between Clapham Common and Lavender Hill) were considered by the council’s transport committee last night.

They were, frankly, more an exercise in showing how consultation often doesn’t help anyone come to a conclusion! Of the 2,700+ consultation forms sent out only 457 were returned (around 1 in 6). And the opinion was not terribly conclusive.

One of the ideas was to ban right turns from Clapham Common Northside into the roads in the area. The purpose behind this is to prevent rat-running from people who want to head north but avoid the one way loop around part of Clapham Common that keeps them on roads better suited for higher traffic volumes. For this, 46% of respondents liked the idea… and 46% of people didn’t like the idea!

The other suggestion was to reverse the one-way flow of Lavender Gardens. While this wasn’t as evenly balanced, it was hardly a conclusive result, 33% opposed it, 23% supported it and 45% expressed no opinion (to be fair the result in Lavender Gardens itself was much more conclusive, with 68% against and 32% in support).

On the basis of the results the council will be progressing the introduction of 24 hour no right turns from Clapham Common Northside into the roads, but looking at alternative means of controlling the traffic in Lavender Gardens.

It is proof that the council does listen to consultations. But also evidence that it’s sometimes very hard to hear what they are saying – the voice of Lavender Gardens was clear, but the result on the right turns couldn’t have been closer, and guarantees that whatever the council does it would make half the people unhappy!

A cynic, however, might suggest that the clearest result of all is that 5 out of 6 people don’t care enough to spend a few minutes completing and sending off a pre-paid form.

The full paper and detailed results along with three appendices can be found on the council’s website.

I wasn’t entirely positive about Transport for London the other day – although it was a little tongue-in-cheek – when I realised it would cost them more to process my ‘late’ bus fare than the bus fare I was paying.  I was then a little cheeky on Twitter suggesting their positive feedback form was ‘dropdownboxtastic’ (and more than a little clunky).

However, credit where credit is due.  I filled in the form, giving the necessary detail and reasons and asking for my comments and congratulations to be passed on.  I did it half-expecting to hear no more.  But less than 24 hours later they’d emailed back, thanking me for my comments and letting me know what would be happening with them and the member of staff in question.

They made the good point that frontline staff are rarely thanked for their work (and often bear the brunt of criticism for the actions of management or drivers).  From the purely selfish point of view it’s good for the soul to take a few moments to say thank-you.  If you feel motivated to do the same, pop along to the TfL contact page and click ‘say thank-you’

A bus, not entirely unlike the 87
A bus, not entirely unlike the 87

I’m not being entirely fair here, but I want to have a rant (perhaps to vent some tension built up from the various exchanges I’m having with the PFRA).

I’ve been landed with an Unpaid Fair Notice by Transport for London. I got on the 87 at Lavender Hill and my card was dead. Not sure why, it was fine the last time I used it, but nothing registered. I started to get off the bus, assuming I’d have to get a replacement from the local shop, but the driver called me back, dug out a little yellow notepad and proceeded to issue me with the Unpaid Fare Notice to cover the £1 pre-pay fare. My apologies to those passengers delayed while this happened.

At first I was rather impressed, like most people I’ve seen passengers waved on when they had a failed card or the reader was broken and assumed that at least some of them were getting to travel for free (I’m not sure why but people abusing public transport is one my real bêtes noir). I now had a yellow slip of proof that TfL do care about revenue protection – a yellow slip telling me that I had five days to pay or face a penalty charge notice being issued.

But as I come to pay, I’ve started to realise: I’m ripping myself off.

By paying the fare now (either by cheque or by phone with a credit card) I will be costing myself even more money. This isn’t an issue about the time, or about the cost of postage, it’s about the fact that I know it costs more than the £1 they will get to process the cheque or credit card payment. I know this because I used to work within TfL, but actually it’s fairly common sense – from receiving the letter in the post room to paying the cheque in it takes someone, somewhere, time. And while a credit card would be quicker, there’s always a commission taken out by the credit card company.

And of course this all this excludes the cost of issuing and monitoring the unpaid fare.

And who will pay this extra processing cost? Well, passengers like you and me. So I’m paying the fare. Then, somewhere down the line, I’ll be paying over some money which will track through the system and, eventually, defray the costs of processing my cheque.

Yes, I know that if they didn’t do this then everyone would hop on with a broken card and travel for free. But that seems to be what usually happens anyway. Even if drivers started wielding the yellow book more often, the experienced failed Oystercard blagger will have a false name and address ready. Or even just say the card is a Travelcard. Actually, even the inexperienced Travelcard blagger will know it now (if they’ve read this).

It seems to me that this is a case where (perhaps) no-one has actually thought about the cost of enforcement.

In the end I opted to pay by cheque, mainly so I could suggest they recoup the processing cost from Croydon Tramlink so I don’t have to pay twice – sorry to Croydon, it’s a terrible blow coming after your lazy journalist swine flu devastation:

Dear Sir or Madam,
Unpaid Fare Notice: UFN 1002489

Please find enclosed a cheque, for £1.00, made payable to Transport for London in respect of the above Unpaid Fare Notice issued at 10.10am on 24 August 2009 when my Oyster card suddenly failed.

I hope the processing cost per cheque isn’t significantly higher than the £1.28 it was when I worked within the TfL family a year ago.

You may have noticed I didn’t simply give a false name and address or pretend my Oyster pre-pay card was actually a Travelcard but accepted the Unpaid Fare Notice. I hope this honesty is rewarded by the processing cost being recouped via fares from a form of transport I don’t use – I’d hate to have to pay twice!  May I suggest Croydon Tramlink?

Kind regards, etc.

(To be a little bit more positive about TfL the station assistant at Pimlico was absolutely fabulous in helping me through the process of getting a replacement Oystercard and I’ve also dropped them a line congratulating him.)

Eccles Road Thames Water worksI went along to the Thames Water “drop-in” for Eccles Road residents affected by the extensive sewer works last night.  It was certainly a useful session to find out more about the project, if not useful in getting any commitment to compensation for residents affected by the disturbance. However, it was good to see Thames Water taking the initiative as I think they would agree their communication with residents hasn’t been great throughout the process.

The works are needed to provide extra sewer capacity for the area and Thames Water hope to have them finished by the end of next month.  So the good news for residents is that the disturbance will soon be over, however, I know many feel that might just be the start of their problems.

Repairs to damage

Thames have undertaken to independently survey any house where the resident feels damage has been caused by the Thames works, and, where damage is found Thames will cover the cost of repairs.  Thames Water had surveyed several houses in the street before the work started so have some benchmarks to give an idea of what will have happened as a result of the vibration associated with the digging and tunnelling.

They also have to repair the road and pavements they have damaged to the satisfaction of the council.  Clearly Wandsworth is not going to want to pick up the tab for damage caused by a utility company, so will be checking to make sure the road is left in a good state.


On the issue of compensation, however, they were resolute that none would be offered.  Their argument was that it was difficult to put a value on the disruption, to scale it appropriately and totally unaffordable when it would have to be paid to anyone affected by their works across the region – essentially it raised so many problems it was better not to bother.  While I can understand their stance, it is very disappointing for residents with young children who have had to tolerate generators outside their home for months on end.

I’ve asked for more details on their repair scheme, and will post them when it comes, and will continue to pressure for some compensation for badly affected residents, though I fear Thames Water will not shift their position.

Thames Water are holding their drop-in sessions every Tuesday until the project is completed.  You can pop along anytime between 6pm and 9pm at 91 Eccles Road.  Alternatively they have information on their website at or by calling 08459 200 800 (of course, nothing could be that straightforward, you have to choose option 1, then option 5 then give your address and reference BB 78393).

Can Eccles Road remain closed?

The next question for many residents will be whether the road can remain closed to traffic.  I have already raised this issue with the council department responsible.  In the very short term, the answer is almost certainly no.  Battersea Rise is a TfL Red Route, so we would not be able to make any changes to the road without a lengthy consultation with TfL.

Even then, we would have to consider the effect any change would have on traffic flows; changing the status of Eccles Road will not change the general patterns of driving, people will still head from A to B and we will need to study the alternative routes they might take and the effect it would have on nearby (and not so nearby) roads – especially as the most obvious alternative routes are also residential streets.  Again, I’ll post more details when they are available along with the council’s formal response to the petition I presented at the last council meeting.

Boris explains the new extension

Boris explains the new extension


As I posted via Posterous earlier, Boris Johnson came to Clapham Junction to formally announce the East London Line would be extended to SW11.  It’s absolutely fantastic news for the area, and marks the end of eight year’s campaigning by the council to get the line here.

The new route will take commuters from Clapham Junction all the way, if they want, to Dalston Junction on the London Overground route via Surrey Quays.  It means there will be new routes to the City and Docklands.  Most importantly the route does not mean heading directly into zone one, but is orbital.  Hopefully this will relieve pressure on the station and services passing through the station.  As anyone who uses Clapham Junction at rush hour will know, it’s a bit of a crush and seems to be getting worse.

The new services should start before the Olympics, so there are a few more years to go, but after campaigning for eight years, it’s great to see the end in sight.