Monday, 12 March 2018

Weekend Collection Over-run

Apparently he is called Sid ...

Our Norwich to London service is changing! Instead of our final stop being London Victoria Coach Station, we're now stopping at Stratford International.

... but instead of taking you through from Norwich to Victoria Coach Station, he will throw you out round the back of Stratford International; here under the Agromex lorry, in fact.
From here, says Megabus effusively in its press release ...

... the great news is you can now get to Central London even faster!

That is true for most destinations as the current timetable allows one whole hour for the grind between Stratford and Victoria on your Megabus.

And it's all low cost so heading into the heart of the capital has never been easier!

Low cost? Now that is a laugh. In theory you can travel with Sid for £1.50 but in practice getting the really daft cheapo fare is rare. Mostly, the cheapest was £6.55 when fbb looked a couple of days ago. Presumably that fare is the same for Stratford as for Victoria.

Whether you think of it as low (it isn't!) or not, the extra "leg" into London will be an additional cost on your journey. But we will park the fares conundrum for a while and look at the practicalities of a change at Stratford. 

So want to know how quickly you can get to Central London? We've got the lowdown for you.

You could be in St Pancras in 6 minutes when you're catching the High Speed services from International Station.

True. If you want to go to St Pancras the trip is nippy in the extreme. Trains run every 15 minutes Monday to Saturday, so zippity doodah all round. The coach, remember, will drop you right outside the entrance to Stratford International station.

International? Oh yes, that was the plan. The idea was that Eurostar trains would stop there; but they never have done and probably never will. So it is South Eastern's High Speed "Javelin" commuter trains only.
While you are waiting you may spot a Eurostar chugging through the expensive but unused platforms.
But what if you do not want to "nip" to St Pancakes? Then you tackle the horror that is Stratford Railway Station.

And the first horror is getting there!
Sid unloads you at the Northern entrance to International. There is a walkway between office blocks beside the station ...
... called Celebration Avenue. Are you carrying luggage? Then join in with the celebrations! This path will lead you to the exciting retail experience that is the Westfield Centre, where, if you are clever enough (or lucky enough) you can toddle on the level via the Lower Ground Floor of the shopping Mall to the northern entrance of the main station.

What if the shopping mall is closed?
In that case, the simple flat route is not available so it may well be more circuitous expedition.
Or maybe catch a train?

Opposite the (non)International "big train" station is the Docklands Light Railway (even less)International station.
How about renaming them both as Stratford Centre North?

You can just spot the DLR logo under the canopy, centre right. The line loops round and dives under the bulk of the main station to appear at a low level.
But don't take this route if you are not travelling further. The minimum fare on the Underground/Docklands (Zones 1, 2 and 3) is now a whopping £4.90. If you are travelling further this "extra" will take you anywhere in Central London. If you are wise enough to have an Oyster Card or brave enough to use "Wave and Pay", your ticket price reduces to £2.90 (Zones 1 an 2) which is less painful.

But now ...

Be afraid - be VERY afraid!

Or you can catch the Central Line from the regional station to Oxford Circus and be shopping up a storm in 20 minutes.

Payments can be made quickly on both routes using contactless and Oyster.

If you choose the zip into St Pancras from International, things become doubly painful ...
... namely £6.40 (yep, it's an old photo) instead of the standard £4.90/£2.90! OUCH! This reduces to £4.25 if you use a magic card. [Day Return £8.00/£5.30; Off Peak Return £11.40/£7.55].

But the double whammy is that it it  NOT  included in the "Travelcard Cap".
For the uninitiated, this means that the clever confuser that runs Oyster will always make sure that, however many journeys you make, you will never pay any more than (e.g.) the One-Day Travelcard price.
Cue Gilbert and Sullivan's HMS Pinafore.

What never?

No, never.

What never?

Well, hardly ever - you'll never pay more than a day!

But you will if you travel between Stratford International and St Piecrust. The fare will always be extra, over and above your Travelcard total.

This means that a journey from International to St Pancras (6 minutes; great) then via the Victoria Line (10 minutes) to Victoria to walk to the coach station and catch a connection, will, for example, ALWAYS cost you £11.30 without Oyster and £7.15 with. OUCH!

So, when Megabus M16 from Norwich changes and dumps you at Stratford International, your journey will probably not be easy; and it WILL be painfully more expensive.

fbb has a suggestion. Look for cheapo offers from National Express!
Throw Sid into the bin!
On Saturday last, Mrs fbb and hubby took a trip to the Isle of Wight to visit fbb's sister. She is in a care home and has numerous health problems, so the trip was hardly full of joy and delight. It is some time since they made this journey and there were a few niceties to report.

 Next Vectensian blog : Tuesday 13th March 


  1. 1. Anyone wanting central London already incurs onward travel costs from Victoria - which as you have pointed out are the same as from Stratford.
    2. The revised service will stop at Stratford City Bus Station, not the current stop. That is as near to Stratford regional station as it is to the International options.
    3. The fastest route from Stratford to Victoria Coach Station is not via St Pancras, because of the excessive interchange times at the latter (and an average 7.5 minute wait for a Javelin). Rather it is the Central and District, with an easy cross-platform interchange at Mile End. Even including walking to Victoria coach station, the TfL journey planner suggests this can be accomplished in just under 50 minutes i.e. faster than the coach.
    4. The change *is* negative if you are one of a handful of people who are connecting with another coach at Victoria, but other services that do this remain available.
    5. TfL has already indicated that Victoria does not have a long term future, so a suburban terminal may become the norm. This is a useful experiment to gauge the impact of such a change.

    1. Don't let facts get in the way of a good rant though.

      He's got to produce one of these every day!!!!

  2. Guessing you've recently had a run in with the somebody at Megabus?

  3. Not at all Chris. But combined with the closure of Megabus work at Plymouth this is NOT a good sign. And to anon above - which of the facts above in incorrect? If I were travelling from Norwich, I would not be a user of a Megabus short working! My prediction is that M16 will be gone by the Summer.

  4. I find when researching transport changes, that some of it doesn’t make sense to me. Mostly that’s because I am considering it against memory from a long time ago and the marketplace has changed.

    The above blog starts with replicating a mistake given on another blog. Namely that the altered Megabus M16 will use the existing setting down point at Stratford International rather than the reality of it being diverted to end at Stratford Bus Station. (On Megabus book a Norwich to London journey for any date in June and see what is offered.) Stratford Bus station is well connected and used by National Express for its A9 shuttle to Stanstead Airport every 30 minutes, 24 hrs a day. Ending journeys in east London is nothing new. 50 years ago the LT Greenline Coaches from Essex (720,721,723,..) all terminated at Aldgate Minories Coach Station rather than going through to Victoria. More recently other commuter routes have picked similar end points.

    Cash single fares in London are a very rare survival from the old days and not much used. In London you pay by card (Oyster or Bank debit) by area and by day/week/month. Buses only take cards (No Cash) and the young, old, disabled, get their discounts via special versions of Oyster card. The Kent High speed trains into St Pancras have always charged premium fares throughout.

    In all cases who is travelling and what is the whole journey. Children from home to school, adults home to work / shops / or may be on holiday or visiting friends. It is unlikely to be station to station with a walk at both ends. Victoria Coach Station is not a destination in its own right for most people. It is not even an interchange for that many and doesn’t form a hub particularly for Megabus. People arriving in London want to go all over the place. I am reminded that on the Hertford East to London Liverpool Street local trains, about half the off peak passengers get off at Tottenham Hale and change on to the Victoria Line rather than go all the way into London.

    Megabus serves many universities and that age group was, at least initially, their target audience. The north Devon, Bristol, Bath and Cardiff Megabus routes are mainly run by South Gloucestershire Bus and Coach, not Stagecoach. Stagecoach’s Plymouth depot not running Megabus may be they have found a cheaper alternative or one based nearer Falmouth for the Cornish services. Wait and see. The Falcon service is not Megabus, but certain connecting journeys accept Megabus bookings. Also Stagecoach South West lost their main depot in Exeter (Council redevelopment) and the Plymouth Depot now provides the big maintenance facilities, like paint shop, for Devon.

    1. SC also have a new Exeter depot at Matford (on outskirts) with big maintenance & paint shop. Even with Megabus the size of Plymouth one was an overkill.

  5. I don't know, but it is highly possible that the traffic in London has now reached the stage that the Norwich Megabus service can't be provided with the current PVR. I somehow doubt the Megabus concept has the financial strength to produce an additional PVR for now extra revenue, so rather than being some conspiracy to withdraw the route it might actually be an attempt to save it.

    Who are Megabus competing with? National Express, who do offer Victoria and Abellio Greater Anglia, who offer Liverpool Street.

    Whatever the reason for the revised route, and whatever other options were considered and rejected, does a commercial business really make changes deliberately to lose custom and so that it can then justify closing the operation at a later date?

    Maybe the strap line should be "if you see Sid, ask him".

  6. The Norwich route is also subcontracted, at least in part> I regularly see one journey which is run by Freestones.
    The impending changes to the low emission zone may also have something to do with it, especially if newer coaches cannot be justified.