Friday, 6 April 2018

The Grand Tour (two)

RV1 ReViewed
Route RV1 commenced operating on 27 April 2002 between Covent Garden and Tower Gateway station.

Yes, it does stop NEAR Covent Garden ...
... (straight ahead in the picture above) but the bus stands on Catherine Street next to the Novello Theatre, so arguably terminates at the Aldwych.
The service carried Riverside branding and was intended to open up the South Bank, connecting visitor attractions including the National Theatre, London Eye, Royal Festival Hall and Tate Modern. It serves many streets that had not previously been served by buses.

The service was jointly promoted by Transport for London and the South Bank Employers' Group. The Daily Telegraph called the route one of the "best routes for sightseeing on a shoestring"

Not sure about that; there are sights at the beginning, Waterloo Bridge and the Thames ...
... and at the end, Tower Bridge and the Thames.
But in between?

As part of his "Grand Tour" (yesterday), fbb rode the RV1 from Waterloo to London Bridge - the bit in the middle. There were three reasons:-

1. He had never ridden the route before (like squillions of other London bus routes!), BUT ...

2. He had never ridden on a bus powered by Hydrogen gas, And ...

3. Because of what happened back in February.

Incredibly for a central London bus route, it was reduced in frequency from every 10/12 minutes to a bus every 20 minutes!

This has not pleased the locals ...
... or the local press; this piece from February this year.

Southwark Liberal Democrats are calling on the Mayor of London to take urgent action to stop the RV1 bus service being cut in half.

It failed to achieve anything.

Borough Liberal Democrat councillors David Noakes, Adele Morris and Maria Linforth-Hall have written to Transport for London (TfL) to demand that the plans are immediately halted so that residents can have their say.

The letter was ignored.

Liberal Democrat candidate for Borough and Bankside Victor Chamberlain has also launched a petition, which will be handed to Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon and presented to the Mayor at the London Assembly Plenary meeting in March.

Likewise it failed.

TfL announced out of the blue that they plan to reduce the RV1 service from six to three buses an hour. The service is well used and loved by local residents, office workers, commuters and tourists alike. It is the only bus that connects Covent Garden, the London Eye, the South Bank, Tate Modern, the Globe, Borough Market, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. The RV1 is notable as one of the few zero emission bus routes as it is operated by a fleet of hydrogen powered buses.

Surely his makes the RV1 the least frequent of any central London route.
The Waterloo stop is on York Road, accessed by marching briskly (ha, jolly ha!) past the former Eurostar platforms and descending to street level just before the closed footbridge that used to lead to the Shell Centre.

Arrival from Axminster at Waterloo was scheduled at 1049 so fbb was prepared to catch the 1115 departure but the train was THREE minutes early, so the 1055 was a possibility.
The bus arrived at 1157. It loops via the London Eye ...
... but building work on the upgrade and development of the Shell Building meant that construction vehicles reduced progress to barely a crawl.
Typically for London, progress thereafter was not swift. The bus calls at the back door of the Festival Hall, the back door of the National Theatre, near the OXO tower, round the back of Bankside Tate Gallery but not in sight of anything notable.

Although not "headlined" the London Hop Exchange is worth a look. Nobody exchanges hops there any more but it is a splendid edifice.
The actual dealing floor (where the hops were exchanged on paper if not literally) is absolutely magnificent.
It is now the usual offices and stuff.
fbb's bus carried just 8 passengers all the way to London bridge with a handful joining and leaving on the way. Is that in decline since the service reduction? Seems likely.

But is was powered by Hydrogen.
The Hydrogen is magically turned into electricity using technology which you might be able to understand if you remember a classroom experiment back at school.
Bung some lectric into water and collect the gases that bubbles off the ends of the wires - it's called electrolysis. Reverse that process and the Hydrogen can MAKE electricity.

Sitting on the RV!, the drive is silent (electric) but you can head the slight "thrum" from the gubbins that does the clever stuff.


The mayor of London, Mr Khan ...
...of maybe the other Mr Khan ...
... has aid he will review the RV1 in six moths - by which time the ridership will have declined significantly.

Withdrawal in the New Year 2019?

For the time being, take a ride including the pretty bits that fbb missed.

 Next Grand Tour blog : Saturday 7th April 
EASTER a final thought.
In 2000 years of careful and erudite study, no written evidence had been found to contradict the Biblical accounts of the empty tomb. The conspiracy theorists who propose that the whole thing is a fiction base their conclusions on pure speculation.

For a committed Christian, that empty tomb and the resurrection appearances form the core pf their faith.

Just at the  WEEPING WOMAN  was comforted by Jesus - those of us who have wept or are weeping still receive strength from Him.

We look a the  FAILED FISHERMAN  and just as he was forgiven and accepted by Christ, so are we. We may not aspire to be h leader of a major church movement (Rome) but Jesus still inspires great work from his follower.

Many of us feel and affiliation with the  CONFUSED COMPANIONS  as they walked sadly to Emmaus but the words of Jesus can still feel like a fire within us; a fire that warms and powers our lives.

There is no Christian alive that has never had doubts about aspects of their faith; every one of us can, from time to time, be a  DOUBTING DISCIPLE . But as Jesus said to Thomas; just look openmindedly at the events of Easter and belief is not so hard.

And there is Pentecost still to come!


  1. The RV1 was always a bus route that was designed to link lots of unimportant places, and was intended mainly for tourists (hence the Covent Garden terminus, not Aldwych).

    In these financially stringent times, Mayor (my dad was a bus driver) Khan has caused the downfall of the RV1 by these three factors:
    1. Government demanded that the grant to TfL be cut to zero;
    2. Khan introduced the Hopper fare - brilliant idea, but has had two effects (a) loss in revenue because many journeys now only have one single fare to be paid;
    (b) many passengers making one or two stop trips because it costs nuffink, thereby slowing the bus down.
    3. Khan decided to freeze as many fares in London as he could freeze, 'cos it looked good politically.

    So - we have a reduction in Government grant; a reduction in cash fares collected via Oyster; a reduction in revenue because of a price freeze.

    Here's the surprising part . . . . TfL are busy slashing and burning bus routes and frequencies wherever possible . . . . there are roundly 8000 buses in service in London on a weekday, and London Buses are looking to take out roundly 800 of those buses! Expect the slashing and burning to continue for some years yet!!

    BTW - is anyone seeing a pattern yet? The Mayor of London is basically in charge of Transport and Police in London . . . everything else is down to the Boroughs. Every Mayor so far has had a vanity project on London's Buses, and every next Mayor has quickly undone the previous Mayor's per project.

    Still - I don't live in London, and whilst London Buses vacillate between boom and bust, I've still got a job!!

  2. I suggest that you didn't have to wait until 1157 for your bus. An hour less, perhaps?

  3. Residents complaining about reduction in principally a tourist route, I would not expect to succeed. Tourist have found the South Bank now and they walk along the river path from the tube and National Rail stations.

    London buses have huge subsidies, but the London tax payer does not need to pay for services that are no longer being used. There are big changes occurring in all English cities concerning transport usage. It is not about money.

    See this press release and report connected;

    1. "London buses have huge subsidies". Not any more they don't. As of this financial year TfL receives £0 government grant, which made up the vast bulk of its funding.