Saturday 13 March 2010

Metropolis Mystery

It is strange, but true, than in our capital city, London, the Mayor's transport system persistently refuses to publish timetables for most of its bus and underground services.  The Transport for London web site [] claims that bus timetables are available but, in fact, only provides lists of departures from each stop with a (very) rough guide to how long it might take to get to your destination.   This means that planning a journey which needs to make reliable and achievable connections is totally impossible.

One user of the system tells me that he has to add at least an hour to every journey he may wish to make across the Capital - just to allow for lack of reliable information.   But, I hear you cry, is there not a superb journey planner on tfl's website?

Well, yes and no!   The site provides a useful guide to possible journeys but it often gives unrealistically complex results - misleading to the innocent observer - offering multi-change journeys and totally ignoring fares implications.   For example, from Heathrow Airport the system almost invariably advises the use of the premium priced Heathrow Express service to Paddington (not a good place for onward travel).   Not only is HEx expensive, but travelcards etc. are not valid.   Amazingly, many journeys are much easier when made by the apparently slower Piccadilly line on which cheap fares are available.   In many cases total journey time is only a few minutes longer, taking into account the complex interchange facilities at Paddington - with, effectively three different underground stations depending on line and destination.

What is spectacularly frustrating is that all bus timetables are published unofficially on at least one web site and most are available on xephos. [].

And please don't tell me that buses are so frequent that timetables are not needed.  Try standing at an unsheltered bus stop in the pouring rain peering at a departure list that says "then about every 12 minutes"!  At one stage departures from Lewisham on the Docklands railway were advertised as (something like) 0812 and then every 14 (sic!) minutes until 2200.   Try working that out!

So some on Boris!   Comb your hair, look a little less befuddled and tell us all when your buses run!

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