Saturday 1 October 2011

Euston, We Have a Problem [6]

Unfinished BUS-iness.

Travel to Amsterdam and outside Centraal Station you will find stops for most tram services and some local buses, all clearly labelled and obvious.
At Kortrijk in Belgium ALL the buses line up, smartly and tidily alongside the station building.
Lucerne, in Switzerland, has a most magnificent railway station, and the forecourt outside IS the bus station. And, effectively, the "boat station" is there as well for the lake trips.
Meanwhile, also in Switzerland at Interlaken (that means "between the lakes"), the powers that be have built a "boat lane", a straight line canal to bring the assorted ferries and tour boats right up alongside the station. 
The boats don't turn round, they just "reverse out" for about a quarter of a mile. It's a strange feeling; enjoying views of Interlaken whilst chugging in reverse down an ice-blue "boat lane".

But here in GB, we just don't "get it", and we never have done, when it comes to integration of transport modes. Where in GB is there a bus station like Lucerne? Even in London, bus services are scattered around terminal stations in a seemingly haphazard fashion, over the years diverted and re-routed to satisfy a plethora of one-way systems.

London Victoria has a bus station one graced by a (now removed) large overall roof ...
... but some services leave from neighbouring streets, hidden "just round the corner". 

But we are completing our "study" of Euston, so how are things there?

After the new 1960s railway station was built the rather uninspiring frontage stood starkly but functionally in full view of Euston Square. But, in the same way that a hotel block obscured the Doric Arch, an office block was built with a bus station underneath. Unexplained photographs might lead you to think we were in a Lucerne situation.
Sadly, not so.

The simple, yet unwritten, set of rules reads like this. 
If your bus is travelling eastbound along the Euston Road it will leave from the bus station.
If your bus has its terminus at Euston it will leave from the bus station.
If yous bus is travelling westbound, it leaves from the far side of Euston Road [stop H] ...
... a significant death defying dash across a very busy road, and not particularly obvious.

If your bus is the 168 it doesn't pull into the bus station at all, but stops on Eversholt Street, northbound [stop A]...
... and southbound [stop B] ...
... whereas the southbound 59, 68 and 91 DO use the bus station. Of course, Transport for London does provide a comprehensive guide on-line and similar printed information at the station itself.
But, as they say, it ain't easy. 

Just revise this for homework and we will have a test next week; and get less than 7/10 and it will be a lunchtime detention. [That's a joke, by the way.]

Like so many public transport problems, it's easy when you know how; but very tricky indeed if you lack knowledge and confidence. 

So, here is fbb's integration interrogation. Where in GB is the best bus/rail interchange? Where is the worst? Please append your views as "comments" and fbb will, in due course, publish a follow-up. And we are talking major town and city interchanges, please.

P.S. fbb is well aware that not everything in the European garden is lovely; try Gare du Nord in Paris! But surely we should try to learn from "best practice"?

     "Euston , We have a Problem" : previous episodes      
can be viewed as follows by using the menu on the left.
                         via click on "August" for 1 and 2                      
                  via click on "September" for 3, 4 and 5                

Next blog : Sunday October 2nd

1 comment:

  1. Hmmm...disappointing lack of response! I'm not going to try and judge best or worst, but Cardiff used to be good, with a bus station just outside the station forecourt (separate only by a minor road), and the bus station was served by both urban local services and longer distance services.

    This subject has come up quite recently in other forums (fora?) and I think that other factors need to be taken into account, beside the relative locations of the rail and bus termini. Switzerland and the Netherlands have dense rail networks, with almost certainly more stations per square mile and head of population than in the UK - therefore greater use of rail is made, and there is a greater need for integration. Southampton, where I lived for several years, wold score poorly on the simple basis of distance between the bus and rail terminals, but in practice the bus termini were reasonably central and convenient for shops in the city centre, which is probably where the majority of the passengers wanted to travel to and from. Nowadays, everything runs from on street stops, which looks less co-ordinated and integrated, but if the stops are convenient for the main destinations, then there is probably not so much of a problem as one might think. If the railway station is 'out of town', as in Bournemouth and Southampton, it does not necessarily make operational sense to locate a bus station in a similarly remote location.

    The German concept is also slightly different. Most towns and cities have a central bus station (ZOB = Zentrale Omnibus Bahnhof) which will be located adjacent to the railway station. These are served by rural services, often operated by the railway, or under contract to the railway, but are very often not served by the local urban services, particularly if the railway station is not in a central location. Freiburg ZOB is a good example - Deutsche Bahn's rural services operate from there, but the local city services (principally trams) have a separate stop on a bridge above the ZOB (and the trains), and their central stop is two stops further east in the heart of the city.

    Integration is a wonderful idea - as long as it serves a useful purpose!