Tuesday, 4 February 2020

Aim To Arrive At Terminal 5 (Part 1)

When fbb enjoyed the launch of First's new express service from Guildford to Heathrow, the Airport man reveal the tough targets that he was charged with concerning reducing car usage. In simple terms, if the numbers of cars continued to increase, then once the new runways etc was built, there would be so many car parks that there would be no room for planes to land! A ludicrous concept, but an indicator of the scale of the problem.

As part of this process, we have seen a steady expansion of bus services into the airport, notably from residential areas; targeting not just those jetting off the the summer sun, but the thousands who work in and around thee various terminals. The latter need buses at shift-change times if they are to be persuaded to abandon car travel.
For a long time, there has been talk (talk and nothing more as yet) of a rail link off the Great Western main line running in tunnel from east of Langley station to Terminal 5.
But until then, we have the humble bus.

Currently, First runs every 15 minutes (Mon to Sat, less on Sundays) ...
... from Kennedy Park in Slough.

This used to be part of a much more frequent "collection" running through from Windsor ...
To explore these, take a look at a past fbb blog (here).

The current 7 runs from Slough to Heathrow from 0330 to midnight.

First also runs service 8 to Terminal 5 ...
... with first departure at 0230.

Then there's the 703 from Bracknell and Windsor, now in the hands of Reading Buses / Courtney Coaches / Thames Valley Buses (delete where inapplicable).
Note the green box round the 0943 and 1033 departures from Bracknell. This is one of the more unusual journey notes in the country. It warns passengers that when there is a "Changing of the Guard" at Windsor ...
... buses eschew the central streets.

Thames Valley also has its route 10 ...
... via another circuitous route (and mind the Guards on the 1045 from Dedworth).
Both the 8 and the 10 make for very interesting rides and neither serves what might be called "good bus territory", so the longer span of each day's service is, most likely, courtesy of a significant bag of gold coins from Heathrow.
For an organisation which desires to encourage bus travel, Heathrow's own information is poor. Go to the Terminal 5 web site and ...
... all you get is a journey planner. No timetables, no maps; as is so common these days, you have to know what you are looking for if you have any chance of finding it.

The journey planner prioritises the car ...
... and gives some options by rail and bus which seem highly unlikely to ever be used!

What about Transport for London, you may ask? Here there is another problem. There is a spider map for terminals 2 and 3 ...
... but not for terminal 5 which is, presumably, outside the Transport for London area. A closer search c/o TfL does reveal some buses ...
... and real time arrival information. BUT ...
... only for London Buses routes. It also tells you which stops to use in the wind tunnel that is Terminal 5's bus station ...

... but services running to the west of the dreaded M25 are not included.

Everything IS included in Robert Munster's London bus timetables site ...
... but in numerical order; so , once again, you need to know what you are looking for before you can find it with any confidence.

fbb has not visited Terminal 5 for some time. A good few years ago he celebrated the experience by buying a ghastly Kispy Kreme ring donut (= doughnut!) at some incredibly vast cost.
Dayglo pink icing and brightly coloured mouse droppings (a k a "sprinkles") offered an experience never to forget and never to repeat!

fbb arrived at the bus station ...
... but left by train, so was unable to evaluate the departure information available in the wind tunnel due to lack of time. Subsequent visits by others (the latest by blogging chum Roger French) have confirmed that it is very poor indeed.

Certainly, if Heathrow Airport wants to encourage bus travel, it desperately needs to make improvements to thee Terminal 5 bus station AND create some sort of map and complete index of what leaves from there.

But another, more obscure, bus service to Terminal 5 was increased in frequency dramatically from yesterday.

 Next Terminal 5 blog : Wednesday 5th February 


  1. Last time I was there was in September. Heathrow produce (of produced) a rather detailed public transport map with frequency and ticket information. I did pick up a copy but I could only find it in the foyer of the Central Bus Station

  2. Thanks, anon. I had heard such rumours but could find no evidence on line. I will try a further search!

  3. Just a clarification - Terminal 5 is within the Transport for London area, as the Greater London boundary was re-drawn during the 1990s to incorporate the entirety of Heathrow Airport (previously a small corner had lain in Surrey). So it seems inexcusable that TfL does not produce a spider map for T5.