Saturday, 25 March 2017

TFL Destination Discrepancies

The destination shown on the iBus and blinds of London buses indicate the terminus of the route. However, some destinations are far too vague, whereas others are so specific that they are misleading. Others are just inaccurate. Let's go through some examples.

London General E115 on route 57 to Clapham Park.
Clapham Park is a terminus in South London shared by routes 45 and 57. However, I feel that this destination is far too vague, not indicating exactly where the bus routes actually finish. The terminus, near Atkins Road, is very close to Streatham Hill and I would classify the area as South Brixton, as Clapham Park lies to the West of this terminus. This blind also might force people to believe that this route serves Clapham Junction or Clapham Common, as they are the two main town centres there, however neither of the two routes go anywhere close to either of these destinations. I think the blind should be changed to "Clapham Park, Atkins Road" or "Streatham Hill, Kings Avenue."

Metroline TEH2084 stands on Bishops Bridge at Paddington.
In North-West London, the 332 and 92 both terminate at the two attractions at Brent Park, or Neasden. Retail areas are popular destinations by bus, although the two routes display different destinations, despite standing on either side of an IKEA store. I know they seem endless on the inside, but in reality, they're not huge enough to warrant a change in place name. The 92 vehicles display "St Raphael's North", which gives passengers absolutely no clue as to where the route terminates, which could even prevent people from using the route to get to the stores. The St Raphael's Estate is properly served by routes 224 and 232, although the 92 doesn't even attempt to serve the housing area, but terminates just outside it, in the centre of Brent Park retail area, which might cause people in the residential area to think that they have a direct bus from Wembley! I even have a problem with the 332 destination, as the wider area of Neasden (which Brent Park is contained in) is likely to attract more people to the shops, especially as there is a tube station nearby. The new display should say "Neasden, Superstores" for both routes.

Remember when the 521 used to operate with Diesel buses?
Waterloo has several different bus routes terminating there, as well as 6 stands that I can name off the top of my head. The 4, 26 and 139 stand outside The Old Vic (which is nearly at Elephant & Castle), the 243 and 521 stand just behind the station on Mepham Street, the 211 and 507 stand right outside the station on Upper Taxi Road, the 76 stands in Lambeth North but displays Waterloo, the 341 and 381 stand near County Hall in separate locations and the 77 stands on Concert Hall Approach near the IMAX roundabout. If space wasn't an issue then I would create a bus station for all routes that serve the area, making interchange much easier and having a guaranteed spot where each route terminates. However, that's not possible, so I would change the blinds so that they display this: the 4, 26 and 139 show "Waterloo, Old Vic", the 243 and 521 show "Waterloo Station, Tenison Way", the 211 and 507 show "Waterloo Station", the 76 shows "Lambeth North, Baylis Road", the 341 and 381 show "County Hall" and the 77 shows "Waterloo Station, Concert Hall Approach".

A London United ALX400 terminates on route 71 at Kingston, Cromwell Road.
The sprawling town centre of Kingston contains four different bus standing areas, which are Cromwell Road Bus Station (this houses the majority of routes terminating in Kingston), Fairfield Bus Station, Brook Street and the area around Kingston University. Cromwell Road and the University area are at least 10 minutes apart by walking, so different destinations are definitely necessary, considering every route terminating in the town centre merely displays Kingston. The destinations should be changed to "Kingston, Cromwell Road Bus Station", "Kingston East, Fairfield Bus Station" for the 57, 131 and 213, "Kingston South, Brook Street for the 65" and "Kingston South, St James' Road" for the 371 and 85.

We've looked at two examples of vague town centre areas, now it's time to check out a good example. The West London area of Hounslow boasts four different terminating points for routes in the town centre, all with specific details that I mostly agree with.

Abellio London 8158 on the water bus to Hounslow, Civic Centre.
The H20 is the only route that terminates at the Civic Centre, near Hounslow Central station on the Piccadilly Line. Bell Corner is home to the H22 and E8, both of those routes have appropriate blinds. Hounslow Bus Station is where the bulk of routes terminate and the H37 is the odd one out, terminating outside Hounslow Asda. However, the blind displays "Hounslow, Blenheim Centre" as the shopping mall is nearby, even though it contains very few shops and is a smaller version of the Treaty Centre. The Blenheim has a massive car park, so that's the only thing that the locals recognise it for. Personally, I would have the blind displaying "Hounslow Asda, Blenheim Centre" which makes it clear that the route serves Asda better than everything else.

It seems that the specification of blinds are decided by the operator, which can lead to careless mistakes, such as the time when Arriva decided to use home-made blinds and spell the word Ockendon incorrectly, meaning that the 347 buses were running around with "Ockenden Station" on the front for a few weeks until the issue was sorted. Just type in "347 bus Ockenden" into google images and a suitable picture should come up. Unfortunately, I didn't get one in time.

Metroline VWH2214 on route 140 to Heathrow Central, showing vague blinds.
Sorry about the extra large size, the picture comes out really blurry on the medium and large settings for some reason, even though it looks fine here. The issue here is that the 140 terminates at Heathrow Central Bus Station, the gateway for Terminals 2 and 3, even though the blinds only display "Heathrow Airport," which is extremely misleading as it is impossible to reach two of the terminals of Heathrow on this bus, with terminal 4 having terrible accessibility anyway. I simply don't understand why the 140 vehicles display this stupidly confusing destination, especially as new buses arrived in September 2016! Every other bus route displays "Heathrow Central", including other Metroline routes like the 105, which means that there isn't even a consistency in the blinds ordered for all of the Metroline routes serving Heathrow. This makes me think that the 140's blinds were ordered for nostalgic reasons, which is unacceptable as passenger experience takes priority over having a bit of fun, in my opinion. These buses should be reblinded as quickly as possible!

Another culprit for inappropriate blinds is CT Plus, who ordered some controversial displays for the W19 contract back in November 2016. Every other bus route terminating at Ilford's main bus park just displays "Ilford", although the new W19 vehicles display "Ilford High Road, Hainault Street", which is way too specific for its purpose. People along the route probably haven't even heard of Hainault Street; they just want to make sure that the bus serves the town centre so they can get their shopping done. The Ilford High Road part of the blind might just confuse people, making them think that the W19 doesn't serve the town centre at all, even though it passes through the middle of it! CT Plus themselves realised that they made a mistake, as the MMCs for the W11 which arrived in March only displayed "Ilford" when they strayed onto the W19.

I hope that this post has given you an idea of how bus destinations are far from perfect, and that there is a lot of work to be done before blind specificity is at an acceptable standard. Thanks for reading, stay safe!