Friday, 28 September 2012

Some transport news

First, TfL again refusing to do anything about dangerous traffic situation, this time by only leaving traffic lights working for three hours a day and insisting putting them on for 24 hours a day wouldn't help things.  Obviously public opinion, from pedestrians, cyclists and motorists, disagrees, but TfL is not their to serve the people who pay their salaries.  I have no idea of the real reason behind this refusal, so I assume that it's got to do with somehow generating signal failures elsewhere on the system.

Second, in Croyden, TfL is working with the local council to try and force children to walk to school, rather than be driven there.  While I approve of the exercise, the lessening of pollution, and the diminishing of the horror of school run traffic, something about this seems wrong, and it's the fact that we bloody well pay for the use of those roads, so being encouraged not to use them is a bloody cheek.  How about more and better bus services for the schools?

Third, Bob Crow continues with his domestic terrorism to prevent technological progress.

Fourth, check out plans for SkyCycle, in which special cycle lanes will be built above the streets of the capital in order to protect drivers from cyclists' inconsiderate and downright dangerous lack of basic road skills.

Fifth, and most importantly, in a more general rail services piece, there's some compelling evidence that our train operators are using the money they claim from Network Rail as a nice little earner for themselves.  They keep more than 90% of what they get, throwing a few crumbs their passengers' ways.  Sorry the picture is sideways (but not very).
Does anyone know how to get this to rotate the right way?

Happy Friday

I'm working from home again today, so no updates on my delays, other than to say my travels around central London and home yesterday after work were blessedly free of the usual TfL shenanigans.  Maybe some news updates later...

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Yay! Say goodbye to tube drivers

Boris Johnson said during his election campaign that driverless tube trains would be operational within the decade.  Oh ye of little faith: behold! it is such a threat that RMT is already preparing to strike.

Said Bob Crow RMT general secretary:
"RMT reiterates this union's complete opposition to driverless trains. Every train must have a driver to ensure the safe and effective running of the Underground."
He continued:
"Plans to scrap drivers or reduce their driving duties are risking safety, services and jobs and are motivated by saving money and undermining trade unionism."
Bob Crow, for anyone not familiar with him, is the fascist who has been responsible for greedy and unjustified money-grubbing on behalf of RMT's members for some time now.  I'll translate those comments into English:
"RMT reiterates this union's complete opposition to driverless trains. Every train must have a driver to ensure we can continue to hold the capital to ransom for wholly unjustified pay rises and bonuses, yea even in the teeth of a global recession."
"Plans to scrap drivers or reduce their driving duties are risking my temporary position of influence, my own confidence of my manhood, and my ability to make money out of the searing misery of millions of honest citizens through their realisation that trained parrots could do the job our union members do, thus undermining my authority, such as it is."
Come one TfL, you have a chance to drastically improve the experiences of your customers whilst simultaneously extracting a poisonous thorn from the side of your organisation, the capital, and indeed the nation itself: take it!

I'll pay you to be my friend!

Imagine my surprise this morning on seeing a hastily put-up poster at Hampton Court Station advertising that 1-7th October is National Customer Service week, and asking me to nominate someone from South West Trains as my champion of customer service.  (I was in a rush, so didn't have time to grab a picture of this, but will try do so on my way home tonight, likely only slightly hampered by the drinks I'm intending to have with a friend after work.)

South West Trains advises me that
"During this time we want to give you the opportunity to nominate a member of South West Trains staff, who you believe gives you exceptional customer service and makes a difference to you and your journey."
Quite an opportunity indeed.  But in a move perhaps signalling how little recognition their employees are likely to get (not necessarily thanks to them, but thanks to the general ineptitude of their employer), South West Trains has indicated it is prepared to pay for your votes with some rather poor bribery:
"All passengers who send nominations will enter a prize draw. There are 5 pairs of 1st Class tickets available to be won."
So, as well as the opportunity to nominate a South West Trains employee, I also get the opportunity to enter a bog-standard prize draw and receive unwanted corporate communications forever more.  Luck is indeed on my side today.  Still, I'm dubious as to whether even this will be enough, so if you want to enter by writing by 12th October, your odds of winning might actually be fairly good.

Never having seen one of these heroic South West Trains customer service representatives (and I'm not being sarcastic there: it must take heroic courage to stand daily in the face of the levels customer ire South West Trains must generate), I am at a bit of a loss as to how I would do this, were I in any way so inclined.  As it happens I'm not: four minute delay on that train's arrival in Waterloo this morning, leading to me taking a later connecting tube, which seemed to run on time, for a total of 5 minutes' delay and £12.50.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Bus crash in Bromley yesterday

Title says it all, really, but you should check out the full (short) story here.  For the purposes of this blog, the operative sentence is this one:
"The TfL website is no longer reporting delays in Bromley town centre as a result."
So TfL stops reporting delays when they get really bad.  Great way to pretend to meet any service targets, right?  Imagine if all businesses were allowed to do this.  Oh, yes, that's right: Enron et al.  That worked out well, didn't it?

Some light relief

I didn't want you all to miss your usual dose of Signal Failure, so here's a little light relief: some spoof London Underground signs.  I took all of these from The Poke, which I believe amassed them from several sources.  Lots of them are actually really quite good.  I'll have to keep an eye out for these in the future.

Working from home

I'm working from home today in order to take my daughter to a hospital appointment (important, but not serious [if that makes sense] for anyone that's curious), so no real news, beyond yesterday's one-minute delay coming home from work for another £2.50 on the tab.

However, my trip to drop my daughter off at daycare today (I'll pick her up again later for the appointment, then take her back) made me wonder: has anyone else noticed how buses in London seem to think it's OK to take up as much damn space as they please?  I mean, they literally straddle two lanes with no attempt to keep to just one.  Check it out:
It may look like this bus is just changing lanes, but buses in Kingston drive like this all the fucking time, whether changing lanes, turning, or simply driving straight ahead.
Image credit: Wikipedia
Also, the regular drivers in Kingston seem completely unable to stay in their lanes when turning corners or negotiating even minor bends in the road.  Where did they learn to drive FFS?

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Question Time

Three minutes for the train into Waterloo this morning, so I had to take a connecting tube three minutes later than would otherwise have been necessary.  This was delayed a minute further.  No explanations were offered.  Total delay of four minutes for £10.

I have a question for readers: how responsible is TfL for conditions on the road?  So far, with the exception of bus trips, I've been taking the attitude that poorly planned road systems and insufficient measures to cope with rush hour traffic aren't really TfL's fault, but am I right to do so?  Reading up around the subject, TfL certainly seems to be held to account by public bodies for many aspects of the roads, like in my earlier cycling story.  Contractors for TfL also seem regularly to be responsible for clearing up road-related delays/accidents.

This morning, for example, I missed my train into work and had to wait half an hour for the next.  This was caused by bad traffic in the Kingston one-way system, so that a journey that should have taken seven minutes took more than twice as long.

Image credit: Travel and Leisure
 In the interests of fairness, for example, not calling TfL to account for such delays has, on three occasions since the beginning of September, resulted in my not charging them for around one and a half hours' worth of delay - and that's just on the morning commute, not taking into account the many other journeys I make in my car in the course of a full week.

So the question is: should I continue the current policy of letting TfL off the hook for all traffic delays, or should I charge them for this too?  Or should I charge them only in very specific circumstances, i.e. not for general heavy traffic, but for roadworks and failed traffic signals where the repairs have not been put in place at a more convenient time (whether through poor planning of those repair works or because insufficient maintenance work has been done, leading to 'emergency' works needing to be done at the busiest times)?

Monday, 24 September 2012

I see the hand of the Jesus Geese in this

The weather, I mean; not the delays.  I think the Jesus Geese are trying to flood us out of London by presiding over the rain we've suffered yesterday and today.  The only positive side to this development is that it will mean TfL will (eventually) go under.  (Sorry!)  In the meantime, I expect we'll all be able to enjoy a few "flooding" excuses on our daily journeys, which may well be helpful for everyone's Tube Bingo games.

We apologise for the delay to this service
(Image credit: Huffington Post)

In more mundane news, I had a total of five minutes' delay on the way into work this morning, thanks to the late arrival (by three minutes) of my morning Overground train to Waterloo, causing me to catch a later connecting tube than that recommended by Journey Planner.  This tube was itself delayed by a couple of minutes.

Over the weekend, I had to make an emergency shopping trip into Kingston (yes, the is such a thing, but don't ask for the details because I won't tell you them).  Both my bus in and back were delayed by a minute, for another two to the scorecard (sorry not to post this over the weekend: our computer at home has broken, probably an attempt by TfL to silence me). 

So: the total since Friday night is seven minutes, which equates to £17.50.

UPDATE: I'll take another £2.50 for the minute's delay coming home.  Thanks muchly.

Friday, 21 September 2012

Depressingly familiar

UPDATE: nope, nothing to report.  Journey home worked fine, a nice weekend present from TfL.  Much appreciated.

Yet again, an unexplained accumulation of delay on the train to Waterloo, bringing me in three minutes late, forcing me to take a later connecting tube train, bringing me to my destination, Edgware Road, five minutes later than I should have been there.  That's £12.50 added to the bill.

In less personal news, you might be interested to read this report from TfL (skip to page 21), which summarises complaints made to TfL  (I got this via Londonist, so cheers for that Londonist dudes and dudettes).

Of course, TfL is high-fiving itself on the low proportion of complaints it received last year.  Of course, what this is more likely to show up is how difficult TfL makes it to complain effectively, and it takes no account of the frequently rude and aggressive staff who, dare I suggest, more often than not will never do anything with a verbal complaint.  And take a look at the fun involved making an online complaint (is there a link for making complaints or claiming your money back on the homepage?  Not that I can see!).  As for getting a nice piece of paper to snail-mail post your complaint (after queueing for a few hours to get to the officials behind the ticket desks): pfah! is all I have to say on the matter.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

This morning's update, and an apology

First, the apology: on a couple of occasions in the last week or so now, I have attempted to add my evening journey updates to the pre-existing morning story of commuting woe.  This worked perfectly when I first began my blog, but for some reason the last two times it has not: my mobile has told me that the update has been published, but upon checking the next morning on a laptop, I have found the update missing.  Oh!  And it also seems to temporarily rearrange the format of the blog, also for reasons unknown (starting to sound representative of the TfL experience, isn't it?).  I don't know what's causing this problem, but will refrain from mobile updates until I can figure it out.

For anyone who's actually taken note of my commands to check back in the evening for updates, and then seen none, I apologise, and I promise I have not been lazy.  I have made the updates, they're just not showing up.

So, without further ado, a reproduction of last night's update, transcribed by my own fair hand from my own diabolical mobile:
"Tube delay on the Bakerloo Line meant I missed my train from Waterloo.  Overall, this resulted in a 32-minute delay in the supposed arrival time.  £80.  Ouch."
So.  Not much in terms of an update, but plenty in terms of readies for your intrepid hero.  It was also especially galling because my daughter had apparently forgone her lunchtime nap during the day and thus needed to go to bed earlier than usual, which meant I barely saw her yesterday.  And I'd even brought her a present (in the form of a favourite snack), which she couldn't then have because she'd already brushed her teeth.

Add that to this morning: a two-minute delay on the train to Waterloo (accrued over the length of the journey with no explanation or apology).  This caused me to take a later tube than the one Journey Planner recommended, which was delayed by a further three minutes, making five in total for another £12.50.  Grand total of 37 minutes and £92.50 between last night and this morning.  That's around 25% of a combined theoretical journey time of a little over two hours.  Unacceptable!

UPDATE: one minute's delay on the Bakerloo Line coming home, but it didn't matter as I made the connecting train anyway (I got skilz).  However, that train was delayed by a minute too, so I'll be claiming another £2.50.  Doesn't seem like much after the recent haul!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Who said the holy spirit was a dove?

A six minute delay on the way in to work this morning, caused mostly by attrition on the initial train from Hampton Court to Waterloo.  Methinks my cunning plan of avoiding what looked to be inevitable connection failures on the Wimbledon-District Line route regular readers may have seen me moan about before has been foiled.  It may not be quick at providing public transport, but TfL was certainly fast off the mark in discovering my new route and shifting the delays to that.

Update coming tonight for my journey home.  In the meantime, please enjoy this morning's messianic discovery: Jesus geese (and moorhens [I think])!
Magic geese throw Jesus' divinity into question

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Delayed gratification

Chalk up another banner morning for Transport for London: my train to Waterloo arrived seven minutes late, meaning I missed the connecting Bakerloo Line tube I'd intended to take to Edgware Road.  The one I ended up taking was also a minute delayed.  In all, I arrived nine minutes later than I should have, which adds up to £22.50.

While we're on the subject of delayed gratification, I would like to meet the person who came up with the idea of hotdesking and have some very strong words with him (or her).  TfL's transport lottery often means I spend upwards of 20 minutes trying to find somewhere to park myself for the day.  What's so wrong with having the same bloody desk every day is what I want to know.  I swear, I'm just going to buy a desk of my own and bring it from home every morning.  It'd be a damn sight easier!

And finally, an update from yesterday.  I stopped off on the way home for a couple of drinks and a pub quiz with friends (we didn't win, OK?  Let's just leave it at that...).  Two-minute delay from Edgware Road to Waterloo.  Stopped for a quick bite.  Train from Waterloo to Clapham Junction was three minutes' delayed.  Later, the bus from Kingston to Hampton Court was a minute delayed.  Total: six minutes.  £15.

UPDATE: train from Waterloo to Hampton Court delayed by three minutes: £7.50.

Monday, 17 September 2012


TfL is spending taxpayer money on dubious investments again.  This time, it's to buy a fleet of the new Routemaster buses nobody else wants.  That's £180m in taxpayers' money, which you can damn-well bet will be reflected in ticket price hikes come the new year.

Vroom, vroom!
'Credit': TfL
Luckily, TfL has always displayed a shrewd sense for business investments that will ultimately save the customers money, rather than take more of their money and throw it our there to attract ruinous private sponsorship while servicing a comparative few.  Like the Boris Bikes.  And the cable cars.  Oh, wait: right!

In more amusing news, a cycling campaigner has called for a 'drive to work' day in London, I can only assume to show drivers how miserable their commuting lives would be were it not for virtuous cyclists.  As I've explained before, of course, it's not that we object to cyclists in principle, nor even the majority of them.  Indeed, we recognise the many great things about the concept of cycling to work and the mindset of the people who do so regularly.

What that doesn't mean is that any of them have a right to ignore the rules of the road, causing severe havoc (not to mention danger of death) to motorists and pedestrians alike.  I'll take a slower road system over those deaths any day.


The delay type that bothers me most (actually, all delay types bother me the most, but the one that bothers me the most this morning) is the one where they don't think it's worth an explanation.  It may only be a minute at a time here and there, but it all adds up.

This morning's train to Waterloo ended up arriving six minutes late over what should be a 36-minute journey.  That might not seem like much (and indeed isn't) in the great scheme of things, and I can see how it accrued in a series of small delays that the driver didn't feel were worth mentioning at the time, but the fact of the matter is that's a 16.7% retardation (and I use the word advisedly when referring to TfL).

It caused me to miss the connecting Bakerloo Line train I had intended on using to complete my journey.  Who knows?  Maybe that one would have run smoothly.  But the one I was forced to take added another three minutes of delay (also unexplained, consisting of stopping in tunnels to admire the scenery - first strike to Tube Bingo), so that I ended up at work nine minutes later than TfL had promised I would.

Small delays add up (in this case to £22.50), and it would be nice if TfL showed its customers enough respect to explain all delays, even small ones.  It is ultimately the purpose of Signal Failure to remind people, and through them TfL, that a large part of business in London relies on it doing its job properly.  These delays cost people, the economy, the country, money - at least theoretically because as a friend pointed out, not all time is necessarily billable).  It's not enough to refund the ticket price on a 15-minute-or-more delay.  A 15-minute delay on a 13-minute journey is unacceptable.  A 15-minute delay on a 24-hour journey is negligible.  There should be a sliding scale of compensation to incentivise TfL to make more of an effort to get its services to run on time.

Friday, 14 September 2012

Soooooooo close!

It's just not fair!  I went home via the Bakerloo line from Edgware Road.  As you might be aware, it has a lift (elevator for you Americans reading this - a surprising number and my second highest readership!).  As you'll further be aware, if you've been paying attention, my Tube Bingo card for this week was only missing a faulty lift or escalator excuse for a full column.

The lift doors failed to close... and failed... and failed... ... ...

...and closed.  No announcement.  I missed the tube I had intended to take as a consequence of this, with the next one coming three minutes later, but ultimately I've decided I can't claim this one to complete my streak.  Damn.

£7.50 has never tasted so bitter, but there's always next week...

Business network

Went to a business meeting with an ueber-cool digital creative/advertising agency today.  Paddington to Farringdon is just five stops, and given London traffic ought to be a no-brainer.  However, the advertised 13-minute journey in fact took 18 minutes (close to half as long again as the journey should have taken), costing TfL another £12.50.

As an added bonus, this delay appeared to be caused by the train stopping in the middle of tunnels for no apparent reason.  Oh, and with the lights in the carriage failing regularly too.  What is that?

Whatever, the long and short of it is that I'm now just one square away from my very first Tube Bingo!  Keep your fingers crossed for the trip home tonight...

Move along the platform, please

There's nothing to see here.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

All change

An eventful journey!
  1. All trains from Edgware Road to Wimbledon were redirected to Ealing Broadway for no apparent reason and in contradiction to the tradition it has followed since that particular branch of the District Line was opened 100-and-whatever-or-so years ago.  In order to get to Wimbledon, I had to change at Earl's Court, of course losing my seat in the process (and having voluntarily given up my seat for a pregnant lady in the morning, I really would have liked to have been able to sit for this journey).
  2. Amazingly, there was a tube to Wimbledon waiting on the platform opposite so I did not have to endure the usual heaving mass of the station, coupled with the usual random platform dance over the bridges that the TfL staff there seem to so enjoy sending us through.  Oh, and the lack of any kind of time information on next trains.
  3. However, this tube stopped within spitting distance of the platform at Wimbledon for a while because of a random red signal.  This caused me to miss my connection to Hampton Court.  Instead, I jumped on the train to Kingston and, from there, on the bus.  This meant I got to my final destination just 20 minutes late, rather than 30 (you're welcome TfL - again!).
So, another £50 to the pot and, as promised, my updated Tube Bingo card:
Tomorrow, I'll be doing a little travelling on the underground during the day too, so there's a very good chance I'll be able to get my very first Bingo - you don't want to miss that, so make sure you come back...

Or have you already won a game of Tube Bingo, in which case I hate you?

Pregnant pause

Also, why is it that everyone on the District line from Wimbledon to Edgware Road this morning studiously ignored the heavily pregnant woman who got on at Southfield?  I had to yell halfway down the carriage to offer her my seat.

For shame, everyone on my carriage today: you are all twats (except for the heavily pregnant lady).

Stand clear of the doors please

Another classic commute courtesy of TfL. 

The train from Hampton Court to Wimbledon was delayed by a minute, which would have cause me to miss the connecting tube to Edgware Road (note: if you read my last post on tube stations and life expectancy, you'll see I've decided to live dangerously...) but for the fact that some 'earlier signal failures' - note the plural! - meant that the 07:45 didn't depart until 08:01, a full 16 minutes late.

Despite further delays due to... wait for it... defective doors on our train, we managed to claw back three minutes and arrive at my final destination 'only' 13 minutes late for £32.50.

Tonight on Signal Failure: will our intrepid hero get home in reasonable time, or will he fall foul of TfL's dastardly inconsistency?  PLUS: watch out for an upload of this week's Tube Bingo card.  Will I be one of this week's lucky winners?  Stay tuned...

Increase your life expectancy by hanging out at the right tube stations!

Hat tip to my friend Lou-J for tipping me off to this one (a couple of months or so from original publication, but better late than never - and I would have missed it left to my own devices).  I have to admit to being sceptical at first, but it's all there in glorious colour with numbers and shades of grey!

UCL’s Centre of Advanced Spatial Analysis has created a new tube map to highlight the 'health and wealth inequalities' of Londoners.  And here it is:

Cheshire, J. 2012. Lives on the Line: Mapping Life Expectancy Along the London Tube Network. Environment and Planning A. 44 (7). Doi: 10.1068/a45341.

Click here for a larger, interactive version, though if you're going to carp about your station not being included, I suggest you read this first, and complain to someone else second.

Map creator and paper author James (great name) Cheshire says
'The map shows two key statistics: 1) the life expectancy at birth of those living around each London Underground, London Overground and Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station and 2) the rank of each London ward on the spectrum of Income Deprivation Affecting Children Index (IDACI).'
Of course, what everyone really wants to know is: will moving to a new tube station extend my life and make me richer?  And there are other concerns.  For example, when I go to work every day, I can go to Paddington (which I normally do) or Edgware Road (as I did today).  But there's a six-year difference in life expectancy between these extraordinarily close stations.  Did I put my life in jeopardy today?

I advise you all to abstain from any unnecessary travel on the TfL network until these questions have been thoroughly researched and answered.  Just in case.  It's not much to ask - we all did it during the Olympics and Paralympics, didn't we (well, I didn't but you might have)?

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

I don't want to ride my bicycle

The Evening Standard today reported that special traffic lights for cyclists are to be brought in under plans to improve safety on the capital’s streets.  This strikes me as a provisionally good idea (anything that reduces the number of deaths of anyone is good, but as the article notes, it's far from being a perfect route to safety).

However, noting how poorly many cyclists seem to ride around the streets in London, I have to question whether the problem is ambiguous traffic signalling or the blatant recklessness and disregard for other road users I see so many of them display on a daily basis.

It's not just 'running' red lights, it's cycling across non-toucan crossings, ignoring special cycle lanes when they're available, taking their attention off the road to scream at cars or pedestrians they feel have affronted them, not looking before switching lanes (and failing to signal before doing the same and/or turning), cycling on the wrong side of the road, on and off the pavement seemingly at random, riding three abreast, and so on.

Image credit:

I realise that analysis will likely upset a lot of cyclists, and I realise that if more people cycled (especially if things were made easier for them) there'd be less pollution and a raft of other benefits, but still: how many accidents involve cyclists following the Highway Code properly as opposed to those who seem to think they have more right to the road than anyone else?

Feel free to comment, whether it's to rail against my depiction of righteous cyclists, offer alternative/additional safety measures, tell me how right I am, or simply to list the other things cyclists do that drive you mad (go on: you know you want to!).  Or should that be 'bike' you mad?

Just a minute!

The title says it all, really: just a minute's delay this morning on the Bakerloo line from Waterloo to Edgware Road (trying something new today).  That's another £2.50.

In unrelated news, I'm in early as have swapped drop-off and pick-up duties for my daughter with my wife for the day (she's planning to go out and paint the town a very tasteful maroon).

UPDATE: home without incident today.  Well done TfL, you managed to do what you should be doing with every single journey anyone takes on your network.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Top of the morning, bottomed out by evening (sorry!)

Well, there's a first: TfL was the best part of my morning this a.m.  Some kind of accident on Hampton Court Road delayed me in the toddler drop-off run so that I missed my train.  Half an hour to wait for the next one, which ran smoothly enough for me to hit my connection and get to work without a glitch (so still half an hour late, but not TfL's fault).

Guess they wanted to make up for last night's fiasco.  I wonder if they can keep it up for a perfect score today?  Still, kudos to TfL for a pleasant commute.

UPDATE: normal service has been resumed.  TfL was unable to keep up the good work, which appears to have been a fluke.  This time on my journey home, the train to take me from Wimbledon to Hampton Court arrived 17 minutes late.  Seventeen minutes.  The explanation offered for this was more-or-less inaudible, but I made out something to do with an earlier fault or suspension, so I've ticked off the Tube Bingo card (below) accordingly.
 NB: the tube from Edgware Road to Wimbledon was also delayed, owing to being held at a couple of red signals, but owing to the longer delay of the connecting train, this didn't matter in the end.  You see?  With every cloud, TfL provides the silver lining.

Speaking of silver linings, another one courtesy of TfL is that, if you are unsure what to do with yourself this weekend, the pressure is off: now the Olympics and Paralympics are over, widespread weekend line closures are back.  So now you can't do anything this weekend.  Enjoy!

UPDATE 2: I forgot the charge for those 17 minutes: £42.50.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Red lights, grey morning

Nothing original to report this morning; a one minute delay on the train for no particular reason, followed by being held at a red signal while a platform opened up, led to a 10-minute delay in my commute this morning for an extra £25.

In other news, it seems we may finally have seen the last of the summer.  Such as it was.

Let's see if the journey home brings us anything fresh for the Tube Bingo card (did you remember yours this morning?)...

UPDATE: the return journey was a great one(!)  The District Line from Edgware Road to Wimbledon took a small series of delays for a thoroughly inaudible reason.  Once the driver had figured out his PA problem, we stopped for a red signal that evolved into a full-blown signal failure.  Fifteen minutes late into Wimbledon, I obviously missed my connecting train to Hampton Court.  The next one arrived a minute late and got to its final destination a minute late.  No explanation was offered.  In all, that makes a delay of 31 minutes from my original projected arrival time for another £77.50.

On the plus side, my Tube Bingo card is looking good.
NB: astute readers may remember I once circumvented a missed train at Wimbledon via a very circuitous route.  I felt it only fair not to do the same this time for comparative purposes...

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Out on the town.

Out for drinks with some friends tonight. Six minute delay on the advertised arrival of the bus from Hampton Court to Kingston, nine minute delay coming home. £37.50 in total.

Double whammy

The family decided to take the bus into Kingston this afternoon to see some friends and take advantage of the sun and the river.

TfL decided to go to new lengths to waste our time: the first (regular) bus said he didn't have space for another buggy, and drove off before we could simply fold it up, despite the fact he'd clearly seen us run the last 200m in order to meet him at the stop.

The second (double-decker) bus simply didn't stop.  It was definitely a functioning service, and certainly not too full.  The driver suddenly saw us as he hurtled past the stop and grimaced and gestured apologetically at us to recognise his general uselessness.  In doing so, he took both hands from the wheel.  It also occurred to me to wonder what kind of training a bus driver goes through that enables him to drive without actually looking out for the bus stops on his route and specifically for people waiting at them.  Do we think the Olympic bonus helped them with bus stop recognition?

The third (double-decker) bus did pick us up and take us to our destination, albeit trying his hardest to shake all his passengers to pieces with his piss-poor driving.

At that time, on a Saturday, the buses don't commit to real schedules - just that usual 'every 6-10 minutes' hogwash.  Today that worked in our favour (and TfL's), since all three buses turned up within eight minutes of one another, meaning we didn't have to wait too long (though thanks to the irregular service this kind of bunching causes, some people were undoubtedly left waiting for half an hour or more...) between buses.  Still, eight minutes is £20.

Friday, 7 September 2012

New iPhone app for London buses

Here's another useful app for those of you with iPhones who depend on the buses in London.

This works by taking data directly from the new London Bus Countdown System and offers, amongst other things, real-time arrival and departure times.

Signal Failure: making your life easier since August 2012.

Where is everyone?

Granted, I may not see quite as much traffic on this blog as, say, Google's homepage does, but where the hell is everyone?  Yesterday was my busiest day so far for site traffic.  Today: not a single person!

Hello?  Is there anyone out there?

And while we're on the subject, does anyone want to leave me a comment?  I'm not even attracting spam at the moment, which makes me feel very unloved!

Oh, well: I suppose I did create the whole thing out of spite anyway, so it's still fit for purpose!

It could be a lot worse

No delays on my way in this morning (you win this round, but I'll get you next time, Gadget: NEXT TIIIIIME!), so to fill the gap until my journey home I offer you the following news that, to my mind, suggests that TfL, if not actively trying to kill Londoners now, is at least doing its best to avoid helping them survive their trips about the capital.

Phrases particularly indicative of TfL's attitude seem to be:
"...while there are pledges made  whenever a cyclist is killed on London’s roads, these do not lead to concrete action."
"More than three months on, TfL, who control this main road, show no signs of acting. Deplorably, TfL has never implemented the improved safety measures proposed as a result of the big consultation exercise in 2005. They appear more concerned for the speed of their buses than for public safety. The accident record on Camden Road is very poor."
"...another example of both Mr Johnson and TfL failing to get things done and failing to follow up on their plans."
"For the past 25 years I’ve been writing to TfL over this road and we’ve struggled on with years of plans, but absolutely nothing has happened."
You know what?  Just read the article.  It's not all that long.  So the burning question is: how many more have to die before TfL pulls its finger out?

Thursday, 6 September 2012

May I confidently predict no problems from here on in?

This morning I got to scratch off another window in my Tube Bingo card for this week: a nine-minute delay caused by having to leave my train at High Street Kensington station when it suddenly decided to terminate there owing to overrunning/ongoing engineering works at Edgware Road.  Presumably, they had hoped that if they kept mum about this all the way from the beginning of the 'service' at Wimbledon, the problem would have sorted itself out by the time we got there.  Wrong.

And I'd be interested in knowing how these engineering works prevented my tube train from going all the way to Edgware Road, but not any of the trains that followed it.  Guess I just must have been unlucky, then?

So, a good return to form for TfL after yesterday morning's extravaganza.  Nine minutes' delay equals another £22.50 on the invoice.

Still, on the plus side I imagine the engineering works will have made Edgware Road immune to difficulties for the foreseeable future.  That's the way this all works, isn't it?

Stay tuned tonight for the end of today's saga, when I'll also post my updated Tube Bingo card.  Just for shits and giggles.

UPDATE: just a one minute delay on the journey home today, though likely because I took a taxi almost halfway for an industry shindig I had to stop of at for a while.  Still, that's another £2.50.  And, as promised, here's my Tube Bingo card:

Despite plenty of delays, I'm not doing so well.  I guess my reasons are off and, while I'm tempted to change some of them, that wouldn't exactly be fair play. now would it?  Still, there's one more day to go.  And there's always next week!

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

In which TfL saves ITSELF money

Well colour me surprised and chalk up a victory for TfL!  On my journey in to work today, I arrived at my change point in Wimbledon in time to catch not just my connecting tube, but an earlier one, getting me to the office six minutes ahead of schedule (despite that tube being held on three separate occasions for red signals).

Even though that first train did not arrive early, and even though TfL's Journey Planner seemed not to know of the earlier tube's very existence, in the interests of fiarness, I am deducting six minutes from TfL's bill.

Or, more accurately, five (since my journey home was delayed by a minute [no explanation]).

So that's £12.50 back to TfL.  My whole world doesn't make sense anymore.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

In which I save TfL money

Normally, I'd simply post my return commute as an update to the outward journey.  Today, however, I've decided on a different approach just to who how fair and generous I am.

So my tube was delayed by six minutes coming home, owing to two separate stops between stations (the first because we were being held at a red signal, the second to wait for a platform to become free).  This caused me to miss my connecting train that would complete the journey - despite pegging it up and down stairs and through Wimbledon station.

Now these trains only run every half hour, so in theory that delays me by a total of half an hour and therefore nets me another £75.  However, quick thinking on the part of our hero (that's me, for the hard of understanding) allowed me to take a train to a different destination (Kingston) and then a bus from there to my home.  This meant I only arrived at my destination, which I counted as being as distant from my home as my first-choice rail station, with a delay of 18 minutes (or £45), saving TfL 12 minutes (or £30).

You're welcome TfL!

In the future, I'll go back to a single post for a day's commute in both directions, even in such circumstances.  This highlight was just to demonstrate that I'm doing everything in my power to make my journey as fast as possible despite TfL's inefficiency, and that I'm not cynically trying to maximise my claim at the end of the 12-month period this blog will cover.

Put the kettle on

Two minutes on my way in to work this morning (I took an earlier train to make sure I wouldn't be late, meaning I had to come to work half an hour earlier than necessary: great!)...

Monday, 3 September 2012

Working guy

A one minute delay on the train from Hampton Court to Wimbledon caused me to miss my connecting tube (I was in time to see it pull away from the platform, and while you may correctly point out that I should have known better, bear in mind it's not me who broke the schedule). This would have meant I arrived at my final destination eight minutes later than planned and was consequently a couple of minutes late for my very first day in my new job.

No explanation was offered for the delay. However, my tube train was ALSO delayed by a couple of minutes because, and I quote, "We're going to be held here for a couple of minutes."
Overall, a 10 minute delay for another £25.
Thanks, TfL!

UPDATE: my new boss was delayed on the Metropolitan line for 15 minutes, so he didn't know I was late.  Thanks again, TfL, but you're not off the hook.  Especially as my journey home was delayed by a minute with no explanation given again...