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Monday, May 11, 2009

358 

More often than not, I catch the bus to the station in the morning. I can walk but will only do so if no bus is due or I’m feeling really energetic. There are four buses that I can catch: R5, R8, R11 or the 358. The R5 seems to only run when there is a Z in the month, the R8 a little more often and the R11 has a detour past the hospital and doesn’t go all the way to the station in any case. So usually I catch the 358, operated by Metrobus.

There are two things that are guaranteed to happen on the 358: the first is that someone (usually a different person but it has happened with the same one) will forget that the 358 doesn’t go up the High Street at that time of the morning and, instead, goes past the end of the High Street and heads straight up to the station. The passenger will ring the bell or go crying to the driver who may or may not let them off even though they shouldn’t.

The second predictable event is the rather unpredictable effect of the traffic.

When there’s a school holiday we can drift up to the station from Orpington High Street in a couple of minutes. When school’s in, the traffic can be backed up from the station all the way down to the High Street and take anything from 5 minutes to 10 or 15 for us to get up the hill. Or not. Sometimes the traffic can be backed up but we make it to the station with very little delay. Other times we miss both the 7:56 and the 8:00.

The trouble is that you don’t know how much of a delay there will be until the bus turns the corner into Station Road at which point there are no more official stops.

Why does the traffic happen, I wonder?

I know there are lots of extra cars when there are no school holidays but there is more to it than that.

The only other causes of delay are the pedestrian lights just before the station, people joining the traffic from side roads and buses turning right from Station Road into Station Approach. Of these, the lights and the right-turn are the biggest contributors.

What can be done about it?

Very little, I think.

One idea is to swap the car park on the other side of the station with the bus terminus so that the buses turn right on a wider part of the road. That might help. Traffic would not be held up by buses turning right and the buses wouldn’t have to negotiate the very narrow Station Approach. The number of car park spaces would be reduced, of course, which would reduce the revenue clawed in from passengers who want to park at the station.

I don’t know if anyone who has any say in this sort of thing will read this blog. Probably not. And I don’t know who I could approach with the idea.

Until something is done (if anything can be done), I guess I’ll just have to put up with it or walk to the station.

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