Lewisham Gateway: better watch out – triangleabout

Anyone else trying to relate developments seen on the Lewisham Gateway site to the original 27-month plan will also have noticed that things have not been exactly sticking to that plan, as it stood a year ago.

It was always hard to pinpoint Month 1, but assuming it was around last July, when yellow ‘advance notice’ road signs around the whole local area still today warn of major roadworks at Lewisham’s unloved roundabout, by now the site would have been at this stage:

Lewisham Gateway month 7 plan as at January 2014

In fact, there are only a few differences between this and the current situation, as far as I can judge:

  • Loampit Vale pedestrian crossing (between station and Glass Mill) has not yet moved west of the railway bridge
  • Temporary Lewisham Road diversion (yellow-highlighted road at the top of the map) is not yet finished being built, let alone open for use
  • Bridge construction work on the realigned Station Road (top of map) is possibly less far advanced than in this plan
  • Construction of widened Rennell Street (red road across centre of map) is possibly further advanced than in this plan

That last point is the key to what’s about to happen, which is the first major divergence from the previous plan. This time next week, part of the new Rennell Street road surface will be open to vehicles (and, on its south side, pedestrians), as part of a year-long triangular expansion of the Lewisham roundabout, prior to its removal early next year.

The triangleabout from road users' perspective

The triangleabout from road users’ perspective

The ‘triangleabout’, as I non-succinctly named this interim arrangement when I saw it in the original plan, is being put in place about eight months earlier than originally planned, and this configuration will last about twice as long as originally intended, too.

The Lewisham Gateway developers have created a pair of Google Maps showing the new layout from the perspectives of:

This particular triangleabout arrangement is not quite the same as any of the variants in the original plans. This arrangement was originally going to kick in after Molesworth Street’s new stretch alongside the railway line from Platform 2 had been built, and traffic heading from Rennell Street past Glass Mill would have used this to exit the triangle. Instead, it’s only a very small section of the roundabout that’s being taken out of use – just the bit between Molesworth Street and Lewisham High Street. Traffic which would currently drive west along the south side of the roundabout will instead have to circle the whole building site between there and Rennell Street – formerly the location of a small car park and the mound on which most Save Lewisham Hospital marches began.

That’ll surely take some getting used to for road users, and essentially amounts to the removal of a roundabout but the installation of a gyratory system in its place. if we assume there’s a size and shape limit on roundabouts!

The triangleabout from pedestrians' perspective

The triangleabout from pedestrians’ perspective

But what about pedestrians? It’s not great news for us, either. Because the triangleabout is being treated in just the same way as the current roundabout, that means no pedestrian access to it, nor any of its edges. The only place to cross the stretch of Lewisham High Street between the roundabout and clock tower will be the crossing by the shopping centre entrance – the crossing nearer the roundabout will be gone, because one side of it will be on the new triangleabout.

From the map it appears there’s a bit of a catch on Lewisham Road, too – if you head along the main road to the crossing that used to link Station Road to the now-removed little semicircular park, you won’t be able to carry on on that side of the road towards the petrol station/Londis; only to cross the road and head for the station or Maggie’s. If you want to walk to Granville Park or Londis, you’ll need to fork off by the police station up the hidden stretch of Lewisham High Street behind where that park used to be, on the other side of the river Quaggy.

The pedestrian crossing by Glass Mill will finally move west of the railway line as part of this arrangement, so overall it appears pedestrian routes around the roundabout will actually become longer – who’d’ve thought this was possible?! The one possible silver lining, which I’m hoping isn’t just drawing simplification on the map, is that it appears the crossings may be full-width across the roads, so halving the number of separate waits to walk between DLR and town centre compared with now. This may just be wishful thinking based on a simplified drawing, but there’s a distinct shortage of silver linings for pedestrians in 2015 otherwise.

The original 27-month plan involved a great deal of evolution of the road layout over the duration of the work, so my guess is that they’ve settled on making this one big change as early as possible with a view to keeping things far more stable for a longer period than previously planned, in order to avoid repeated confusion as layouts for both road users and pedestrians changed on a more frequent basis. It also means the end of the roundabout in its current form is now just six days away, suddenly making this objective very obvious and public. And if these tricky pedestrian links persist for a whole year, the vast improvement of the final arrangements will certainly be even more warmly welcomed when they arrive in 2016.

Bus adjustments

It’s all change on the bus stop front now too, as stop F (outside Glass Mill) reopens, stop A (northbound station stop for 180/199/273/380/N89) is being rebuilt on the temporarily diverted bit of Lewisham Road, and stop P (by the clocktower) is closing for a while, with its buses instead serving the very crowded stop E opposite the police station.

Here’s hoping some of the routes terminating at the station will drop off at stop F again, as many did when stop E was shut, but I know this was not wanted by TfL, so we’ll see…

  • Official coverage of these developments can be read on Lewisham Gateway site’s News page (which could really do with a publication timestamp on each item – it’s getting rather confusing!)

47 bus route cut back indefinitely

Running just to the north of my central Lewisham patch, Darryl today reports on the sudden, unexpected and roadworks-attributed cutback of bus route 53 from Trafalgar Square to Lambeth North, starting tomorrow.

But that’s not the only cut sprung on us via the publicity medium of the scrolling bottom row of iBus displays in the past day or two. Yesterday I noticed on a 47 I’d caught iBus said the route would only run as far as Liverpool Street station, not Shoreditch, also from tomorrow (17 January 2015). No explanation of why, and at that point there was no information to be found about this anywhere online at all – including in TfL’s bus service changes PDF, which hasn’t been updated since 10 December!

I should probably nick this (broken) from the bin room before the refuse collectors come tomorrow, shouldn't I?

The new 47 service harks back to the era represented on this canvas I found in my block of flats’ bin room some time ago – but without the Bromley end!

 

I tweeted at @TfLBusAlerts, from where the ever-helpful Craig revealed it was (like the 53’s cut) due to roadworks. I’ll be in Shoreditch on Monday evening and will be interested to see if these look noticeably worse than they’ve been for months – and, if not, what’s changed to warrant depriving SE Londoners of a direct link to Shoreditch as part of what appears to be something of a network-wide service-reduction approach to coping with disruption, starting tomorrow.

My Catford-dwelling friend received an e-mail from TfL this lunchtime, giving a grand total of half a day’s notice of the change. (I’ve no idea why she always gets these kinds of e-mails and I don’t, but thanks to her for passing it on!)

E-mail from TfL about the truncation of the 47 bus route

The text reads:

I am writing to let you know that from Saturday 17 January until further notice, route 47 in the City of London area, will stop short of its normal destination. This is due to major road works being undertaken on behalf of a number of utility companies, who are carrying out upgrades and essential repair works.

During this time, there will be the following changes:

  • Route 47 will not run between Liverpool Street Station and Shoreditch
  • Buses will start and finish from Liverpool Street bus station

Rather briefer and simpler than the e-mail about the 53, which sounds like it’ll run its full route at certain times – no such luck for 47 passengers.

The worst aspect of the 47 change is the complete lack of suggestion of an end-date to the inconvenience.

It feels worryingly like an attempt to change this route near-permanently without the hassle of consultations, expense of publicity and need to provide proper justification. Let’s hope the end does come eventually.

How the bus strike is going in Lewisham

As mentioned recently, there’s a London-wide bus strike today at 18 of the companies that operate London’s red buses for Transport for London.

No buses

Unlike most strikes, it’s relatively easy for anyone to gauge how effective this one is being at cutting back London’s bus service today because of the Countdown platform that TfL uses to tell you (and allow others’ apps to tell you) when your next bus will be along.

Using the Countdown system, sites like London Vehicle Finder and Live London bus map give you a clear overview of how any given route is operating in real time. (The only caveat would be where any vintage buses have been drafted in to plug gaps, these are presumably not fitted with the necessary equipment to track them through Countdown, so bear in mind all stats here exclude any of those.)

I’ve been through London Vehicle Finder (LVF) to check how each route that normally operates through Lewisham town centre is running today. I did this research at lunchtime but LVF also gives you a history of the route back to midnight on the day you search.

My research found that nine of Lewisham’s 23 routes have had no buses operating on them all day since the early hours when the strike kicked in – well done to the union members for observing the strike so collectively! In all it seems only approximately 21% of the bus vehicles that would normally serve Lewisham town centre have been doing so today.

Only one Lewisham route, number 75, currently appears to be operating with 100% of its bus fleet on the road. This is a strange anomaly for services based at a bus garage (Catford) where so many other routes have been completely off the road, and I’d be interested in anyone’s thoughts on why this has happened with this one route alone!

My full findings are below in a table. Note that PVR stands for Peak Vehicle Requirement, meaning the number of bus vehicles needed in total to operate the route at its most vehicle-intensive period. This may well not be weekday lunchtime so you can take the percentages quoted as ‘worst-case’ ones – maybe there were more buses out in the peaks when the full PVR-sized fleet should have been… maybe.

Route No. of buses operating PVR % running
21 4 26 15%
47 9 20 45%
54 0 16 0%
75 14 14 100%
89 2 15 13%
108 4 14 29%
122 0 18 0%
136 5 21 24%
178 0 8 0%
180 11 14 79%
181 3 12 25%
185 4 24 17%
199 0 10 0%
208 4 16 25%
225 0 7 0%
261 4 13 31%
273 0 8 0%
284 2 11 18%
321 0 19 0%
380 0 12 0%
436 0 31 0%
484 3 13 23%
P4 7 13 54%
Total 76 355 21%

Source: live bus info from London Vehicle Finder, 13.30, 13 Jan 2015. PVR data from London Bus Routes.

Other nearby routes affected include the 453, on which just three Boris vanity buses (PVR 35) are operating at time of writing, and the 53, which has six out of 26 buses in service.

Someone over at BBC London has done similar research across all of London and also at lunchtime reports that 30% of London buses were running, with 330 routes not running, 630 routes affected in some way and just 44 routes not affected at all (including presumably the legendary B12, and B13, B15 and 160, run by Arriva Kent Thameside where there’s no strike today). 22 routes had just one bus each running on them.

So there’s no doubt this has been a major strike across London and hit the most-used form of transport in the city very hard – congratulations to those organising such an ambitious co-ordinated strike. Next we’ll see whether there’s any movement from the 18 companies involved on the issue of whether to negotiate towards a shared set of terms and conditions for bus drivers across the capital. And in the meantime, enjoy – for want of a better word – the strange sight of Lewisham town centre with only a fifth the usual number of buses in it!

Bus strike, Tuesday 13 January

No buses

A major one-day bus strike has been called by Unite next Tuesday, about which they say this:

London’s 18 bus operators were accused of ‘burying their heads in the sand’ over ‘glaringly unfair’ pay disparities as Britain’s largest union, Unite announced that up to 27,000 bus workers would be taking part in a London wide bus strike on Tuesday 13 January.

The 24 hour stoppage follows the continued refusal by London’s 18 bus operators to enter into talks about a single London wide agreement covering bus workers’ pay, terms and conditions.

(and more).

Unite say the companies affected are:

  • Abellio South
  • Abellio West
  • Arriva North
  • Arriva South
  • Blue Triangle
  • CT Plus
  • Docklands
  • London Central
  • London General
  • London Sovereign
  • London United
  • Metrobus
  • Metroline
  • Metroline West
  • Northumberland Park
  • Selkent
  • Stagecoach
  • Tower Transit

Some of these brands are no longer used (for instance Selkent branding was replaced by parent company Stagecoach some years ago) so comparing the list to LondonBusRoutes.net’s list of routes with their operators is not an exact science, but so far as I can judge literally each and every single bus route serving Lewisham town centre and station is operated by one of the above, so next Tuesday could see absolutely no buses at all serving Lewisham!

On what will be only the second weekday of operation for Southeastern’s new timetable, commuters had better hope they haven’t hit trouble as well, or they’ll need to reach for their walking shoes, pump up their bike tyres, or put in a request to work from hom.

Further afield, Greenwich, Greenwich Peninsula, Deptford, Brockley and New Cross will all be just as badly affected as Lewisham, since all their routes are also operated by the companies above.

Arriva Kent Thameside is a rare operator not affected by this strike, so the 160 should be running as usual down in Catford (unlike all other buses in Catford) and over in my old patch the bus hub of Bexleyheath will be served by the 492, B12, B13 and B15, while the nearby 428 will also be in action.

I can’t recall such widespread, coordinated strike action on London’s buses before (particularly not wiping out all services in Lewisham!), so I wonder if the threat of this will get the employers to the negotiating table. (Good luck to Unite with achieving this!)

If not, the Lewisham Gateway site could have a day when the mystery of which bus stops are actually in use could be answered more simply than usual: none of them.

Lewisham Gateway: met the contractors

On Thursday, I dropped into the foyer of Glass Mill and met various people at the Lewisham Gateway ‘meet the contractors’ event there.

It was pleasantly surprising that I think everyone I spoke to was aware of my blog! Likewise, there was a fair bit of holding up of hands and acknowledgement that things could be much improved on the communications front, which was encouraging to hear.

Perhaps because of my own transport bias, my most interesting chat was with a representative from Transport for London. He’s going to feed back that their communications of bus stop changes in Lewisham have simply not been good enough so far – as I said to him, I’ve heard more about the closure of Putney Bridge than of nearly all the main bus stops in my own town centre, and I’ve never been to Putney.

I also took the opportunity to raise with him the apparent trolling of Hither Green residents in the planned final Lewisham Gateway bus stop arrangements (see end of that post), whereby the 181 and 225 buses will continue to stop at entirely separate stops with another between them, as had long been the case before the Gateway works began, despite both heading next to Hither Green. He’s taking this back to TfL and our conversation left me optimistic that this may well be able to be resolved now it’s been flagged up (no bus stop pun intended).

On a less optimistic note, I also tried to clarify stopping arrangements for all the buses formerly terminating at Lewisham Station. These were all curtailed to stop E opposite the Police Station, but this is now closed itself and most of these buses now set down at Stop F outside Glass Mill, on their way to the bus stand on Thurston Road. This was previously ruled out by TfL for reasons given to me in response to a Freedom of Information request a few months ago. Accordingly, TfL’s thinking on this is all a bit unclear at the moment – indeed the TfL rep hadn’t been able to pin down an exact list of which buses were officially dropping off there now in time to bring it along with him to this event.

It seems TfL are still not keen on using stop F due to the potential congestion, but were left with little choice but to give it a go while stop E is closed. I hope they’re monitoring how much of the theoretical congestion manifests itself in reality during stop E’s closure and will review their decision not to use stop F going forward accordingly, but I fear it’s more likely they’ll simply revert to stop E when it reopens later this autumn without any review. Keep your fingers crossed, station-bound bus users!

I chatted too with a council officer, and with Lewisham Gateway’s communications person, the latter of whom said he’d look again at the inadequate information provided on the project’s news page. The TfL bus stop closures link they currently give provides no information at all about alternative stopping arrangements – I suggested that for as long as TfL’s communications are that poor, just linking to them was inadequate and they should instead be plugging the gap themselves.

It looked like there’d been a steady flow of visitors seeking information about the project, so hopefully these drop-in sessions will be a regular occurrence over the coming months as Lewisham Gateway progresses.

And there was one thing that everyone I asked completely agreed on: whether they had any meaningful influence whatsoever over Southeastern, the private railway company (renowned for its complete lack of interest in customer service in the London ‘Metro’ area) whose franchise has just been extended by the government for several years without competition or consultation. I knew the answer before I asked, but asked anyway, and sure enough, it’s a ‘no’. So don’t hold your breath for that Platform 4 gate at London’s tenth-busiest non-terminus railway station to be opened any time soon.

Lewisham Gateway: communication breakdown

I’d love to be able to give you an update on what’s going on with all the bus stops and bus routes around the Lewisham Gateway site at the moment, but I can’t, because once again the developers are failing to announce or share what’s happening, or update their out-of-date News page.

I gather from a bus stop notice on TfL’s site (the only such notice attached to any of the stops in the Lewisham Gateway area on TfL’s system, despite all the changes) that stop E – the one opposite the police station where all the station-bound buses had been terminating – is now closed for two months, until 28 October, for ‘planned pavements works’, but it seems no part of that plan was to announce this anywhere else.

I hear from a follower on Twitter – and saw to my own surprise in the case of an 89 yesterday – that buses may now be setting down passengers at stop F outside Glass Mill leisure centre, but this directly contradicts what TfL had told me was possible before, and I can find nothing to say this is officially happening anywhere, so goodness knows if that’s just kind bus drivers or official policy. I also saw a 208 setting down passengers at stop P, by the clock tower, this evening; if that’s where buses to Lewisham Station are now officially terminating, that’ll be very unpopular as it’s even more of a walk than stop E was.

89 at Lewisham station bus stop F

Update: while the bus stop notice linked above ends at ‘planned pavements works’, there’s a far longer notice available on each individual route, bizarrely, which reads as follows:

LEWISHAM HIGH STREET SE13: Routes 21 47 54 75 89 108 122 136 178 180 181 185 199 208 225 261 273 284 321 380 436 484 P4 N21 N47 N89 N136 from 1000 Tuesday 26th August until 1530 Tuesday 28th October will not serve Bus Stop Lewisham Police Station (E) due planned pavements works. Routes 108 178 261 N89 will serve nearest Bus Stop Lewisham Clock Tower (P) located on Lee Bridge Road. Routes 21 47 54 75 89 122 136 180 181 185 199 208 225 273 284 321 380 436 484 P4 N21 N47 N136 will serve nearest Bus Stop Lewisham Station (F) on Loampit Vale.

So it seems the use of stop F is official, despite contradicting TfL’s previous explanation. Long may it continue – they’ll surely struggle to justify returning all those buses to terminating at the far less convenient police station after this! (Although that notice includes some routes which never served stop E anyway, like 180 and 199, and certainly won’t be serving stop F, which they don’t go past.)

Stops F and FF (opposite F) have supposedly been shut between 10.00 and 15.30 daily since 1 August, but I’ve seen nothing to suggest that is happening. Here’s a related and somewhat impenetrable TfL “Status alert for route 21”:

LEWISHAM HIGH STREET/MOLESWORTH STREET SE13 – ROUTES 180 199 273 380: From 1000 Monday 4 August until 1500 Monday 29 September August, buses will not served Stops F and FF due to roadworks.

Quite why a “Status alert for route 21” begins with a list of routes which aren’t route 21, and don’t serve the mentioned stops, I don’t know. It then goes on to specify a time period which we are well into and says the stops will be closed for all of it – I assume it’s meant to say 10.00-15.00 daily, not just that entire period, but either way, the stops are still open today, almost a month into that time. I look forward to it ending on “Monday 29 September August”.

Stops A and B, on either side of Lewisham Road near Maggie’s, were meant to have the same daytime closure arrangement in place from 21 July, but didn’t, then suddenly became completely closed 24/7 earlier this month, without warning.

And throughout all these changes, all the official Lewisham Gateway News page has mustered is an update, still unaltered, about the daytime changes to stops A, B, F and FF that haven’t happened in the way described, and an update about noise levels from sheet piling. I signed up for their e-mail updates from the start and have not received any of those since 18 July either.

But hey, when you’re dealing with dozens of bus routes interchanging with the tenth busiest non-terminus railway station in Greater London, why would anyone need to be kept informed?

Lewisham Gateway: more bus stop changes from now

You may not have heard about this, because Transport for London certainly haven’t made any effort to tell you, but further bus stop changes kick in around Lewisham Station from tomorrow, 21 July 2014, as major work progresses on the Lewisham Gateway development site.

Bus stops affected by temporary changes during summer 2014

Bus stops affected by temporary changes during summer 2014

Bus stop changes – details

Starting now, bus stops A and B – the ones called Lewisham Station which are located near Maggie’s, opposite each other on Lewisham Road – will be closed every day of the week between 10.00 and 15.30, until 18 September. These are the stops served by the 180, 199, 273 and 380 bus routes, in each direction.

Furthermore – and you get a little more notice on this – bus stops F and FF, also called Lewisham Station, located outside and opposite Glass Mill leisure centre on Loampit Vale, will also be closed every day of the week between 10.00 and 15.30, from 1 to 31 August 2014. Stop F is served by the 21, 47, 136, 225, 321 and 436 as they leave Lewisham town centre to head towards New Cross or Deptford. Stop FF is where routes 21 and 436 drop passengers off before they end their journeys behind the shopping centre on Molesworth Street.

You can see these stops, all with variously incorrect names (apparently because TfL told the developers the wrong stop names), on this map the developers have made.

Very unimpressively, today, less than a day before the first closure, there was no mention anywhere on or near stops A and B that these daily closures are happening at all. I’m told responsibility for such publicity lies firmly with Transport for London, but they haven’t even got an electronic message into their online stop-specific Countdown system, let alone publicity near the stop. Clearly there are a lot of ‘partner organisations’ involved in this development but if one party is singularly failing to provide timely information, perhaps it’s time for another to step in and stick up a couple of posters?

Latest photos

Lewisham Gateway progress, 19 July 2014

I’ve published another 35 or so photos from around the site over the past couple of weeks into the usual place – the top of my Lewisham Gateway album on Flickr. (All the photos have captions which you should be able to see on the web version of Flickr, at least – I think these days the apps and mobile version don’t make it easy to see the captions unfortunately.)

The photos include clear signs of work on the new Station Road, which I also tried to document on Vine on 17 July but the following short clip seemingly failed to publish successfully, so you can enjoy it here in non-looping format instead!

Consultation exhibition

Yesterday I attended the Lewisham Gateway consultation exhibition in Lewisham shopping centre and met several of the people running various aspects of the project.

Lewisham Gateway consultation exhibition

Sadly, I don’t have time to write up what we spoke about now (and I do mean sadly; I’d far rather do that than go and iron the shirts that have just finished in the washing machine). So that’ll have to wait for my next post…