108 bus

It’s always good to see an issue raised on this website taken up by politicians – so here’s a warm 853 welcome for a petition calling for a boost to the 108 bus service between North Greenwich and Lewisham, which suffers from chronic overcrowding during rush hours.

The petition comes from Greenwich Conservatives – in particular, their energetic candidate for Blackheath Westcombe ward, Thomas Turrell. Blackheath Westcombe’s the borough’s most marginal ward, represented by two Tories and one Labour repesentative, so what goes on here is worth watching.

The Tories’ petition wants a rush-hour only bus, numbered 108A, to supplement the packed-out 108 south of the river, giving passengers a service that is less affected by Blackwall Tunnel delays. Ignoring the fact that Transport for London no longer runs rush-hour only buses (nor ones with letters as suffixes – although with next year’s train woes in mind, a revival of the original 108A to London Bridge could be useful), at least the issue of the 108’s woes is being taken seriously.

Greenwich Tories' petition

Except… the Tories are addressing their petition to Greenwich Council. Not TfL, which runs the buses, but Greenwich Council. “We call on Royal Greenwich Borough Council [sic] to use the means at its disposal to work with Transport for London to introduce a new 108a bus route…”

So, effectively, Greenwich Tories are asking the Labour-run council to ask Tory-run TfL to fix our buses. Could they not, well, go straight to Boris Johnson instead? Perhaps not, with TfL bracing itself for deep cuts to bus services under its current administration. Awkward.

Anyone that’s ever been to a Greenwich Council meeting will know how it’ll treat the petition, anyway. Transport cabinet member Denise Hyland will act like the Tories have suggested selling a close family member, before Chris Roberts declares once again that the council should run bus services because Berkeley Homes the council knows better than anyone else on the entire planet. Nobody will go home happy, not least those going home by bus.

Which is a shame, because the state of the 108 is worth addressing, and it’s a pity that local politicians have ignored the issue for so long. Unlike the 132, overcrowding on which has been raised three times in 14 months at City Hall.

But then the 132’s fate proves a point. Run a bus to North Greenwich from just about anywhere, and it’ll fill up.

So maybe the Greenwich Tories’ 108 petition will light a flame. Perhaps some bright spark will team up with politicians across the boundary, and suggest an entirely new route to somewhere new like Brockley or Bromley, or maybe just the Kidbrooke Village development, to help ease the 108 through Blackheath. Maybe they’ll even set up a petition, and maybe they’ll get somewhere.

But hopefully, they’ll remember to address it to the right people first.

16 replies on “Greenwich Tories tell Labour to tell the Tories to fix the buses”

  1. You seem to forget my notes last year about the 288 – but then, that’s the other side of the river. These things do get raised by councillors at Scrutiny meetings with TfL officers (and again – Darryl – you could come along to these meetings where back bench councillors dealing with day to day issues raised by residents). At the last meeting the Tories must have raised an issue with every bus route in London, except the 108.

  2. There can’t be any truth in it but I’ve heard that RBG wants to change the 108 to 101 and turn it into a stationary room at the Standard where troublesome oiks like Darryl are quizzed – for want of a better phrase – about their unwanted interest in local politics and how come they don’t show more respect for the Ministry of Love. Two legs good, four legs roast…

  3. Darryl – its not your fault for not going. It is however very irksome for you to only go to full council meetings, leave early and then complain that back benchers never say a word, etc etc etc. When at other meetings, which are also open to the public, they are often saying a lot and raising many of the issues which you are going on about (ie Run to the Beat) and sometimes getting things done.
    Obviously I think it is a pity people don’t come to scrutiny meetings – when I was a Scrutiny Chair I always tried to involve people who did show up – but I am not blaming them. Just getting a bit fed up with all the blame and none of the credit, that’s all. I am just the opposite of what Peter Cordwell says above – more interest actually,

  4. Who’s blaming you, Mary? You weren’t mentioned in this post.

    Perhaps Greenwich Time could cover some of the issues you raise.

  5. You mean the blame isn’t collective?? I have been led to believe this afternoon by a resident that I am responsible for evils which I had thought were internationally generated. I’d better get back to my memoirs then.

  6. Maryorelse
    “raising many of the issues which you are going on about (ie Run to the Beat) and sometimes getting things done.”

    I’d love to know what backbenchers have managed to get done about that. Do tell…

  7. @maryorelse: “…you could come along to these meetings where back bench councillors dealing with day to day issues raised by residents.”

    I think this is another valid argument for videorecording and archiving of all meetings. With some taking place mid-morning or afternoon it is extremely difficult for working members of the public to get to them. In fact, even some of the 7pm ones are problematic if you’re working in Central London.

    The world has moved on, even if RBG don’t wish to acknowledge it, and it’s time to embrace the modern age. You may even find it works in your favour when constituents can see with their own eyes that you’re doing something.

  8. Bringing up residents who are patently off their trolleys is not a contribution, Mary, but how lovely to have you here. How many others dare step forward? And what is your answer to Darryl’s Greenwich Time question (doubt there’ll be one even from someone as brave as you)? Having had something to do with GT, I know as well as anyone that there is more chance of head of comms Stuart Godfrey calling the Pope protestant than these issues ever being raised in the paper.

  9. Look – I am not into dominating this discussion, which is supposed to be about bus routes and the Tories. The 288?? from Homerton to Greenwich?? is a much more relevant subject than hoping I say something incriminating.

    I don’t want to start answering for the entire body of other councillors. Once I start there will be no end to it. You can always email me if you want to know what I have done, or think, or whatever. Peter Cordwell can also email me if he wants to.

    Stewart – even I think that recording the entire body of council meetings would be a bit much. Maybe need a different sort of tech? If you want a very real issue for historians it is that the electronic recording, in various forms, of material which would previously have been paper based means that it will probably be lost for the future. I am not sure that a sound based archive would be very much use – there is a random access issue here. Is a technology going to be evolved which meets all these needs? Something which replaces minutes, is instantly available, indexable and yet permanent and accessible for the future.
    (and sorry, thats not about the buses either)

    Must get back to my memoirs

  10. To drag the topic back to buses…

    How about suggesting TfL three services, all starting at North Greenwich:

    The “108A” running to Lewisham.

    The 129, extended to Peckham.

    A third route running to Woolwich then onwards to QE Hospital or Plumstead.

    All three should be run using electric vehicles, such as now being tested on the 507 and 521 routes in central London. These are relatively short routes, so would be suitable for electric vehicles with a shorter range than conventional buses (250km per day).

    Air quality in Greenwich is very poor and buses are one part of the problem. Many of the buses TfL runs around these parts are old and polluting – we don’t see many hybrid buses, and certainly none of the New Bus for London type. Electric buses would have no tailpipe emissions, and would presumably be quieter than ageing diesels.

  11. The problem with the Conservatives’ petition is that it. is asking the council to campaign for more bus capacity: something we are already doing. As 853 rightly says,the purse strings at TFL are held by the mayor Boris Johnson, who far from expanding buses, recently unveiled plans to cut bus subsidy by 20 per cent, following an 8.5 per cent cut in TFL’s budget by George Osborne last year (see full details at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/corporate/FPC-20131127-Part-1-Item09-Achieving-VfM-in-the-Delivery-of-Londons-Bus-Service.pdf).

    This could involve the axing of 15 suburban routes, the axing of 15 night bus routes, and reductions in services on 200 routes off-peak, as well as peak-time cuts to routes such as the 108.

    Labour supports improvements to bus capacity locally. We have campaigned successfully for the recent extensions of the 386 route (to link Blackheath Village and Greenwich Town Centre for the first time) and the 132 from Eltham to north Greenwich via Kidbrooke park road/Rochester way (which has since been changed from a single deck to double decker bus). We have also asked for better bus links from Blackheath to QuEen Elizabeth Hospital and Bugsby’s Way, particularly once Sainsbury’s relocates there.

    By contrast, Greenwich Waterfront Transit (a new express bus service along the river linking Greenwich with Thamesmead via Woolwich) was canmned by Boris as soon as he was elected in 2008.

    The best way to expand bus services is to elect a Labour Mayor and Labour government prepared to invest in transport infrastructure; the 108 petition cannot be taken seriously while a Conservative Mayor is planning bus cuts.

    Alex Grant (Labour councillor, Blackheath Westcombe ward)

  12. And speaking of Berkeley Homes, the 132 is too far away to be of any use to the residents at Kidbrooke Village who currently have no bus route to North Greenwich (or to Blackheath or Greenwich Town Centre, for that matter).

  13. It would be nice to comment on some of this on young Mr. Turrett’s blog, but I can’t see anywhere on it that you can add your comment. Or doesn’t he want to know what the people he is aiming to represent think??

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