Friday, 26 October 2018 14:55

TfL Bus Changes: Turn these plans round at the next stop!

Written by Robin Bishop
384 bus negotiating Strafford Road, High Barnet. TfL would switch it to Salisbury Road. 384 bus negotiating Strafford Road, High Barnet. TfL would switch it to Salisbury Road.
After carefully weighing members’ and readers’ – often differing – points of view on the changes proposed by Transport for London (TfL) to the 292, 384 & 606 bus routes and a bus stop on Barnet Hill, the Barnet Society has concluded that for the moment we support the present arrangements. With radical developments on the horizon in New Barnet & High Barnet, however, they should be kept under review.

Committee member Andrew Hutchings (who has a transport qualification), Peter Bradburn (a former transport consultant) and I (a passenger) have been studying TfL’s proposals. On 3rd October we posted a summary with some initial thoughts on this website, and invited your comments.  Nineteen of you responded, and all your points have been considered.

Below is the full text we have submitted to TfL on behalf of the Barnet Society. It also includes our comment about reductions on bus routes in Inner & Central London, which we generally support – especially if some of the savings benefit Barnet.

If you disagree – or agree – you can still submit your personal comments direct to TfL up till 9th November on https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/buses/route-384/

BARNET SOCIETY RESPONSE TO TfL

Route 384 – Extension to Edgware

In principle, we support extending the existing route to Edgware. As we pointed out in 2013 to the Transport Committee of the London Assembly and in 2017 to the Mayor of London, Chipping Barnet’s bus connections do need improvement to the east, west and north. But we also value the reliability and inclusivity of the present Cockfosters-Quinta Drive route.

Ideally we would prefer both to keep the existing 384 route and to extend it. We recognise that TfL is likely to require a cost-neutral solution, however, and that running the 384 via Apex Corner would impair its reliability at congested times.

At present the advantages of a direct Edgware extension seem limited chiefly to:

  • students of the Jewish Community Secondary School – whose needs could be met by school coaches;
  • patients referred to Edgware Community Hospital – though they would have to change at Edgware;
  • employees and visitors to the new Council offices at Colindale; and
  • on alternate Saturdays in the football season, Barnet FC supporters

These gains are relatively unproven compared with the clear detriment of the proposed change to existing users – particularly the less mobile, elderly and carless people with children and/or shopping in East, New and High Barnet.

We are left wondering if an important TfL consideration is to compete with Unō’s  614 route between Barnet, Edgware and Queensbury at minimal additional cost.

Our conclusion is that, unless ridership statistics can be produced to demonstrate otherwise, the 384 service should be retained in its present form, with only minimal changes.
384’s competitor: Unō’s  614 bus between The Spires, Edgware and Queensbury384’s competitor: Unō’s 614 bus between The Spires, Edgware and Queensbury

Route 384 – East & New Barnet

New Barnet residents have fought for years to retain its existing town centre shopping and other facilities. These include:

  • New Barnet Station
  • The Post Office
  • The East  Barnet Health Centre
  • Sainsbury’s
  • The British Legion
  • Several nursery, primary and secondary schools
  • The tennis club (where voting takes place for local and government elections)
  • The new Aldi store (at the junction of Brookhill and Crescent Roads).

Direct service to all of these would be lost if TfL’s proposal goes ahead.

We are also concerned about the proposal to re-route the 384 along Victoria Road. Over several stretches the pavements are narrow and give scant protection to pedestrians. Peak-time congestion frequently occurs at the crucial Park Road/ Victoria Road junction.

This will be exacerbated when the Victoria Quarter housing (under construction) is complete. That will add some 350 new homes – i.e. at least 1,000 new residents – a proportion of whom would use the 384. Large office blocks around New Barnet Station are also being converted into flats. Furthermore, the Mayor of London’s encouragement of high-density homes over and around New Barnet Station could bring many more before long.

It would be ironic if the 384 were to cease to serve most of New Barnet’s key facilities just as its population is due to expand significantly.

Route 384 – High Barnet

We are unconvinced of the merits of moving the route from Strafford Road to Salisbury Road. The small advantage of speeding up the buses would be offset by considerable detriment to residents of the streets to the north and west, and by the greater risk of congestion and delay in Salisbury Road.

Route 384 – Hail & Ride

We support retention of existing Hail & Ride sections, though we acknowledge that in places its usefulness is reduced by parked vehicles, and that more fixed stops may be a solution.

Bus route 606

We oppose the proposed cut to this service. The stretch between Chipping Barnet town centre and The Totteridge Academy already risks overcrowding if one third of the service is cut, especially in the morning, and this will be exacerbated when the Ark Pioneer Academy opens in September 2019.

We are pleased that TfL plan to keep the changing pupil, parent and staff needs under review.

Barnet Hill bus stop

On balance we oppose moving the existing stop. We recognise the advantages of doing so to some tube travellers, but it would create new difficulties for traffic near the pedestrian crossing unless a new lay-by were to be built. But the latter would require removing several trees in the middle of the splendid line that was planted 20 years ago – as a direct result of a Society campaign – and which we would therefore oppose.

A simpler way to improve tube/bus interchange would be to upgrade the present narrow and dilapidated pavement between High Barnet Station’s south entrance and Barnet Hill.

We are also concerned about the future of the bus stop further down the hill near the Underhill turning. This busy stop is already threatened by the Council’s proposed widening of the A1000/Underhill/Fairfield Way junction to mitigate present peak-time congestion (which will worsen as Ark Academy expands).

In the longer term, high-density housing development may be proposed for the TfL-owned car park and adjoining land on the station side of Barnet Hill. This would be an excellent chance both to improve access to the station radically and to rationalise its bus connections.

Accessibility

We do not support the recent increase of TfL’s target distance from a bus route from 400 to 450 metres. Not only does Chipping Barnet already contain one of London’s highest proportions of elderly people – and therefore probably disabled or with impaired mobility – but it is unusually hilly.

Inner & Central London changes

We generally support TfL’s proposed changes to 33 bus routes in Inner & Central London to help make the bus network simpler and more efficient and ensure that TfL’s resources are invested in the right locations.

Since the net effect would be a reduction of services in Inner & Central London, the Society’s main concern is that Outer London – which is more dependent on buses, and where considerable development is expected over coming years –  should benefit from at least some of the resulting savings.

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11 comments

  • Comment Link Friday, 26 October 2018 15:34 posted by Kate W

    The 384 does not need to run down Stratford Road. For years we have had daily fights as they turn in and out of Alston into Stratford because there is simply not enough room for a bus. Trying to run it down Salisbury is also ridiculous, for exactly the same reason. The Spires bus stop which hosts 4 other bus routes is opposite the end of Strafford Road.
    Could the 384 not be routed along Stapylton Road and then turn into the other end of Salisbury Road? Our roads are too small for buses. And before anyone asks, I am partially sighted and unable to drive so I am a frequent bus user.

  • Comment Link Friday, 26 October 2018 17:39 posted by Joshua Yates

    A good article, most of which I agree with and which supports our cause. I am pleased that the Barnet Society used some of the points we sent to them and also that they do recognise there is a need to improve bus accessibility between High Barnet station and northbound buses, even if they do not support a new bus stop in the proposed location.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 27 October 2018 01:25 posted by Joshua Yates

    Kate W:

    I imagine that you given what you have written, you will appreciate that if the 384 were diverted via Stapylton Road, this would mean a very long walk indeed for residents of Wentworth Road, Byng Road and Cecil Court, where there is also demand from two primary schools, a new children's hospice and and environmental education centre. It would also mean a much longer walk for people living in roads like Falkland Road and Wrotham Road, and also for people trying to reach or come back from The Spires and Waitrose, Barnet Market, and Chipping Barnet library. These people often have heavy shopping if it is their return journey.

    As I used to live at the bottom of Wentworth Road, I know that it takes at least ten minutes walking at a fast pace to reach the current Salisbury Road stop - much longer for people who find walking more difficult. The stop at The Spires is even further. If it hadn't been for the 384 stopping at the top of Wentworth Road in both directions, my daily commute would have been very much harder. I know that others in that area also support the bus, and Alston Road and Strafford Road have been on a bus route since at least 1990.

    I appreciate that there are concerns about the fact that the buses have increased in size in recent years (they used to have just the one door but now they are double-door), and also that some drivers apparently drive too fast along these residential roads. However, I think these are entirely separate issues, and should not be used as excuses to divert the 384 away from Alston and Strafford roads, either in one direction or in both.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 27 October 2018 12:45 posted by Tony B

    I think you've got it quite wrong, arguing against moving the bus stop down Barnet Hill. It would be a game changer for older and less able people. That extra bit of hill to walk up, especially when it's wet or windy, stops many from using High Barnet station.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 27 October 2018 14:07 posted by Joshua Yates

    Tony B:

    I agree with you about having a northbound bus stop much closer to High Barnet station - that's the main part of the article that I don't agree with, because the current arrangements are so difficult for able-bodied people, never mind what it must be like if you find walking up hill more difficult. However, even better would be to divert at least one northbound bus into the station grounds themselves, such as the 384 (the only route that serves all of the key destinations to the north: Barnet High Street, The Spires and Barnet Hospital).

    This proposal is better than nothing, but the traffic lights need to be re-timed like the ones outside Cockfosters Station to favour pedestrians crossing Barnet Hill to reach the new bus stop - it's far too long to wait at this crossing currently.

    I also appreciate that moving the bus stop would maybe things for inconvenient for QE Girls pupils and Bedford Ave residents, and also leave a long gap on a hill until Barnet Church. Really I don't see why they can't make a new bus stop as well as keeping the old one, even if they are close together.

    The Barnet Society states that a stop without a pull-in lay-by would cause traffic delays on Barnet Hill, but this isn't the case with the Underhill stop, as northbound on Barnet Hill is a dual carriageway. Traffic often goes far too fast up that hill anyway.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 27 October 2018 18:51 posted by Dalia Cullis

    If the proposed bus stop move happens with no layby as suggested it would bring traffic to a standstill.
    If a bus is at the new stop in the left lane at the same time as a car is waiting in the right lane to turn into the station car park, the road will be completely blocked!

  • Comment Link Sunday, 28 October 2018 21:53 posted by Kate W

    Joshua

    So the station isn’t even able to accommodate cars - it’s gridlock every night because it’s so tiny down there. Your idea to put a BUS into the station is ridiculous, a bus could not turn down there. Able bodied people do not find it hard to walk to the bus stop.

  • Comment Link Sunday, 28 October 2018 22:59 posted by Joshua Yates

    Kate W:

    I'm talking about repurposing part of the vast car park, which is usually at least half empty, to create a proper bus station or at least turning facilities for at least one northbound bus to call, along with a wider access road. As this would be a major redesign, on balance I support this 'interim' measure of a new bus stop in the proposed location, even though I would prefer TfL to keep the existing bus stop as well.

    You might not personally find it difficult to walk to the bus stop from the station (from what you have written, I am not persuaded that you are in the habit of making this journey), but as someone who makes this journey regularly (and used to every day), I know that I'm not the only one who finds it incredibly difficult and inconvenient.

    The bus stop is in precisely the wrong place, whether you turn right or left as you exit the station (even with the new lower exit). The worst thing is that the traffic lights across Barnet Hill nearest the lower access road have absolutely no pedestrian priority - now you can wait up to a minute for the lights to change when up until about ten years ago, the lights used to change instantly when you pressed the button (like the ones outside Cockfosters station still do).

    Say your train comes in on platforms 2 or 3, first you have to walk up the stairs, then down again and all the way along Platform 1 to the lower exit. Then you have to dodge cars dropping people off to get to the narrow access road pavement, which takes you further south in the wrong direction. Then you have to turn right and walk back on yourself uphill to reach the crossing. Then as I say, you can either wait for up to a minute there or risk your life running across Barnet Hill through gaps in traffic as you desperately try to make your bus. Once you cross it's more uphill trudging, including have to cross Milton Avenue and having your path blocked by cars waiting to turn into Barnet Hill. Once you've waited for them all to clear it's yet more uphill walking, until you've finally reached the stop. Your bus has definitely sailed past while you were still walking, and it's more than five minutes since you got off the train.

    The alternative, turning right as you exit the station, is no less lengthy and hazardous. First you have to have the stamina to brave the steep access path to Meadway. Once you've got to the top, the railings guide you in the wrong direction down Meadway to the crossing. Then once the lights have finally changed, you can only cross as far as a traffic island before being confronted with another timed crossing across Barnet Hill. Once you have finally reached the correct side of the hill, you have to walk back on yourself south. Then wait for all the cars to clear from Bedford Avenue, before finally walking back on yourself some more, down the hill to the bus stop. This route has been even longer than the other one, and the bus you were trying to get is definitely somewhere much further up Barnet High Street by now.

    Anyone with reduced mobility or using a wheelchair who thought they could take advantage of the step free access within the station itself, will find it impossible to get to the bus stop to continue their journey. I know that some people use stations as far as East Finchley because this connection is so difficult! So something needs to be done to improve matters, it's just a question of what, when and how.

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 30 October 2018 22:34 posted by Kate W

    Joshua
    I use that bus stop 3 times a week minimum, often more. When I worked full time I used it daily. I walk up the slope, cross over and walk back down to the bus stop. Although visually impaired I am able bodied and find it no problem.
    I’m not 100% sure why you make assumptions about my bus use when I have stated that I am regular bus user because I am unable to drive.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 03 November 2018 04:40 posted by Joshua Yates

    Kate W:

    Apologies for assuming - I just find it difficult to believe that anyone could think there are no access problems in terms of walking from the station to the current northbound bus stop, especially if you factor in waiting for ages for the lights on Barnet Hill to change (at either crossing), and then having to dodge cars waiting to turn into Barnet Hill from Milton Ave or Bedford Ave. Perhaps the fact that you are in fact very familiar with the walking route actually helps?

    But can you not see why it is such a nightmare for some people, especially those who are not able-bodied or perhaps have simply reduced mobility because they are elderly?

    What do you think about the idea of repurposing part of the station car park for bus use, with a wider access road and a bus turning facility built?

  • Comment Link Tuesday, 20 November 2018 13:00 posted by David S

    As a commuter living in Harrow. Its virtually impossible for a service taking me straight to Barnet. Not sure why the proposed 384 wants to serve Edgware. Would there be much of a demand? 384 would be served better if it helps commuters wanting for travel north west.. especially if it could run towards 'The Hive' (Barnet's football ground in Harrow) and possibly Northwick Park Hospital.
    Unless TFL can see a use in the 614 and make that relevant for commuters without waiting half hour and paying high prices then that would be great.

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