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News and Comment January 2021

Index: 20202021

17 January - Less traffic, fewer accidents, slower buses, no money but new trains

Last weekְ’s Transport Users’ Sub-Committee meeting in Bexley was probably the shortest on record at about 55 minutes but if you listened hoping to hear comment on how TfL is to turn the once tranquil New Road into a Bus Superhighway with very nearly one every two minutes you would be sorely disappointed. Bexley Council argued against it three years ago and TfL ignored them then as it would surely ignore them now. Such was Bexley Council’s interest in the subject that the Councillor who reintroduced it couldn’t remember the route number.

The B11 has been using New Road since 1st March 2003, before that date it was bus-free.

The first item discussed was the allegedly dangerous Hook Lane in Welling (Welling Corner to A2) and whether a pedestrian crossing would be beneficial. The Chief Highways Engineer Andrew Bashford said that parking spaces, residents’ dropped kerbs and the most recently available accident statistics did not justify any traffic calming. Speeding is not a Council responsibility but the police officer at the meeting volunteered to look at the situation..

As one might expect the cyclist’s representative argued that motorists should be penalised by having their parking spaces removed but was told that all the evidence points to parked cars being a deterrent to speeding.

TfL has withdrawn funding for road safety education and the well regarded head of Bexley’s school crossings team has voluntarily left Council employment as a result. Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour) said that the funding has been restored and the TfL representative at the meeting confirmed that was recently the case but only until March 2021.

2020’s reduced traffic levels accompanied by allegedly higher speeds have resulted in noticeably fewer road traffic accidents.

Chairman Val Clark said she was concerned by the behaviour of school children while waiting for and riding on buses. They ignore the Covid rules. The police said they are maintaining patrols at normal levels but under-18s cannot be fined although in extreme cases school children could have their free travel concession withdrawn. Councillor John Davey (Conservative) had seen similar non-compliance.

Crime on Bexley’s buses is at almost vanishingly low levels, six incidents in December 2020 and much lower than in earlier years.

No information was forthcoming from Network Rail about the proposed turn back facility at Bexleyheath. Station Covid swabbing tests have all come back negative.

A flexible ticketing scheme is coming and new air-conditioned trains will replace “the 40 year old units”. Two so far, more soon. Pedantically they are three year old units formerly used by South Western Trains. Councillor Borella in full-on train spotting mode said they were nothing like 40 years old, more like 25 and as usual he is right. Trains were all slam door units when I moved into the borough 34 years ago, a time when trains reached London in only two thirds of the time taken now.

There were seven new train timetables introduced during 2020 and currently there is no station skipping.

It was Councillor Davey who introduced the subject of more buses along New Road in Abbey Wood and asked a number of questions which would have been unnecessary if he had read last Thursday’s blog. The TfL representative was of no help because he didn’t realise that the consultation and approval of the change is more than three years old. Look at TfL’s consultation webpage to see what is there now was his suggestion. Given the circumstances I think his lack of knowledge on the 469 route change can be forgiven, the delayed revision is old news - but totally unnecessary until Crossrail services commence and inconvenient for many even then.

There was no discussion on the ongoing or proposed road ‘improvements’. Abbey Wood station and Harrow Manorway improvements are on hold but the new Bexley Road bus lane is coming soon.

 

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