Boris! Where are our buses? And where are you?
Get stuck in the snow this afternoon? Luckily my woes were minor. My thighs are feeling the benefit of a two-mile walk from Greenwich town centre to Charlton in thick sludge, but I’m annoyed that I’ve had to knock on the head plans to go for a festive drink with an old colleague I haven’t seen in ages. Oh, I’m also kicking myself that I decided not to take my camera out this afternoon, since it was drizzling when I left home…
From 4pm, this bit of south-east London has been murder to get around. I had to abandon a 386 bus on Vanburgh Hill, Blackheath, after two cars collided in front of us when the snow was fresh on the ground. By the time I got into Greenwich, the streets were covered in filthy slush.
When I left at 5.40, the whole place had come to a standstill, with traffic not budging in both directions. Passing the top of Westcombe Hill, a 108 bus was parked up, the driver clearly not going to risk the hill. Through the subway, and three 380s had been parked up on Eastcombe Avenue, Charlton, blocking the road (pictured right). This wasn’t going to be Transport for London’s finest hour.
Back home, and what words of wisdom did Transport for London chairman and mayor Boris Johnson have to say on the issue? Er, nothing. Except…
Right, Boris. But what about the buses? With the mainline network totally up the spout, would it be worth me taking the bus to North Greenwich to catch the Tube? Had they all been taken off the road? It was looking like it… but there was nothing on Transport for London’s website at all. Hunting around to see what had happened to the 380, there was just this message which didn’t appear until 7.20pm.
And what about the 486, which would take me to North Greenwich? Was it trying to navigate the steep hill of Charlton Church Lane? No luck with TfL…
The words “piss up” and “brewery” inevitably sprang to mind. I ended up gathering through Twitter that it really wasn’t worth venturing out, thanks to Political Animal, who came home by boat to North Greenwich but found himself having to walk it.
Twitter 1, TfL 0.
Only a fool would blame the mayor for the snow, but it takes a fool to be in charge of a transport operation which is incapable of telling people that there’s serious disruption because of snow and it’d be easier not to bother. So why the silence? We all know the stick Boris got last time, and his reaction to it…
Is TfL scared of the reaction if it publicly announces the bus network is up the spout? Ignore the fact that there’s empty buses sat all over south London at the moment and hope it’ll all go away? Or is it just incompetent? Whatever, it’s dropped a serious, serious clanger tonight. Yes, sometimes the weather can deliver some nasty surprises. But it’s criminal not to tell people about it, especially when most are on their way home. I’ve a feeling that, for many people, the scales might have fallen from their eyes tonight.
Is Boris a coward or just inept? Perhaps he might tell us some day. When he’s done his recycling.
11.10PM UPDATE: It’s good to know Boris got home alright… and finally TfL got its arse into gear, several hours late. Although without mentioning several routes have been effectively suspended.
It also probably wasn’t the best week to have shifted London Travel Information to a premium rate number.
(See also: Boris Watch)