Councillor Whitehead, the Chair of Sutton Council’s Environment and Neighbourhoods Committee, and Sutton Council officers will be meeting with TfL London Buses in the New Year to discuss how bus services can be tailored to meet future development proposals in the borough. It will also provide an opportunity to raise any issues related to any shortcomings with existing services. A similar meeting was held earlier in 2016.
This is an opportunity to set out views on any changes we would like to see made to services in the area, including changes to frequencies or the duration of services, or route diversions/extensions to provide missing connections.
Officers will consider how this information is presented to TfL. However, the final decision on any such changes rests with TfL and there will be limited resources available.
Local residents in Sutton South Ward have raised with us the following concerns:
Route frequency – although residents have commented that on some routes, such as route 80, frequency and reliability is good, bus 470 is seen as too infrequent, being only about every half hour.
Similarly, route S4 could be more frequent.
A further difficulty with the 470 is that it does not run on a Sunday so our suggestions for the 470 are to increase the frequency from once every half an hour, run it on Sundays and (see below) extend it to Epsom hospital.
The X26 bus to Heathrow is used by many and the increased frequency of the X26 is welcome, but the buses have difficulty in keeping to the timetable, perhaps because of the length of the route. Some residents say they would not use it if travelling to Heathrow to catch a plane as it is not 100% reliable. There may thus be a case for increasing the frequency further.
Route length – could the 470 go to Epsom hospital rather than Epsom market as there are residents who use it to go to the hospital?
On route 151, the frequency and reliability is generally good but the service could be improved if some rush hour buses turned round at North Cheam, bearing in mind that the 213 duplicates the 151 onwards to Worcester Park.
Timetabling – it is noted that the 80 and 280 buses running northwards along Brighton Road frequently arrive at the same time. Could the timetabling be looked at?
A resident made the following comment on the S1 timetable information.
“We use the S1 service quite a lot, and really appreciate it, especially when the frequency increased to every 15 minutes a while ago. However in the latest timetable adjustments it is not scheduled for the same minutes past every hour, as it used to be outside peak times, so is not so easy to use.
Unfortunately this also coincided with TfL rearranging the timetable information on their website. It is still easy to look up when a particular bus is due, but it used to be easy to print out a complete timetable for the service, on one side of A4 for each direction. Now the timetable information gives the times of buses for the one particular stop you select, and it is 3 pages of printing for each stop. For example if I were to print the times from my local stop to Sutton or St Helier and to Banstead, and back again from those three, I would have 15 (sparsely used) pages.
For many people who use the service, and cannot or do not wish to be constantly looking it up on phones, it would be much simpler if there were the option of printing one complete timetable.”
Passenger information – it was pointed out that the two bus stops in Mulgrave Road close to Sutton station do not include digital displays on bus arrival information. Although there are other ways of getting this information, on your mobile phone, not all passengers have the skill to get this.
A review of the information arrangements was suggested for some routes. On route 164, at some stops the bus is recorded as a minute away or due but it does not turn up for six or seven minutes.
Other matters – There was some comment on arrangements at Sutton station. A resident suggested that congestion in Mulgrave Roadcould be alleviated by moving the taxi rank. It would be possible to move it to The Quadrant now the side entrance to the station is open, but this would probably be unpopular with the taxi drivers and railway passengers, and was not a proposal pursued under the Sutton Gateway project. A resident also commented that this part of Mulgrave Road has on occasions been briefly flooded during very heavy downpours. I have asked Council engineers to investigate.
A summary of these comments, by bus route, is:
470 – increase the frequency from once every half an hour, run it on Sundays and extend it to Epsom hospital
151 – the service could be improved if some rush hour buses turned round at North Cheam, bearing in mind that the 213 duplicates the 151 onwards to Worcester Park
80 and 280 – buses running northwards along Brighton Road frequently arrive at the same time so review the timetabling
164 – review the information arrangements as at some stops the bus is recorded as a minute away or due but it does not turn up for six or seven minutes
S1 – review the way the timetable is set out on the website
S4 – review the frequency.
It should be noted that while this summary is focussed on suggesting improvements, many residents have commented to us in favourable terms on the frequency and reliability of local bus services.
I have put this digest of views forward to officers for consideration. Any decision rests, of course, with Transport for London.