On The Buses

Posted on 29 October 2003 in London, Transport (No comments)

I seem to have rather a problem with travelling once the tube has shut - last time it was the lack of overnight trains from Paddington on a Saturday night/Sunday morning. Last weekend it was getting on the bus in the wrong direction.

We were out in Wimbledon for the night and arrived at the bus stop around 1:20am.

The idea was that rather than travel into Central London, we'd try to travel to somewhere like Richmond and pick up the N65 to Ealing, thus avoiding the rowdy, drunken, horrible mess that the passengers coming from the centre.

We hadn't done any research before hand, so turned up at the bus stop to see what's what. No night buses run from Wimbledon to Richmond we found out, but the N77 did run to Kingston, where we could also meet the N65.

We had already spotted that the bus stop we were at, was an N77 stop and the timetable that was there, told us the times. We popped over the road for a bottle of water, and returned to wait for the bus.

All Aboard!

An N77 turns up. We board, wave our Travelcards and sit down. Bus drives off. We sit watching the bus stops (they have location details, and info on where the bus is going) to get our bearings.

Slowly we realise that all the buses say "Towards Clapham Junction" which is in the wrong direction. But we also see lots of road signs pointing to Richmond and Kingston. The bus even turns down a few.

Initially we think that the Clapham Junction signs are for the day buses but slowly it dawns on us that the bus is now taking every turning to avoid Kingston, and moments later, we turn up at Clapham Junction. We get off and find that the bus is actually going to Aldwych and we've spent 20 minutes going in the wrong direction.

Change Here For Services to Where You've Just Come From!

We rush to the over side of the road - thankfully another N77 going in the opposite direction is just moments away. But it's terminating at Wimbledon - the N77 runs Aldwych to Wimbledon every 15 minutes, but only two then go on to Kingston.

A few stops before Wimbledon, I hit on the bright idea of getting off early so we can get the next bus before it hits Wimbledon Town Centre where there might be lots of people trying to board - getting off early, we might get a seat.

It's cold wet and quiet as we stand at the bus stop waiting for the next bus. We wait 15 minutes. 20. 25. A bus turns up.

It's terminating at Wimbledon.

Frustrated, cold, we get off again two stops later and wait at a bus stop just opposite the one where we'd boarded originally. 90 minutes and we're back where we started.

Ten minutes or so and finally it arrives. We get on (again) and drive to Kingston, via Wimbledon town centre where we pass the very same bus stop we originally stood at.

Kingston Next Stop!

We get off at Kingston, wait ten minutes and get an N65. 4am (BST for it be the weekend the clocks went back) we finally arrive home.

Some digging and I find out that we'd unwittingly stood at a bus stop where the buses can stop there going in either direction. There are about two or three of these in the entire of London, out of nearly 6000 bus stops.

Unfortunatly the timetables only give one direction. Maybe if we'd checked the destination blind properly, we'd have seen where it was going, but one just tends to assume that when a bus turns up at a bus stop, it's going in the right direction...

Fares Please.

Next time I'm going armed with full route and bus stop details, timetables the works. It's either that or pay for a cab, and I'm not rich enough to do that.

UPDATE: there are actually around 17500 bus stops in London apparently. So there you go.

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