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Dartmouth Road set to be spruced up? 11 January 2015

Posted by George Crozier in Environment, Local assembly, Streets.
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London Road - Dartmouth Road junction

London Road – Dartmouth Road junction

£600,000 of funding has been provided by Transport for London for the improvement of the ‘public realm environment’ on Dartmouth Road between Forest Hill station and the pools.

The money is being provided under TfL’s Local Implementation Plan (LIP) process. This funding – £300,000 for each of 2015-16 and 2016-17 – will be used to design, consult on and begin carrying out a programme of work. However it is expected that more money will be needed to carry out the lion’s share of the improvements in future years.

Ideas already put forward for improving this part of Forest Hill include turning the area in front of the station into a piazza, a new railway crossing between Perry Vale and Dartmouth Road, improving the pedestrian / cycle route next to the railway line, clearing away much of the ‘street clutter’ and opening up the space in front of the library and pools, maybe with greater use of public art. (Some of these were discussed at a workshop held by Forest Hill Society and SEE3 Ltd in July last year.)

“Bringing these improvements to Dartmouth Road and the station area is long overdue, said Forest Hill campaigner Alex Feakes. “These ideas are a welcome contribution to the work carried out to improve Forest Hill by local businesses, SEE3 Ltd and the Lib Dem team of Forest Hill councillors over the years. However, we could have been enjoying the benefits of these ideas for many years already if Lewisham Council had devolved real powers to local people and businesses rather than just provided talking shops.”

Fellow Lib Dem campaigner George Crozier added: “Any improvement to the town centre needs to address the junction of London Road and Dartmouth Road. We particularly need to find a way to make this junction more cyclist-friendly.”

The origins of the TfL bid lie in a report commissioned by the Forest Hill Ward Assembly under the chairmanship of Lib Dem councillor John Russell back in 2010. The report on the state of the high street and street clutter was presented to the Lewisham Mayor and Cabinet by John, along with a request from the Assembly for action to address the poor state of Dartmouth Road and London Road, including an Area Action Plan for Forest Hill Town Centre and a Local Implementation Plan bid to TfL.

John explained: “Five years ago we took our report to the Mayor and Cabinet to ask the council to back this application for funding so this is the result of our and the community’s work.

“Forest Hill will really benefit from these funds that will support all the other initiatives already in place to continue to regenerate the town centre and improve the look and feel of the place. Real change has happened in the town centre since 2010. SEE3 ‘Portas Pilot’ funds, the Forest Hill Society and the local community have all helped to transform the high street.

“Continued community involvement with the Local Implementation Plan is very important. Forest Hill still needs a new master plan from the Planning Department especially around the station!”

However it is still likely to be a while before substantial improvements actually happen. The Council told us:

“This project is in its early stages of development and the current budgets currently set aside are only provisional. The final cost of the works will only be ascertained once firm proposals have been developed and consultation has been carried out. At the present time it is not possible to give dates for the works on site as the scheme programme will be dependent on the development of proposals agreed with a number of stakeholders that may involve negotiation, possible legal agreements and also Traffic Management Orders.”

We’ll be keeping an eye on developments.

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Extra buses on the way 6 July 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Transport.
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This story appears in the July – August 2014 Forest Hill Focus

George Crozier at a bus stop in Forest Hill

George Crozier has welcomed TfL’s promise of extra buses at peak times

Some good news from TfL for our campaign against bus overcrowding. They are laying on four extra services a day on the 176 route at peak times.

Focus Team member George Crozier asked Lib Dem London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, who is Deputy Chair of the Assembly’s Transport Committee, to take up overcrowding on the 176 and the 185 with TfL, and whether there is a need for additional buses at peak times. This followed a survey which identified the two routes as among the ten most overcrowded in the whole of London.

Caroline and her office energetically took up the issue and we have now been told by TfL that they will be running additional services on the 176 towards central London during the morning rush hour and in the opposite direction in the evening rush hour. Buses will now be running every seven minutes rather than every eight minutes on during these peak times.

TfL told Caroline they could not “provide a precise timescale at present, but would like to assure Mr Crozier that we are working hard to implement this proposal as quickly as possible, subject to receipt of costs from the operator and approval.”

On the 185, TfL say they are still reviewing the data, and depending on the outcome will look at undertaking additional surveys or providing extra buses if required.

We will keep you informed of developments on both routes.

More buses on the way? 14 April 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Transport.
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More buses on the way?

George Crozier at a bus stop in Forest Hill

George looking serious at the bus stop outside The Capitol

Some promising news from TfL for our campaign against bus overcrowding. They are ‘exploring the possibility’ of providing extra services.

As I wrote back in March, we asked Lib Dem London Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon, who is Deputy Chair of the Assembly’s Transport Committee, to take up overcrowding on the 176 and the 185 with TfL, and whether there is a need for additional buses at peak times. This followed a survey which identified the two routes as among the ten most overcrowded in the whole of London.

Caroline and her office energetically took up the issue and, via them, we have received this reply from TfL (my bolding):

I would like to assure Mr Crozier that we regularly monitor demand on the bus network in a variety of ways, including surveys (we have conducted around 7000 in the last three years alone), use of Oyster card data, and reviews of customer and stakeholder correspondence. Although complaints about overcrowding typically comprise fewer than 5 per cent of the total comments we receive about buses, we take all such complaints seriously and address them in a variety of ways including changes to frequencies and bus sizes as well as measures to improve reliability.

We have now investigated the reports of over-crowding on routes 176 and 185, and I can confirm that both routes do look well used. We are therefore exploring the possibility of providing an additional journey or journeys on route 176, although I must emphasise that this proposal is provisional, and is subject to confirmation of costs from the operator and final approval. We are currently reviewing the existing passenger loading data for route 185 in closer detail, and depending on the outcome we will look at undertaking additional surveys or proposing a change in capacity if required. I will be happy to provide an update as soon as further information is available.

I’ve asked for clarification on likely timescale, both for the next update from TfL and for the actual provision of any additional services, and will post that here as soon as I hear anything.

Fingers crossed!

It’s Official. 185 and 176 are: Full to Bus-ting 4 January 2014

Posted by George Crozier in Transport.
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Susan Kramer with Margot and George

Local campaigners George Crozier and Margot Wilson raised bus overcrowding when they met with Transport Minister Susan Kramer (centre) recently, While buses are the responsibility of Transport for London, which is run by the Mayor of London, national government sets the level of TfL’s grant.

This story appears in the December 2013 / January 2014 Forest Hill Focus

Buses serving Forest Hill, Honor Oak and Sydenham are among the most overcrowded in London. The 185 from Lewisham to Victoria is the most crowded of all and the 176 from Penge to Tottenham Court Road is also in the top ten, according to a survey carried out by the London Assembly’s Transport Committee.

Focus Team campaigners George Crozier and Margot Wilson raised the issue when they met with Transport Minister Susan Kramer recently.  While buses are the responsibility of Transport for London, which is run by the Mayor of London, the national government sets the level of TfL’s grant.

The Forest Hill Lib Dem team are calling on TfL to:

  • Officially measure and publish information on bus crowding, as happens with trains, including the number of people who cannot board a bus because it is too full and the number who are unable to get a seat once on board
  • Invest in additional buses for routes in south east London including the 185 and 176, to reduce overcrowding

George Crozier said: “With our area a ‘no go zone’ for the Tube it’s no surprise that buses are so packed. TfL need to get their act together, start measuring overcrowding properly and provide extra buses for the busiest routes at peak times.”