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Buses terminating early at Elephant

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Thursday 29 September 2011 3.51pm
Got a sense of deja vu. Twice this week I have been on a bus (a C10 on one occasion, and then a 1) Eastbound at Elephant, and it has 'caught up' to the bus ahead of it. At this point, presumably to prevent "bunching", the bus in front has been taken out of service, and the passengers decanted to the bus behind.

Which would be fine if the bunching were a result of the bus behind running too fast, but as it was a result of the bus in front running too slowly, the situation was that both buses were 80% full (including standing room). You don't need a degree in maths to realise the outcome in each case was therefore that the remaining bus was, in both cases, the target of 160% of its carrying capacity.

Cue one very uncomfortable bus, and a lot of angry people stuck at a bus stop. My friend who manages a bus operator (not serving SE1) tells me that TfL's contracts incentivise this behaviour, relative to the risk of both buses showing up as "delayed" - it's cheaper not to run the bus at all.

But it's plainly stupid. Is there anything we can do? (Apart from peaceful protest, refusing to get off, ensuring that all passengers queue for a 'continuation ticket' whether they need it or not, etc etc?)
Thursday 29 September 2011 4.29pm
There is a complaints form on the TFL web site you can fill in
Friday 30 September 2011 11.14am
That's the awful 188's favourite trick - please don't tell me the 1 has started doing it too?!
Friday 30 September 2011 11.21am
I vaguely remember a few years some maths department publishing work on why busses bunch. Also here is your wiki link...

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Friday 30 September 2011 12.14pm
When I lived in Battersea I was reliant on the 344 (Clapham Junction to Liverpool St via SBR), which was sometimes turned round midway, at Vauxhall or the Elephant.

In SE1 it's still my local bus, though I need to use it less often. Great that it's these days a 24hr service, with a generally good frequency by day, though gaps and bunching still develop.
Friday 30 September 2011 2.18pm
Oh yeah, bunching is largely inevitable and I accept it - and to Balance a bad with a good, the new site/app at is a godsend - indeed both these times it has meant I had clocked the likely outcome and got on the second of the two buses - but what is not inevitable is taking one of the bunched buses out of service when there is a large gap behind, and they are both well above 50% of passenger capacity.

My friend, mentioned earlier, has told me more about bunching than I have ever forgotten; I guess when your best mate from school goes to do a BSc in Transport Management that's going to happen...
Tuesday 4 October 2011 9.42pm
Inconvenient, but short turning may be the lesser of two evils if it maintains service frequency in the opposite direction (I assume the bus did not go completely out of service but was turned at the Elephant). Possibly there were many more westbound passengers waiting - not sure what the time of day was?

(I also have a BSc in Transport but have nothing to do with TfL or any transport company!)
Wednesday 5 October 2011 9.21am
Early evening so I would have thought more people heading out of town than in. The C10 I suspect was turned (terminated at London Road). The 1 was terminated opposite the Heygate - I guess it could have turned at Bricklayers but looked to me more like it was going out of service.

Service frequency Westbound a bit of a red herring I think, there are lots of other options from Elephant which follow, pretty much, the route of the 1, and indeed you can get to most of the places the C10 would take you through judicious use of the 344 or the 148. Eastbound, not so much.
Wednesday 5 October 2011 1.55pm
The 1 would probably have run into Mandela Way......
Thursday 6 October 2011 10.09pm
Oh this is such a pain. The 188 really is a bad culprit for this. Every morning you never know where it'll boot you off, and coming home is a real pain as it can take up to 90 minutes to do what should be a 20 minute journey. I'll definitely be making a complaint on the TFL website as it's every single day.
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