Thursday, 13 March 2014

Please Stop It!


Regular uses of the S3 bus will know that it is no longer stopping outside Kingfish or the Old bank Chambers in Green Lane to let off passengers. This is particularly frustrating for people who need to catch a train in the morning when the bus is stuck in Green Lane traffic and they can't get off to run for the train instead.

One reader contacted the blog to say:
"This obviously has an impact on those who get it in the mornings in the hope of catching a train as they are stuck in traffic waiting for it to get around the corner as drivers will only pull up at the bus stop opposite the station now. Same problem in the evening as it no longer stops around the corner from the station as it is double yellow lines there. Not sure they have publicised this change much although apparently there is a notice on the bus, I wouldn't know as I haven't managed to catch it since this change as I was standing where it refused to stop."
Another similar gripe can be seen here.

One of the bus drivers told the blog that a Sutton parking inspector had warned a bus driver that had stopped in Green Lane that from now on bus drivers would be fined if they stopped on the double yellow lines there (or anywhere else.) With the Sutton smart camera car about and especially as the bus drivers have to pay these fines themselves, they have been told by Quality Line (the company the operates the S3) not to stop there any more. The last place they now stop in Green Lane is just before the buildouts (the narrow bit) just after Brookside Cresent (opposite the athletics club more or less) pictured here.

No actual reason for this

The only problem is, according to Government information, buses can actually drop off passengers on double yellow lines! According to the Government's own published advice (available here in pdf format), yellow lines mean 'No Waiting' however in the very first paragraph on page one of this document it states that "Drivers may stop to pick up or set down passengers" in these areas.

The only difference between a single yellow line and double yellow lines is that with a single yellow line, the restrictions are only at certain times of the day or on certain days of the week (shown on a sign nearby), while double yellow lines means the restrictions are in force 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I even wrote a post about all this back in August. (I'm sure you all found it a riveting read...)

To spell it out, unless I have somehow misinterpreted that rather simple sentence, vehicles (including buses) are entitled to drop off passengers on double yellow lines.

So the problem here seems to be that Sutton Council (perhaps in their yearning to rake in more money in traffic fines) have decided that they should be fining buses for letting off passengers in places where they are fully entitled to do so, inconveniencing all those passengers in the meanwhile.

Update (31st March)

Having now spoken to a representative of Quality Line (the company the operates the S3), the blog can confirm that a bus driver was warned by a member of the police (not a parking inspector or traffic warden) that they would be fined for stopping on the double yellow lines. Apparently no S3 bus drivers have been fined for stopping on double yellow lines in Green Lane and that Quality Line would certainly fight any unwarranted fine on their drivers' behalf. The S3 is a TfL bus and Quality Line is under contract from TfL to run the service. Quality Line are waiting for clarification from TfL before allowing their drivers to stop there again.

I have also been in contact with TfL who told the blog that they "are aware of the situation and are actively working on a resolution". They also mentioned that "With regards to buses stopping on double yellow lines, it depends on the local traffic regulation.  Some double lines allow buses to stop, others do not."


19 COMMENTS (Add Yours Now!):

guest said...

Yellow lines control parking, not stopping to collect or drop passengers.

For single and double red lines which do control stopping as well, there is an exception for busses that also applies to licensed taxi drivers and blue badge holders, where it is the holder of the badge that is getting in or out.

So perhaps one of you prospective councillors can ask some questions on our behalf?

Simon Densley (Blogger, Consv) said...

Prospective councillor here.

Already being done. I have written to Steve O'Connell AM who has direct access to Boris and the powers in TfL, asking for TfL to clarify the situation. Apparently Quality Line do not want to risk their drivers being fined if TfL haven't advised that that they can stop there.

The real problem here is Sutton Council (run by Lib Dems don't you know) who seem to have created this problem in the first place by apparently presiding over a system that fines people even when they are not doing the wrong thing. (Whether through malice or incompetence I'm not prepared to speculate).

Once TfL have clarified their position I would hope the council will back down and Quality Line will resume picking up and dropping off passengers in Green Lane.



I do intend to push Sutton Council on this as well. But I would ask for support from Worcester Parkers come the election in May. If you want to see some common sense on the council instead of this sort of complacency, please vote Conservative on the 22nd May.

WP Newbie said...

I used the bus this morning and it stopped in Green Lane several times to let people off in the traffic. The automated voice on the bus also announces 'Hail and Ride' all the way down Green Lane!

guest said...

I hardly think that this is an issue to decide how to place your vote, particularly as this has probably been caused by some jobs worth working for whomever Sutton has contracted parking control out to.

Has Quality Line raised a complaint with Sutton Council or can't they be bothered to do that, rather than just taking the easy option of moving the setting down point.

As I see it Quality Line are most at fault. There was a mini cab company that fought the issue of whether mini cab drivers should have the right ti use bus lanes all the way to the High Court, paying the fines of their drivers. It seems Quality Line won't even fight for the drivers when they are in the right.

Simon Densley (Blogger, Consv) said...

If you were a business reliant on Government contracts would you really start trying to upset a Council? It's far less risky to just keep their head down and follow the advice of TfL and Council directives regardless of what they feel the greater good is.

Sutton Council could no doubt fix this in a trice be issuing clear guidelines to the contractors carrying out the work on their behalf and giving an assurance to Quality Line that bus drivers will not be fined for stopping on yellow lines.

Of course the council has to take some responsibility for the actions of any "jobsworths" as you call them (I prefer "employees") carried out in their name. Issuing clear guidelines to start with is part of taking that responsibility.

Regarding whether this is an issue to decide how to place your vote, perhaps not in isolation, but as another piece of accumulated evidence of waste, complacency and mismanagement from the Lib Dems, perhaps it might be. Especially when compared it to the work being put in by shall we say 'other parties'.

guest said...

I agree with you that the council bears some responsibilty but only after thay have been alerted to the issue, and there the responsibility lies with the bus company. Surely it is not sticking your head too high over the parapet to write a letter asking for clarification? I personally hate to see this sort of blanket abrogation of corporate responsibilty, by dropping it on their employees. Yes fines should be paid by the employees if they have broken the law. But if they haven't then the company should have a policy of fighting them on their behalf.

In this case if a ticket was issued, that would be trivial, the PCN code would be 01- probably, the photo accompanying it would show it was a bus, so immediate cancellation by Sutton Council and retraining ordered for the attendant.

So againm yes the council should be reminding its contractor that they need to comply with the law, but Quality Line have to stop playing Pontius Pilate.

Nichu said...

If they want to rake in money, all they need to do is hang around that junction at 6-630pm, where there are loads of non dropping off cars on the double yellow lines, on the pavement and blocking the post office exit. While they're at it they can fine people going through the red lights.
The S3 is a tedious enough bus journey without this! It will probably either result in a drop in usage or increased accidents as people dash to the other side of the road to catch their train.

guest said...

I wont labour the point, but I still feel not contacting the council to check whether this is a renegade employee of the contractor or an illegal council policy is the wrong action.

Alex said...

Until I read this article and the campaign on the link to the 'FixMyTransport' website, I had been totally unaware that there are people who live within one mile of Worcester Park station, who rely on a bus to carry them this short distance.

It only takes me a guaranteed 15-16 minutes to walk this short trip and quite frankly, it had never occurred to me to look for an alternative to avoid what is an insignificant distance, taking an insignificant time to cover, as opposed to getting into the uncertain gridlock of widely variable delays.

The irritated campaigner actually lives nearer to Worcester Park station than I do! What's wrong with walking less than 1 mile to the station??? If I had avoided this 15 minute return trip each day, for the last 20+ years, I suspect I would now weigh 20+ stones!

PS said...

Sorry to disagree, and admittedly I don't use this bus regularly, but when I tried to catch the bus heading towards Malden Manor one afternoon last week, I stood by the kerb in front of the lamp post in the first photo, and the driver would not stop. Maybe I was unlucky and some drivers will still stop anywhere in Green Lane, but this was not my experience.

Stewart Mackay Conservative WP said...

Dave I totally agree. It is a made up story and if it was a probsor quick walk down the hall...to have a word with the traffic warden mangers would quickly sort. Utter waste of everones time.

guest D said...

Stewart, I hate to correct you ;-) but Traffic Wardens are part of the Met and not Sutton Council. In addition a Traffic Warden could have ticketed the bus in this situation whereas a Parking Attendent couldn't (they have the power to remove an obstruction).

So yes a made up anti Sutton Council story, I would agree.

parker said...

I would like to point out that met police deal with red routes, civil enforcement officers (traffic wardens to you and me) deal with yellow lines who are controlled by the council. a bus can stop on double yellow lines safely for 5 mins same as a van unless seen unloading then they get 20mins a car can only park for 2mins and no unloading disabled badge holders can park for three hours with there clock set. so my honest opinion about the bus service is that they are talking out their rear ends and they have their own reasons for not stopping there but using the traffic wardens as a scape goat

guest D said...

a minor addition. from wikipedia

Traffic wardens are employees of police forces and are primarily responsible for controlling traffic in general using powers available to authorised persons defined in the Road Traffic Act 1988.
Their usage for parking enforcement is less common since the advent of
Decriminalised Parking Enforcement which in many areas transferred the
enforcement of offences concerning simple parking in controlled areas to
local authorities; other parking offences such as any involving penalty
points and/or those not involving the 1991 Act (or equivalent in
Northern Ireland) remain enforceable by traffic wardens.

And though legally parked on double yellow lines (displaying a blue badge) I have been moved on by them as they have the power to override the static notices.

I agree though it is the bus company looking for a scape goat for their breaking their contract. Though TFL do point out that 'Hail and Ride' does not mean the buses will stop anywhere, for example they will not stop if it would cause a danger to other road users or alighting passengers.

Stewart Mackay Conservative WP said...

I'm not always right Guest D :) Thanks for pointing that out. at least we both agree that this entire situation has been manufactured.

Dave said...

The S3 is operated by Quality Line, on behalf of London Buses.
The hail-and-ride section in Green Lane is no different from any other, so, on the face of it, the driver should have stopped for you if it was safe to do so.
If you have the date and time, or experience this again, I suggest you e-mail
CustomerServices.Buses AT tfl.gov.uk
for an explanation, although you can expect a long wait for a reply.
More effective might be to e-mail
jon.ball AT epsomcoaches.com

(e-mail addresses edited in case the blog software suppresses them).

@SoapBoxBadger said...

Well....now the buses don't have to stop for customers at least they'll be more efficient! For GOD's SAKE! So buses can't stop where cars can't park?! Then they'll block the road! This is politics going mental over common sense! Get real and sort it before we vote you out of office you MUPPETS! Whilst we might be able to walk the 15 mins to/from the station, if there's a bus & we can save 5-10mins then wouldn't you?! What is the point of a 'HAIL & ride' service if you can't hail it?!!!! I tell you what, just stop the service & encourage us all to drive instead! Get real & sort it, NOW!

Hrtless said...

I don't believe that's correct. I thought the Met got ride of their Traffic Wardens a few years ago? I thought this role was absorbed by the local council?

guest D said...

Local councils took on the responsibilty of dealing with parking infringements and got the revenue. At the same time the Traffic Warden role was changed to deal with all traffic related offences. As another person said, in London their main role is Red Route enforcement, but they will deal with other things like traffic control at failed lights. They will also work with the towing companies, ticketing the vehicles so they can be towed. They also deal with people stopping outside schools during term times etc, i.e. any offence beyond the scope of the parking attendant.

I was once being ticketed by a Camden parking attendant and a Traffic Warden turned up and told the parking attendant the ticket was invalid and issued me with a cancellation notice to send in.

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