Letter:How to make the buses run on time

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The Independent Online
I don't believe that the introduction of the Countdown bus arrival system across London will prove the panacea for any of the ills identified by David Bowen. Rather, it will illustrate just how incompetent the management of London's buses actually is, particularly during the evenings when traffic congestion cannot be used to explain away lamentable service.

The basic problem, still leading to regular bunching in threes on my local route (the 207, which has Countdown) and to early running on one of the less frequent services (the 120, which hasn't got Countdown), is total lack of supervision over whether buses are operating to timetable. No amount of technology cansubstitute for adequate roadside supervision by route control inspectors, a species notable for their absence since privatisation.

Since payment on franchised routes is according to mileage, standards of service and timekeeping come second. More journeys are run but there are no strictures on operators to bother about frequencies.

Now that we are exhorted to use public transport after a few beers, it is criminal to allow late-night buses to run 10 minutes early stranding passengers or causing them to miss connections. Perhaps the police should have powers to ensure that buses run to timetable at such times.

Paul Dabrowski

Norwood Green, Middlesex