Sunday, August 14, 2011

"Look, I'll pay you another 30 minutes."

Today was the London Olympics 2012 test event . People were warned in advance of severe traffic congestion in London, particularly in West London as the London Surrey Cycle Classic takes place on closed roads along a 140km route which runs from central London to Surrey and back. Roads were closed from 04.00 this morning and the Transport for London website warned that...

It will be an exciting spectacle, but roads and transport,
including access to Heathrow and the M25, will be severely affected on the day.

...The nationwide company warned passengers that their coach journey into London Victoria Coach Station would take 60 minutes longer due to the congestion. Looking at the BBC News website I read that...

there were some complaints on social networking websites about traffic problems and that the event was not televised.

One traveller who contacted the BBC from Fulham Palace Road near the route said she had been stuck in heavy traffic for about three hours which eventually came to a standstill.

She said: "There are lots of security people saying they can't move the bollards off the road until they're told otherwise but they don't seem to be making much effort to find out.

"People are sounding their horns, they can't get through. It is a bit ridiculous. There's no through route to get to where we live in south-west London."

...So, how did Stephen get on today? I had the same duty as yesterday and was instructed to go a very different way into London Victoria Coach Station. I was told that the regular route along the A4 Cromwell Road was closed and that I would have to drive along the M25, the M40, the A40, the A501 to Kings Cross, then the A201 to Blackfriars Bridge and then along the Southbank of the River Thames as far as Vauxhall Bridge. This is quite a round about way, like going three quarters of the way around a circle. So you are looking at the same duty, at the same time of day on consecutive days. It was anybody's guess just how late I would be due to the extra mileage and the traffic congestion. I thought it would either go okay or London would grind to a halt. I did not think it would be somewhere in between, it would either work or fail big time.

Some drivers were a little nervous of going a different route and were worried of getting lost. I went to school in London for 3 years and spent quite some time as a boy travelling around on buses throughout London with a day rider ticket. So, I simply looked at the map and thought okay, that appears easy enough. The result, 30 minutes late arriving into London Victoria Coach Station and 30 minutes late finishing work. My meal break was reduced down to the bare legal minimum of 45 minutes. The traffic was steady but moving in both directions. I will be okay going this route again in 2012.

So I have earned another 30 minutes pay today, thank you Boris.

I think I could have done the diversion. King's Cross is a strange one; I've travelled by train to/from this location hundreds of times, but never passed by in a coach. We had a reasonably lengthy diversion in from the north when a march or demo of some description took place in Hyde Park or Marble Arch. We had to go via the North Circular to Hangar Lane then in via the BBC and Earl's Court. Easy when you know how, but I remember my first occasion all those years ago was a litte fraught.
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