Public Transport south of the River… Where the ruddy hell is it?

Pretty much all of my life, I lived South of the River… It was only the last three years that I was North of it.

When I lived with Mum, I was too young to use trains, and close enough to school not to use the bus very often, and when I was in Dartford, I got used to the fact that there was only 1 bus that would take me up the Hill from Dartford Station. I was “lucky” living in Dartford, because all the trains in SE. London converge there, so to get home from Town, I had 12 trains an hour to choose from.

It bugged me that the last train was 00:14, but you learn to live with that. After all, the one Nightbus to Dartford runs 2 an hour and takes just over 2 hrs to get there from Trafalgar Square. So, all in all, I was OK with the links for work, but my in town social life would have been simply imposible without my car.

However, I moved “Norf of da watter” in 2003, and suddenly the world (Well, London!) opened up. I was a piddly 5 minutes walk from Poplar DLR, on which the last train from Bank is 00.48 and 01:04 from Tower Gateway.

The 15 Bus turns into the N15 of an evening, and that runs every 15 minutes. Going out of a night? I didn’t need a car, transport links were fantastic. I joined Streetcar when my car broke down for good in 2004, for those occasions when I *needed* to drive for whatever reason and seriously never missed owning my own one.

So, moving back “daan saarf”, I’m suddenly confronted with just how shit the Public Transport links to and in the South of London really are. It is a serious culture shock.

Pop Quiz? Can you name the 2 LUL Stations in Zone 4 that are South of the River? Bonus Point of you also name the 3rd one, which will be opening in 2009?

Now, if you look at this map, you would be forgiven in thinking that all of London is well connected, however, the Victorians couldn’t tunnel the Gravel and Sand which is South of the Water, so there is pretty much no Underground connectivity. Apart from the Nothern Line, LUL restricts it’s forays into the South to Zone 2 mostly, especially the further east you go. So, it’s pretty much trains all the way.

So, I moved ~3 miles south of where I was, which puts me in Zone 3, Zone 2 is about half a mile west (Annoyingly!)

I consider where I live to still be “central”, it certainly isn’t “the stix” by any means, it is a major tourist trap, with the Natioanl Maritime Museum, Greenwich Market, the Park and Royal Observatory, as well as the Meridian line…

Yet I now suffer a mere 4 trains an hour, dropping to 2 after 21:00 and on Sundays. I have 1 Bus that takes me directly home from Greenwich/Maze Hill stations, 2 an hour after 20:00 and ALL DAY Sunday, of course timed so I have a 20 minute wait after I get off of the train… The last train back to Greenwich/Maze Hill is 23:51, So I’m having to make sure I leave wherever I am in plenty of time to get back to Charing Cross, Waterloo or London Bridge, or I can get that 00:14 and hop out at Blackheath, where there are 2 buses that can get me home, 3 an hour after 20:00.

If I leave it too late, the 53 buses are 3 an hour from Horseguards, and it allegedly takes ~30 minutes to get home. Haven’t done that one yet though!

My nearby stations are Zone 3. I have an Oyster Travelcard zones 1-2, and Prepay for those out of Zone jaunts. However, the second MAJOR handicap about south of the water is that National Rail will not be accepting Oyster Prepay until 2009! (And we have to thank the Gods that Ken finally bullied them into accepting it! Nowhere near soon enough though!). I moved in the middle of the Month, and have been having a terrible time getting paper Zonal extension tickets, at £1.50 a pop!

So, not only do we suffer shit links, we have to pay more for them, as paper ticketing costs more than Oyster Prepay if you do have to make an out-of-zone trip.

Ho hum. People wonder why North of the River Housing is more expensive. You don’t realise why until you come South and find out about us, the poorly linked up relations…

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