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Dear customer services 

I run a small website in N8 and the bulletin board often receives complaints about difficulties using the W3 and W7 bus services out of Crouch End during morning rush hours. I have provided a link to one such discussion. Typical comments are

What can we do about the w3 servicing the N4 end of Ferme Park Road on to Finsbury Park? More buses are needed after 8am - it is impossible to get on a bus most days. The service simply can't cope with the number of people needing to use it. Arriva buses never reply, nor does the Mayayor's office!!!


Can you tell us how you monitor such problems and if anything might be done about it.


I have posted this email on the website, and will post your reply as well.


Many Thanks


Adrian Essex


Tags: bus route, rush hour, w3, w5, w7

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I have had this reply from tfl. What do you think of it?

Dear Mr Essex

Thank you for your email concerning the W3 & W7 bus services.

The network is monitored both in terms of reliability and capacity.  Should a bus route fail to perform to the standards we expect we work with the operator to improve the level of service delivered to our passengers.  We also carry out loading surveys to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to match demand.  

When services have been disrupted it can result in buses becoming busier than usual.  We consider there is sufficient capacity on this route to meet demand providing the service runs reliably.  There are no plans to increase service frequency at this time.    

As you know, both routes run past Alexandra Palace, down through Hornsey and towards Finsbury Park. The Alexandra Palace and Hornsey areas have been significantly impacted by displaced traffic due to the Colney Hatch Lane closure. Additionally, there was a burst water main on the route that was impacting reliability, this lead to elevated levels of necessary curtailments and the crowding the customer observed.

Fortunately the emergency works on the burst water main have now been completed and the Colney Hatch Lane works have entered a much less disruptive second phase. So we should see the route returning to regular service moving forward.

Thank you for taking the time to contact us. Please contact me again if you need any further assistance, or if you would prefer to talk to us about this matter, please call us on 0343 222 1234.

Kind regards

Mark Jennings

Customer Service Adviser
Transport for London Customer Services

Well, that's telling you. They don't consider there is a problem and they are not going to do anything about it. (Which I am sure will go down well with all those people who are unable to get on a bus which is already full.) 

Have a word with Boris Johnson on LBC. He has a regular weekly programme in the morning.  Name and shame.

(You could also take this up with your local councillor who might have a bit more clout than a mere member of the public.) 

Good luck!

Brian Bowles

Here is the response I received from Arriva when I wrote to complain about the W3 service. It doesn't look as if the situation will improve anytime soon.


I would first like to apologise for the delay in responding to your comments of 12 December about the operation of bus route W3. Unfortunately the person tasked with responding was taken ill suddenly and was absent for several weeks. Although action was taken to deal with much of the resulting workload I regret that a backlog has, nevertheless, built up.


There are a number of factors which can affect the reliable operation of a bus service, all of them unpredictable. These include road works, (often requiring lane restrictions or temporary lights); traffic collisions, demonstrations, fires, security alerts and other incidents requiring the emergency services; the actions of other drivers, pedestrians and, occasionally, passengers as well as isolated vehicle and staffing difficulties. All services passing through Wood Green are being disrupted as the result of the major town centre improvement scheme which is currently being undertaken.  Delays of up to 50 minutes to a single journey have occurred on several occasions.


I hope that the following will serve to illustrate how bunching of services occurs. Most such road works require lane restrictions or single alternate line traffic controlled by temporary lights. Therefore the available road space is reduced by half or more with, in the case of traffic light control, each direction, (and there can be more than two if side roads are also light-controlled), using it in turn. The same amount of traffic using half the road space will lead to traffic tailbacks which will often affect surrounding roads. Buses will pass through these at different speeds according to light phasing and general traffic levels. Furthermore, when an extended interval occurs in a service there are likely to be more intending passengers waiting to board the vehicle which closes it. It will therefore spend longer at each bus stop than is anticipated for in the timetable. If similar-sized queues have not built up by the time the next journey arrives that bus will spend less time at stops, move along the route more quickly and, whilst still late, eventually catch the first. At this point corrective action must be taken otherwise the whole scenario will be repeated and the service will end up as two or three convoys of several buses with enormous gaps between them.


Whilst we acknowledge that passengers may be inconvenienced by having to transfer between buses at short notice, failure to take any action would eventually result in the cancellation of entire journeys as drivers would be unable to complete them within their remaining permitted spell of duty. This would cause significantly more inconvenience for those using the service throughout the day.


As someone who has commuted through an area which has been undergoing a major construction project in the past I can appreciate the frustration which is caused when a service does not operate as scheduled and I am sorry I cannot be more positive in my reply. Although the disruption is beyond the control of Arriva London I would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused.


Yours sincerely


Mrs L Saunders

Customer Services Manager


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