So is that it? Is that what the council and Transport for London took almost six months and, they tell us, spent £5.4million to achieve?
All that time and all that money, and for what?
According to the latest piece of propaganda from the council bunker in Fisher’s Folly, “The improvements around the interchange… aim to ensure easier connections for people moving between buses, trains and trams at East Croydon Station, with better links between eastbound and westbound bus stops.”It has taken the contractors so long to finish this latest “phase” of work that between beginning and end, the council has changed the project branding, from the Disconnected Croydon (or something like that) project begun under the Tories to the very NuLabour “Delivering for Croydon”.
But you’d be entitled to ask: just what has been delivered?
Stuart King, the Labour councillor and cabinet member responsible for transport in the borough, was full of the joys of spring at yesterday’s opening. According to the comment which Croydon’s press office attributed to him: “East Croydon is one of the main gateways to our town centre and the previous bus station was outdated and difficult to navigate.” Outdated? How can a shelter at a bus stop be “dated”, apart from being allowed to run into disrepair? As a relative newcomer to Croydon, King probably can’t remember the bus station overhaul in the dim mists of 1990s history. Yes, such a long time ago…
And “difficult to navigate”? Does the councillor struggle to get from one side of a road to another? Or does he have difficulty working out which buses might stop at a particular stop? It makes you wonder how he manages to find his way around the corridors of (enfeebled) power at the Town Hall.
“The upgrade has ensured the area around the station is accessible, welcoming and attractive to visitors and residents alike, giving the best first impressions of Croydon.”
The reality is that the changes are barely a cosmetic upgrade, with the new shelters decked out in day-glo colours which make them appear like the waiting room for the estate agency, Foxton’s. Which given the seeping gentrification agenda of the Labour council, probably was deliberate, although clearly the officials who commissioned the colour scheme didn’t realise that Foxton’s upwardly mobile clients rarely, if ever, travel by bus…
There’s less seating in the new bus station than was provided previously, and the seating that is there now consists of those high-perched ledges that are no good for older citizens with dodgy hips, or for small children or people with shopping.
The old-style, more comfortable seating has been removed entirely. All part of the modern developer’s trend of keeping removing any form of shelter that might be used by rough sleepers.
There are fewer barriers now too, which offer fewer places to lean on for the weary commuter. Presumably the health and safety boffins at TfL have checked everything thoroughly to ensure that removing the barriers doesn’t create more of a risk of pedestrians stepping out into the path of an on-coming tram or bus.
The paving looks lovely (how long will that last, given the council’s limited resource for street cleansing?), and there are less high kerbs for those less mobile to tackle.There’s also brighter LED lights. Oh, and some trees and shrubs.
But is that all there is? £5.4million? Seriously?
The tarmac that replaces the cobbled stones means no puddles for buses to splash waiting passengers with in future – provided, of course, the tarmac has been well-laid and allowed to settle before heavyweight double-deckers put it under real pressure. Since the contractors had been working on all this, in their own, slow way, for almost six months, again we must assume that that sort of work was done lone ago.
But ask any cabbie on the taxi rank at East Croydon Station, and they will tell you, often in forthright terms, that the road-planning flaw around one of London’s busiest commuter hubs ever since the trams started running nearly 20 years ago still remains unresolved. Because there has been no alteration to the road layout and eastbound buses will continue to take ages to negotiate the NLA Tower roundabout, causes backlogs of traffic exiting the station.
And all achieved with £5.4million of public money. Delivering for Croydon.
Providing just the latest example of how government, national, regional and local, can find millions of ways in which to waste tax-payers’ money.
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