Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Orpington to Kingsbury - a nocturnal bus odyssey in four parts

So, after a convivial evening in Orpington, lending a hand to the campaign to bring Grace to the people of East Wickham, I made my belated way to Orpington Station, only to miss the final train to London by seconds. What is a bureaucrat to do?

Luckily, I didn't need to get to Creeting St Peter, where Ros and the cats are sleeping soundly, because the next bus is due on 8 January. However, I was faced with a tricky journey. Improvising, I realised that I needed to get towards central London as quickly as possible, so I caught the conveniently timed number 51 bus to Woolwich which, interestingly enough, goes through East Wickham ward.

Thinking quickly, I looked up my alternatives on the Transport for London journey planner and discovered that by catching a number 53 in Woolwich, connecting with a number 148 at Elephant & Castle before switching to a number N16 at Marble Arch, I could be home in not much more than two hours.

As a Londoner, it is easy to become blase about the ease with which we can travel around at all times of day and night. Under the supreme beneficence of Comrade Ken, the number of night bus routes expanding substantially, creating a plethora of options for getting home after the last tubes and trains had run. If I was younger, I could stay out until late, carousing and clubbing, knowing that I could get home safely. Of course, not being the clubbing type, I had to stick with carousing, but I recall some fairly grim journeys waiting for buses that ran every hour.

Now I'm in Cricklewood, having made every connection comfortably, and having not had to wait more than ten minutes at any stage. It will have taken me about two and a quarter hours, but it has cost me nothing (all covered by my Oyster card), I've been safe, warm and dry, and even using trains, it would probably have taken me an hour and forty-five minutes.

All the same, I really ought not to hang around after the work is done...

1 comment:

thechristophe said...

I once got the bus driver to shorten his route so I could make that last train from Orp, my alternative back to town was to get to Bromley and hopefully make another train heading into London, the fast routes from Kent stop at Bromley South