Cashless buses – what do you think?

I recently received an email from TfL, asking for my views on their proposals to remove cash fare payments on our bus services.

TfL say: “We believe that this proposed change will help to reduce boarding times and delays. Customers will be able to continue to use Oyster and contactless payment cards to pay for their fares, which are £1 lower than cash payments. If you have an Oyster and contactless payment card, please choose the card that you intend to pay with and touch it separately on the yellow card reader.”

This is all well a good for regular users and Londoners – but what about tourists, visitors and people who don’t often use transport? I worry that this may increase delays, if someone tries to get on without an oyster card or ‘contactless payment card.’

I want to know your views. Please contact me here and let me know what you think.

You can see more TfL info on the proposal here, and be aware that the consultation ends on Friday 11 October – if you wanted to respond to that too.


Local Liberal Democrats ask residents for help to win battle for accessible bus stop

Lynne Featherstone and Cllr Martin Newton campaigning for accessible bus stopIn the latest stage in the long-running battle to get an inaccessible Muswell Hill bus stop on the only bus route to Hornsey Central Health Centre moved from a steep hill, Liberal Democrats have today written to local residents, urging them to respond to a consultation.

This most recent bid to get the W7 bus stop, located on the steep Muswell Hill, moved to Muswell Hill roundabout is the latest stage in a long-running campaign by Lynne Featherstone MP and local Liberal Democrats. Despite numerous site visits, and agreement from both Transport for London and Haringey Council that something should be done about the bus stop, neither authority has agreed to move it.

With the Council consulting on transport priorities for the next few years, the Liberal Democrat MP and Fortis Green Councillor Martin Newton are taking the battle to the people, by asking them to help push for the bus stop to finally be moved.

Residents who want to respond to the consultation into Haringey’s Transport Strategy 2011-14 and in particular improving public transport and bus stop accessibility should email frontline.consultation@haringey.gov.uk by 8th November. Please put LIP in the subject line of your email message.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“The bus stop with the only route to Hornsey Central from Muswell Hill is inaccessible, and residents keep writing to me about the need for the bus stop to be moved.

“Despite site visits, and agreement from TfL that moving the bus stop to the roundabout would be a good solution, the authorities keep passing the buck ­ and that’s got to stop.”

Martin Newton, Liberal Democrat Fortis Green Councillor adds:

“With the Council setting their transport priorities for the next three years, and specifically looking at accessible bus stops, this is a rare opportunity to really press for the bus stop to be moved.

“But to make this happen, local residents need to help us make the case. So please write in to Haringey with your response to the consultation.  Together we can finally make this happen.”

Lynne Featherstone supports residents in continued Freedom Pass mess

Lynne Featherstone and Denysse EdwardesTo help speed up the renewal of the outstanding Freedom Passes and demand that lessons are learnt for the future, Lynne Featherstone MP has written to Haringey Council and London Councils to report a catalogue of Freedom Pass renewal issues brought to her by local residents.

The intervention follows a flood of messages from local residents outlining various issues with renewing their passes, ranging from not being able to use downloaded forms, to photos and forms going missing, and difficulties getting through on the dedicated helpline.

The Liberal Democrat MP met with one of the many residents who have come to her for help. Denysse Edwardes contacted the Hornsey and Wood Green MP after repeatedly failing to get through on the helpline and when her numerous letters, emails and faxes went unacknowledged. Following Lynne Featherstone’s intervention, Ms Edwardes finally received her new pass last week; it had been lost as the Post Office had written down the wrong address.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“I’ve been really amazed at the number of people who have had to turn to me to get their pass renewed – Denysse’s story is far from the only one.

“Clearly the renewals process has been flawed, from failing to properly inform people about the need for renewal, to failing to process passes adequately, and failing to be on hand to give residents correct and up to date information about what is happening with their pass.

“Thankfully there has been some level of response from London Councils, and the old passes are now valid past the 31st March. But London Councils must now sit up and take responsibility for this mess – by speeding up renewal of the outstanding passes, and taking steps to ensure that lessons are learnt for next time!”

Local MP steps in to fill information gap on Freedom Pass renewal

Freedom Pass - Lynne Featherstone with Mrs CairnsHaving found out that some older local residents are unaware that they need to renew their Freedom Pass by the end of March, Lynne Featherstone MP is now stepping in and sending out to local residents the necessary information.

The poor information campaign by Haringey Council, who are the local Freedom Pass providers, was brought to the Liberal Democrat MP’s attention by local resident Betty Cairns. Mrs Cairns had spent three hours trying to find out how to renew the pass after spotting a small ad in the local paper about the need for renewal.

The Hornsey and Wood Green MP has now written to local residents to let them know how to renew their passes.

Residents who want to find out more about how to renew the pass can go to: http://www.haringey.gov.uk/older_persons_freedom_pass.

Residents who want to get an application form can either pick one up from their local post office, download it from http://www.haringey.gov.uk/older_persons_freedom_pass.pdf, or call Lynne Featherstone’s office for a copy on 020 8340 5459.

Lynne Featherstone, Liberal Democrat MP for Hornsey & Wood Green, comments:

“It’s appalling that there’s been such a poor effort to let residents know that they need to renew their passes. For those who might not read the local paper regularly, or use the internet, there is very little information out there about the need for renewal, not least since they closed down so many sub-post offices.

“This risks leaving some of our least mobile residents stranded on 1st April – and that is not acceptable.

“Haringey Council should have written to all current Freedom Pass holders to let them know what steps they need to take to avoid being left without a pass. But as that hasn’t been done, I felt the need to step in.”

Local Liberal Democrats outraged as Mayor rejects one hour bus ticket

One hour bus ticket campaign with Lynne Featherstone and Caroline PidgeonLocal Liberal Democrats have expressed outrage at the Mayor of London’s refusal to consider a proposal for a one hour ticket on London’s buses.

The refusal was made clear in a letter to Liberal Democrat London Assembly member Caroline Pidgeon despite a campaign supported by over 2,000 Londoners and all London Assembly Members.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“It’s ridiculous that the Mayor will not even consider the idea of a one hour bus ticket. This is such a brilliant idea and it would have been a great green proposal to back in a bid to help Londoners cut their carbon footprint.

“I’m very disappointed at the Mayor’s disregard for the views and concerns of over 2,000 Londoners and all the London Assembly Members – with that kind of support it should have been given proper consideration but it clearly hasn’t.”

Martin Newton, Haringey Liberal Democrat transport spokesperson, adds:

“The Mayor’s response is a hasty, knee jerk reaction that shows he is not prepared to look into a sensible proposal which would help cut congestion and give residents in Haringey and beyond an affordable alternative to using their cars.”

Cock-up, conspiracy or incompetence?

Lynne Featherstone, Cllr Martin Newton and London Assembly Member, Caroline PidgeonHere’s my latest column for the Muswell Hill Flyer and Highgate Handbook:

Finally I managed to get Transport for London (TfL), Haringey Primary Care Trust (part of the NHS) and me together in the same place to bang heads together about the need for better bus links to the new Community Health Centre on the old Hornsey Central Hospital site.

We have this wonderful new facility but, despite the transport issues being raised as a key issue at every public and private meeting (literally for years) by many people, nothing has been properly planned, delivered – or even promised for the future.

And of course now the new Health Centre is here – and operational – but not a new bus in sight. Loads of people joined in my campaign for a new bus to enable them to access the new centre when referred there from wherever they live in Highgate, Crouch End, Muswell Hill, Fortis Green or Alexandra wards by their own GP.

Imagine my shock when TfL said they had no idea that there were services were already being provided (with lots more to come) which would bring people from all over the west of Hornsey & Wood Green to the new facility. TfL seemed to be under the illusion that the only thing happening was that two GP practices had moved in and only they would need transport.

To be honest – I couldn’t believe it!

Given the promises on transport, the supposed discussions on transport – to be sitting there listening to the two key agencies basically saying that there was such a gap in communication that TfL didn’t know that there was an ongoing and expanding need for access to the site from provision of new services on the site was truly shocking.

From this ‘discovery’ TfL have now agreed to take away the issue and look at it properly. At least they now both seem to understand there is a problem with providing a major new health facility with no extra transport provision.

I have been contacted by many local people on the back of our campaign giving examples of problems they have encountered. One example is a team who have already moved into the new facility and whose clients will commonly have reduced mobility – albeit still very capable of getting on a bus if it can deliver them near to the health centre – are concerned about how their patients will get to them.

Another example is that of one local health worker who has contact with people with very differing needs in the borough who wrote to me to say that a number of people she is in contact with through her work have mentioned their concerns about the lack of usable transport links to the new site.

I don’t know what on earth has been going on – but you can bet my language to both the Chair of Haringey PCT and Peter Hendy (Commissioner of Transport in London) will be pretty strong as I bring this smartly to their attention.

Clearly this is a mess – and I just hope that both Haringey PCT and TfL sort it out now they have acknowledged that they haven’t even been looking at the right problem.

Local MP demands action on bus to Hornsey Central following disappointing meeting

Following a meeting with Transport for London (TfL) and the local health service to discuss better transport to the new Hornsey health centre, Lynne Featherstone MP has written to all involved parties, demanding they stop passing the buck and look seriously at how to improve transport to the Park Road site.

The intervention came following a recent meeting, where issues of poor communication and lack of responsibility from both TfL and the health service became evident. Despite a Liberal Democrat petition, a health service transport survey and the issue being raised in both public and private meetings, TfL appeared unaware of the new health centre’s planned range of services and wide catchments area.

The Hornsey and Wood Green MP has now written to TfL and the local health service, demanding they all take responsibility and ensure better communication so that the issue of improved transport to the site can finally be discussed in earnest.

Lynne Featherstone MP comments:

“I am astonished and frankly very angry that despite raising the issue of poor transport to the health centre on many occasions, the health trust hasn’t even bothered to make sure that TfL has all the facts and understands just how many people will be using this centre. That, if anything, is essential information when assessing the need for more buses!

“It’s so frustrating that no-one wants to accept responsibility- but the buck stops here. I’ve written to all responsible parties, and will be chasing them to make sure we get some real movement- because sadly for now the Hornsey hospital bus doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.”