New TV Programme About London Traffic
BBC 2 TONIGHT (Tues)
If you have to travel in London as part of your daily routine, or even on an occasional basis, you will encounter traffic whichever method you use. And you are not alone!
The population in London has increased over the last 10 years by a million people and, let’s be honest here, not only is the Nation’s capital full up but the roads are too. But does that deter Londoners (and the surrounding ‘area-ers’) travelling by road?
No it doesn’t. Whether by choice or by necessity (and my guess is the latter) 8 out of every 10 journeys undertaken in London are by road.
Every morning, 8,500 buses carry six million passengers; and that is twice as many as travel on the London Underground – a fact that those who find themselves wedged under a sweaty armpit from Queen’s Park to Waterloo every day will find amazingly reassuring (NOT!)
6,000 Transport for London workers control these buses (out of a total of 25,000 TfL workers in total) with the rest looking after other traffic – and you can add in 2,000 dedicated police officers on the transport beat to those attentive to the needs of London’s travellers and commuters.
And all this is overseen by “the biggest traffic control centre in the world”, pulling strings and conducting the automotive orchestra from behind desks and computer screens.
Starting tonight on BBC 2, and no doubt available on BBC iPlayer very soon after, is a six-part series called 'The Route Masters' that looks at the lives of the people involved in keeping London’s traffic moving – or NOT moving as many people stuck in jams every day would suggest. Filmed over a period of a year, and no doubt helping us experience the fun and frolics that would have taken place during last year’s Olympics, the series was made by the people responsible for recent documentary ‘The Tube.’
It will feature many of the individuals who keep the system working - from night bus drivers to road menders to the controllers running it all as the city grows bigger by the day – and the road requirements with it.
The whole series should be good to watch (and I’ve used Sky+ to watch it later) although I’ve no idea if it will be. Mind you, as someone who comes from London and left the city 23 years ago when it was bad enough then, maybe I’ll just find myself laughing at the attitudes and potential stupidity of commuters that was bad enough back in 1990?
The first episode tonight centres on the Transport for London staff charged with trying to keep a city that is constantly teetering on the edge of gridlock actually moving in some way.
Look out for tow truck driver Sean who has to try and convince a pregnant motorist that it is safe to travel through the Blackwall Tunnel (allegedly the most crucial mile of road in the whole city) and a control room operator who has to cope with a multitude of accidents blocking roads on a Friday night.
Then there’s Gurkha roadmender, Indra, who faces abuse about his repairing of potholes and a helicopter crashing into a crane in rush hour (You may remember that happening.)
Seems entertaining and informative at the same time.
But I’m just going to sit there thinking “I am so glad I moved up north!”