A dark, wet and cold night: a perfect time to try an unfamiliar bus route

08 December 2014

Emerging from Tunbridge Wells Hospital last week having just visited my dad I started to work out how to get home. Been in a bit of a rush earlier so had not really thought too much about the route. Had taken train to Tunbridge Wells and took cab – thinking bus in early evening might take too long.

It was a cold and dark night with driving rain. However, there outside the hospital was a bus, the Arriva 407 to Tonbridge Castle going in three minutes. Next one to Tunbridge Wells was ten minutes. Tonbridge is closer to London and has a good service as many coastal trains go through as well. However, the notorious single carriageway stretch (planned to be doubled soon) of the A21 is in the way.

Lots of information on bus stop but a bit dark, so, ask the drivers advice. Ten minutes normally he said. But, traffic and recent roadworks could make it unpredictable. Interestingly he didn’t seem to know if there would be any roadworks – if there had been it would have wrecked his schedule surely. Decided to try and me and my fellow passenger set off.

Somewhat delayed by non-functioning ticket machine, so looked like could be free as well.

Good service. No traffic, no roadworks. Ten minutes ride for £2.60 adult single fare. Bus had quite a bit of litter (passengers drop it I know but looks bad) and, the old problem, windows so misted couldn’t see where going – all buses seem to suffer from bad ventilation in winter. Ticket machine spluttered into life outside station so paid up.

Interesting case study on giving out travel advice. Going the other way up the crowded A21 would have taken ages. So how do you give sensible advice as you need a bit of local knowledge or a crunching of data not yet seen. Now I know. Tonbridge good bet at quiet times (assuming you can guess when a quiet time is as shopping times cause delays), Tunbridge Wells if not.

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