O2 arena bosses are ready to back locals who want to see more buses between Charlton and North Greenwich stations.
Residents told a meeting of Charlton Rail Users’ Group last night they wanted to see one or more routes to the Greenwich Peninsula diverted to supplement the existing 486 service which serves the Dome and the Jubilee Line stop.
Charlton station is promoted as an interchange for the O2 – but only the 486 stops directly outside the station. A further two services to the entertainment venue, the 161 and 472, call at two separate spots close by – prompting bus users to do what was dubbed a “dance of death” between busy roads to get the first bus to North Greenwich.
The O2’s transport strategy head Geoff Symonds said he would support diverting buses via a loop in Charlton Church Lane as part of plans to make Charlton station “more of a hub” for for people travelling to the venue.
Mr Symonds told the meeting he was working on plans to ensure more than 75% of O2 visitors continued arriving by public transport, and plans for an express bus link between Charlton and North Greenwich on event nights were also under consideration.
“Less than 1% our visitors overall come via Charlton station, and of our car users, between 80% and 90% come from Kent,” he said. “The next stage of our strategy is to make Charlton station more of a hub.”
The O2 had already been successful in persuading Transport for London to make more bus services call at North Greenwich, he told the meeting.
“The Tube closures have forced us to be creative, and we did run express buses from the O2 to Charlton which were used by around 2,400 people on event nights. We actually had complements about how good the service was, when we would usually get complaints about replacement bus services.”
Charlton’s late night train service would need to be boosted to make improved bus links a success, he continued, explaining that the O2 had paid Southeastern to run extra trains from Charlton when Guns N’ Roses played at the venue, fearing the temperamental band would play beyond the Tube’s closing time.
“It paid off, because they didn’t come off stage until 12.40am,” he said, adding that the venue had secured a train service to 2am.
Southeastern’s public affairs manager Mike Gibson told the meeting Charlton Station had been awarded “safer station status” by the Department for Transport, after improvements to lighting and CCTV, a 30% annual drop in crime and positive results in a passenger survey. Staff monitored CCTV 24 hours a day, he said, and could make announcements over the station’s PA or call police if they saw trouble.
12:25PM UPDATE: It’s emerged that Thames Clippers – owned by O2 backers AEG – is cutting late night boats from central London to Greenwich and Woolwich from next week.
Thanks to David Thomson for the Charlton station photo.