Thursday, 20 December 2018

Transport for London spending a penny

March of the 'Turdis': Forty stainless steel lavatories for bus drivers planned on London's streets

One appeared in an conservation area of special historic interest . Another was dubbed the Turdis by furious residents when it popped up in their quiet street. Now the full scale of the “Turdis invasion” across suburban London can be revealed. More than 40 of the stainless steel lavatories for bus drivers are set to be installed on routes in the coming months, at cost of £6 million to Transport for London.

The first wave has seen 10 appear across the capital, at the beginning or end of major bus routes. Some are only temporary and will be replaced with the sturdier steel kiosks with porthole windows in the new year. At least 30 more are expected under TfL’s plan to ensure round-the-clock facilities are available to drivers. The specific locations are either yet to be identified or remain confidential.

Editor's note: However there appears to be no provision yet for any on the prefixed P-routes nor the number 2

Due to their classification as infrastructure facilities, the lavatories can bypass planning laws. TfL says it has sent out letters to residents, but it is under no obligation to do so.

Melissa Reynolds, 32, a mother-of-two who lives near a new lavatory at Kew Retail Park, in Richmond, said it was like “an invasion”. She added: “Why do we have to have it on our doorstep? Only one bus uses this route.” Anthony Purvis, 52, a quantity surveyor from Kew, said: “Drivers won’t use it. They stop for ten minutes at the start or end of the shift and go for a coffee in Costa in the retail park. There, they have a lovely warm toilet and not a cold metal tin.”

Other routes where lavatories have been installed include Harold Hill, north-east London; Staines bus station; Harts Lane estate in Barking; Minstead Gardens in Roehampton; Vulcan Way in New Addington; and Folly Lane in Waltham Forest.

Emma Francis, 32, a mother-of-two from Waltham Forest, said: “I don’t think anyone is happy to have a toilet at the end of their road. It will just get vandalised and we’ll be stuck with something the drivers can’t even use.” But Francis Laca, 60, whose home overlooks facilities near Staines bus station, said: “I’ve seen the drivers going in the bushes and you can’t really blame them. This actually looks quite unique.”

The lavatories were announced by Mayor Sadiq Khan in February after pressure from the unions. They are accessible only to drivers with keys. One bus driver, who did not wish to be named, said the lavatory in Minstead Gardens was a “godsend”. “It was long overdue,” he added. “If there are no facilities, then we do have to relieve ourselves wherever we can. If you go to a cafe or shop you have to buy something, so this is a huge benefit to us.”
Residents in a garden square on the number 88 route through Clapham caught wind of a planned lavatory, and launched a fierce campaign. The toilet was due to be installed last week but its site is now being reviewed.

Gary Youssef, co-chairman of the Friends of Grafton Square, said: “We were not arguing the fact that the drivers needed loos — it’s the slapdash way that TfL went about this. This is in a conservation area. In order to do any other sort of building work you need to jump through so many hoops.” Nick Fairholme, director of project and programme delivery at TfL, said: “We aim to contact local stakeholders and residents to inform them of our intentions and allow them to feedback comments.”