Last night was my first experience of the N87 from Charing Cross back to Kingston, then the 213 from Kingston home to little Worcester Park, in the small hours of a Sunday morning.
The N87 was absolutely packed when we first boarded around 1.30am outside Charing Cross Station. Everything was going smoothly, I really liked watching the crowds pass down below, the sparkling lights and tall buildings, the width of the gushing river as we crossed Vauxhall Bridge. And then somebody threw up at the back of the bus. Luckily, I’m not too bad with sick but the smell wasn’t very pleasant and I did wonder what the driver was meant to do (if anything) about it. In the end, the bus didn’t stop and we acclimatised to acrid stench quite quickly (!).
I saw a few interesting things on the route, like the New Covent Garden Market which is in Battersea – I think this is such a shining indictment of London really, as the the real messy business of food and flower growing and trading is relegated from the centre to be replaced by swish but mostly uninteresting restaurants and stalls. Markets selling fresh meat, veg and flowers should be where the people are.
Most of the route through surburbia is a blur really, but I remember passing Lavender Hill Library, South Thames College, Wimbledon Station. By this point we were playing leap frog with another N87 and I was going on about service regulation. We passed Raynes Park station and were then in familiar territory of Shannon Corner and through New Malden to Kingston (the grounds of Kingstonian FC in Norbiton being pointed out to me on the way).
I decided to stay on to Kingston as didn’t fancy waiting at the Fountain all alone with not so many people passing by. This proved a bit fatal in the end as the 2.35am 213 from Fairfield didn’t show up which meant waiting for 50 minutes. Not impressed, and I told the nice giggly TfL lady to write it up in her report. If I’d got off at the Fountain there is a chance I could’ve caught the 2.05am from there. In the end, I got the 3.05am running perfectly to time and experienced my first 213 night journey along with a bus full of drunken ladies and gentlemen some of whom had been fighting each other at Cromwell Road. The trip was very straightforward and I enjoyed watching the bloke sitting opposite fall asleep and wake up in panic that he’d missed his stop (in fact – he didn’t get off until Longfellow Road so was fine in the end). Disembarking at Lindsay Road, I ran home as the dawn chorus was just warming up.
Night Bus Home – ratings
N87: 7/10 due to sick, and not regulating the service effectively
213: 4/10 due to the 2.35am not showing up