please empty your brain below

"tried to look like I was waiting to travel, and noted down the times that buses arrived and left."

Seriously. The MWLB's. You are slowly becoming one.
It's not as though drivers have to sort out holders for cash or anything to do with tickets. With swipe this and contactless that these days it should be possible for a system where a driver just touches his/her ID card on the machine (rather like passengers do) and away we go. A bit like the smart turn arounds at Brixton where a different driver takes a Vic line tube over with hundreds of passengers getting on and off in half the time 25b managed.
I hope Leon Daniels reads this. The behaviour reminds me of buses in the '80s which Sir Peter Hendy used to describe as run for the convenience of the staff. As Geofftech says, there is really no excuse. Which operator runs the 25?
Custom and practice, right under the noses of the bosses at the bus station.

Would you repeat your time and motion study just before they suspend that bus stop, to see whether anything has changed? Could be interesting.
It is possible some of the drivers have been told to wait by the route controller. London buses are very strictly watched for timing.
DG, You are usually so accurate, but the 25 is operated by First, and drivers are based at Temple Mills Lane.
First use this stop as a temporary garage often turfing passengers off owing to no relief driver, and parking the bus/buses up out of service, although they obviously vehemently deny this. There is usually an out of service bus there.
Should be interesting next month when the stop is closed to build the bike lane
Now actually operated by Tower Transit since they acquired the First garage at Lea Interchange.
Ah, sorry, I'm no expert on which bus company based where owns what. I've rewritten the opening paragraph to better reflect reality, thanks!
Blakey would have been proud of you, DG.
Everybody else is inconvenienced by cycle lanes for a few. Talk about a knee jerk reaction by TFL.
As I speak, workmen are digging up one of my favourite Bow Road road crossings in order to make more space for bikes.

Expect several more posts about the minuses of Cycle Superhighways, as well as the plusses.
"It's not as though drivers have to sort out holders for cash or anything to do with tickets. With swipe this and contactless that these days it should be possible for a system where a driver just touches his/her ID card on the machine (rather like passengers do) and away we go."

That doesn't take account of the need to adjust the seat, steering wheel, mirrors etc (the nearside one being particularly difficult as you obviously can't adjust it while in the seat, so can't tell exactly where you should adjust it to), hang coats/bags up etc - the unavoidable physical realities which take some time.

That said I do agree driver changeovers do usually take too long, and usually because of totally avoidable issues.
A few comments.

Drivers are required to take a minimum length of break. This may explain why a relief happens late and passengers end up waiting. If their incoming trip was delayed and they have to take 40 mins break then their pick up will be late. Given the huge volume of road works affecting the 25 is it any wonder buses are delayed and bunched?

TfL are trialling a modified sign on process where the drivers don't have to remove / insert modules at changeovers. The module will remain with the bus with only the first and last driver having to do a full sign on. Intermediate swap overs will be faster with much less faffing about.

A route like the 25, regardless of operator, will always have some bunching. It operates to a very high frequency making bunching almost unavoidable and the patronage level means you get streams of people at stops making it hard for drivers to actually close the doors!

I also agree with Mr Bowden and Scrumpy - there may well be instructions from the I-Bus room for buses to pause / wait time. Also Bow Church is effectively a sort of "on the road" bus garage with spare vehicles waiting. I take your point about the CSH works but there is no bus garage directly on the line of route that can run the 25 given its huge allocation. Regardless of who runs it there will be buses waiting somewhere and most likely in the middle rather than at the ends. IIRC Stagecoach had handovers at Bow when it was run with bendy buses from West Ham garage.

@ Geofftech - isn't it a tiny bit cheeky to taunt DG and MWLBs when you're the Uber Man who loves the Tube / Overground / Canals?
If you want some real bus action, try the stands outside New Cross Garage. It's ludicrous that sometimes there are as many as 7 or 8 there in a two carriageway road.
Evidently buses like to hang around in packs as well as travel in them.

As one who caught the bus to and from secondary school for eight years, though not in London, this sounds all too familiar.
you have got too much time on your hands
I have a similar issue, I take the 54 from beckenham to woolwich on a weekly evening and every night it stops at Catford Bus Garage for at least 5 minutes for a driver changeover and they always waste time chatting instead of just driving off immediately
When the 25 went from Stagecoach to First Group they moved the driver changeover point to Mile End station, which was far more convenient for drivers travelling from the Leyton area. However the congestion caused by parked buses made them to go back to the previous relief point at Bow Church.
I'm sure once Christian is mayor, the 25 will be converted to tram operation within months. I'm continuously surprised that this is the busiest route in London, paralled as it is by heavy rail route and the central line. Will it get less busy once crossrail opens? I'm guessing not as surely most of this must be local(ish) traffic. Mysterious. Perhaps it's simply cos it runs cheek by jowl with Geezer Towers. Mysterious indeed.
"I'm continuously surprised that this is the busiest route in London, paralelled as it is by heavy rail route and the central line. "

Neither of which are either as cheap, or call at as many places - notably Bow itself.

I remember back in the seventies on a radio interview the head honcho at London Buses said with a straight face (all right, it was radio, so I don't know what his face looked like) that buses were never left uncrewed with passengers on board at changeovers. Replace "never" by "invariably" I thought, from my experiences on the 37* on the Upper Richmond Road - the typical delay suggesting that the new crew didn't set off on the walk from the garage** (300m away on the other side of the railway) until they saw the incoming crew walk in.

*Then running Hounslow to Peckham
** Mortlake, now closed
Building a tram in months?

Some bus changeover info -
1 - under tendering, the operator's garage doesn't have to be even near the route. Not that 'LT' let this bother them: the 25 had been run from former West Ham (not the present one!) and Forest Gate (closed years ago) garages, both off-route, so there has to be travel time for staff to and from the buses. 'Minimum breaks' have already been noted above.

2 - each taking over driver is legally obliged to check the bus for 'faults' as well as take advice from any roadside staff and/or route controller (by radio). The rest is p***ing about unless there is service disruption to sort out.

3 - Bus driving is a difficult job and we all lose our cool sometimes. You try getting up 3am for an early shift and staying cool all day... Some people do not have realistic choices about what work they do. There's a current London-wide driver shortage - the hours and pay (and some passengers) have a lot to do with that.

4 - 'LT' operations had a near cast-titanium rule that crew changes were never to be in the direction of flow of the majority of passengers, so in the morning peak on this example the 25 crews would only change in the eastbound direction, and in the evenings westbound. This was before passenger numbers went stratospheric and today that would be difficult to manage.

5 - with the buses sold off, these 'inefficient' crew workings (can't get the maximum number of 'wheel-turning' hours out of each driver), were abandoned.

6 - our mate Ken, to make things easier for London bus passengers, ruled that all buses should be timetabled for the whole length of the route and only turned by controllers for traffic or crew shortage reasons. Many 'LT' routes used to operate in overlapping sections, such as the peculiar 'horseshoe' former route 253 - its sections are now the current 253 and 254. Buses on the former 253 rarely ran end-to-end (eg early am, late eve and some weekend journeys). This made good use of buses and crews and prevented unnecessary mileage where there was no justifiable demand (there's always a few who will be inconvenienced).

7 - Ken also made buses run the same route all day every traffic day, to eliminate service differences and assist people to navigate London.

8 - Combine these changes with privatisation, and you lose all of London's previous passenger-oriented (or not!) bus services, which used to include different garages working the same routes at weekends. Some of that was balancing out weekend work (which paid extra to staff for unsocial hours) at garages, but some was also the will of the T&G, who like management on occasion looked inward first and missed the point about who the buses were for.

9 - Nothing's perfect and running a bus service (well or not) is a miracle of logistics, buses, fuel and staff, and maybe a thought for the schedulers who actually do the work, and do try to serve passengers might not go amiss.

And no, I'm not a bus scheduler (although I almost was...) - the job did however have its own peculiar attractions for those of a logical frame of mind plus a practical imagination to solve the problems of creating viable schedules...
@ Rachel - worth bearing in mind that the "wasted time chatting" may be explaining any foibles or minor faults with the bus that the new driver has to be aware of, or saying where there have been traffic problems on the route or to say if a passenger on board has specifically asked to be advised of a stop or to say where a wheelchair passenger has asked to be let off. Sometimes people prefer to ask the driver to give them a warning rather that just pressing a bell. Yesterday I found an I-Phone on a bus and handed it to the driver when we were on the stand. As we were going along the owner of the phone rang the phone so the bus driver pulled up at a stop and spoke to the person. This meant a small delay but also meant the person would be reunited with their phone once the driver handed it in at the depot. You might think this a frivolous delay but if it had been your phone I expect you'd be delighted not to have lost it forever.

Be careful about judging too harshly. Yes sometimes it's just a natter between colleagues but not always.
and indeed sometimes the nattering is a way of passing the time until it's time to go. But the niceties of the schedule are not appreciated by eighty passengers sitting on bus E for seven minutes whilst bus F trundles past (not to mention a D8).
Maybe what London "needs" is more bus-spotters? Are there any left?

@ timbo
37 Peckham to Hounslow; those were the good ol days. Use to be one of my favorite routes.
25 comments about Route 25..... oh, er..
It must be a lonely existence for a bus driver in London. Here in the provinces where most buses have a single door passengers say thank you and good bye to the driver which doesn't happen with two door buses.

Changeover are the only social occasions for drivers and I would certainly drive as fast as possible from the previous timing point to give myself a few minutes to chat.

It's always been like this. I can remember how in the 50s the 623 and 625 trolleybuses hung around for ages at Hoe Street while drivers and conductors chatted and changed over. Particularly annoying as the fish and chips I'd been sent out for went cold.
I also used to enjoy the 37 bus ride from Hounslow to Peckham

Maybe the 25 route should have kept the bendy bus.
This situation frustrates me every day. For me, the worst things are that:

1. There is a lack of communication – rarely is there a changeover announcement to inform passengers. Plus, when there are 5 buses waiting, nobody knows which one will leave first. It's frustrating when the bus at the back of the queue overtakes all the others and you're left being late.

3. The 25s sometimes drive really slow, presumably to prevent arriving early, which benefits absolutely nobody on the bus. I was on a 25 recently which was driving 18mph down the Bow Flyover (the bus was packed so I was standing at the front), even though there was nothing in front. Why not just drive normally and communicate the wait, if necessary, at the next stop?
Without going into my qualifications (which do not involve actually running buses) I feel it safe to say that there is no single best way to run a bus service. However, the London model does appear to work reasonably well with micro-managing of headways and buses kept spare to slot into service gaps even if it does result in a need for idle buses to sit around, seemingly without purpose. Many of those costs are borne by the private operators, although Diamond Geezer has identified a cost to the public here in buses stored on street and quite large numbers of passengers delayed on buses waiting for crew changes or for other reasons.

At the end of the day I would rather TfL style bus services than some of what passes for bus services in other parts of the UK, let alone the rest of the world.

This is no criticism of Diamond Geezer who, as always, raises some good issues and backs it up with hard evidence,

I am happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised in London recently by the way that many if not most passengers said thank you to the driver on leaving the bus. The London thank you may be a perfunctionary remark compared to your experience in the 'provinces' but even the 'thank you driver' is increasingly rare in my part of Australia.

As an outsider, I think that Londoners tend to have an unfair reputation in this area. In my experience, most Londoners (of all races and social classes) seem to be quite polite.
Even fairly cheap cars come with electric mirrors now. A new bus costs north of £200,000 I believe - so why do drivers still have to manually adjust their mirrors? I have seen some actually step into traffic to do so.
Imagine how expensive it would be to replace each time a driver rips the mirror off on a bus shelter.

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