London Traffic, Going Nowhere, London Traffic, Too Many Cars

Alright, maybe it’s just me, and alright, maybe it’s time I stop trusting mini cabs. Because I feel like I’m always getting myself in this scenario. But laugh with me if you can

11:45am I have to get from West Norwood to Hammersmith for a 1pm lunch. I don’t trust the local trains. There’s a walk at both ends if I go by public transport.It’s a business meet. I can splurge this one time. I call a local cab service and book a carfor 12:15pm. They agree it will only be a 45 minute journey.

12:15pm No car

12:20pm Call car service. It’s “two minutes away.” Heard that one before.

12:30pm Call car service again. It’s on the next street over. Car comes.

12:32pm. Driver pulls over so he can see on the map where I want to go. He turns around from route I would have taken and joins West Norwood traffic

12:35pm He circumnavigates West Norwood traffic and gets round back of Brixton. He heads up through Stockwell towards Vauxhall. I ask what he’s doing. He says we should go via Ascot which has me panicked until I realize he means Earls Court. I ask why he doesn’t want to go via Clapham, the South CIrcular and Chelsea/Battersea/Albert Bridge but he says the traffic will be too bad. Once we get over Vauxhall Bridge, he assures me we’ll be there in minutes. I call my lunch appointment and tell him I’ll likely be late.

12:40pm We hit mega traffic coming from Stockwell to Vauxhall. Driver turns around.

12:45pm All the side streets are blocked. Perhaps having detected a New York twang in my accent, driver veers into the oncoming lane and overtakes a whole side street full of traffic.

12:50pm We are now on the Wandsworth Road and the traffic is just as bad leading into Vauxhall. Does not occur to driver to tune to radio. Another minicab driver coming the opposite way pulls down window and tells him that Nine Elms Road has been closed. Vauxhall is completely blocked. Driver swears and does a U-turn.

12:55pm: Wandsworth Road is blocked going the other way too. We are completely stuck in South London gridlock.

1:00pm I call my 1pm lunch appointment, tell him I am still in South London and that maybe we should meet at the restaurant – in 45 minutes. He recommends I take the tube to Kensington Olympia and meet at the Pizza Express there. Fortunately, he has no other appointment to make afterwrds; fortunately, neither do I.

1:05pm My driver is spinning in circles, almost literally, bouncing around the sidestreets between these gridlocked roads. We are steadily going backwards.

1:10pm Driver finally gets me to Stockwell tube. It’s about 3 miles from West Norwood. He tries to charge me £13!

1:12pm Tube arrives at Stockwell

1:20pm Tube gets to Victoria

1:22pm Tube arrives at Victoria

1:35pm Tube gets to Earls Court

1:40pm Tube arrives at Earls Court

1:45pm Tube gets to Olympia. The journey has taken less than 30 minutes by tube.

3:47pm At lunch appointment’s recommendation, I find myself taking not the tube home, not a taxi, but the Metro train to Clapham Junction. Ah, that train to Clapham Junction

4:00 Train arrives at Clapham Junction. I switch platforms. Train pulls straight in for West Norwood.

4:20pm I’m home. It was only a thirty minute journey by public transport.

And now, repeat after me:

I promise not to criticise London’s public transport system again in a hurry.

I vow not to book another South London cab again in a hurry.

I now vow to have a very good weekend.

Related Posts


2 Comment(s)

  1. Jimmy

    29 September, 2006 at 11:58 am

    A good wekend to you sir!

    Have fun.


  2. 29 September, 2006 at 11:32 pm

    Scratching my head here.. ok, it’s been a couple of years since I’ve been south of the river, but… hasn’t Vauxhall been a nightmare for decades, even without the closing?


Calendar of posts

December 2021