Wednesday, 26 March 2008

Bendy buses in London

At last, some balanced coverage of this issue, courtesy of BBC News.

It has always seemed to me bizarre that something which is absolutely normal in most European cities is such an issue here. Maybe one of the comments on the BBC page has hit on the answer:

When people come to London, they want to pretend they're in a sixties movie, swinging onto that back pole of the Routemaster in the rain, not stepping on to an 80s-looking bendy bus.
Boris Johnson of course has been pushing this false dichotomy with the Routemaster. In reality, Routemasters were on their way out, for several good reasons, long before bendy buses came in. Bendy buses are not a substitute for Routemasters. If anything they are a substitute for the trams that we ought to have, but don't (except in Croydon), i.e. they serve the few particularly high-demand strategic routes.

Anyway, I note that most of the comments from actual bus users (as opposed to politicians and commentators who don't actually travel on them) are favourable to the bendy bus. The accessibility argument is the clincher, in my view. You don't have to be particularly disabled to find double deckers (old or new) a real pain to navigate when there is no room except upstairs.


Falco said...

The problem with the bendy bustards is not so much for the people on them, (although I personally find them far less comfortable than old or new routmasters), but for those who are walking along only to find half a bendy bus mounting the pavement behind them.

peezedtee said...

It's a mystery to me that anyone can have found Routemasters comfortable. They always seemed very narrow and cramped to me.

laurencewiles said...

The best city and town vehicles are Trolley buses,thay are clean and quiet
not like a tram that takes up most of the road,and they cant steer round objects,we should never have taken trolleys off the road in the 1960's
They could probably produce a battery powerd version now that would suit the enviroment.

peezedtee said...

This is not an "either/or" question. I too regret the departure of trolleybuses. But modern trams are also clean and quiet. Trams can carry a lot more people, so they are suitable for the very high-density routes. Trolleybuses are suitable for those routes where ridership levels do not quite justify investment in tram infrastructure. They are also very good for hilly routes. I used them in Bratislava recently. A number of European cities still have them.

Dave Cole said...

Gosh, I'm a bit late to the party on this one!

In response to Falco, there are routes where bendies are and aren't appropriate. You could equally have a go at drivers who block off pavement ramps (making people in wheelchairs take long diversions), people who do deliveries on the Strand in the morning rush hour and so on.

I agree with Peezedtee about the comfort of the Routemaster. I could only sit down on the lateral seets; I'm not even six foot and I couldn't sit down in the forward-facing seats. The trolleybuses in San Francisco work pretty well. Apparently, they have batteries with pretty good life as well, so that when there are roadworks or other diversions they can leave the route of the power lines for a decent distance, rejoining them later on.