Friday, 18 April 2008

Boris Johnson backtracks on buses

An interview with Boris Johnson in Time Out this week is worth reading. On bendy buses, he has changed his tune, and now concedes that they have some good points:

The bendy has some advantages. I like the fact it's disabled-friendly and buggy-friendly and it is a prodigious carrier of people and fits under underpasses. But it doesn't have that open back platform.
He also admits that his "new Routemaster" would take four years to produce. And I slightly doubt whether the Health and Safety Executive will allow any new bus to go into service these days with an open back platform. I don't think these exist anywhere else now outside the Third World. So if that is supposed to be the main point of it, the whole idea is even more of a nonsense than we thought.

Also, Johnson now describes moves by commentators and opponents to scrutinise and cost his Routemaster policy as "a hysterical attempt to focus on a small aspect of one policy". To start with, this proposal was his one big flagship idea. Now it's "a small aspect of one policy".

And he thinks Ken Livingstone should learn to drive, because "we all need to understand what it's like to overtake a bendy bus in traffic". But no, Boris, most of us don't actually. The vast majority of people moving around in central and inner London don't drive there because they know that driving motorcars in city centres is (a) pointless, and (b) a selfish use of a scarce finite public resource (urban road space).

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