Tuesday, 16 September 2008

The sad demise of the bendy bus in London

Dave Cole writes that he actually uses bendy buses every day. He regrets the fact that they will be disappearing from his route when Boris Johnson's absurd and ill-informed (and expensive) election pledge kicks in next year.

As Dave points out, these buses are particularly well suited to the short, high-density "Red Arrow" routes, which have to mop up large crowds of passengers at mainline rail terminals. Lots of people are getting on and off all at once, making the bendy's three wide doors ideal for fast loading and unloading. The journeys are mostly too short for it to be worth the bother of trailing up stairs and down again.

In the case of route 521, there is also the problem that double-deckers won't be able to go through the Strand underpass, so they will get stuck in the traffic going round Aldwych to get on to Kingsway.

Dave notes that getting rid of these buses is policy based on tabloid prejudice, rather than the boring facts on the ground.

I myself wrote about bendy buses back in March, when it was still possible to hope that Ken Livingstone would get back in and put a stop to all this nonsense. I noted then that the anti-bendy campaign was being run by aesthetes and commentators who probably did not much use buses themselves, and that actual regular users were largely favourable. Now we have an "actual regular user" speaking up to that effect, but it is too late.


Dave Cole said...

A mea culpa, I think, for not saying something sooner. I suspect that most people who use the 507 and 521 live outside the Greater London area and so, although they're significant transport users, are excluded from the process. That having been said, there will be knock-on effects on the surrounding roads and particularly at the terminal stations.

Thanks for the link!


Mike said...

Actually the tender as issued for the 507/521 and 38 specifies single deckers for the former and asks bidders to cost the difference between non-bendies and bendies in terms of the additional buses and drivers needed for the non-bendy service. Presumambly TfL will come to their senses when they see the cost differential.