Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Putting ill-informed people right

It can get rather dispiriting sometimes, the frequency with which people write such ignorant tosh that one feels obliged to write in with a correction.

The Economist website has a new (rather superficial) piece comparing the commuting experience in four world cities. The London section of the report includes this:

(.....) "bendy buses", an incomprehensible waste of precious road real estate (.....)
I wrote in the comments section as follows:
Absolutely wrong. The bendy bus is very suitable for certain high-density routes, where it uses the road space very efficiently. Having three wide doors, it can empty and load large numbers of passengers quickly. With a low floor and no stairs to climb, it is also much more accessible than a double-decker, especially for anyone with impaired mobility or who has luggage, pushchairs, etc. They carry considerably more people than ordinary buses, saving on operating costs. London TravelWatch calculates that the number of ordinary buses needed to match the capacity of bendy buses would be so much greater that the road space taken up in total, if bendy buses were withdrawn from the routes they currently operate, would be more, not less. See London TravelWatch's response to Transport for London's consultation at http://www.londontravelwatch.org.uk/document/3530/get
On a different topic, someone else wrote in the comments:
"...the train was repeatedly delayed for days on end due to leaves on the tracks. And by delayed I mean it took three hours to make the journey. LEAVES on the track? What century are we living in?????..."
After all these years in which this silly canard has been repeated and rebutted, wouldn't you think people would have got the message by now? (I largely blame dim-witted hacks in the gutter press.) I wrote in as follows:
Leaf mulch, actually. Leaves fall; rain falls; the leaves get wet; the train wheels grind the wet leaves into a sticky mush, which makes the tracks very slippery. So the wheels slide and the train can get going only very slowly. Once it is going again, the driver has to make sure the train doesn't skid. So he/she goes slowly and the train is further delayed. Not at all peculiar to Britain, in fact. It happens every autumn wherever there are deciduous trees next to railway lines. This has been explained so many times, yet people still won't believe it.
I wish there was a law against writing nonsense.

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