Snipe - The Scoop

Friday, 5 December 2008

Why won't Boris admit cost of scrapping bendies?

London's Travel Watchdog and London Assembly Members are calling on Boris Johnson to finally reveal the cost of replacing bendy buses in London.

London Travelwatch Chair Sharon Grant said earlier today:

"The costs of using conventional buses on these routes may be significantly higher than using bendy buses, and TfL really needs to publish the figures involved, so everyone can judge whether it represents value for money or not."

Assembly Member Darren Johnson said:

"I want to know what the mayor is hiding. I’m shocked by the fact that the mayor has given no information on the impact that all these extra buses will have on air quality, congestion, CO2 and cost. I have been pestering the mayor for this information since September and there is a Freedom of Information request to bring the environmental costs of this into the public domain."

As well as these undisclosed costs there is also a real cost in the terms of lost capacity.

Because single deckers have a much lower capacity than bendy buses, up to 12 extra buses an hour will be brought in by Boris on some routes.

However, what this hides is the fact that even with this increased frequency there will still be a substantial reduction in capacity.

On Route 507, commuters will get an additional eight buses an hour, but still lose 140 'places' in terms of the route's capacity.

And in off-peak times, there will be no added frequency at all on that route, meaning that the capacity will actually be halved.

Given this loss of service, it is even more important that we should be told exactly how much Boris's policy is going to cost. 

Boris has refused to give any estimates of the cost in the past, supposedly to avoid prejudicing any negotiations. 

But given that contracts for the first three routes have now been settled, what possible reason can he have for keeping the costs of doing this from us any longer?



-Update- BBC London have succeeded where I have failed and managed to get a costing from TfL. They are reporting that the first three routes to be debendified will cost an extra £3 million a year.


18 comments:

Anonymous said...

London's streets are often clogged up with empty buses. In particular bendy buses have not been popular among other road users. The only people who seem to like them are fare evaders.

I'd say Johnson read the public's mood on the issue accurately -- presumably that's why he put it in his manifesto, and why people voted for him.

Now you and others are whining about him just for keeping his word. But nobody voted for you, and nobody voted for them.

BTW, how much did this cost? http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7035041.stm

The Troll said...

Ah the brave anonymous soldiers of the Bendy Jihad return. Okay let's get going:

"The only people who seem to like them are fare evaders."

Well they'll presumably still be pretty happy considering Boris is maintaining the 'free bus'.

"I'd say Johnson read the public's mood on the issue accurately -- presumably that's why he put it in his manifesto, and why people voted for him."

Anything to back that up? A consultation of bendy-bus users perhaps? (most of whom live in non-Boris voting Central London) or a long list of complaints about bendies to Travelwatch or TfL?

"Now you and others are whining about him just for keeping his word. But nobody voted for you, and nobody voted for them."

Stunning insight. If I ever join a political party, or run as a candidate it will be an even more stunning insight. I shall now give up all criticism of any of Boris Johnson's policies and I shall expect all criticisms of the Labour government to cease until after the next election as well.

The Troll said...

Oh yes and a small point. How is increasing the number of buses on the road (while still decreasing the capacity) going to help with those clogged roads that you pretend to be so worried about? Take your time.

Anonymous said...

"Anything to back that up? A consultation of bendy-bus users perhaps? (most of whom live in non-Boris voting Central London)"

Thank you for highlighting one of the flaws in your analysis. "bendy-bus users" are not the only people who have an opinion about these wretched vehicles... no matter what Jenny Jones says.

"I shall expect all criticisms of the Labour government to cease until after the next election as well"

Dissembling nonsense. Johnson made a very clear pledge, and now he's just doing what he promised.

I don't recall reading anything about screwing up the economy in the Labour 2005 manifesto -- or was that in the small print?

The Troll said...

"I don't recall reading anything about screwing up the economy in the Labour 2005 manifesto -- or was that in the small print?"

Talking about dissembling nonsense...

Are you really saying that all manifesto promises should be allowed to pass without any scrutiny or criticism? Really? Are we all to sit back while ID cards are implemented because they happened to be in the 2005 manifesto. The principle of a democratic system, as opposed to a 'stalinesque' one is that there is a free press and that the public can point out flaws in government policies without being told to be quiet.

People voted for Boris because of a variety of issues, but winning an election doesn't bring an end to debate on those issues. Debate carries on just as it has carried on since 2005. Come back to me if you actually want to take part in that debate.

The Troll said...

Oh and another small point. Boris also promised value for money in his manifesto. This doesn't supply it.

Tom said...

It's not fucking Gilligan again is it? He's been quiet long enough, I thought we'd slapped him into submission. How many arseholes does a bum need?

"London's streets are often clogged up with empty buses. In particular bendy buses have not been popular among other road users."

London's streets are often clogged with very full buses, you may have noticed the huge increase in ridership. Replacing them with 59% more buses will help how, precisely? Surely you should be agitating for *fewer* buses, not telling us how wonderful it is now Boris is introducing more.

Bus vehicles should 'popular', is it now? Witness the intellectual paucity of the bendy jihad. Why would 59% more buses of a different shape suddenly be more 'popular'? Why is increasing bus subsidy 'popular'? Why is concealing the figures 'popular'? How is this 'popularity' measured? Where are the *facts*, Anonymous?

Bollocks to it. Anonymous, Gilligan and their ilk get in the way of running a sensible transport system, running a sensible transport system is a mark of civilised society, so they're basically anti-social barbarians, and there's the truth of it. You dig up facts and analyse them to the best of your ability and they'll come back and invent some random argument based on some random bit of psychological projection and outrageous misreading of the figures, and then roundly abuse you. Nutters, the lot of them.

[Anyway, if Boris is so good at reading the 'public mood' perhaps he can stop wasting money on consultations, scrap the remaining press conferences, hold the next public Mayoral meeting in a sealed phonebox and respond to all Mayors Questions with a rendition of 'My Way'. After all, what does a man of his obvious ability need with the checks and balances of a democratic society and a free press?]

Anonymous said...

"Are you really saying that all manifesto promises should be allowed to pass without any scrutiny or criticism?"

No, I really am not saying that. However, I detect a lot of sour grapes among the Bendy True Believers, like lovely Jenny, and am somewhat sceptical of how they have all suddenly become interested in a "debate" ever since their little green paws lost hold of the levers of power.

The truth is, the bendy bus concept was just another battle front in Mr. Livingstone's idealogical jihad against the private motor car ... along with (a "variety of issues"): the congestion charge, stupidly impractical bus lanes, the west London tram baloney, and the (alleged) interference with traffic light sequencing...which magically Johnson says he can do something to improve, that Ken couldn't. Hurrah.

You see, like a great many Londoners, I drive a car, and I saw, from first-hand experience, how these nonsensical contraptions made congestion worse along some of their routes, for example at various points along Uxbridge Road, especially around Acton.

What the zealots seemed to have lost sight of somewhere in the idealogical mist, is that we were allowed to vote too...and we did.

I'm always up for a debate, but comparing the issue of one's preference of Clapham omnibus to the highly controversial ID card proposal is frankly crass.

Bon weekend. (yours etc, "Appealing of Ealing" ...so you'll know me next time.)

The Troll said...

"You see, like a great many Londoners, I drive a car, and I saw, from first-hand experience, how these nonsensical contraptions made congestion worse along some of their routes, for example at various points along Uxbridge Road, especially around Acton."

Boris has admitted that scrapping bendy buses (on these first few routes at least) will not improve congestion. Boris is increasing the amount of buses. As a motorist are you pleased about that or not? As a public transport user I am not, because it means there will be more congestion, but without the same apacity and increased costs leading to higher fares. Who actually benefits here?

"What the zealots seemed to have lost sight of somewhere in the idealogical mist, is that we were allowed to vote too...and we did."

Who are these zealots you're talking about and what connection do they have to me pointing out some flaws of Boris Johnson's policies on my blog?

The mark of a zealot is somebody who believes in something even when their own reasoning disproves it. You don't like bendies because they cause congestion, but you are applauding an increase of buses on the roads. You point out a case where somebody has been run over by a bendy bus, but you ignore the fact that scrapping bendies is likely to increase fatalities.

As for your gripe with Jenny Jones, maybe you should take it up with her - whoever you are.

Karl said...

I think this whole bendy argument is a smokescreen to hide the point of the post and the other manifesto pledge - namely the '..job one, day one' total transparacency of costs. On the website, so Londoners can see how their money is being spent. I suspect we can't be far away from the big reveal of the new bus to try and drown out the fuss.

Going back to the 'points', it always makes me laugh when people claim they are 'free' buses. Any proper Londoner knows that them with travelcards, ie most commuters, don't have to swipe and so don't. They're not scammers, though to the ill-informed they might look it. But if you only use a bus infrequently, and don't talk to that many people, you'd never know.

prj45 said...

>Appealing of Ealing
>You see, like a great many Londoners, I drive a car, and I saw, from first-hand experience, how these nonsensical contraptions made congestion worse along some of their routes, for example at various points along Uxbridge Road, especially around Acton.

Worse? Decamp all the people on them and put them in cars, then we'll see congestion get worse.

BTW the congestion at Acton? Caused by too many cars.

Tom said...

207? That's the one that runs on a straight road on one of the busiest public transport corridors in London, which has seen massive growth in the last few years and should be a tram.

I live near there and I've both driven down the Uxbridge Road and taken a 207 down it in the last month. Driving, the biggest problem was some berk in Southall Broadway stepping out in front of me (not the first time that's happened). Bendies were absolutely no problem at all, I just drove round them if they were stationary and drove behind them if they were moving and on pulling up alongside one at the Hayes Bypass, I left him in my dust when the lights changed. I've not had any trouble driving to a mate's in Haringey along the 29 route, either.

Travelling on the 207 on a Saturday afternoon from Acton Town Hall, I leapt aboard it within seconds of reaching the bus stop, at the back entrance, found a seat and travelled in fine style to Shepherd's Bush to buy my partner's birthday present at Westfield. The journey was enlivened by watching the cheery local lads doing pull ups on the handrails (mostly black, with one white kid who was having the piss taken out of him for being Irish), as well as by the various accents around, mostly Australian or African, as it happened. It was very West London - we're a mongrel society round here.

Far from being empty, the bus was so full I couldn't see out sufficiently to see where we were, but luckily the automated announcements told me where I was. Journey was briefly interrupted by a ranting chap at a bus stop near Acton Central, but mostly it sailed along and on reaching Shepherd's Bush the bus emptied in seconds. Must have been a hundred plus people on it. Three fast-operating double doors will do that.

Obviously, we'd all have been so much better off leaving the road to the car drivers, who are much more important than a hundred people of all ages and backgrounds travelling together in an efficient, speedy manner.

Steve said...

It does indeed appear that the Bendy Jihad lot are incapable of mature and intelligent analysis of the facts - but then I suppose all they care about in unimpeeded highways for their cars without the plebs that use public transport getting in the way.

Tom said...

There is that, yes. Projecting the cause of congestion onto public transport is in much the same vein as Hilton Holloway of Autocar complaining about buses emitting pollution - the CO2 figures at least show that cars are about ten times as bad in London [Figures from Isobel Dedring, as it happens].

What's daft is that it's been recognised for decades that you can't have unrestricted private motoring and a city worth living in. London chose to keep the city in about 1973*, but some people haven't got the message. Boris sticks stubbornly to his belief that boffins will solve everything, for instance. This is actually as sensible as a belief in magic.

* By electing a Labour city government, you'll be amazed to know.

pastyface said...

Off topic I know but anything in this

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/dec/07/boris-green-raid-breach-conduct

The Troll said...

Thanks Pastyface. I'm making some inquiries.

Anonymous said...

If I remember correctly, there were some interesting documents in the justification for the West London Tram, which discussed the trade-offs between number of vehicles, frequency of service and size of vehicle. Once the interval between buses gets below about 3 minutes, buses start getting in each others' way because the second bus has to wait for the first one to leave each bus stop. Buses then start to arrive in groups, with gaps in the service elsewhere, and the overall tendency is for buses to run behind schedule. I seem to remember that the documents gave indications of thresholds of passenger numbers above which it made sense to have articulated buses and then trams.

So saying that there is a bus every 2 minutes rather than every 3 minutes means very little. In the days of Horace Cutler, of course, some routes were reduced in frequency from 3 to 3 buses per hour but Horace claimed that the service was just as good because it was a standee DMS and not an RT!

Guano

The Troll said...

It would be good to have a look at that study Guano if you can dig it out.