Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Boris Johnson continues his bendy bus vendetta

Boris Johnson will continue his flaghip vendetta against bendy buses today as the 521 route is converted to standard single deckers.

Converting this route will add an additional 12% tendering cost and will deprive passengers of 231 seats an hour.

So that's £351,103 extra a year, in order to make the service significantly worse for pasengers.

So why is he doing it. Are the buses unpopular?

Well they are according to the East London Advertiser and a hundred other Flat Earth News accounts.

But has anyone actually asked the people who use them?

Well the London Paper did and found that passengers on the 507 route overwhelmingly wanted them back.

In fact TfL's own consultation found that the majority of respondents were against losing bendy buses in the first place.

TfL have also admitted that there will be no decrease in congestion on those routes.

Even Boris's claim that "many cyclists [are] killed every year by them," has been disproven, with official figures showing that no cyclists have ever been killed by the buses.

But they continue to be removed, on the word of just two men (Boris and Gilligan) who never actually use them.

The full effect of this bizarre vendetta will only be felt once kids return to school.

But so far it has meant more crowded buses, with less space for buggies, and a greater overall cost to you and me.

It's a weird policy, but it was a promise that Boris made in his manifesto.

And for whatever reason, this is one promise that he has committed to keep.

32 comments:

Chris said...

There doesn't seem to have been a photo shoot or even a press release this time. I wonder whether he's beginning to realise that this is not the great idea he thought it was?

Martin said...

Chris

Worth pointing out that he didn't even supply a quote of his own either.

Like the 'Deputy Mayors' this is just another Boris campaign idea which he's learnt the hard way makes no sense when actually implemented.

Still as Adam says, he's at least implemented a manifesto promise, it's just the wrong one.

AdamB said...

I expect politically he thinks it would be one u turn too many, but I don't see any reason why he shouldn't change his mind. He says he's the mayor for all London. Why not have bendies and new Routemasters?

Bearded Socialist said...

Although i don't mind the bendies, it's the spending lots of money on reducing capacity without replacing it that annoys me

Mark Lee said...

Will they reconfigure the trio of bus stops at Waterloo for the 521 (each previously lined up with a door on the bendy)?

If they haven't, they've either decided that enough money's been burnt already, *or* want to leave the door open for a future bendy return...

AdamB said...

I know the ones you mean Mark. I'll ask.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

I love the bedny buses, I'm on the 29 route.

I suppose Boris is so scared of going back on campaign promises...

Oh hang on, didn't he do that with funding for the rape crisis centres?

Good to see priorities in action...

Bearded Socialist said...

A very good point, Mr Hoffmann-Gill

AdamB said...

More Flat Earth News, this time from the BBC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/8232668.stm

Apparently Boris is "chomping at the bit" to get rid of bendies.

Andrew Boff said...

If you're on them, they're fine. If you're behind them, to the side of them or have to pay for the fare dodgers ... not so good.

prj45 said...

"or have to pay for the fare dodgers "

Hellow Andrew. The replacements are open boarding, what's changed?

AdamB said...

Prj45 is right. The replacements on these first routes will be open boarding so nothing will change. The new Routemasters will also be open boarding because unlike the old ones they will not have conductors checking tickets.

You're right that this policy had nothing to do with bus passengers though Andrew. As far as I can tell, the only reason for getting rid of them was the fact that Boris doesn't like cycling behind them.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Nice facts to debunk the Daily Mail reader...

Anonymous said...

While we are about it - and since Andrew is engaging with the debate - any comment on the (incorrect) allegations of widespred cyclist casualties that seemed - at least in part - to prompt the move away from bendies?

I'd also be interested to hear more on how the trend of fare evasion was affected by repeated statements from London Assembly members of how easy it was to avoid paying your fare!

Presumably we'll have similar statements soon from concerned AMs to point out how easy it is to walk out of supermarkets without paying or how simple it is to jump over the ticket barriers at mainline railway stations - You know, really responsible statements that nail down the issue of personal criminal responsibility.

Or perhaps its easier to score cheap political points with a partisan journalist or two in your corner? Perish the thought eh!

AdamB said...

Especially as the chief cheerleader for getting rid of bendies is now actively encouraging fare evasion himself.

Funny old world.

Anonymous said...

At least it was only in the Standard so nobody would have read it anyway!

Appealing of Ealing said...

"You're right that this policy had nothing to do with bus passengers"

Andrew Boff may or may not think that, but he didn't write it in his comment.

It is however refreshing for someone to point out that bus users are not the only people to have an opinion about this. For example, there are the those who generously subsidize other people's bus travel, or who share the road with them.

I'm not such a frequent user of buses, but I did find myself on one of these bendy contraptions during August, going down Shaftesbury Avenue. There we were, the middle of the bus stopped in traffic on top of a pedestrian crossing, with bewildered tourists having to walk into the middle of the road to get round the back of the monster -- wonderful!

What's more, the stupid thing was virtually empty: 5:00pm and only three other passengers on the entire bus, in the centre of town. I'm prepared to accept there was probably another one a bit further down the road, bursting at the seams, but that's irrelevant: this one was nearly empty.

Last time I checked, they were statistically more dangerous than other buses -- and that has certainly been my experience as a road user.

...but yes, when one is sitting on one's subsidized backside, hogging the road, everything's just tickety-boo.

AdamB said...

Buses of all shapes are going to be half empty at certain times of the day. So are trains and trams. It's not an argument against using bendy buses.

"Last time I checked, they were statistically more dangerous than other buses -"

The difference is marginal when you take into account the amount of people they are transporting. A bus covering a larger road area is obviously going to be statistically involved in more collisions than a bus covering a smaller area. But if you have to use two buses in order to replace the capacity of that one longer bus, then there is no safety improvement.

however, buses of all types are involved in a very low amount of collisions because the drivers are highly trained and experienced. The same can not be said of HGVs which are involved in a much higher amount of collisions including lethal collisions with cyclists.

http://crapwalthamforest.blogspot.com/2009/04/two-more-london-cyclists-killed-by-hgv.html

Boris is not proposing to rid London of HGVs of course.

Anonymous said...

"It is however refreshing for someone to point out that bus users are not the only people to have an opinion about this."

It was the election campaign that sealed the fate of the bendies, not the post-election debate - and it was the election where falsehood was presented as fact by both politicians and (lets be generous here) journalists (in particular on the safety record of bendies vs cyclists)

I have no problem with a wider public offering an opinion on this or any other issue - I do worry though when that opinion is formed, even in part, by them being lied to pretty wilfully for political gain.

That view applies whether we are talking about bendy buses, taxation, foreign policy or anything else and, for what its worth applies to politicians of every persuasion.

Any thoughts AoE on the propriety or otherwise of this statement?:

"They wipe out cyclists, there are many cyclists killed every year by them.”

Pretty definitive wasn't it? And it still forms a keystone to the Mayor spending public money on an unnecessary change - something which I am "generously subsidising."

Appealing of Ealing said...

"Any thoughts AoE on the propriety or otherwise of this statement?:

"They wipe out cyclists, there are many cyclists killed every year by them.” "

Yes, I've a few thoughts about that statement, the principal one being that it wasn't made by me. I understand that articulated buses are more dangerous -- and I'm not talking about fatalities, necessarily. I seem to recall they have a particular problem with people getting caught in the doors for example. There are other problems too.

"Pretty definitive wasn't it? And it still forms a keystone to the Mayor spending public money on an unnecessary change - something which I am "generously subsidising.""

Well, whether your subsidy is in the form of direct taxation, or congestion charge tax, don't expect the amount you pay to go down any time soon...no matter what type of bus they decide to operate.

Carl said...

People get caught in the doors? Well, that's the same things as 'they kill cyclists' isn't it?

I think we're about to have an interesting winter, transport wise. The tubes are shut most weekends, district line is unsafe, and the full effect of getting rid of the bendies won't be seen until a) the kids go back to school and b)all the new cyclists decide that dark mornings, rain and the cold mean they'd be better off back on the bus.

Getting rid of the bendies was a fools policy which can only backfire eventually. The replacements are already being called 'Boris' Cattle Trucks' and any problem on the routes from now until he's voted out, will be laid firmly at Boris' door.

Anonymous said...

"I understand that articulated buses are more dangerous -- and I'm not talking about fatalities, necessarily. I seem to recall they have a particular problem with people getting caught in the doors for example. There are other problems too."

Then I'm sure we all look forward to seeing the inevitable massive improvement on all fronts when statistically significant information is available following the introduction of the Borismobiles. Surely nothing less will suffice!!??

Mark Lee said...

Interesting thought about public transport subsidy (especially the ccharge) - subsidising public transport takes people off the road, enabling drivers to get to their destination more quickly.

So you could quite easily form a case that public transport subsidy benefits drivers. And therefore that drivers shouldn't complain ;)

Tom said...

"Last time I checked, they were statistically more dangerous than other buses -"

But not, as I've pointed out 8 trillion times, more dangerous than *the number of other buses required to replace them*.

Anyone even vaguely numerate can see this, but evidently that excludes many on the right.

By the way, any reason for their removal *not related to the bendy bit* is also 100% applicable to the 12m rigid Citaro replacement on the 507/521 routes, which includes the doors, fare evasion, fire risk, ambience, lack of seats etc.

"What's more, the stupid thing was virtually empty: 5:00pm and only three other passengers on the entire bus, in the centre of town"

Are you claiming your experience is in any way relevant to all bendies anywhere in London at any time of day? Or are you just mistaking your egoistic anecdotal experience for the operation of a system you yourself boast of knowing next to nothing about?

Leave it to the experts, old chap. Please.

Tom said...

"Interesting thought about public transport subsidy (especially the ccharge) - subsidising public transport takes people off the road, enabling drivers to get to their destination more quickly."

There's also a wider benefit to society in having a decent public transport system, in that it allows people to get to work efficiently and reliably. If you can arrange it to be comfortable (say by putting subsidy into air-cooling/conditioning and providing extra capacity) then people arrive better able to work productively too.

The rest of the civilised world seems to understand this as a matter of cross-party political agreement. Here, not so much, mainly due to the bloody Tories and their 'I know nothing about it but I'm right anyway' hangers-on like AoE.

AdamB said...

Intersting account from 521 passengers here:

"Yesterday they had people handing out leaflets to explain what had happened to the reliable bendy 521. Today no fcuker around and the drivers only wanted to open one set of doors despite the bus stop being designed for the bendy bus's three entry points. The new buses are effectively single deckers with fewer seats. No one getting on board seemed to think it was an upgrade. And given the extra services they are supposed to be running I guess that means more pollution and more traffic. Everyone's a loser."

http://www.trentend.com/smf/index.php?topic=3694.375

prj45 said...

Appealing of Ealing said... "What's more, the stupid thing was virtually empty: 5:00pm and only three other passengers on the entire bus, in the centre of town."

It should be noted that a bendy bus with three passengers on it uses up the same amount of road space as three drivers in a car each (less when it's moving of course).

Anonymous said...

There were four passengers including 'A of E'.

And quite a lot of ego.

Appealing of Ealing said...

"Leave it to the experts, old chap. Please."

This won't be the last time I'll quote that back to you.

FYI, writing a lot of arrogant blather does not make you an expert. It does however make you something else. But we knew that already.

Appealing of Ealing said...

"and their 'I know nothing about it but I'm right anyway' hangers-on like AoE"

Writing a lot of insulting blather doesn't make you an expert either.

Why do you only reply to me on other people's websites?

saifu03 said...

AofE, how ironic for you to talk of replying. You did singularly fail to answer my questions about Boris' cycling on your blog. But still managed to post "replies" without addressing the point.

So, " I understand that articulated buses are more dangerous -- and I'm not talking about fatalities, necessarily. I seem to recall they have a particular problem with people getting caught in the doors for example. There are other problems too."

Can you provide some data to back up your understandings? It would be useful for them to be comparative too, as your anecdotal style is quite hard to bring into my brain unless it is compared to something.

Anonymous said...

"Writing a lot of insulting blather doesn't make you an expert either."

Fair point - It does though show that he can recognise b*****ks when he reads it.