Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Which bus to Cockfosters?

For reasons only known to himself, Lord Mayor of London Boris Johnston decided to get rid of 'bendy buses'. I can't find any decent reason to get rid of them. I noticed how skilfully London bus drivers manoeuvred bendy buses along narrow streets and around tight corners.

Your traditional London double decker may well have been fun to ride on, but it was not a very practical vehicle for this century. But again, what was really wrong with the bendy buses? All I can find is that there may have been higher fare evasion on them.

So, what is to replace the bendy buses?

A new version of the old double decker Routemaster.

This is the old Routemaster.

This is the now being phased out bendy bus.

And here are some mock ups of London's newest bus. I think I'll catch the Tube.


  1. Um....errr....hmmm.

  2. Pants's old neighbour Baroque in Hackney records the horror of trying to cross London with millions of other people.

    On my one London visit I did indeed board a train bound for Cockfosters.

  3. Anonymous9:31 pm

    I really like the new design. London's Routemasters were phased out in the early part of this century. While some were replaced with bendy buses, the majority were replaced with more modern double-deckers and it's those which are being updated with the new bus you show here. On London's crowded roads the bendy buses took up too much space in a traffic jam. The current double deckers are really roomy, have space for the disabled and prams (the whole bus in on a hydraulic system that can be lowered to street level for easy access); so I'm sure the brand new replacements will be even better. They even have the platform at the back so that people can hop on and off in traffic jams - something that commuters really missed with the current double deckers. There's nothing like the view from the upstairs front windows.

  4. Don't worry Jayne. Your Garmin will work in London too.

    Ann, and did you find **** at Cockfosters when you got there?

    Scott, do you really think TFL will allow people to hop off the rear door into traffic? I don't think so. The rear door will out of service when the bus is only with a driver, which will be quite often. I have always found it best to avoid vehicles that can carry prams.

  5. 16th November is the anniversary of Reg Varney's death. Is this a memorial blogpost or is it just spooky Possums?

    ... and that old moll O'Dyne claims she didn't go all the way to ****fosters.

  6. I had no idea Em Stacks but I was thinking of Blakey saying, 'Get your bus out of here Butler'. I'm relieved to hear about O'Dyne.

  7. The view from the top of a double decker may be fun, unless it's a stinking hot day, then it's not so fun.

  8. btw Cockfosters always made me giggle, it was the end of my line so I was always catching the Cockfosters train!!!

  9. Apparently Fen, the upstairs has a 'air chilling system'. NFI, but it doesn't sound like the are properly airconditioned. There really are some very snigger place names in England.

  10. well I would hope so. When I was living in London they were warning people not to sit up the top of double deckers in the unusual heat, because it was bad for ones health. Of course the windows didn't open, so it was a right sauna. Right, found it, I knew I'd blogged about it.
    "The London underground system, the oldest in the world, was transformed into a furnace today with a record temperature of 47 degrees as temperatures in the capital reached 33 degrees. Bus passengers fared even worse, with temperatures on buses in the City of London, the main financial district, reaching 52 degrees."


  11. Hi Andrew

    Bendy buses - I'm with Scott. They are horrific. If one pulls up at the bus stop and your bus is behind it, unless your name is Usain Bolt, yours will fly off without you onboard. They also ride like tuk-tuks.

    Double-decker buses carry more people and are a more efficient use of roadspace. There is really no more pleasant a way to traverse London than on the upper deck of a bus.

    London buses have been required by law since 2000 to be wheelchair accessible, hence the phasing out of the old Routemasters. As Scott says, the replacement double-deckers are a vast improvement in comfort.

    Once wheelchair ramps were installed, it was remarkable how many wheelchair users suddenly appeared to use them, suggesting to me that it was a long-overdue reform.

    There are still old Routemasters in service on some 'heritage' routes and you can indeed jump off anywhere and anytime - if you're game.

    The open-back system was really efficient. The driver didn't have to deal with anything but driving. The conductor took care of all passenger-related tasks. (I have had one or two experiences on driver-only night buses when it would have been nice to have had a conductor around). The conductor monitored exits and rang the bell twice to indicate to the driver it was safe to move on.

    It seems to me that a double-decker with two entrances and a separate big exit is the perfect successor to the Routemaster, whose major disadvantage was the convergence of disembarking and alighting passengers. Bring back the conductors.

    Just one little point of correction - Boris Johnson is not the Lord Mayor of London. He is the elected Mayor of London. Interestingly, Geraldine 'Deputy' Doogue made the same mistake this week on her radio programme.

    It's a long story. The post of Lord Mayor of London goes back nearly a thousand years but these days it's basically an annual honorarium given to some business boffin who's naff enough to agree to appear in a cocked hat. I actually know the present incumbent and can assure you he is that naff.

    Margaret Thatcher dissolved the Greater London Council, which ran London's services, in 1986. It was done to get rid of Ken Livingstone and almost ruined London. Because it was a council, Livingstone was called 'leader'.

    When London's right to local governance was finally reinstated by the Blair Government in 2000, I don't think even 'Red Ken' was thinking 'leader' was an appropriate moniker.

    The new title for the leader of the new Greater London Authority was 'mayor'. I, along with many Londoners voted him into that job because I felt he'd been unfairly dismissed from it fifteen years earlier and he'd done a good job then. I think he mostly did a good job in the eight years he held the post. The bendy buses were a notable mistake, which may have cost him that job.



  12. That is truly hot Fen. I can't understand the aversion England has to air conditioning.Finally they are starting to use air con.

    Pants, I bow to your experience as a very knowledgeable London bus traveller. I should have checked to see what travellers thought of the bendy buses...er, I could have asked you. Lord Mayor was a detail I meant to check. I think Victoria has both Lord Mayors and Mayors. I think the new buses have two doors (I can only see one) as well as the back opening, so boarding and alighting should be smooth.