Saturday, December 17, 2011

Is that right Paddy, you will fit that door when it comes in for a service?

Ah, that's right Paddy, the boys at Wrightbus in Northern Ireland could fit that door onto to New Bus for London at a later date! It is not just the Portuguese who can build funny bus and coach bodies which makes you wonder which planet they are on.

Enter the New Bus for London, with it's open rear platform. This has the support of Boris Johnson who said "Do bendy bus lovers want a British bus that is cleaner, greener, or a German-made bus unsuitable for British streets?".

No one else would buy a bus with an open platform, it was suggested, due to EU regulations. Johnson replied: "I believe the approach we have taken will be copied. This is not a hop-on, hop-off you Frogs, two fingers to Europe, just a simple commensensical approach to London's needs."

Eight of the prototypes will come into service early next year, with the first running on route 38 from Victoria to Clapton from 20 February. Officially it is the New Bus for London but, like London's Barclays bikes, it is eventually likely to be christened the Boris Bus.

Bus transport in London is a unique market and I can see why a different type of bus may be commissioned. Unlike the rest of Britain, London's bus routes are regulated, it is not a free market and open to competition. Transport for London run all the bus routes and the work is put out to tender. The passenger should never be aware of different operating companies and only see it as a "London Bus".

The rate at which passengers board and alight is different from all other parts of our country. London passengers get on and off at many different stops like an army of ants. In the rest of Britain buses tend to get most passengers getting on towards the city or town centre and alighting at just a couple of stops. The reverse is true in the outbound direction where most passengers board in the centre and they alight in ones and twos as the bus travels towards it's destination. A single door bus works well in the rest of Britain because of the one direction flow of passengers. In London with people criss-crossing the city, the need for a multi door bus is obvious.

As ever the only fly in the ointment, is the worry of lost revenue from passengers sneaking on for a free ride. And there are a lot of "them" in London remember!
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