Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

The triumph of style over substance

with 4 comments


Photo by Carl Spencer


This photo is of a regular transit bus operating in York, England. I do not know why it was painted like this but I am prepared to speculate. It was someone in the marketing department who thought that this bus (which is designed to look as much as possible like the latest generation of rapid transit rail vehicles) needed to be made even more “cool” to appeal to the target ‘yoof’ demographic. The sort of people who like graffiti, who think that “the bus sucks”. I can hear now the presentation made by the designer to the marketing committee, banging on about how this will increase ridership by upgrading the image of the service.

Note that the bus is running in mixed traffic. What transit needs is more transit priority. The best image improvement I can think of is that the drivers stuck in the traffic jam see the fast frequent bus service swishing by them, as they drum their fingers on the steering wheel in frustration.

If there is money to be spent on tarting up buses, don’t waste it painting the outside in fancy schemes. Make the inside better. Cleaner, more comfortable. More and better seats, that have no rips or tears – and definitely no duct tape (which seems to be all that holds the CMBC bus seats together). Safe stowage for impedimenta of all kinds. Lights that come on when it gets dark outside. Windows that are so clean you can actually see where you are at all times. Air Conditioning so the windows do not steam up when it rains. That kind of basic amenity.

Written by Stephen Rees

August 26, 2007 at 9:53 am

Posted in transit, Transportation

4 Responses

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  1. I prefer the various ad-wraps we have here in Metro Vancouver. Every time I see one, I see extra revenue for TransLink.


    August 26, 2007 at 11:14 am

  2. At least Translink no longer allows wraps on the windows or on the front of the bus. But I also happen to think that the vehicle identity is a potent message about the system. Think of how the red London double decker has become a symbol of the city. Wrapped buses tell the masses “We are broke and are anybody’s for a dollar”.

    Sadly, Translink has never understood the value of a consistent corporate identity and has made a mess of it. There are now at least a dozen different official vehicle liveries in use (ex BC Transit red, two versions of B line, three versions of Translink bus – original blue/white/yellow, new grey/black/blue, yellow “express bus) Skytrain (two versions), WCE, HandyDART, plain white) not forgetting West Vancouver “Blue Bus” plus the various “experimental” buses. We will have three different schemes for rapid transit stations – Expo, Millennium and Canada Line.

    Stephen Rees

    August 26, 2007 at 11:35 am

  3. Thank you Stephen for using my image in this rather colourful blog.
    I value your views on any mode of transport and I found myself enjoying your views on this transport very much indeed. The FTR is indeed a beautiful mode of transport and this FTR has a special paintjob .. which I find very Ugly.
    Since the FTR has been in service` there has been no end of problems and complaints about Ye Big Bendy bus .. or ” Purple People Eater ” as all the other drivers has named it. The FTR are very costly to buy and not many people use them really .. but they soon fill up on a rainy day, I think that any idea that get`s a few more cars off the local roads is a great idea.
    I believe that only buses and Taxi services should be allowed in any Major Town or City, and I believe we should deliver more things using the Rail networks and get more trucks off our roads too.


    August 26, 2007 at 12:42 pm

  4. A very apt. title, sadly. I can’t help that the FTR is trying to deliver one thing for thr price of another- that is: deliver an LRT service at the price of a bus. I know there are some points where it has seperate lanes, but I’m not aware how much. What I don’t understand is if it’s a tram-clone then why not go the whole hog and have a central driving position, ticket machines to allow faster boarding, and doors on both sides which open (at driver’s discression) onto a raised “Platform” for wheelchair users- on seperate lanes this would surely be no problem. To put the cream on the cake, make a electric powered version. But I expect that politicians need the money for their giant ferris wheel, or stadium or theme park, (with adequate parking for rich people with cars) which obviously take precedence over busses or other things to make cities more livable.

    Andy in Germany

    August 26, 2007 at 11:34 pm

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