Stephen Rees's blog

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

Can a simple bus be so hated?

with 11 comments


Interesting contrast of attitudes here and there.

This is a “problem” in London, apparently.

bendy bus bending

Here, this isn’t. So far as I am aware anyway. Is this just another manifestation of the popular “not invented here” syndrome? Did Victoria have this problem when they brought in UK built doubledeckers? – or were the locals ok because they had seen them on tourist services there for so long. I bet Translink would hear howls if they brought them in here – far too dangerous for Vancouver – people will fall down the stairs – what about the seniors?

UPDATE April 5, 2008

Marina Hyde, The Guardian

Then again, let us not be too dismissive on the ideas front. Let us not forget the bus obsession. Bendy or Routemaster? Double- or single-decker? For great stretches of this campaign, the two candidates have appeared to be fighting for bus shapes. I defy you to find a pettier way of arguing about London’s future. Even as someone who uses the capital’s buses every day, I fail to see these red craft as the most pressing issue in London politics. Yet to hear Boris talk, you would think this vehicle represented the cradle of all the city’s hopes and fears – while Ken recently announced he was spending £500,000 to send a double-decker bus on a three-month journey to the Beijing Olympics. Here it will embody London (a giant latex Ken presumably being unavailable).

In any sane world someone would invent a bendy Routemaster, so Ken and Boris could bury their differences and run on a self-defeating joint ticket. You can’t help feeling London would proceed quite nicely without them.

Another Update April 9

There is a design for a new Routemaster but it does not bend. It would carry two wheelchairs and still has the open rear platform

RM 1968 Charing Cross 2007_0224

Written by Stephen Rees

March 25, 2008 at 3:21 pm

Posted in transit

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11 Responses

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  1. I guess they wouldn’t like the double-bendy bus, either. 😉


    March 25, 2008 at 3:51 pm

  2. No, but i would rather see them here on exclusive lanes on Broadway than this daft “bored tube” SkyTrain extension.

    Stephen Rees

    March 25, 2008 at 4:02 pm

  3. Those Victoria double deckers are fabulous, and in my opinion much nicer to ride than the articulated buses here in Van. Upstairs has seating like a highway bus, and downstairs is like a normal city bus, so it’s great for short or long distance trips. I haven’t tried the new articulated New Flyers here, but I find their interior layout much nicer than the older buses on the non-articulated models, so maybe the articulated models are nicer as well. (I find the articulated models pictured above quite cramped)

    Using those buses on exclusive right-of-ways? The horror!! Where would the cars go? 😉

    …and what would we do with the extra cash? 🙂


    March 25, 2008 at 9:16 pm

  4. I wonder how many deaths were caused by cars in the time Bendy busses have been in London? We have these in Stuttgart too (well they are Mercedes) and it never occured to me that anyone wouldn’t like them. They are comfortable, easy access, have lots of space… Miles away from the creaky, old, narrow stairs, “Don’t bring that pushchair in here unless it’s folded” double deckers of my childhood.

    Andy in Germany

    March 26, 2008 at 12:15 am

  5. Seems to be a question of what riders are used to; my sense is that riders in many UK cities expect to have a seat for the duration, and that this is more important (for some riders) than quick loading and unloading or more standee space. The artic doesn’t give what they’re used to, and takes away what they are. I’m sure that Vancouver riders wouldn’t appreciate longer dwell times with a double decker (consider what they’d be like on the Main or Victoria), especially for local routes, For more able-bodied passengers, getting a seat for a hop from something like Cambie to Clark (or even Broadway to 41st) might be nice but isn’t all that important if the trip is quick. I’m sure urban myths would spring up, just as they have in London.

    Introducing another vehicle type might cause more consternation among the maintenance staff — and for good reason!

    I wonder how long double-artics on Broadway would provide enough capacity to meet fitire demand, but there are a couple of other issues. First, whether the MoT even allows double-articulated buses; some arm-twisting might be necessary. Closer to the action, Broadway west of Macdonald has been acquiring pedestrian/bus bulges, which would have to be removed to accommodate a busway. (Idealists could try calling for one lane of car traffic on that stretch, but that’s a disagreement akin to that between Bill Rees and Mark Jaccard on carbon taxes.)

    Now for the real question: How can they cram 150 pax on a bendy in London when TransLink’s only carry 120 (and seemingly fewer in practice)?

    Ian King

    March 26, 2008 at 12:23 am

  6. Bill Rees and Mark Jaccard disagreeing on carbon taxes? I am somewhat surprised. Mark advocates not so much a carbon tax as much as a regulatory policy that is compulsory (see my review of his recent talk). Bill is an advocate of basically, changing consumption patterns (given that we’ve already surpassed Earth’s carrying capacity). But knowing them both quite well I am not sure how they disagree.

    Stephen, you are right – I think my name doesn’t show as a link, but I think that’s the result of the fact that when I comment on your blog, I am “logged on” to WordPress. Not sure how to correct that though 😦


    March 26, 2008 at 2:16 am

  7. Raul

    I have inserted your URL into your name in the comment header and put a link to your Jaccard post which Google found but on blogspot (no surprise there I suppose). Maybe you need to update your WordPress profile or something.

    I have the sense that Bill is a bit frustrated that CO2 has taken centre stage, whereas his point is over consumption of all our resources – we need several more planets for everyone to enjoy our lifestyle. So simply coming up with fixes for greenhouse gas emissions will not solve that problem. But I hope that I am not putting words in his mouth.

    Stephen Rees

    March 26, 2008 at 8:06 am

  8. Ian

    I have not used one of the London artics, but I suspect the easy answer is even fewer seats than ours. There is also a longstanding problem with our low floors that people seem reluctant to go into the raised section at the back – I suppose for fear of being trapped an unable to get off at their stop. I tried to get this relieved by replacing forward facing seats with perimeter seating, but I don’t know if that helped a lot.

    At one time in Amsterdam the trams had two standing capacity figures – one summer when people dressed lightly and one winter when they wore heavy overcoats.

    The old CMBC inflexible rule on standardised bus types was more apparent than real – and has been comprehensively broken in recent years with Orions and now Novas They learned with the CNG fleet that just because it said Detroit Diesel on the engine did not mean it had much in common with others from the same maker.

    Stephen Rees

    March 26, 2008 at 8:11 am

  9. Raul: Where Rees and Jaccard disagree is not so much on goals as what changes can be made; Jaccard factors in what’s possible under our political system. This Tyee piece where Jaccard answers some critics captures a that flavour, especially his answer to Rees’s criticism. Jaccard is a bit blunt (especially the line about “eco-dictatorship”) but I agree with his premise.

    Stephen: I would also guess that British formulae for calculating capacity are different from B.C.’s. The artic trolleys have fewer seats, but are still rated at 120 passengers. On the other hand, they may actually be able to carry that number!

    Ian King

    March 27, 2008 at 1:47 am

  10. A note on capacity.

    Capacity of a transit vehicle (bus, LRT, metro) is standard around the world. Normal capacity is all seats filled and standees at 4 per square metre; crush capacity is again all seats filled and standees at 6 per square metre; theoretical capacity, used for motor ratings etc., is again all seats filled and standees at 8 persons per square metre.

    I note that Kevin Falcon used the later for RAV’s capacity calculations (oh yes and where would the luggage go? On the roof?).

    Fewer seats on a bus or tram increases capacity and at one time BC Transit seriously considered taking all seats off Mk.1 SkyTrain cars to dramatically increase capacity instead of buying new cars.

    Malcolm J.

    March 28, 2008 at 1:36 pm

  11. […] has another opinion piece about this bus and the new Mayor of London. I did a short bit on this a while ago but I thought since the Routemaster is now a “design icon” I might have another […]

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