Friday, 9 December 2011

Bendy chariots: you’re fired!

I was pleased to read this morning that “bendy buses” will cease to operate in London just after midnight.

A "bendy bus" burns on Park Lane

A favourite of fare-dodgers, these articulated buses were supposedly responsible for some £7.4 million a year in lost fares but were also colossal monstrosities that were both dangerous and inappropriate for the streets of London.

Ken Livingstone's "chariot of fire" struggles to negotiate a corner

Introduced in 2000 by Ken Livingstone, I once saw one of these Mercedes-Benz Citaros buses on fire in Park Lane. This wasn’t the only such incident and with another lighting up in Victoria station, it became apparent that they were riddled with design flaws. Cyclists were often hit by them and in a period when they made up 5% of the London bus fleet, they were involved in 20% of all bus related deaths.

Of the withdrawal, Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, commented:

"We bid a final but not fond farewell to the bendy bus. These bulky and ungainly monstrosities were always more suitable for the wide open vistas of a Scandinavian airport than for London's narrow streets and I am glad to see the back of them.”

A burnt out "bendy bus"

I’d urge Jeremy Clarkson to buy one and attempt a Top Gear spontaneous combustion experiment in the name of good viewing but sadly for the people of Leicester, Merseyside and Malta, London’s defunct firetraps are actually heading their way.

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David Swift said...

What about BoJo's replacements?

Anonymous said...

Ill informed. The one that caught fire at Victoria was set on fire by an arsonist, for a start. The three that did catch fire was down to a design fault which was fixed. I'm far more worried about the huge number of double deckers that go up in flames with no explaination. Proportionally, more deckers catch fire than bendy buses.

That bus is not struggling to get round a corner. It's a tight turn, but one that's done hundreds of times a day.

£7.4million (alledegly) in fare evasion. The cost of replacing the bendy buses early is far, far more.

It's a complete waste of money.

Oh. And not one, not a single one, ever killed a cyclist, despite Boris' claims they killed many a year.

Anonymous said...

"London's 500 bendy buses were last year involved in 1,751 accidents in which 90 pedestrians and cyclists were badly hurt. There have been calls for the vehicles, which carry up to 140 passengers, to be scrapped."

(2006. I am aware of at least one death caused by a bendy-bus, albeit by a pedestrian who was dragged along under the bus for some distance - a particularly horrific way to die by any measure0

BoJo's replacements are even more ridiculous - but the man has done nothing of worth as mayor, so this is unsurprising.

The bendies were well-suited for the 507 and 521 (high density, short, rush-hour routes) and maybe feasible on some of the other earlier routes they were put on (ones along long straight roads) - but they were also put on routes patently unsuited for them, even apart from the crime hotspots the "free buses" on the 29, 73, 38, etc, became.

Steve Luxon said...

If its not broke don't mess with it. Double deckers have run on roads around the country for generations and do the task at hand. Either use double deckers or single buses coaches, but bendy buses what were they thinking of. If you want bendy use trams like the Metro in Manchester and put them on rails SIMPLES!
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