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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