The Thick of It

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Are bendy buses really London's biggest problem?

If you only read Andrew Gilligan's column in the London Evening Standard you might think so. He quotes an October 2007 Daily Mirror article describing the horrible death of 21 year old Lee Beckwith in East London, after the young man was dragged for "more than a mile" by a number 25 bendy bus, without the driver realising.

Clearly the safety of bendy buses needs to be looked at properly, because nobody wants to see unnecessary harm caused, together with fare evasion on those routes. The fact remains though that Boris Johnson's much fabled new Routemaster doesn't exist. Bendy buses were introduced to high demand routes where double deckers are inaccessible and impractical because boarding takes too long.

I noted with interest a report to Swansea City Council by First Group about introducing bendy buses to the city (they are also used in Nottingham, Leeds and Manchester already, among others). Though conditions there were not thought to be comparible to London, it was noted that accidents involving the buses are "well below expectations when compared to the standard UK First Bus fleet." Worth noting. Perhaps we can learn from this in London? Or listen to it?

The most important transport issues facing London are capacity and affordability. Our network is over crowded, so we need more of it. Simple. Ken Livingstone has already got these projects agreed and underway for London, Crossrail, East London Line extension and has proposed further schemes like the Oxford Street Tram. Johnson has no new ideas of his own, which worries me. If he became Mayor , I doubt he would offer anything new or exciting, only projects he didn't devise or think of.

When offered a choice between two candidates, with the same policies, I'll be voting for the one who actually thought of them in the first place. Not the one who only has one, unworkable idea.

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