'London Orb' To Relieve Congestion?

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 123 months ago
'London Orb' To Relieve Congestion?

Though Boris Johnson's campaign team may have trouble waking up in the morning, the man himself is not lying down when it comes to outflanking Ken on public transport. His latest initiative is for a network of express buses in south London.

The nattily named "London Orb" would offer an alternative to overcrowded rail services, running express bus services between key locations and interchanges that are tough to traverse by train. BoJo apparently dreamt this scheme up whilst braving a journey from Crayford, Bexley to Charing Cross, presumably without his bike in tow, and saw for himself the daily crunch of bodies rattling along the rails into the capital.

Would it work? The idea sounds good in theory, but where some congested cities have found success with express bus services - Bogota's Transmilenio springs to mind - they've built dedicated lanes for them to travel in. We're surprised that Johnson - whose opposition to the bendy bus rests partly on the traffic ensnarlments such articulated vehicles create - is suggesting the already congested streets of south London would somehow accommodate a service that would probably be "express" in name only.

More to the point, isn't the extension to London Overground a far more workable approach to creating a cross-south London transport solution?

We're starting to think that battling Ken on public transport grounds, where the incumbent is responsible for a vast increase in bus services and securing the Crossrail project, might not be the smartest electoral strategy.

Image of bus gridlock from Nicobobinus' Flickrstream

Last Updated 26 February 2008


Well a random survey of the people who happened to be in my office kitchen this lunchtime thought it was a stonking idea from Boris. Everyone knows the buses stop too often to pick up other people once you've got on yourself. I usually cycle but took the 476 today and it ground to a halt every few yards to collect all sorts of people! This must be stopped.

As for not taking on Ken on his supposed home turf of transport, er, your picture speaks a thousand words - buses bumper to bumper going nowhere fast and you can't even get off between stops and walk cos Ken took the Routemaster away, the scoundrel.

Towards Colombian transport solutions! Go BoJo!


How many in your "random survey" actually live in south London and would potentially use the gridlocked London Orb? It sounds like the kind of scheme that somebody who never takes public transport would dream up... someone like... Boris Johnson!

He does seem to be making a habit of nice-sounding but hopelessly naive ideas, but I suppose we should be glad that they are vaguely entertaining.


6 of my surveyed colleagues live in south London (4 of em in Brixton) and they all said they'd support Boris's Orb. 2 commented on similar express bus services in Europe and the States. Maybe people just know a good idea when they see one, innit.

Not everyone has such a Manichean view of the mayoral contest - Ken's good, Boris is bad, blah blah..

Something's happening out there.... Something blonde and posh...


Blonde and posh? Good lord, it's worse than we thought!

A "Ken Good, Boris Bad" view would be willfully naive. Yet apparently some folk have even posted blogs about such a thing!

Both candidates have limited merits, and I personally find them both odious in certain regards. I'm edging towards Ken but he's got stale and omnipotent in his eight years. If only the Tories could get it together to actually field a serious candidate instead of this chortling chancer then I might have been swayed in that direction.


"express buses"?

Hang on.

I'm just trying to imagine how this might happen. I mean, I know the Oxford Tube works but 'express buses" to and from key London locations seems like a totally pie in the sky impractical idea that would piss off so many people. It's really not likely that express bus lanes would work. On top of normal bus lanes. This is stupidness. Or dreaminess.


"This is stupidness. Or dreaminess"

Boris has a cheerfully slapdash approach to policy. He'll pull out ideas from the unimaginable ether, untrammeled by such petty concerns as logistics or even scientific possibility. It's endearing to watch, like a child expressing itself through finger-painting, though it would quickly become terrifying if he were to actually move into City Hall.


Oh, and I suppose aspirational thinking would be the death of London?

Come off it, we live in one of the most creative hubs in the country, is it too much to expect our mayor to have a little imagination?

If Boris' worst trait is that he sometimes comes up with ideas that are a little avant garde then that pales in comparison to Livingstone's cronyism, nepotism, corruption and abject power-drunkenness, and that's before we get onto the ridiculous smears trotted out by one after another of Livingstone's special interest groups.

Besides, these aren't exactly die-cast policies, they're just ideas, if they get Londoners talking about what could be then so be it!


You're right that Boris' creative thinking is, indeed, just ideas, but it's his absence of any "die-cast policies" that make such flights of fancy as this all the more ridiculous as they're the main thing his candidacy can be judged on.

Livingstone's made a lot of mistakes, and were the Tories offering up a serious contender I might vote for that individual. But Ken is still by far the more credible and capable candidate, and I for one would take the "ridiculous smears" of his regime over a colonial throwback who who cheerfully refers to "grinning picanninies" with "watermelon smiles".


Let me take a breath first...

Boris used a silly old-fashioned remark which (however much his detractors dearly wish it had been) was not said with any malice intended.

Let's talk about Ken's track record on offensive behaviour (real and intended that is, rather than accidental). Of all the mistakes you graciously concede Ken has made, I'll take one at random. How about inviting a virulently mysogynistic, homophobic, anti-democratic apologist for mass murderers to speak at City Hall? Ken's "cheerful" refusal to apologise for fraternising with extremist clerics and supporters of suicide bombing in Israel is all I really need to know about the bloke. His arrogant dismissal of the hurt and dismay this caused to gay and Jewish Londoners will long be remembered by some of us. Interesting how the Left can forgive such disregard for the feelings of some sections of the community and at the same time pounce on perceived insults to another community. I hope Londoners of all backgrounds won't be taken in - as you seem to have been - by this duplicity.

If Boris had appeared on a platform with Nick Griffin and his mad white supremacists and recited Enoch Powell's River of Blood speech in front of a burning cross, you might have something you could compare with the extremism of your "credible and capable candidate".

And your beard needs trimming.