Mayoral Update: Boris Doesn't Have Enough Bus Fare

By M@ Last edited 119 months ago
Mayoral Update: Boris Doesn't Have Enough Bus Fare
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The clearest thing to emerge from the mayoral race this week is that no one can agree about buses. The arguments began last Wednesday when Boris Johnson told Vanessa Feltz that the '21st Century' Routemasters he wants to replace bendy buses with would all have conductors and that these would cost 'eight million quid'. Ken Livingstone went on the show next day to say Boris’s figures were fine except he’d left a nought off the end.

By the time The Blond launched his transport manifesto at The Gymnasium near St Pancras on Monday morning, a full scale row was brewing, and with Johnson again sticking to his £8 million figure at a transport hustings on Tuesday it was time for Londonist to establish the facts.

Deviously disguised as a Guardian reporter, we secured the calculations of both campaign teams, then asked Transport for London to cost the entire Johnson plan. It estimated that if passenger capacity on the present 12 bendy routes was to be maintained using modern double deckers instead, you’d need a lot more of them, extra drivers to drive them and 1,761 conductors. The latter would cost £49 million – more than six times Johnson’s figure – and the whole thing, including paying for new buses, would cost £112 million more than the present bendy arrangement.

Livingstone’s team is still crowing – they made it £110 million. Team Boris, though, was not amused. It pointed out that as it intends to commission a completely new bus design, TfL’s estimates were meaningless and, what’s more, politically motivated. Londonist’s view is that the Tory’s new Routemaster plan is a potential voter-winner, but that he needs to make it look better thought-through if Ken isn’t going to make him look unconvincing.

By Dave Hill.

Read more from Dave over at the Guardian, and on his mayoral blog.

Image from nicasaurusrex's Flickr photostream.

Last Updated 07 March 2008


Is that passenger capacity on bendy buses assuming that they're always full to capacity?


Also assuming everyone's touched in their Oysters, which they haven't.

Interesting to note: according to my quick research, bendy buses actually have roughly the same floor space as double deckers. They're "higher capacity" because they were essentially invented as a dodge of safety regulations which require everyone to be provided a seat on the upper level. So they're more expensive to build, maintain, and fuel, but we can run fewer and cram more standing passengers into the same space.


Not really a dodge of safety regulations, is it? The safety regulations apply to the top deck - because people standing up on the top deck are less safe - and they don't have a top deck. Problem solved.


Boris's 'commissioning of a new bus' is just that. I.e. loads of public money spent on 'feasability and design'. He is nowhere at the production stage of his bus which one understands panders to yesteryears 'hop-on hop-off routemaster'. Come on mate 'Elf'n Safety' are gon a say "Yer avin a laugh!"