The End Of The Bendy Bus Is Nigh

Dean Nicholas
By Dean Nicholas Last edited 77 months ago
The End Of The Bendy Bus Is Nigh

Over the weekend, the number 12 bus, which plies between Dulwich and Oxford Circus, became the latest route to be un-bendyfied. The articulated vehicles were replaced yesterday by a fleet of new hybrid double-decker vehicles.

As of 7th November 2011, there are only three routes on which to ride the bendy bus. But they won't be around for much longer; they'll be scrubbed from the streets by the year's end, months ahead of the mayoral election at which Boris Johnson will be able to trot out his bus policy as a kept promise.

Here's your cut-out-and-keep guide to the beginning of the end of the bendy bus (legal note: Londonist is not responsible for any damage resulting from attempt to cut monitor with scissors)

Route 436: 19th November

Route 29: 26th November

Route 207: 9th December

The demise of the Routemaster in 2005 saw hordes of people lining the streets to bid the much-loved vehicle goodbye, and inspired a whole book on the subject. We suspect the same won't happen to the bendy bus.

Meanwhile, the New Bus for London, Boris' pet project, is gearing up for deployment on the streets next year. Last week the Mayor was in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, to drive the first bus off the assembly line; over at the Guardian, Dave Hill has a video of the momentous occasion. The vehicle will be in the capital next month for testing, before it and a further seven prototypes go into service in February.

What happens after that remains uncertain. If TfL and manufacturer Wrightbus can licence the design to other cities, it could help fund the construction of further vehicles and eventually turn a profit. Or, the cost of construction, added to the additional salaries that staffing the bus with a conductor (a requirement whenever the vehicle is operating with the rear platform open) might tarnish it as the vanity project of a frivolous Mayor, a gambit Ken Livingstone may well adopt as he goes after the incumbent for the sharp rise in fares on London transport.

Photo /  watpix

Last Updated 08 November 2011


I was happy to see the back of the bendy 453. I have overheard people calling it the free bus and it was always absolutely rammed as people waited for it rather than a double decker so they could travel for free. My bus is now quieter and my journey is faster.

Alexander van Terheyden

Good Riddins!  These Buses should of been left in Skandinavia as they had no place in London where Fare Dodging is bound to be rife without proper checks.  

Boris was right to bring back the routemasters - just a shame the buses can't be emission free!?! Why not?

Tom (tiredoflondon)

Not sad at all. It's a nightmare getting round them on a bike.


I mourn the loss of the bendy bus because it was genuinely accessible to a wide range of disabled people, more than one wheelchair user could travel on the same bus, and both wheelchair users and buggies could be accommodated.

In addition, all the seating was level access, meaning people like me who have reduced mobility, but no obvious visible impairment didn't have to go up stairs to find a seat, risking falling up or down the stairs.

I know the bendy buses were far from perfect, particularly regarding cyclists being scythed round corners, and were often driven recklessly, but better driver education, and reporting of bad driving would have helped that.

What is replacing the bendy bus is a poor alternative for many disabled people, and the new Routemaster is dreadful, not having room for some people's powerchairs at all.

diamond geezer

9th December is the sixth anniversary of the day Routemasters were withdrawn from regular service.
The chosen date can't be a coincidence, can it?

Liz Almond

I was on one of the double decker 12's yesterday at Piccadilly Circus, and ended up waiting for ages as a large group of people got on without tickets, and the driver refused to move until they left. It seems some passengers might take a while to adjust to paying a fare on a route they're used to travelling for free... Expect teething pains!


On straight(ish) routes like the 149 from London Bridge to Tottenham (up and down the A10), the bendy buses were a huge boon to buggy and wheelchair users without causing big problems (a 149 driver told me none of his passengers wanted see them go). This is a great city if you can get around it easily, less so if not.

Lawrence Weetman

"The demise of the Routemaster in 2005 saw hordes of people lining the streets to bid the much-loved vehicle goodbye, and inspired a whole book on the subject. We suspect the same won’t happen to the bendy bus."

Oh dear. You under-estimate bus spotters!