Monday, 21 November 2011

Bus passenger numbers cut in W12

The 207 bus will disapppear from our streets on Dec 10th 2011 and with it will go hundreds of passenger spaces every hour. And this is at a time when bus usage is at its highest for 50 years. The reduction in capacity comes after our illustrious Mayor has increased the single Oyster bus fare from 90p to £1.30, with a "welcome to 2012" increase to £1.40 planned too. We're all in this together, it seems.

And the cost to us as taxpayers for getting a non bendy 207? £2.2 million. Yes, that's right - over two million pounds. Here's what TfL admitted through gritted teeth on this press release put out after probing from members of the GLA: "A one off cost of £2.2m will be incurred this year in respect of routes 29 and 207, where the conversions are happening in advance of the operating contracts being retendered."

I totally understand the need to get rid of bendy buses when they clog up narrow streets and major traffic junctions all the time, I've sat behind enough of them watching the lights change and then change again as they inch forward. But is a one-size-fits-all approach really the right thing to do for everywhere?

I've never had that problem either as a passenger or a driver in and around the Bush, largely because the Uxbridge Road is basically long and straight all the way from W12 to Uxbridge and beyond. The only incident I've ever seen on the bus was this ridiculous fare dodger excercise I witnessed back in 2009 and the cost of changing them, so that Boris can say he's delivered on a pledge before next year's election is at least partly responsible for the fare hikes.

Caroline Pidgeon, Leader of the LibDems on the Greater London Authority has this to say:
“If the Mayor wants to quickly get rid of every bendy bus route in London that is one thing. However he has no right to reduce bus capacity and increase overcrowding on these key bus routes. 

“Under Boris Johnson we have already seen the cost of a single Oyster bus fare increase from 90 pence to £1.30, and in January it will go up to £1.40.

“To increase bus fares by 55% over four years and to also increase overcrowding for bus users is a double whammy. Bus users are getting a rotten deal under Boris Johnson". 
While Ken's campaign have released this video making the case for what the Labour candidate calls his "fare deal" - geddit?

Not to be out-done, however, Boris' team have hit back with their own blockbuster which you can have a watch of here:

The bus frequency will be slightly increased due to this change with the figures provided by TfL below, but remember these buses have less capacity inside - so less seats and fewer people able to stand:


  1. No wonder it's being cancelled: so few people ever pay their fare on this bus.

    Your example is nothing unusual - every time I catch this bus, those who legitimately pay their fare are in the minority!

    On the one hand I'm sickened that the bus is going; on the other,I'm thrilled that the selfish have finally been taught a lesson.

  2. quite an expensive lesson at £2.2 million

  3. The 207 does seem to have been an experiment in offering a free bus service. No wonder it's always busy.

    All good things come to an end!

  4. Anonymous #1:
    You anecdote is not data. If we're going to rely on reasoning that has no basis in science: In the hundreds/thousands of times I've taken the bus, which, until my recent move, connected my house to my work, it was the fare dodgers who appeared to be in the minority. Heck, you can even hear the beeps when everybody gets on, and that's just from the Oyster pay as you go users.

    It stands to reason that it's probably easier to not pay the fare on a bendy bus than a double decker where you have to walk past the driver, but that doesn't necessarily mean the criminals are in the majority, and also mustn't be used as justification for massively reducing the already stretched public transport capacity in Shepherd's Bush, Ealing, and Southall.

  5. A retrograde step for wheelchair, buggy users and the elderly as well. An act of vanity by Boris along with his expensive faux Routemaster. The 207 route is ideal for bendy buses..... Iain Muir

  6. I remember Ken Livingston with a prat from TFL saying they needed bendy buses to replace Routemasters for one reason, that people don't pay their fares on Routemasters.

    To think what that prattling idiot has cost us.

  7. £2.2m is a drop in the ocean to what TFL would have collected in fares from the far dodgers.

    These buses are packed for good reason, you don't need to pay. It's picked up a lot lately, hence why you see so many people being caught by ticket officers lately. In fact they bring along a lot of police with them these days as they have difficulty getting them all.

    I have used the 207 for so many years and can admit to ducking out a couple times on my fares, but I was not alone. Older kids who were not eligible for free travel were milking this too. The 607 and 260 buses were empty in comparison despite so many people going in the same direction!

  8. Will that be the 207 bus that is always choc full of passengers? I think we might see some bus stop congestion at Westfield when the Boris Vanity Bus is introduced!

  9. This is going to be a complete nightmare. I rely upon the 207 for so many of my journeys, many of which we make with a pram. A bog-standard double-decker gives space for two prams; three if the seats are behind a screen.

    The bendy buses? Between four and six, depending upon the size of the prams. And it's no surprise that heading to and from Shepherd's Bush (in particular, Westfield) they're almost always at near-full capacity as far as prams are concerned, let alone passengers!

  10. Oh God. They aren't even replacing them with anything particularly nice. They're going to be Scania's OmniCity buses... the same that Transdev brought onto the 49 a couple of years ago. The seats are very uncomfortable and they really do feel like "budget buses".

  11. Bendy bus routes across London have been phased out by Boris Johnson (Chair of Transport for London) since 2009.

    Yet TfL's own figures show that bus evasion actually increased in 2010. Something to think about?

    Fare evasion on buses (over many years) is certainly an issue and must be tackled - but please don't claim it just relates to bendy buses, as the evidence suggest it clearly is not the case.

    The key issue about bus services for most bus users in London is that of capacity.

    Are we making sure more people can travel easily by bus every day? Are we for example ensuring more mums and dads with prams, or wheelchair users can actually get on buses? - and if they do, don't face horrendous problems with overcrowding?

    Are we ensuring older people and indeed everyone else has more chance of just getting a seat when they get on a bus?

    Are we taking overcrowding on buses as seriously as we are on the tube or rail? (or do some people think bus users don't matter?)

    Boris Johnson can change bus routes if he wants - but he has no right to make our buses more crowded.

    Bus ridership is increasing across London (and is at a 50 year peak), yet Boris Johnson is cutting bus capacity for the next few years. This is a fact.

    A really ambitious Mayor for London would tackle fare evaison AND ensure that our buses were not more crowded.

    Boris Johnson has not deliverd on tackling fare evasion - but he is making our buses more crowded.


  12. So Bold Boris is massively increasing bus fares whilst simultaneously slashing bus capacity. Now I may not be a TfL expert, but I can see a flaw in this plan.

  13. Just a reminder here: the reason the bendy buses are being phased out isn't to stop fare evaders... it's because of complaints from other road users (mainly cyclists) about their safety around these buses.

    Although, statistics do show that bendy buses are actually no more dangerous than the rest of London's buses. Maybe it's the drivers they need to replace, rather than the buses!

  14. Ah! The jokes continue! Look at the routes 527 and 521, and compare what has happened there to the reasons behind axing the bendy buses.

    1) Length/dangers to other road users.

    The bendy buses are 18m and articulated in the middle. The new single-deckers are 12m long - the longest single decker buses in London. How is a 12m rigid bus easier to maneuver than a slightly longer bendy one?

    2) Seating capacity.

    The bendy buses have 44 or 49 seats. The new buses on these two routes have just 22 seats, with room for over 70 standing.

    3) Fare-dodging.

    The old bendy buses allowed people to get on at the middle doors and touch in away from the prying eyes of the driver. And guess what... the same centre-entrance system is in place on the new buses!

  15. Let's face it, people loved the Routemaster because it was a brilliantly designed piece of British culture that worked well for decades. They hate the bendy-bus because it was imposed against everyone's common-sense wishes by a humourless dictator who cannot not see the irony that they're built by Germans.

    @anonymous: "Bus ridership".
    Love it! Can you get a degree in it?

  16. So why aren't we having the newly unveiled Routemaster? - I thought that was the whole point. Boris was showing it off the other day. Manufacturing and engineering could have a boost if UK made loads (although the tax payer would probably have to subsidise it). We could export them and everything, especially after the Limpicks!
    The first new Routemaster to appear in London in December (as long as it fits on the ferry from Ireland, to be sure!!) Why aren't we making them in Dagenham??

  17. Good points all, Mr or Mrs Anonymous above.

    Not a fan of Boris but have to admit he seems to have done what Ken & everyone else said was absolutely impossible, i.e. get a new Routemaster built.

    Eat your heart out Ken & cronies, you're going to really hurt when they start rolling off the production line.

  18. Yes, Derek. We will get hurt when they roll off the production line... to the tune of £2.27million per bus!

    (For which price they can apparently replace all of the 207 bendy buses with bog-standard double deckers!)

  19. Meeow... I see it's hurting already mate. I'm looking on the bright side & hoping for a profit after a couple of years. Not that I'm a capitalist or anything. It's just when I'm stuck behind a bloody bus I want a lovely bespoke job that cost millions to curse at not some crappy off the peg piece of junk. Let's have classy snarl-ups in London please, ones the tourists can get excited about.

  20. I'm sure they can subsidise by selling the rights to the "toy routemaster" to Mattel, for sale in Harrods for all the tourists. Maybe sell the film rights to Disney - "The Routemeister rides again" - see? they have virtually paid for themselves already!

  21. Hmm. Derek clearly doesn't see the tragedy in a Mayor spending over £12million on five buses whilst removing £30million of reserves from the fire brigade (who at the same time have to reduce spending by £11.7million) to make up a shortfall in the police budget.

  22. Lawrence - I'm not that complicated mate. No offence, you don't get my sense of irony that's all.

    I've got a feeling there will be more than five buses unless dear old Ken gets in & scraps them.

  23. Even if there are more than five buses, the cost of producing them will still be significantly higher than producing any other double decker...