Boris Johnson’s much touted new bus launched in London on Monday, and I managed to take a trip on it. It wasn’t easy: the bus left Victoria two hours late after breaking down twice and being slipstreamed by a Routemaster filled with anti-Boris protesters, but the public cared not a jot. Read my piece for Time Out here.
The bus is a classic example of how far bluster and bullshit can carry you, if the public are even half-interested in your vision. This is not a Routemaster, it carries fewer passengers than the bus it is replacing, has cost a fortune to develop, it doesn’t stop fare dodgers, the back platform closes in the evenings and the conductors aren’t allowed to take fares – but it’s still, in my view, a guaranteed vote winner because people like the look of it and aren’t going to look at the downsides too deeply. And maybe they are right, because when all is said and done, a fleet of these on London streets in a few years won’t look too shabby, and all the complaints – accurate as they may be – will look like so much narrow-minded nitpicking.
You forgot to mention the fact that those ‘back platforms’ that Londoners are apparently so obsessed with also mean that in cold weather most of the bus is bloody freezing and, in wet weather, wet. Why is this supposed to be a good idea? I can’t recall seeing them anywhere else, and certainly not anywhere else with London’s climate.
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I have tried the new bus and was not that impressed for the following reasons:
1 The upper deck was not proportion with the lower deck.
2. No opening windows.
3. Not enough destination blind information.
4. The bus needed to be short with removal of the centre stairs.
5. It had a horrible offside view which showed the window for 4 above.
The front was not in proportion as the top deck windows were to shallow.
In all, better breaking, a bus pilot, an off and off platform, good rear staircase, nice rear elevation. But an election gamble, two expensive at a million pounds for two buses. Software problems. It just gets worst. The bus would have looked better if a single decked.