09/12/2011

London bids farewell to the bendybus as final route is converted

Love them or hate them, the last of London's articulated bendybuses will serve the streets of London for the last time tonight as the final bendybus operated route, the 207 between White City and Hayes By Pass, is converted back to double deck operation.

207 bendybus

The media has widely covered the withdrawal, below are links to some of the main articles about the various aspects of this withdrawal...

BBC News: Bendybus makes final journey for TfL includes BBC London TV report video.

Telegraph: Bye bye bendies as Boris's new Routemaster makes first appearance.

Evening Standard: Boris has ear bent over end of the bendybus.

... and a rather interesting take by The Guardian Homelessness: end of the line for the bendy-bus rough sleepers

It is interesting to see that the media and indeed the general public have mixed views on the situation, some are pleased to see them go whilst some are sad to see them go, on the one hand they are fantastic people movers and provide much needed extra capacity and on the other hand they are magnets for fare dodgers and are feared by other road users, especially cyclists.

Whether you liked them or not they have (and always will be) a part of transport history in London and it will be interesting to see how the 500 double deckers which replaced 350 bendybuses cope in the long term, it does indeed seem that some routes are already struggling - especially on routes where frequencies have been increased which has lead to a significant amount of bunching with two, three or even four buses noted one behind the other and although more seats are now available in reality there is much less capacity as standing room is vastly reduced meaning more people are having to let full buses go past whilst they wait for another less full one.

TfL say that after the bendybus withdrawal is complete their takings are expected to increase by £7.4 million as people will now have to pass the driver to touch in meaning less people are likely to fare dodge.

Either way I think it is a shame and a mistake to withdraw bendybuses from all twelve routes, I think they could have stayed on some, in particular the 507 & 521 to which they were very well suited... I for one (as a fan of Mercedes Benz Citaro G articulated buses) will miss them, although I will still be able to experience them in other areas of the UK including up the road in Norwich with Konectbus' eight examples and in Brighton with B&H's fourteen recently aquired examples, but for Londoners they will never again see articulated bendybuses on a Transport For London contracted service.