Some time ago, Bods wrote about the design winners of the new London Routemasters which in the way that the internet does these things, became a bit of an debate/argument on the “debendification” of some of the transport routes in London.
My comments were in favour of getting rid of them on the basis that London is unsuited to them based on traffic density and road layout.
All well and good, previous experience on the 38 route seemed to support me, getting on and off at Victoria wasn’t a particularly great idea and getting the bus in and out of the Bus Station there wasn’t much fun. It gets worse when it starts winding through the streets north of Oxford Road.
Last week and today, however, I had cause to go to the Chinese Visa Centre, which is on Holborn Viaduct and I had a very different experience. Coming into Waterloo station, I made my way to the 521 Bus Stop via the underpass to be presented with 3 very orderly queues, each lined up with one of the three doors of the bus. For those not familiar with the English queuing, you have to see this to believe it, those studying behavioural characteristics would have a field day. Each queue had about 30 people (rough estimate). Credit for this system it has to be said is probably more to the commuters then TFL, but still. The bus arrived, and in about 2 minutes we were loaded and off, across Waterloo bridge and in the Kingsway underpass (at this point I have to say that the vertical and horizontal movement of the articulated section was tested quite thoroughly!).
This demonstrated that the bendy-bus could work. I still stand by my comments that the environment has to suit the bus, and in this regard there is a bus lane for most of it’s journey with no serious corners (Kingsway underpass notwithstanding). It has also demonstrated that converting to a single decker will cause congestion, unless they follow almost nose to tail…
I still say that using (or not using) the bendy-bus or other will need an integrated planning exercise to make it work properly. Looking along Oxford Street and noting you could walk along the roofs of the buses for example.
If only it could all work like the 521, but then we’d need to train all the non-commuters and tourists 🙂