The 207, A Bendy Bus 26


Yesterday, as I often do, I took the 207 bus from Ealing Common to Shepherds Bush. Coming back again, I decided to make a survey of something I had noted many times.

Of those who could not have been too old or too young to pay, only 17 of the 42 people I managed to watch touched in an Oyster card on the bus. Now the remaining 25 could have had pre-bought paper tickets or travelcards, but I very much doubt that many of them did. I never see any significant percentage of passengers at a stop use one of those machines.

I hate Bendy Buses. They are a disaster in terms of road safety. Not only have they maimed or murdered hundreds of cyclists, but on numerous occasions when I have tried to cross on a little green man I have had to negotiate my way past thirty metres of bendy bus parked right across it.

On top of that there is evidently a widespread perception that it is OK to ride them without paying. I should say that I have never seen one of London Transport’s claimed random ticket inspections.

I do not approve of fare-dodging. Public goods need to be financed. And these completely inappropriate monstrosities need to be off our roads sooner rather than later.


26 thoughts on “The 207, A Bendy Bus

  • Johan van Rooyen

    Grumpy old man!

    I’ll remind you that when Cheri Blair got caught without a ticket at Waterloo I think it was, the inspector who had the temerity to issue her with a £10 fine was promptly sacked. Also the copper who arrested one of the Blair kids drunk and asleep in Leicester Square was “discovered” to have cocaine on him two weeks later and lost his job. I’m going on memory so some of the detail might be jumbled but these two episodes may well have served as a precautionary tale to other enforcers.

  • craig

    Tony

    I don’t believe that statistic. I know a cyclist who has been hospitalised by a bend bus, which is quite a coincidence if there are only four of them. Anyone want to get googling?

  • craig

    This report squares closer with actual experience:

    Bendy buses were involved in 1,751 accidents over the year – 75 per cent more than other buses, the figures reveal.

    This is an average of nearly five a day, and more than five accidents a year for every bus in the fleet. The vehicles caused 170 per cent more collisions with cyclists – nearly three times as many as conventional buses.

    http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/news/article-23399737-details/Bendy%20buses%20-%20the%20fatal%20facts/article.do

  • lwtc247

    “There have been no cyclists killed by bendy buses. Four cyclists have been injured by them.” – I wondered what happened to Lard Hutton.

  • eddie

    Bring back the Routemaster – create jobs and collect more fares! Stuff health and safety. Riding the Routemaster was one of the most exciting things you could do with your trousers on in London.

  • Rob F

    As Spiggle points out, touching in on a bendy bus is not required if you’re using any form of travelcard – as used by the vast majority of commuters, unsurprisingly.

    I use bendy buses several times a week and I don’t think I’ve ever touched in, simply because I have a monthly travelcard so I don’t need to.

    Your post is a perfect illustration, however, of the problem these buses really face – one of public perception. People see others not touching in, and assume fare-dodging; people see the size of the bus and assume that they’re dangerous, even though the official figures don’t bear that out. (Consider that each bendy bus would need to be replaced with two single-deckers on most routes when looking at those safety figures – is a bendy safer than two single-deckers? Absolutely.)

  • Rob F

    As Spiggle points out, touching in on a bendy bus is not required if you’re using any form of travelcard – as used by the vast majority of commuters, unsurprisingly.

    I use bendy buses several times a week and I don’t think I’ve ever touched in, simply because I have a monthly travelcard so I don’t need to.

    Your post is a perfect illustration, however, of the problem these buses really face – one of public perception. People see others not touching in, and assume fare-dodging; people see the size of the bus and assume that they’re dangerous, even though the official figures don’t bear that out. (Consider that each bendy bus would need to be replaced with two single-deckers on most routes when looking at those safety figures – is a bendy safer than two single-deckers? Absolutely.)

  • lwtc247

    Routemasters are cool! They are one of the symbols of London.

    Remember how they ‘blew one up’ at the olymics hand over in 2008? It went down perfectly. Legend has it, they got some practice in a number of years earlier.

  • John A

    My perceptions have been very different to this: I’ve seen quite a few random ticket investigations. However, there is a level at which they become uneconomic. As taking the Routemaster out of service suggested, having someone on every bus employed full time to check fares is too expensive.

    Compare to tax returns. The chance that they’ll decide to look at you or your company’s tax return in a given year is miniscule. But the cost of checking is enormous. So the government only checks enough to have enough convictions enough to deter others from fraud the next year.

  • craig

    Boris Johnson is right sometimes – on bendy buses, and on asylum for illegal immigrants.

    I don’t entirely buy the season ticket argument. You don’t get a lot of commuters on the 14.20 207 from Shepherds Bush to Acton.

  • David McKelvie

    I travel the 207 just like Craig. I would agree that the average traveller is not a commuter – obviously there are some heading for SheBu and the tubes, but most would come under a category of “other”.

  • eddie

    But Routemasters also go faster because they get passengers on and off quicker – a lot of the congestion in London is caused by driver-only buses holding up traffic at stops. SO although you pay for two people there are economic externalities that make sense. A good driver and conductor working as a team is/was a joy to behold. One of Livingstone’s worst decisions was to get rid of the Routemaster – there was nothing socialist about it. If Boris brings them back it will be brilliant.

  • Strategist

    Routemasters have faster boarding than Driver Only normal buses (single or double decker). But bendies have faster boarding than Routemasters.

    So sorry I’m not with you on this one, Craig.

    Getting on buses with a baby buggy has transformed my view of the relative merits of Routemaster/driver only double decker/bendy. Bendy by far the best.

  • Stuart

    You do have an obligation to touch in if you have a prepaid travel card and you can and will be fined if you fail to do this and a cyclist was squashed against the railings at Hyde Park Corner killing them only last year which is one of a few I can remember. I have participated on revenue operations on these buses and depending on the route and the time of day you can find numerous fare evaders far higher than on the traditional buses but what the hell Ken is doing it!

  • Simon Baddeley

    As a cyclist I dislike them. As an aesthete I detest them. As an economist I doubt they give the benefit claimed – especially as ‘top deck’ and ‘conductor-driver teamwork’ are things bean-counters can’t factor into comparisons with double deckers. It will be v difficult to be rid of these elongated street monsters, but I doubt they’ll be regretted if Boris follows through on his election promise.

  • Tony

    I’m a frequent London cyclist and bendies don’t bother me any more than other large vehicles do. Cycling organisations are not particularly bothered – they are much more worried about lorries that don’t have proper mirrors. Continental cities that have much higher cycle usage than London also have bendy buses and trams. Anyway do you believe the official statistics are fiddled? A little paranoia is a good thing but don’t overdo it.

    My daughter finds bendies are the only buses that she can rely on getting on to with a pushchair.

    As regards fare-dodging, I’m a “freedom pass” holder and never touch in on bus or underground except to open a barrier.

  • Matthias Meier

    Greetings from Germany,

    i stumbled upon this Article when i was looking for news about the new routmaster busses. I am owner and driver of busses/coaches. Alltough i don

Comments are closed.