Calls for bendy bus return in London

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Articulated Mercedes-Benz Citaros were used on 12 bus routes in London from 2001 to 2011. TOM PAGE

London Assembly Transport Committee report makes several recommendations to improve the capital’s network, and suggests utilising high-capacity articulated buses once again on trunk routes

The London Assembly Transport Committee has released a report on London’s bus network which has called for the return of bendy buses in the network.

The report highlighted that, with over two billion passenger journeys a year, bus usage is around double that of the London Underground, yet it is in decline, with passenger journeys falling by 6% between 2014/15 and 2016/17.

It stated that the primary reason for the fall in usage appears to be the rise in traffic congestion on London’s roads. It said there has been an increase in excess wait time for bus passengers of 20% in the three years to 2015/16.
The report recommended:

  •  Moving towards a more efficient network design based on the principles of the feeder/trunk model. It suggested that articulated buses might be the best option for these routes, as they provide both a higher capacity and faster loading/unloading than standard double-decker vehicles;
  •  Improving the bus experience to attract new passengers, including the information provided online, at bus stops and on-board, and making it easier for people to change. TfL should also consider WiFi on buses;
  •  Prioritising new orbital bus routes and express buses;
  •  Redistributing bus capacity to outer London – the report argued there are currently too many buses in central London;
  •  Reforming the bus service tendering process; and
  •  Tackling congestion to halt the decline in passenger numbers.

Caroline Pidgeon, Deputy Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, said: “As a Committee, we’ve looked in detail at London’s buses in the past year – and what we’ve discovered has highlighted the urgency for change. There’s a huge demand for more buses in Outer London – but at the same time, we need to make bus travel more attractive to passengers. Express buses, orbital routes and WiFi will help to give buses a needed boost.

“Bendy buses are controversial – but in outer London they may be the solution to more capacity on routes that feed stations. They also increase accessibility, with more space for wheelchairs.

“Reducing congestion is only going to be possible if we give drivers more viable public transport alternatives. The Mayor and TfL need to make jumping on a bus a more pleasant passenger experience.”