Johnson ditches London’s bendy buses

Author: By Amol Rajan

London’s Mayor, Boris Johnson, has begun phasing out bendy buses, fulfilling one of his flagship election pledges earlier this year.

Transport for London (TfL) said three routes would stop using bendy buses when the contracts for their use expired in autumn. The contracts for routes 507 and 521, which link Waterloo with Victoria and Waterloo with London Bridge, have been awarded to the company Go Ahead. Instead of a double-length bendy bus, a single-deck bus will operate on the routes.

The contract for route No 38 which runs between Victoria and Clapton Pond in east London will be served by an Arriva double-decker bus. The frequency of buses during peak hours would be increased, TfL said.

Calls for the removal of the bendy bus escalated this summer after a series of accidents, including one in which Lee Beckwith, 21, was killed when he was trapped by a bus door in Essex and dragged for a mile.

TfL figures suggest bendy buses are more likely to be involved in an accident. It is estimated that they cause 5.6 pedestrian injuries per million miles operated, compared with 0.97 per million for all other buses.

Bendy buses, manufactured by Mercedes-Benz, are also involved in 2.62 collisions with cyclists per million miles, compared with 0.97 for other buses, and have 153 accidents per million miles, compared with 87 per million on non-bendy routes. Critics say that because passengers don’t have to board at the front, many avoid paying.

“Many Londoners, particularly cyclists, see the awkward elongated bulk of the bendy bus as unsuitable for the city’s streets,” Mr Johnson said. “I am making sure the buses are removed in the most cost-effective way and today’s new contract marks the beginning of the end for bendy buses in London.”

Bendy buses make up 5 per cent of the London bus fleet but the 350 vehicles are responsible for about 20 per cent of bus-related deaths. They were introduced by the former mayor Ken Livingstone, who decommissioned the Routemasters.

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