Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Bendy buses - coming to a street near you soon?

It look like the infamous bendy buses - fresh from being scrapped from the streets of London by Tory mayor Boris Johnson - could soon be seen plying their trade here in Brighton.

The Argus has reported that Brighton and Hove Buses is to test one out for the 25 route between Palmeira Square and Sussex University.

I'm delighted - London's loss here could well be Brighton's gain. The bendy buses will put an end to overcrowding whilst enabling services to be run more cheaply on the busy routes - and could lead to fare reductions (though I'm not holding my breath).

By having three entrances instead of just one, they will reduce delays at bus stops and speed up services.

But a readers' poll on The Argus website reckons fewer than half of people would welcome them - and neither the city's Tories nor Labour politicians seem very enthusiastic either.

Personally, I hope the trial is a great success - and one which is able to reduce car dependency and, ultimately, allow bus passengers to enjoy cheaper fares, without making life harder for pedestrians or cyclists.

The bendy buses have got something of a reputation for being dangerous for cyclists - but this is wholly undeserved, as figures released by Green Party London Assembly Member Darren Johnson clearly show.

According to Mr Johnson's figures, which come from the London Assembly's Transport Committee (January 2008), bendy buses on inner-city routes were in involved in, on average, 2.62 collisions with cyclists in 2006/07 - less than the 2.78 accidents with cyclists involving 'non-bendy' buses.

Whatever is eventually decided, strategic transport decisions like this should be made by the council - or perhaps the Government - and shouldn't be made on the basis of how to maximise the profit a private firm enjoys from running buses in the city.

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