please empty your brain below

I complement your (b)log which I read fairly often. The demise of the Routemaster is a sad little series and illustrates the detached way that decisions presumably get made in Excel rather than on the pavement.

Will some of the old buses be stockpiled somewhere, or is there a source for new ones (eg India), when it becomes necessary to devise a rear platform replacement for some of the core routes through Oxford Street and similar?


They're usually sold on to dealers like Ensignbus.

Oh God. All the British things I used to like which we didn't have on the continent are fast disappearing. Wet weather, bad cafe food and high prices remain.

It seems obvious to me that these buses are designed by people who never travel by bus.

No, Oystercardman, that's a very simplistic explanation, I'm afraid. How do you account then for the absurd, unfunctional design of so many new buildings? Do architects not live in buildings or use buildings? The problem with "experts" in general is that they've spent too long at university. They've got too much theory in their heads and are out of touch with the real world. If only "experts" would listen to the people who do the jobs, that is to say to the people who are going to use the devices they design, then we wouldn't have these monsters on wheels or those appalling buildings.

Oystercardman has a valid point...and I doubt that any significant proportion of architects live or work in the buildings they design. Of course, the proof remains undislosed: it would require a massive survey to find the answer.

DG, all your Routemaster posts have been great - and the pictures. Really enjoyed them. But there is a 'but' coming up, and one that I've mentioned before.

Whilst I'm sad to see the Routemasters go, I don't quite hold with all the misty-eyed romanticism about them, because although everyone without a dissenting voice amongst them hates the bendy buses, I don't hear anyone coming up with any other good solution apart from "keep the Routemasters!" Well, on a messageboard I partly host on a certain site run by a certain broadcasting organisation, we've had many disabled people cheering the end of the Routemaster and the introduction of the bendy bus, and elsewhere I've heard many elderly people say the same. The Routemaster tributes tend to bang on impatiently about "progress - pah!" whilst forgetting that although the bendy buses are far from perfect, as you've so eloquently demonstrated, they are intended to make it easier for these groups of people to access public transport - because, let's face it, Routemasters were ideal if you were fairly agile, but otherwise ...

So to yourself and all your dedicated Routemaster fan readers, I say: what would be your solution? Are you seriously suggesting that Routemasters be kept on, despite the fact that they are inaccessible to a major percentage of the population? (I'm not deliberately trying to cause an argument - I'm just genuinely interested!)

I think there are two issues here - the abolition of the Routemaster and the imposition of the fully accessible bendy bus. Let's start with the latter.

It was great yesterday to see parents with pushchairs riding the new bendy 38s into town, something they probably couldn't have done the day before. It should have been great to see several elderly Hackneyfolk making the same journey, but it wasn't. I felt sorry to see them herded into a cattletruck environment with insufficient seating, thoughtlessly designed for the benefit of people who are physically able to stand. I saw no wheelchair-bound disabled passengers queueing to board, but that was probably just as well because there wouldn't have been any space for them to squeeze inside anyway. At busy periods the new bendies really are uncivilised and inhumane (as I was thinking squashed head-to-armpit at the back of a particularly unpleasant articulated nightbus only this morning). What London needs is more buses at peak times, not just bigger buses running a less frequent service.

As for the demise of the Routemaster, that's regrettable and sad for a number of reasons. Firstly the design is a classic, both aesthetically and ergonomically. There is, literally, nothing else like it. Admittedly the dodgy platform and narrow stairs don't suit everyone, but since when did absolutely everything have to be accessible to absolutely everyone? And surely for many disabled passengers, for example the visually impaired, the presence of a helpful cheery bus conductor actually served to make the Routemaster far more accessible than its modern driver-only replacement.

It baffles me why no sensible compromise could be reached whereby the old buses were kept on alongside new accessible vehicles. Sure you might have to wait a bit longer for the next ramp-fitted service, but it seems to me that London's Routemasters are being eradicated several years too early purely so that Ken Livingstone can say "all our buses are fully accessible" by Christmas, tick a box and move on.

And the Routemaster has a history which the new vehicles don't have, and will never share. I find the old RMs far more enjoyable to travel on than their anodyne replacements, and I am not alone. My views have been sacrificed for the perceived needs of others, with no compromise being sought. And for every disabled campaigner who now has greater accessibility, however infrequently they choose to use it, there are scores of commuters who now have curtailed freedom. In rushing to appease the very real inequalities of our society, we've ended up with replacement buses that disabled passengers can choose to get on, but that able-bodied passengers can no longer choose to get off.

Maybe when I'm old and/or unable to clamber up to the top deck to watch London rush by, I'll be glad that the heritage red bus fleet has been replaced by low-rise impersonal people carriers. But at the moment I really believe that tackling the needs of a diverse community is leading to a less diverse world, and that saddens me.

Speaking as a dedicated car driver, those bendy buses are hell to pass ... the olde worlde routemasters were a much more standard length, so easy to nip past when they stopped or at a junction as there was more room and they didnt need to swing out so far. Plus, as an occational bus user in town, the freedom to hop on and off between stops was wonderful. They should introduce some sort of override escape switch so that you can abandon the bus if it gets stuck. I remember what I was a kid an the buses out as far as Chessington were routemasters ... we must have had disabled people in those days but either they made different arrangements or shops delivered more, I dont know. But I am sure all the door to door disabled services will die out and the disabled will actually be in a worse position in the future.

Actually, once again as a habitual car user even in London, I would only switch to public transport if it was free. We pay enough taxes, there would be no need for ticket inspectors, ticket machines etc etc. I remember when Red Ken first got in as leader of the GLC and made all journeys 20p. It would only be a small step to totally free, say on just the buses and underground, that would free up the roads for those who have to drive eg delivery drivers, they could run the routemasters and new buses alongside and I am sure it would save costs in the long run due to not having to employ ticket sales staff, ticket checking staff, ticket selling and checking machines etc etc. But I guess that would be too simple. I would rather my taxes went that way than to pay for other peoples wars at any rate. Something to benefit ME directly.

Alternatives? I can only see one: more buses and more bus lanes. (For 'bus lanes' I mean lanes for the exclusive use of buses).

The bendy buses are stupid for London. They don't fit, and half the people don't pay for their journeys. I've seen with my own eyes having used one of the stupid monstrosities on Harrow Road, people getting in and out of the middle doors, with the driver in a different time zone at the front. Whoever ordered them should be surcharged and the money distributed among the people they're delaying every day.

Hey, thank you for your link to my blog
HACKNEY ROKCS!! ...and the 38 Routemaster did it too...

this is an excellent blog, the pics are great too. having read all the arguements for and against the removal of the 38RM, i still HATE bendy buses. ok, there's the arguement of access for all, but like someone suggested RMs and bendies could run along side each other. there's no need for the total abolishment.

bendy buses, i have to say, are the worst type of transport you can get on. as pointed out it doesnt have enough seats, and the seats that it does have are VERY uncomfortable..sitting by the doors are even worse because the wind blowing in makes its practically freezing, 38RMs were never like that despite its open-back..when d bus is packed, it is literally PACKED, there is no circulation of air at all.

and to end, ken livingstone had said many times in the past of his love of RMs and how he will be keeping them *rolls eyes* ....

DG - hats off you, YET AGAIN

38 Number 38 tributes (including mine - Ta) - posted at 38 minutes past midnight.

You are a genius

It took me a little while work out why there were loads of balding men standing around street corners on Rosebury Avenue in Islington, on Friday Afternoon.

I shouldn't mock, I used to stand in train stations and take photographs of the old slam door trains.

Inspector Sands has it right - bendys have their place, but it's not on every route with sufficient traffic to justify it. From what I've seen of them elsewhere, they wear a little harder than more traditional bus types as well; so I'm not sure of the economics of it. I find it odd that there are a lot of 30' busses and double-deckers, but not so many of the traditional (elsewhere) 40' bus. (I think it's only the fuel cell ones?)

As for the RMs.. I like to see them around, they're a lovely design icon of the city. I really never liked actually *riding* on them, though. Cramped, uncomfortable... The only good thing was being able to get the hell off when you wanted to, but the safety issues there are pretty obviousl

Great 38 obit.
I took that bus up Lea Bridge road from Leyton every morning to school at Clapton Jewish Day School just East of the Lea bridge roundabout.
But, I digress, you say that the bus took 1hr 55min for the journey. i may have missed this but how long would the walk be if you went directly (that is not photographing busses!)

What is wrong with the accesable double deckers? The ones that lower down, have automatic ramps etc?

I'm not entirely against getting rid of all routemasters, its the bendy buses that I have issues with.

Until recently I was working just off Oxford Circus. Just about daily there would be a point I would stand at a crossing for two or three light changes because a bendy bus had stopped right across it (the drivers seem unable to work out when there is enough room for them to pull forward), and as bendy buses are so long, there isn't enough time to walk round it and cross the road before being run over by a bus coming the other direction.

The bus stops on Shepherds Green (west bound) are now bedlam, and thats with only one bus route using bendy buses. They take up two bus stops, and every single evening it turns into bus grid lock, and you can't tell which stop your bus might possibly stop at, as it seems to be a free for all.

Get rid of them! Burn them. Sink them in the Thames. But give us double deckers please, not more bendy buses.

Someone somewhere is proposing turning the number 29 into a bendy bus. The traffic is already so bad in Greens Lanes I can only imagine how bad it will be afterwards.

Oh and if anyone want to jump off, like the old RMs, just open press the little button above the door. Last week the 507 driver wouldn't open the doors for me. I asked if I could open the doors myself. He replied "you can do what you like, but...." was enough for me and the 6 people behind me.

I was riding a bendy 25 through Mile End once when some runty kids decided they wanted to get off before the traffic lights, not after. One of the boys leapt up and pressed the emergency button above the rear door, causing all the doors to open and allowing the whole runty group to run off into the traffic, yelping in delight.

Unfortunately pressing the emergency button also automatically cut out the bus's engine. The driver was forced to get out of his cab, walk out into the road in busy traffic, ignore the horns of the angry motorists trapped behind us, reset the doors, climb back on board, restart the engine and finally drive off.

Bastard runty kids.

Routemasters were excellent for getting on and off whenever you wanted to, they were also a great way to travel when you wanted to savour a bit of nostalgia. But they took a long time to load and unload at busy stops, they could be cold, legroom was minimal on some of the seats, there was the risk of unwary tourists/pissed up locals getting injured in ill-advised boarding and alighting manoeuvres, and of course, they were totally inaccessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs. It was great to have a conductor, but the lack of a 'friendly helping hand' is not limited to bendy buses, it's been the case on many other double deckers for a long time. It's radical, I know, but fellow passengers could always try forgetting they're in London and try lending a hand to those who need it!
I have mixed emotions, I'll admit. I'd love to have kept the Routemasters but I realise that my reasons are largely selfish.

Debster - there was a time I suppose in the 60s when nearly all LT/London Country double deckers were RMs and RTs.

Sorry, I'm a bit late with this. I did want to say:
1) thanks for the link
2) your site is gorgeous. I've enjoyed the 38 bus posts and a few others about bits of London I know well. You must spend hours putting all this together, but it really is fab.
3) hope you don't mind me sticking a link on my sidebar (send me a furious email if you do and I'll take it off again!)


Bendy busses? Pointless waste of time and space.

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