Will London bring back the bendy buses?

Articulated buses may be part of the answer to falling bus usage in London, according to a London Assembly Transport Committee report. The study said that between 2014/15 and 2016/17, the number of passenger journeys made on buses fell by 6% in the city. The primary reason for the fall in usage appears to be the rise in traffic congestion on London’s roads. There has been an increase in ‘excess wait time’ for bus passengers of 20% in the three years to 2015/16. To reverse this trend, one of the suggested measures was to move towards a more efficient network design based on the principles of the feeder/trunk model. Bendy buses might be the best option for these routes, the Assembly suggests, as they provide both higher capacity and faster loading/unloading than standard double-deckers.

The report recommends improving the bus experience to attract new passengers, including the information provided online, at bus stops and onboard, as well as making it easier for people to change transport mode. TfL should also consider introducing wifi on buses. Prioritising new orbital bus routes and express buses could work, it believes; as could reforming the bus service tendering process, tackling congestion to halt the decline in passenger numbers and redistributing bus capacity to outer London (the Assembly believes there are currently too many buses in central London).

Deputy Chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, Caroline Pidgeon MBE AM, 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 much-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.”

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