Our slice of a new piece of London heritage

It seemed such a long shot, a new London double decker with a conductor and a platform you can fall off , seeming to defy the twin political correctnesses of efficiency and health and safety,  like the old days before mobile tin boxes and bendy buses took over.  Just a retro election gimmick from the nostalgia – fixated mind of mayor Boris Johnson. And even more way out, a green bus built in Ballymena.

But now it has actually become reality. In February, Wrightbus’s £55 million contract was confirmed. Today who else but Boris showboated the prototype on a test drive, our very first sight of the moving real thing. In the interests of health and safety, the bus’s design may not be quite as elegant as its 1950s predecessor you can still ride on the No 9 heritage route. But distinctive it is and will surely become part of London’s signature the world over. Even the Guardian gives a cheer.

Provincial it may be but it’s  heartwarming to know there’s another piece of Ulster on the streets of the metropolis, skirting those kerbstones quarried in the Mournes. The last stanza of a favourite  poem takes on a new meaning:

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core”

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  • lamhdearg

    in red i hope. how many comments before wrightbus gets the cold house for caths slur, 3, 4, ?

  • Longridgeofthecow

    Real jobs, actually manufacturing things? I thought our “knowledge” economy had evolved beyond getting our hands dirty these days. I thought that was what China/Mexico was for!
    Great news for the employees, management and the wider economy.

  • Drumlins Rock

    Drumbo, come to South Tyrone, the Civil Service have skipped over us so far, so most employment is still manufacturing, food processing obviously, but also engineering is massive, some estimates say 80% of quarry equipment in the WORLD is made here.

  • The last time the good people of London made an investment of this size in Ulster they got 2,000+ km² of rolling Derry countryside for their money. Much good it did them.

    This time we get a trio of buses.

    Now, back in 2009 Blasted Boris promised that
    the cost of that development of that new bus will be borne by the industry
    and
    If you look at the current cost of a bus, £250,000, roughly speaking, buys you a new bendy bus. We think that we can get a wonderful new bus for London which will be considerably cleaner, greener, lighter and exactly what this city needs for much less than that…

    Very little of the technology in this behemoth is new. It’s effectively a big bugger of a self-powered electric cart. Even that iconic (and very expensive, and rather ugly, and inconvenient — ever worked out why the backs of buses are square?) rear window is beyond UK technology. We’re paying the Italians for that.

    Which raises the question: why pay a designer/architect to sketch out a bus? Wouldn’t an engineer be better?

    The rear platform means a second member of staff is required. That is why most of the time the rear platform will be closed and locked. Remind me why one-man operation was so desirable and cost-efficient.

    It carries far fewer passengers than a bendy, but is hardly more street-friendly: the trade-off of passenger-numbers versus pollution is not yet published. It is not disabled-friendly. Notice how Blasted Boris’s rhetoric now features a Boris-boggler in Oxford Street. Now what Oxford Street really, really needs is something built on these proportions. The rest of London needs a far wider mix of vehicles (many of which already come from the Wrightbus stable).

    Most of Boris’s previous traffic initiatives have been polluting (Western extension?). This at a time when London consistently breaks EU pollution regulations.

    So, by Thursday 3 May 2012 I confidently predict Blasted Boris will be touring the outer green suburbs in his Big Red battle bus. That’s what it’s all about. Perhaps by that stage TfL might have sorted out the glitches in the (highly costly) Borisbike scheme (the ongoing cock-up of the tube system is a truly hopeless case). Meanwhile Blasted Boris will still be pork-pieing about crime and policing figures.

    And the miracle is he gets away with it.

  • Brian Walker

    Gosh Malcolm, your erudition continues to amaze me. You even know about buses, or are a lightening fast researcher, even by Google Age standards. You may be right about Boris’ motives ( as you see I’m not unaware myself). But then.. maybe he’s on to a winner?

  • Reader

    Brian Walker: You even know about buses, or are a lightening fast researcher, even by Google Age standards.
    If Boris is for it, Malcolm is agin’ it.

  • If Boris is for it, that’s surely a good enough reason for any sane soul to be agin it. Else what’s a bit of adultery, lying, bigotry, racism, ignorance, indolence, misrepresenting, conniving between consenting adults?

    Those of us who live in and with London have had this Boris bus coming at us for the last three years. Tom at boriswatch.co.uk provides all the info you need to damn and double-damn the whole Borismaster saga. He made an unanswerable point when he noted there is an existing, well-proven, and most suitable “new bus for London”.

    Indeed, it’s already the new bus that operates the 43 service at the top of my road. It’s also already the “new bus for much of Manchester”. It was good enough to be carted all the way to Beijing to feature in the closing ceremony. It’s the Alexander Dennis Enviro400. Get it in the spiral staircase configuration: that single seat on the straight-staircase version is very much a personal choice.

    No: I’m only part-anorak. However, thanks to an OAP Freedom Pass (© Greater London Council, 1984: and guess who?) I happily use London public transport on a daily basis. That’s the limit of my expertise.