Bendy buses could return to London as Transport Committee says they boost capacity and speed up journey times

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Bendy buses were in operation from 2001 until 2011 (Source: Getty)

London mayor Sadiq Khan has been urged to consider bringing back the "bendy buses" by London Assembly's Transport Committee.

In a new report assessing how to improve bus usage in the capital out today, the committee said the reintroduction of the buses could cut journey times and provide better disabled access if they were rolled out in London.

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The 60ft-long articulated buses were ditched in 2011 after former mayor Boris Johnson branded them "cumbersome machines" and said they were never suited to London's narrow roads.

But the Transport Committee said today the bendy buses "provided both a higher capacity and faster loading/unloading than standard double decker vehicles".

It thinks they could be suitable for use on newly designed routes and offer passenger benefits including more space and faster journey times.

And to improve the passenger experience, the committee wants TfL to mull the introduction of Wi-Fi on buses.

The bendy bus
  • Officially called articulated buses
  • Ran on 12 routes between 2001-2011
  • Ditched by former mayor Boris Johnson for not being suitable for London
  • Multiple doors and simultaneous boarding arrangements speed up loading time
  • Higher capacity than a Routemaster...
  • ... But more likely to block junctions

While there are over two billion passenger journeys a year on the bus in London, numbers are in decline. Between 2014/15 and 2016/17, the number of passenger journeys made on buses dropped by six per cent, predominantly due to the rise in traffic congestion on the roads.

The capital's bus capacity also needs redistributing to outer London, with the Transport Committee saying there are too many buses currently in central London. Shifting them to outer London where more frequent services and new orbital routes could "increase freedom and choice of travel modes for residents", the report added.

Caroline Pidgeon, deputy chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee said:

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 Wi-Fi 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.

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