I was saddened to learn today of the death of Roy Smith, aged 87.
Roy was the first "senior" person at London Transport I ever knew. He was sufficiently forward in his thinking to embrace the benefits the private sector could deliver many years before tendering was invented. Under his term of office we at Obsolete Fleet ran part of the Round London Sightseeing Tour andinvented new pick-up points. We also ran Baker Street to The Zoo in place of supplementary 74s and generally provided buses which the organisation could not do itself.
But Roy's biggest challenge was as the architect of the Reshaping Plan - this delivered widespread single-person operation to London in a bold attempt to shorten routes, speed up boarding, and improve reliability.
Sadly he was let down - mostly by the hardware. The buses were hopelessly unreliable, the fare collection systems failed, and revenue was way below what was expected. In due course the major schemes morphed into simpler conversions to driver-only operation but the main thrust of shorter and simpler routes remained.
For some reason commuters used to standing on the Underground and suburban trains were less happy standing on buses, and illogically people were concerned at only 25-33 seats on a bus even though the average off-peak load on the old double-decker which had ben replaced was rather less than that. (Indeed if they had been carrying 25-33 passengers the economic pressure to single-manning would not have been so strong).
It was ahead of its time - today's two-door Dennis Darts equal the footprint of the Swifts and Merlins but manage to run for several days without disgracing themselves by the side of the road. Instead of unreliable on-bus fare collection we now have mostly off-bus ticketing.
Roy joined the LPTB in 1938 and was a bus traffic man mostly troughout his career, retiring as Development Director (Buses) in 1981. He had been President of the LT Old Comrades Assocation and Chairman of the Fifty Five Society.
I often tell newer staff that this business is "all about the people" not the buses. Roy was one of those people and I am sure history will record that he was very much ahead of his time.
MBS449 shown her on route M1 - representing the short, flat-fare routes being introduced in the suburbs as the plan Reshaping London's Buses was rolled out.