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Saturday, 24 December 2011

Happy Christmas

It does seem like a time to set the record straight.

After a tremendous launch of the New Bus for London, the media and some enthusiasts got themselves really excited about the sight of LT1 on the hard shoulder of the M1 last Monday.

Yes it was there - it was on it way to Millbrook for completion of handover testing and pre-delivery preparations.

The truth is that we had already learned from the delivery journey that a non-stop motorway journey can discharge the batteries and force the need for a stop to enable them to recover. And when it is in normal use the engine switches itself off whenever it has enough battery power.

So the precautionary stop on the M1 was no real surprise and it did take a while to discover that it wasn't clever electronic wizardry that caused the engine to stop but lack of fuel. Simple human error which has its roots in the care Arriva took to keep the bus safe whilst in London.

There have been some wonderful wild stories about illegal activity, lack of proper project management, and the driver's exposure to prosecution. Rather more simply it ran out of fuel, we put some more in, and off it went.

For those who chose to capitalise on this - just to say, it took seven years from authorisation of the Routemaster (1947) to prototype (1954). We have done this in less than half that.

It took two more years to get RM1 into service and even then it had numerous problems requiring a gearbox change, attention to subframe cracks, exceptional front brake temperatures and excessive tyre wear - all within the first six months.

We will have LT1 in service in less than two months.....


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Friday, 16 December 2011

LT1

The media pursues Boris Johnson as he takes a short walk
as LT1 pauses on Westminster Bridge for a special photo
Today was the day that LT1, the first passenger-ready prototype New Bus for London, was launched in Trafalgar Square.

LT1 was delivered from Wrights' Ballymena factory on Tuesday. It ventured out for some radio testing earlier this week but at 0630 this morning it was parked, in the dark, outside City Hall. From 0700 LBC's Nick Ferrari broadcast his morning show from it, interviewing a number of key people including the Mayor.

As Nick's show ended at 1000 LBC's team swiftly removed all of the broadcast equipment and handed the bus back. It was promptly manoeuvred so a position where now, in daylight, it could be seen against Tower Bridge.

At this point the Mayor, Boris Johnson, announced he wanted to drive it again (he did so in Ballymena a few weeks ago). So within the precincts of Potters Field he moved it down to Tooley Street. He was keen to take it on the road but was persuaded otherwise.

So he handed it to me and I took it from City Hall, via Tooley Street and Stamford Street to Westminster Bridge. Three of my elite team of Metropolitan Police motorcyclists from the Safer Transport Command based with TfL escorted us.

Here we had arranged a particular photograph with the Houses of Parliament in the background. Photographs done I handed the bus in turn to Commissioner Peter Hendy who took it via Whitehall and onto Trafalgar Square where the main media were waiting.

From then on it was a constant stream of media interviews and demonstrations of the features of the bus.

I had warned people not to read too much into the registration shown at the Ballymena event recently. LT1 has its own "LT61"registration which will grace the further seven prototypes as well.



As those who have seen will know, the bus is built to an exciting modern design but with many acknowledgements to the Routemaster. The maroon interior, Indian Red wheels, Treadmaster flooring and shallow windows all offer a nod to the last bus specifically designed for London.

After that it is bristling with new features - it is basically an electric bus with a small engine to extend its range. (Several times during my journey was the engine off entirely whilst we ran on battery power).

And down to the smallest detail, its bell pushes are wireless so the miles of wiring associated with multiple hand pole buttons are eliminated.

The bus handles beautifully. It has an excellent turning circle, there are no rattles or similar noises, and accelerates and brakes very smoothly. The tight exit from City Hall onto a narrowed-by-roadworks Tooley Street was easily done.

We have already announced that from 20th February the first couple of LTs will enter service on route 38, operated by Arriva. Crew operation with full open boarding will be provided during the day. It will run on a conventional signal person operation basis at other times. The remaining vehicles will progressively join this group and all will be in use by Spring.

We already know from testing that the bus is delivering better fuel efficiency and lower emissions than expected. These new vehicles will make a positive contribution to London's bus fleet and although no fare paying passengers have yet been carried, the hundreds of visitors today at Trafalgar Square were almost completely positive in their reaction.

From inside LT1 The Mayor talks to a huge group
of media all anxious to learn more. 


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Thursday, 1 December 2011

UK Bus Awards

Photo from Mark Howarth of
Western Greyhound.
I know since he posted it on Facebook
he won't mind me using it here!
Yesterday was the UK Bus Awards - its 16th year and I have been to all of them. How it has grown since it was a small event in the City of London to now a full house in the Ballroom of the Hilton Hotel in Park Lane.

For the first time in many years Stephanie Flanders (daughter of one of my personal heroes Michael) and news anchor for BBC's Newsnight was unable to be the compare since it was of course a highly charged political day. Jane Hill, also from BBC News, took her place.

Minister for Transport Norman Baker was able to announce new initiatives for air quality improvements in London with TfL and another £30m Green Bus funding to continue to promote hybrid vehicles.

Former Minister Gillian Merron, now Chairman of Bus Users UK handed out the prizes and I was privileged to announce the winners for London Bus Garage of the Year (First's Lea Interchange) and be part of the Luke Rees-Pulley Award for the Top London Bus driver, Gary Jones from London United at Fulwell.

The UK Bus Awards celebrates success and the achievements of individuals and companies. The judges had some difficult choices to make. As usual Trent Barton were up there with the winners and Roger French of Brighton and Hove was rightly given the award for services to the bus industry.

A great event and by the time we are together again next year, the Olympics will have come and gone!

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Friday, 4 November 2011

New Bus for London

Mayor Boris Johnson drives the first NBfL prototype
bus out of the factory
Today in Ballymena, Co Antrim, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson drove the first finished prototype of the New Bus for London off the production line and showed it off to the assembled media.

Work on this vehicle had been at full speed to achieve completion. The finished article was well worth the effort and everyone commented on the exceptional high quality, attention to detail, and extremely good environmental benefits of this new vehicle.

The Engineering Test vehicle has already amassed several thousand miles at Millbrook Testing Ground. We know its fuel consumption is better than predicted and its emissions rather lower. These results are hugely encouraging.

Detractors accuse the Mayor of a vanity project but in many cases they are the same people who caused TfL and its predecessors to acquire more standard vehicles which when subjected to London conditions cost significant sums of public money in engineering downtime and premature retirement.

The design will always be a matter of taste. What is certain is that the high quality of the build and great attention to detail. What will matter is that the passengers find this vehicle attractive and comfortable, and the operators find it economic to use. So far most people who have seen it are hugely impressed by its looks and ease of use.

So important was today's event that it was attended by many stakeholders including, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, MPs, MLAs, and the national press.

A video clip of the bus emerging from the factory is as http://youtu.be/gk_2jEtaf9U

What next? The bus will be in London during December. There will be a launch marking its arrival here in Central London. After that after further trials, formalities and training, it will enter service with Arriva in the New Year. The other seven prototypes, all in build at Wrights, will join it progressively during the first few months of 2012.

Yes I did get to drive it and as was the case with the Millbrook vehicle earlier this year it has a superb turning circle, is quiet, positive, and a very pleasurable driving experience. As a passenger the moquette seats are more traditional, comfortable and easy to use. The new wireless bell pushes mean we can have more of them and save miles of wiring down every hand pole. Inside the use of maroon and Treadmaster flooring are more than a nod to the Routemaster which, despite the media's insistence, it is not designed to replace!

So not long now until the first vehicle arrives in London, and Londoners see it for the first time for real. I think you will like it!



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Saturday, 29 October 2011

Piccadilly two-way

The return of two way traffic to Piccadilly after over 40 years marks the end of an extraordinary effort by Westminster City Council, Crown Estates and Transport for London to return the 1960s one-way systems to proper streets for people to use.

The dramatic increase in private vehicles in what is now Greater London gave rise to the Road Traffic and Road Improvements Act 1960. Parking Meters and Traffic Wardens were the first manifestation of the new law. It also paved the way for the London Traffic Management Unit whose sole job was to speed up traffic. An interesting predecessor to TfL's current role in smoothing traffic flow.

The newly-formed Greater London Council soon endorsed a series of what were called Traffic Management Schemes. In essence they were a major one-way systems often using parallel residential roads. Aldgate, Tottenham Court Road, Earls Court, Kings Cross, London Bridge and Victoria's schemes all were introduced by the end of 1965. There were similar schemes in the suburbs - Richmond, Hackney, Holloway all followed suit.

Nominally as a week's experiment westbound traffic in Piccadilly was diverted to St James' St and Pall Mall from 15th July 1961 and was introduced permanently (until 23rd October 2011) from 26th November.

Needless to say the improved road capacity driven from the one-way systems and on-street parking restrictions did speed up traffic but that simply encouraged the growth to increase further. Average speeds fell again over time and meanwhile more and more of the multi-lane one-way roads became 'urban motorways' which were damaging to business, pedestrians and took bus services away from their ideal destinations.
Now such schemes are being removed and the flagship West End one is now complete. Earlier this year St James' St and Pall Mall were converted to two-way working and now, in a £14m scheme, Piccadilly itself reopened to all westbound traffic (buses have had their own contra-flow lane since the 1970s).

Now the streets in this part of London look normal again. Wide pavements, no railings, high quality materials and space for people to walk and cycle as well as use the road network.

There is a formal launch on this week with a collection of 1960s vehicles including one rather well-known Routemaster!! Watch this space!

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Sunday, 16 October 2011

Countdown II

On Monday 17th October we launch to the public the full real time information service for bus users. This has been under test for several weeks and the test site address has already spread.

But from Monday it will work from http://www.tfl.gov.uk/buses. Much more usefully smartphone users will be taken directly to the new mobile site which is configured for easy reading on such devices.

The new service provides real time information for all 19,000 bus stops on the network. It's like have Countdown in your hand. You can access it on-line, on your phone, and by text by sending the bus stop code to 87287. The SMS text service costs 12p per call - all the on-line information is free.

Already clever people are developing Applications which provide the information and at least one of them is already in the Top Ten of paid-for Applications. This demonstrates how popular the information will be. I am sure there will be many more.

It is better than a Countdown sign which you can only see at the stop. In future you will be able to stay at home, work, or other venue until it is time to walk to your stop. For some people this will bring added security as they will not be waiting at the bus stop for too long. In other cases I foresee, for example, parents being able to predict the arrival times of their children at stops and being able to meet them off the bus.

And we would never have been able to fit Countdown signs at all the stops. We are adding another signs at 500 locations and renewing the entire network of signs. But the cost of doing so in many areas was prohibitive, yet to some, information where the frequencies are lower is actually more important. At a stroke this overcomes the problem of providing information in such places.

I predict that this development which make a big change to the way in which people plan their journeys and use the bus network. Certainly those who have been trying it out already have already indicated just how valuable it is.


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Saturday, 15 October 2011

East London line phase 2

I am still catching up so here is another story from last weekend.

On Friday 7th October I did a whistlestop tour around various railway developments and amongst them the progress being made to connect the East London Line south of Surrey Quays so it can connect to Clapham Junction and thus create an orbital railway around London.

This link will be ready in Spring 2012 and follows an old railway alignment which closed in 1911 between Rotherhithe and Peckham. It threads its way through an area alongside Millwall Football Club, between businesses and homes to make this 1.5m connection.

Work was proceeding at a great speed and the day I was there was immediately prior to the arrival of the bridge to span Surrey Canal Road which was at that moment on the motorway being escorted to London.

Above therefore is perhaps the last picture of the site prior to the arrival of the bridge which went into place over the weekend.

The East London Line is growing at a remarkable rate. Dating back to 1869 this quiet backwater of the London Underground was to some extent neglected and unloved. It had a thorough refurbishment in the mid 1990s only to have a complete upgrade as part of a bigger and better Overground and opening again in 2011 after a three year upgrade to Network Rail standards. Now connected to the North London Line it provided new links across north east inner London.

With the new section opened next year the missing link will allow further orbital journeys to give relief to hard-pressed main line stations including London Bridge.



The new bridge being lifted into position
......

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Show Time

This is the start of some catch-ups - sorry for so little activity recently.

It is show season with the American Passenger Transportation Association event in New Orleans and Coach & Bus Live at NEC Birmingham both this week and only 12 days before Busworld at Kortrijt.

These events very much demonstrate the temperature of the industry's economy and in the case of the UK Show the first thing obvious to visitors was that on the very long walk from the airport/station apart from the Horse of the Year Show there were absolutely no other events going on at NEC. Mile after mile of empty exhibition areas until you arrive at Hall 17, home of Coach & Bus Live which itself only occupied two-thirds of the available space.
Although there is a UK Show every year they alternate between this rather smaller one and a bigger event in even years. Although Volvo and ADL had their own large stands there were relatively few other major manufacturers - King Long, BMC and some others but generally rather thin.

It is not surprising. Despite the very thin times being experienced by NEC the cost of taking the hall is still expensive and the cost of having a stand and manning it easily runs into six figures. More than one manufacturer expresses the view that for the money they could take their best and/or most promising customers to an idyllic island paradise for a long weekend and have their exclusive attention. In contrast those same customers step off one stand duly fed and watered and go straight to a competitor's.


The bulk of these Shows is increasingly taken up by the supporting manufacturers of components, materials and services and perhaps the most interesting continues to be those promoting the benefits of new technology. Some of the more far-thinking operators were clearly engaged in opportunities for improved efficiency and reduced costs by engaging with them.

I had one commitment myself which was to be part of the presentation in the Show's auditorium for operators to learn about the Olympic Games and how it affects London and the other venues.

This took place in an open seated area in the middle of the Show. With a headset microphone to help beat the background noise of the whole event and people coming and going throughout it felt like I was demonstrating a new foot bath in a department store but it was good to see so many coach operators eager to learn about the business opportunities which the Games will bring, as well as the making sure they were prepared for the changes to the way the road network will operate.

A First Wrights-bodied Volvo was on display demonstrating the quality of external refurbishments being undertaken, and in the moments before opening TfL Roundels were being applied.

A nostalgic line-up of AA road vehicles past and present
was an interesting feature of this year's show






Sunday, 25 September 2011

Thanksgiving Service

A First London VNW in the courtyard of
St Clement Dane's Church in London at the
Public Transport Workers' Service
of Thanksgiving
Events have, in the past week or so, come past so quickly I am afraid I have been slow to post them on my blog.

How to start - last weekend we had the Tour of Britain Cycle Race London stage and time trial taking place in the centre of town. During this week we announced a further initiative on roadworks in London with the Mayor launching it at Palestra, and then today there was the annual Public Transport Workers' Service of Thanksgiving at St Clement Danes' Church in Central London organised by Winston Dottin.
I am going to major on the last one as it represents a powerful occasion in which staff come together to celebrate their multi-cultural past and express their hopes for the future.



It was of course in the early 1950s that London Transport sought people from the West Indies to fill vacancies at operating and engineering grades. Today the Revd David Tudor gave a tremendous sermon in which he charted the conditions which these British passport holders from the West Indies arrived in Britain. They were less surprised by the weather than they were by the reaction of some to their arrival.
Yet they formed the backbone of London's transport operating staff and many achieved very long service over the years.


For my part I told the congregation that in 2012 once again Londoners will rely on its transport workers to deliver and also that they will be supported by the entire extended TfL family.

Next year is full of big events - the Queen's Diamond Jubilee starts the summer off before we get into the Olympic Games and London will be full of people throughout.

Everyone, those people relying on public transport to get to the venues, to work or for recreation, will rely on London's transport staff. Today's event reminded us that London does so every day. They do during bad weather, they did during the civil unrest only a few weeks ago and they will during the whole of 2012.






 ....

Sunday, 11 September 2011

News from the BBC

Passengers tell us that London's bus network is one of the best in the world - frequent, clean, reliable and safe. But, as with most things in life, it isn't perfect.

The BBC's transport expert, Tom Edwards, illustrated this last week with some interesting reflections on the volume and nature of the complaints we receive about buses.

Complaints are really important feedback for us. We use them to identify the root causes of issues and enable us to address them where we can.

But one thing we shouldn't forget is the sheer scale of London's bus network, which is central to keeping the great metropolis of London moving and growing. This helps to put the number of complaints into context.

Buses carry some 6 million passengers a day. Last year, we carried a record 2.25 billion passengers (while, incidentally, the Underground carried a record 1.1 billion passengers).

Every complaint is, of course, important, and many people who are dissatisfied won't complain formally when they experience a poor service. But even taking that into account, 26,000 complaints over a whole year is a tiny proportion of the passengers we carry each day. So, without being complacent, we must be getting quite lot right.

The number of complaints by route also needs some explanation. Our bus routes are not of uniform size. Some are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week every few minutes in busy areas, while others run a couple of times a day on schooldays only. This is why routes like 38 and 73 feature because they are amongst the ones that carry the most passengers.

But as a percentage of passengers carried, the number of complaints is very small. It is where levels of complaint are disproportionately high relative to passenger numbers on the route that we take a particularly sharp interest in them.

We know that for every formal complaint there may be some other dissatisfied customers who didn’t put pen to paper. But we like complaints. Each and every one of them tells us about what went wrong for individuals who used our network. It would cost a fortune to learn this through research, so every single letter, email and phone call is reviewed to see what lessons might be learned.

Where there have been issues regarding staff, we do what we can to identify them and they are followed up. These days, on-board CCTV helps us understand what went on and the behaviour of staff – and passengers – is there for us to see.

I regularly review complaints and take a personal interest in investigations. There is no doubt that some passengers do not get the service to which they are entitled, and in those cases we apologise and, where appropriate, take other steps to put things right.

Many complainants provide good information (date, time, direction, even registration number of bus) so we can quickly get onto it. They are also often written to prevent a repetition in the future rather than to seek compensation. I welcome them because it helps us to take steps to improve our service to customers.

Our services are open to all and occasionally there will be a problem. I’m glad 26,000 people contacted us to tell us what they thought, even if that is a tiny fraction of the passengers we carry every day. In fact, I encourage anyone who has suffered poor service to contact us through the many available channels. It is their chance to make sure we know, and our chance to put it right.


And if that means more people are writing to us – I will be delighted! And, very soon, we will start publishing our complaints statistics across all of TfL's services - buses, Underground etc - so that all of our customers can see how we are doing.


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Sunday, 4 September 2011

Return to Imber

Heeding the severe warning of the sign on the left, the first wave of
Routemasters venture onto the military road

The third annual pilgrimage to liberate the abandoned village of Imber, on Salisbury Plain, evacuated in 1943 and never returned, took place yesterday.

This village, like several others, was commandeered during the war. In this case it provided a training facility for US troops ahead of D-Day. Only a very few or the original inhabitants remain alive. But once a year thanks to the efforts of local people and with the co-operation of the Ministry of Defence, the military road across Salisbury Plain is opened. A service takes place at St Giles' church, and relatives can visit their ancestors buried in the churchyard.

An ever-developing bus network allows people to visit the village and also see the views of abandoned tanks, firing ranges and of course the specially-built target buildings installed for military training. In more recent times the persona of the village has been more like urban Northern Ireland. This year the network ventured even further to outlying villages and with the arrangements more widely publicised, an increasing number of people visited.

As already described across on The Omnibuses Blog a fleet of Routemasters delivered the service - thanks to the combined efforts of Bath Bus Company, Stagecoach, First and led by Peter Hendy. The service is properly registered for the day and the Traffic Commissioner for the South West, Sarah Bell, inspected the operation personally. This year Routemasters 1005, 1510, 2344, 2657 and 2735 were involved.

The opportunity to visit this site attracts a good many local people, many of whom have their own stories of the village and its occupants. Real-time aural history abounds on the buses, in the village and at the church.
Once more it was blessed with good weather and enjoyed by all.

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Thursday, 1 September 2011

Notting Hill Carnival

This year's Notting Hill Carnival passed without major incident thanks to the hard work of the Police, organisers and many others.

Although I have worked at this event on many occasions this was my first one for TfL. Once again I am hugely impressed by all the work that goes on the prepare for this event. The road closures, diversions, bus service alterations and the supply of information to everyone were all done really well by an experienced set of teams.

There were relatively few arrests, the transport system catered for all the Carnival-goers, and people generally had a good time.

This is my opportunity to thank everyone who was involved, the time they gave up across what is the last bank holiday weekend before Christmas, and for making it such a success.

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Sunday, 28 August 2011

Cycling update

One of my correspondents stated recently that there is no provision for cyclists at the Olympic Games.


This is not true! Here is the real situaion!


Cycling Spaces:
There are enough spaces for 7,000 bicycles to be parked across three sites around the Olympic Park. This can be broken down to the following: 4,000 spaces at Victoria Park, 2,000 at the Northern Spectator Transport Mall and a further 1,000 at the Southern Spectator Transport Mall.

Routes:
There are a number of routes leading to the Southern Spectator Transport Mall for those travelling from parts of Newham, although it is expected the vast majority of people will use the much larger parking facility at Victoria Park.

Cyclists will still be able to travel along the High Street section not included in the Cycle Super Highway 2 route, although the ODA has worked with TfL and Newham Council to create preferred routes which offer safe passage to the Southern Spectator Transport mall from the South (Bow area) and North (Stratford area). The preferred routes, include:

South:

Heading north-east along Cycle Super Highway 2 and turning right at Tomlins Grove (just south of Bow Church DLR) and following the route crossing the A12 via an underpass, going past through 3 Mills and heading north under the Greenway onto Abbey Road, Rick Roberts Way and into the southern spectator transport mall.

Heading north-east along Cycle Super Highway 2 up to the Bow roundabout. Dismounting here and using the access ramp onto the floating towpath in the north-west corner of the roundabout heading back under the flyover/roundabout using the new floating towpath.  Heading south on the Lea Navigation towpath to the road bridge into Three Mills.  Following the same route as outlined above to reach the cycle parking on the southern spectator transport mall.

North:

Head south on A11 through Stratford town centre gyratory, onto Stratford High Street, left onto Cam Road and onto Channelsea Path to Abbey Lane.  Onto Rick Roberts Way and into the southern spectator transport mall.


East:

Greenway from Beckton direction towards the southern spectator transport mall.


Clearly cyclists can use other routes, these are just the designated ones created solely for the Games as part of the overall cycling strategy.

  

Sunday, 21 August 2011

Westfield Stratford City

Only some three weeks away is the opening of Westfield's development at Stratford.

This week I had a really good look 'behind the scenes' at this huge project. With 1.9m sq ft of retail space it will be Europe's largest urban shopping centre. All the major retailers are there flanked by John Lewis at one end and Marks and Spencer at the other. There is a 17-screen Vue cinema too. There is also high quality office space and 1.3m sq ft of hotel space as well - both Premier Inn and Holiday Inn are currently at an advanced stage of construction. When the Games are over the Athletes' Village will form a catchment area of homes for the facility as well.

Westfield Stratford City forms part of an important gateway to the Olympic Park and a significant proportion of Games visitors will enter or leave through this site. As a consequence some of our traffic infrastructure is designed to be easily removeable - you won't see it at all during the Opening Ceremony.

It has its own entrance to Stratford Station and a new bus station to serve it. Bus routes will start to operate there on 10th September ahead of the main opening, generally out of service, and by some quirk of tendering when the operation goes live on 13th First will serve it with route D8 for four days before Go Ahead takes the route over the following Saturday.

The new facility is outstanding - three floors of retail space and there is round the clock working to finish the fitting out, deliver the stock and train the staff. All this is taking place under appropriate security. From my layman's viewpoint there seems a lot to be done but as ever sites like these suddenly are transformed overnight. My old handyman at Capital Citybus, when confronted with what looked like a bomb site and an impossible deadline would typically say "just a bit of clearing up".

Shown above is the new Stratford City Bus Station - awaiting its first bus service and below the new Underground station ticket hall all ready to receive its first passengers.





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Sunday, 14 August 2011

London-Surrey Cycle Race

Today's story has to be about the London-Surrey Cycle Race which was a test event for the Olympic Games next year and which took place today.

This was really big - the largest barriered event in the UK - some 140km long. From The Mall it left London via Brompton Road, Fulham Road, Putney Bridge, Richmond Park and Kingston out to Dorking. A couple of circuits of Box Hill (the women's Olympic course; the men will do 11 circuits), and then back again.


The entire route had to be closed in the early hours of Sunday morning and left sterile until the competitors passed back through it on their return.

The logistics arrangements were huge. We notified residents and businesses within 400m of the route in London by personal letter twice. It was on the internet, in newspapers, on the radio and there were 'drop-in' centres in each of the London Boroughs. The Boroughs themselves did all they could to help people locally. We even put leaflets under the wipers of cars parked (legally!) on the route over the previous two weeks, and emailed Oyster Card holders in the area. We also talked to hospitals, churches and other affected organisations.

But you don't take out that much road space without causing some difficulties and by the end of last week we had helped many people make their plans - mothers-to-be with due dates in this fortnight, people leaving to go on holiday and so on.

The great news is that it was a success. For such a huge event no arrests and only 16 cars found on the course when we had to close the roads and so had to be towed away.

Of course there were traffic delays around the area and quite a few people who seemed to know nothing about the event and who chose to bring their cars into town were affected.

This was of course an Olympic test event - a race organised as part of London Prepares. This LOCOG event was organised in collaboration with TfL, the London Boroughs, DfT, the emergency services and many others. It is a dress rehearsal for the first two days of the 2012 Games - (the Women's and men's separate races are on 28th and 29th July 2012). Indeed the first one will be the first at which someone will be awarded a medal and today it was a GB competitor who won so potentially our first Gold Medal.

Numerous lessons were learned of course - that's why we have test events. Thousands of people lined the route and cheered the riders on. All were part of London's daily visitor economy which delivers millions of pounds into the businesses in the capital.

We will be reviewing the whole day's activities (which started with the placing of the barriers in strategic places earlier in the week!) in preparation for next year.

A good time therefore to thank everyone involved for their hard work in the planning and delivery; to the London Boroughs for all their work; to all the agencies which contributed; and to everyone for making it such a success.


At 0600 in a Police vehicle my team and I inspected the whole route from end to end. An amazingly deserted, barriered Fulham Road. We got from The Mall the Kingston in 20 mins!


......

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Serving our city

You will only get one message from me this week as we appear to have resumed some kind of normality after several days of frightening attacks on people, property and the communities which make up our London.

The commitment of our staff in 'carrying on' under these circumstances has been extraordinary. Whilst we obviously had to curtail some services and take our staff out of harm's way the vast majority of our services - from buses to bike hire carried on. This was entirely due to the selflessness of our staff at all levels and from all grades. And by "our staff" I include the wider TfL family of contractors such as those who provide the bus services, the Woolwich Ferry, the Barclays Cycle Hire operation etc for Surface Transport as well as the DLR, London Overground and others for London Underground and Rail.

There are countless stories of stories of staff who did extraordinary things - not just operating staff but also admin people as well. That quiet resolve ensured that we defied those who would seek to disrupt our city.

I hope my readers will join with me in thanking them all for everything they did.

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Friday, 29 July 2011

A year of cycling

On Thursday we celebrated a year of the Barclays Cycle Hire scheme and our announcement of the extension eastwards to near the Olympic Park and also westwards to Westfield at White City.

In a year we have had over 6m hires and there are over 128,000 members. Every day the bikes are a familiar sight across London, emit zero emissions, and are regularly used by people from all walks of life across the capital.

Next year the familiar docking stations will be installed out to the east and also out to Westfield White City. Both the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and Westfield are contributing to this, and we are delighted that Barclays Bank plc are extending and expanding their sponsorship for this outstanding scheme.

On Thursday London's Mayor Boris Johnson led us into Westfield's Atrium to celebrate this occasion. The Mayor, Kulveer Ranger, representatives of Barclays Bank plc, Westfield and myself demonstrated some cycling ability inside the shopping centre.

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Wednesday, 27 July 2011

One year to go

Crowds from tonight's Aquatic Centre event are ferried on
fleets of buses back to Pudding Mill Lane and Stratford
Well you heard it from the Mayor himself. With one year to go tonight he said that London will most certainly be ready for the London 2012 Olympic Games in 366 days' time.

There were two events tonight - at Trafalgar Square and at the new Aquatic Centre in the Olympic Park - celebrating one year to go. So now the work gets underway in earnest as London makes its final preparations to open its doors to tens of thousands of visitors from within the UK and from overseas.

I was at the Olympic Park event tonight and there is a tremendous sense of excitement from everyone as we move into this final stage. The venues look fantastic. The new Aquatic Centre is an amazing building - partly temporary which will shrink from a 17,000 seat venue to a 2,500 seat one after the games are over. The stunning roof designed by Zaha Hadid will remain, covering the two pools. The 2,800 tonne steel structure rests on just three concrete supports. But the walls will be replaced and the venue resized for legacy use.

A fleet of buses - from numerous operators including Ensignbus, Stagecoach, Sullivans and others provided shuttle services to the venue from the reception centre and also back to Stratford Station later.

There is a real shift in mood now as the clock ticks down under one year. But the venues are broadly ready, the plans for how everyone gets to the Games are well advanced and there are detailed discussions with very many people who will in some way be affected directly or indirectly.

It will be a most exciting time in London: we have the test events, the Queen's Diamond Jubilee, the Torch Relay and of course the Games themselves which continue, with the Paralympics into September. And with so many countries competing to hold them every four years, it could easily be another 80 years before London sees the Games again.


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Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Aboard the Woolwich Free Ferry

Once a year the Woolwich Ferry ventures to Tower Bridge
for charity. Here is John Burns passing my Wapping
home and vantage point in July 2006
An often taken for granted part of the London transport system is the Woolwich Free Ferry which has been providing a link between Woolwich and North Woolwich across the River Thames since 1889.

Today I was given a very good insight and briefing into the operation of the ferry by our London River Services team and the current operator Serco.

The Woolwich Free Ferry is an obligatory link which has been provided, in turn by the London County Council, Greater London Council, the London Borough of Greenwich on behalf of the Secretary of State for Transport, and now TfL.

The three current vessels, John Burns, Ernest Bevin and James Newman were all built in Dundee in 1963. They were delivered under their own power and have been in continuous use ever since. There have been extensive improvements to the vessels during their life and there is a 5-yearly major refit which takes place on Humberside. The vessels are towed there. Usually once a year one vessel makes a charity trip to Tower Bridge but otherwise ply backwards and forwards across the Thames from 0610 to 2000 (with different times and service levels at weekends).

Although there have been various proposals for a different river crossing at this point the vessels and the attendant terminals are being upgraded to provide services until 2017. They carry 1m vehicles and 2.5m passengers a year.

The infrastructure and vessels were all built to very high standards and so remain able to deliver further service for many years to come. Their huge marine diesel engines operate at a very low level of stress (about a third of the maximum revs of the old reliable Gardner 6LX bus engine) so have a very long life and their Voith-Schnieder propulsion systems are maintained and refurbished by the in-house skilled maintenance team. One vessel can be positioned for maintenance and attention above the low tide level alongside the southern terminal.

The operation remains in the hands of numerous skilled Thames seamen and engineers, many of whom have worked for the ferry for decades. Indeed there are father/son generations working the service. The propulsion system provides incredibly precise positioning as the vessels dock and undock every few minutes. The pride and skills were very evident today when I saw them in action in the engine room and on the bridge of James Newman as we criss-crossed the Thames. A family of professionals all comfortably relying on each other to provide a safe and efficient operation. An unseen part of this vital transport link.

As with many areas of transport in London, the ferry goes about its work unobtrusively, and is only noticed when there is the occasional disruption.



From my vantagepoint on the bridge of James Newman, John Bevan
prepares to approach the North Woolwich terminal





Sunday, 10 July 2011

Pedibus


There are some forms of transport in London you can try which are out of the ordinary and I am hoping to highlight a few of these over the next few weeks.

They are of course nothing to do with Transport for London!

So how about the Pedibus, which carries 12 passengers - eight of them sat sideways and each with pedals and a chain connected to the drive mechanism, and four in a 'VIP area'. It is a bit like at at a dinner table but without the table. Available for hire for groups on pre-organised trips or following a prescribed route you can make a bit of a statement as you travel around. (Advertising is also allowed!). It looks like great fun.

Of course being entirely human-powered there are no harmful emissions so is environmentally friendly.

More information is available at http://www.pedibus.co.uk. I should stress I know nothing about the organisation and haven't experienced the trip - anyone who has please share it here!

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Thursday, 7 July 2011

7th July

Well there can only be one blog today and it is about the events of six years ago.

On that day I had been in Edinburgh for the G8 summit. At First we had a significant number of double-deckers on good rates parked at the summit as waiting rooms for the Police. Huge revenue and no miles.

On the morning of 7th July I flew back to London arriving soon after the troubles had started. I was faced with no Heathrow Express and then no Piccadilly Line. Early news was sketchy.

Of our First management team Nicola Shaw was in Leeds and Dave Kaye on his honeymoon. I did get a taxi towards London but the driver warned me of huge congestion. On the way the taxi driver tried in vain to call his family - so much so that before the elevated section of the M4 we were stopped by the Police.

He pleaded his case but also said he had me in the back in great need to reach HQ. They then led us under blue lights all the way to Central London. By the time I arrived the facts were increasingly obvious. The transport system in London had been the victim of a major terrorist attack.

London was very quiet that afternoon and evening but the following morning the buses and Underground services all ran.The resumption of ordinary transport in London was a huge boost for the capital in the aftermath of this terrible event.

This morning Mike Brown, MD London Underground and London Rail, and I, laid a wreath on behalf of all of TfL, at the 7th July memorial in Hyde Park. Later we visited all of the scenes of the events and for my part I took a bus southbound past Tavistock Square.

The day before these atrocities, as I saw live from my hotel room, the IOC had awarded us the Olympic Games. Now, in less than 400 days, that event will take place here in London. Much has changed in those years. But very much of what we are now delivering and will be doing so next year is as the result of the brave and amazing way in which London's rail and bus staff went back to work immediately after 7th July.

We are proud of everything our staff did during this terrible day and afterwards. We remember this especially today.


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Friday, 1 July 2011

Another end of an era

The 1967 tube stock mock up at Acton Works

The days are streaming past so quickly I am sorry not to have posted a new blog for over a week.


It has been really busy but tonight there was chance to take a short break and ride on the last 1967 stock train on the Victoria Line.

The set, with 3079 at the north end and with appropriate headboards, left Northumberland Park depot just after 1400 today and ran between Brixton and Seven Sisters until 1930. (The automatic train operation signalling has already been decommissioned north of there).

Can it really be over 40 years since this stock entered service? The line itself had been under consideration since the war. At a young age I was taken to the Design Centre in Haymarket where a mock-up of the 1967 stock, and its attendant ticket barrier equipment was displayed. It all looked so modern and space-age.

In due course the stock arrived and entered service in September 1968 initially from Walthamstow Central to Highbury and Islington. How amazed we were with the new features - taller windows in the doors so we could see the station names, those split level armrests, and of course the famous automatic train operation which was a triumph of 1960s electro-mechanical engineering.




I also liked the different tiles at each station, featured in typical London Transport style, in a special booklet available in colour price 1/- (5p).

By 1971 the line had been extended southwards to Brixton - the first time since the 1920s there had been a new tube south of the river. I can remember vividly 23 July 1971 when I went on the first day of the extension (which co-incided, I recall, with the conversion of route 50 to DMS operation which I went on as well).

The Victoria Line decor was in the blue and grey colours associated at the time with mechanical efficiency under the direction of Misha Black. I recall a letter at the time in London Transport Magazine criticising the illuminated station name roundels as a waste although, as we know, lighting levels are lighting levels and what you don't do in one place, you have to do somewhere else.

Now it is amazing to realise that this stock, which I was to excited to see and ride on when it was new, has now reached the end of its passenger service life. The new replacement 2009 stock is now in total charge and with the departure of its predecessor, the regenerative braking system can be switched on. This will lead to increased efficiency and less heat generation. In due course the signalling system will be improved further to take advantage of no longer being restrained by the poorer performance characteristics of the older stock.

The passing of the 1967 stock was accompanied by a number of enthusiasts and staff but the general public will hardly notice tomorrow the gentle improvement in overall service on this and other Underground lines as upgrades occur. Even though trains are newer, journey times are faster, and waiting times reduced.

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Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Longest day





Thank you everyone for so many messages wishing me a Happy Birthday today using one or more of the social networking services. Amazing!

So a bedtime story. One which I have to say helped get me interested in the subject of transport and left an indelible memory.

I was entranced by the story of Silver Star Motor Services originally of Dorset which was formed in September 1923. There were two partners, Eddie Shergold and Ben White and they started with new Ford T which had a local canvas-hooded 14-seat body. The origin of the name is unclear – Eddie Shergold had served on the destroyer ‘Morning Star’ in World War I and the first, and subsequent vehicles were all in silver livery – until the end of World War II this was unpainted.

Their business target was the regular movements of members of HM Armed Forces in the Wiltshire/Dorset area. This included conveying them to other locations during their leave and also for moving the military bands to and from events.

The Road Traffic Act 1930 required them to apply for licences, and unlike now (and since 1986) they had to prove the need for them to be approved. Abstraction from other road and rail services could be a cause for refusal.

In the 1950s Silver Star (and competitor Wilts and Dorset) after a fight in the Traffic Courts started running directly to London rather than the nearest railway station, where they could board the London trains.

Initially the Traffic Commissioners and the operators had accepted that each camp was to be considered the preserve of one particular operator. This led to Silver Star being the dominant operator at Bulford Camp, whilst Boscombe Down was regarded as Wilts & Dorset’s.

In the mid-1950s Silver Star realised that the future of express services lay in connecting a dozen or more camps to a network of express services - to Newcastle upon Tyne, Glasgow and Edinburgh. All coaches were fitted with heaters (still not a standard feature) and radio which was popular with the troops.

In due course the competition had to follow.

Later that year the company became the first independent operator to place the new Leyland Atlantean in service. TMW853 carried Weymann 73-seat bodywork.

They even bought a former London RTL (305) which sadly was destroyed by vandals when subsequently owned by prioneering preservationist Ted Brakell.

In July 1960 the second Atlantean (37 - VAM944) entered service. It bore a distinct resemblance to the Standerwick 'Gay Hostess' coaches fleet with leather trim and luxurious features. It ran constantly to and from London full of military personnel and more were to follow.

In August 1960, Silver Star applied to operate Atlanteans on the other military express services which was viewed with some alarm by their rivals since the high capacity vehicles posed a threat to their business.

Silver Star was already operating double-deckers on their London route and had been for some several years. In an amazing piece of theatre not seen today the company placed their latest Atlantean, and a tree lopper, outside the court (demonstrating high quality transport AND countering a criticism they were not prepared to deal with problems!)

But the market was in decline and in October 1962, Eddie Shergold died. The surviving partner, Ben White, had already decided to retire and it was sold to Wilts and Dorset in June 1963.

I was fascinated by this remarkable story of high quality services, taking advantage of the market, and doing a better job than the established operator. They also continued to press the authorities for licences as in another world later did Laker and Branson who also brought the latest features to their products to gain competitive advantage.


Something registered in my head even at that tender age and later, somehow, I did what I did!


Now this area of the country is rather short of military personnel AND bus services but on 3rd September this year we will again be providing a distinctly London bus service across Salisbury Plain and to the 'forgotten' village of Imber. Details nearer the time. No Silver Stars but plenty of interest nevertheless!

Fortunately one or two vehicles survive into preservation and thanks to my good friend Bruce Swain can illustrate the last Atlantean 1013MW, at Dunsfold this April.

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Sunday, 19 June 2011

Polite transportation

I have been doing some careful customer service research (in my own time of course!) in Atlantic City which has a number of major casinos.

The big question is of course, especially for someone like me who does not gamble, what is it that these establishments do to keep people satisfied when there is a competitor next door?

Casinos do have sone special attributes - no windows, no clocks so it is almost impossible to detect the passing of time. But they also have numerous other customer service aspects.

The places are extremely clean; all the facilities are clearly signed and there are numerous members of staff on hand to help. A simple push of a button on a slot machine brings you a waitress and allows you to order snacks and beverages. All food and drink is very cheap so as to encourage you to stay inside. A number of venues run a special 'thermal' promotion - as the temperature outside increases, then so does the discount for services inside. In other words countering the temptation to venture outside.

For those staying in the venues themselves the rooms are huge but lacking in amenities. Yes they want you IN the hotel but OUT of your room (so you can spend some money). Inside the hotels there are numerous restaurants, bars, shops, cash machines - in fact just about anything you might need.

Atlantic City is the playground for New Yorkers so a frequent Greyhound bus service delivers hundreds of clients. Some come for the day and I even saw people arriving early evening on a 'day' trip which returned at 0130.

What can we learn? For certain the huge attention to detail, perfect signage, cleanliness and personal attention. Also the 'tricks' which keep people spending their money and at the same time smiling, happy and cheerful. And also as a popular destination a well-marketed service running 24 hours a day with incentives for when you get there.

But perhaps the most serious lesson is the personal attention which is given by staff at all levels. Shop staff, security people, just everyone is working to keep you sufficiently happy so that you continue to part with your money in their establishments.

All this translates into public transport. I appreciate that people are travelling with us because they have to, rather than want to, but we do want to keep them and keep them happy. The difference between all this and a disgruntled customer is the customer-facing operator, be it counter staff, road staff or supervisor.

For our industry to deliver success we must do all we can to raise the quality of service our passengers receive. Their demands have risen dramatically over the years and industry leaders like Apple, Virgin, John Lewis and others have demonstrated the effects of this. To help them do so we must invest in training and empower them to do what they need to do 'in the field'.

Short distance public transportation in Atlantic City is provided by Jitneys - a generic word used here as a marketing name.

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Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Aboard the Greyhound

Well it certainly is a first as I write my blog on a Greyhound bus travelling across New Jersey.

Although I have frequently seen 'behind the scenes' at this operation this is my first experience as a passenger. So with my 'customer service' hat on, how was it?

Very good! Booking on line was simple enough although on the day the system clearly had got out of sync with the day of the week and it was only a double-check that made sure I wasn't booking on the wrong day. With my on-line booking in my hand it was simple to use the 'will call' facility at the terminal ticket machine and is gave me my travel tickets and also some vouchers to use.

I was early so I was allowed on board an earlier departure with no trouble at all.

The coach ('bus' out here of course) was clean and tidy. Hmm, no announcements, but as boarding gates are used it was unlikely I was on the wrong vehicle. The driver was really good, answered the odd question and got us to our destination inside the schedule.

So the only improvement I would want is perhaps a nice announcement, welcome aboard, this is where we are going, this is how long it will take, things like that.

And for journeys in the USA which are under four hours city to city you'll be just as well off as on a plane since many airports are some distance from the cities that they serve and by the time you have dealt with check-in, security and delays as well as the transfers to/from the city then the bus is a good alternative.

Sorry - still don't have the hang of adding photos when mobile. Facebook has it!


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Sunday, 5 June 2011

418 days to go

Today's blog is one which really is designed for you to spread to everyone you know who might be interested or affected.

It's about the Olympics and whilst it's a bit about people getting around the city it is mostly about getting supplies and goods to and from premises in London during the summer of 2012.

Dealing with people is slightly easier as they think for themselves and can respond to information. London is going to be VERY BUSY during the Olympic Games. It is far more than just the events themselves - there will be all the preparations, large numbers of one-off events (like the Queen's Diamond Jubilee), and then also the Paralympic Games afterwards. The latter extend into school term time (until 9 September) when traffic gets busier anyway.

The Olympic Route Network will be a series of major roads in London where significant amounts of roadspace will be given over to Games Family vehicles. These will be carrying athletes, officials etc. Not only will there be reserved lanes, many turns will be banned and crossings removed. Similarly spectators and others not allowed to use the ORN will be on public transport - Javelin trains from St Pancras, the Jubilee and Central lines and the Docklands Light Railway. So the roads and public transport will be busy indeed.

So my question for you (and for your friends, workplace colleagues, employees, neighbours etc etc) is have you considered how you (and everyone you are responsible for) will get to work in London during the Games? This is a good time to consider it - for example if you can work at home, can your company server withstand large numbers of people logging on remotely? And don't think of it like a Royal Wedding type event. These only last a day, whereas the Olympic Games is every day from 27th July.

Whilst the ORN is the obvious issue, there will be very many other streets in Central London affected. And also don't forget Stratford is not the only Olympic venue - Earl's Court, Wimbledon and other places will also be critical so it will affect a large number of people.

There is lots of useful information and help available - make a start at http://www.london2012.com/get-involved/business-network/travel-advice-for-business/index.php

Now dealing with freight is harder as there is an infinite range of materials, in all shapes and sizes and it relies on humans to think for it. So again, thinking about your own job, business, premises and so on (and those of your friends, neighbours, colleagues etc), how are you going to get your supplies in, and your products out?

The major corporate organisations are already thinking about this so supermarkets and banks are well advanced. If you work with non-perishable items you can stock up early. But what about London's individual restaurants, snack bars, small shops and so on? If your deliveries in and out are time critical (for example because they are perishable) then you do need to think now how it can be achieved.

At TfL we are doing all we can - with 18 hours a day of kerbside loading restrictions on the ORN and restricted access to other streets we are working to make it possible for night time deliveries to be easier to make. We are also working closely with as many organisations and businesses as we can.

But the best way to make progress is for everyone to find out what the proposals are and consider how they themselves might be affected. Raise this inside your companies. Make sure they discuss with their suppliers, logitics providers, transport organisers and so on how they can arrange to keep their businesses supplied. By asking the questions now, everyone can be well prepared for 2012.

So next time you are talking with your friends, neighbours or colleagues - at dinner, in the pub or on the golf course - spread the word that the time for preparations is now and get them to really think about it.

Point them to the huge amount of material on the internet, including http://www.london2012.com/get-involved/business-network/travel-advice-for-business/helping-your-business/deliveries-and-collections.php.

London is going to be open for business in 2012!


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Friday, 27 May 2011

Silver dream machine

The New Bus for London Engineering Test Vehicle
at Millbrook today for the press launch with the Mayo
r

......is how the Evening Standard described the first showing of the New Bus for London Engineering Test Vehicle at Millbrook Proving Ground today.

The bus is structurally complete but is full of test equipment. It is also unpainted which makes it a bit of a patchwork quilt of silver panels and GRP. There is a hinged front door (some asked if that was a real feature!) and the centre one is painted on! It is really just a plain unglazed panel

The Mayor and I arrived at Millbrook this morning and the press had been taken to a hospitality area on site. We took the NBfL out for some driver familiarisation whereupon Boris Johnson drove it over to the assembled press. After numerous photos and interviews he did a further few circuits for some moving shots.

The new bus is amazingly quiet, smooth and responsive. When I had a drive of it later I was able to experience its exceptional turning circle. The fully finished vehicle, with a proper interior will be even more refined.

The latest hybrid technology is already delivering exceptional fuel economy low emissions and will, for the first time in London, be able to run entirely on battery power if required. The opportunity to do so in areas of congestion and air quality hotspots will be excellent.

Whilst there is a great enthusiasm to get the prototypes on the road we are determined to get some miles on the clock and test the structure using Millbrook's various testing areas. Meantime the construction of the prototypes is underway and the first one will come off the production line in the autumn, with entry into service scheduled for the new year.

We have announced today that Arriva will operate the prototype fleet but we are not yet in a position to confirm the route. Watch this space!

It was amazing to see the NBfL in action and a real credit to all at Team TfL, Wrights and all involved in the project so far.


As you can see (below) the bus is already iconic. Real video footage on YouTube (see below in comments)

http://iamclu.deviantart.com/art/Tron-Bus-190509053

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Source London

Today has been the day of electric vehicles and this morning we had a range of them, including a sports car and a van, parked as Asda Kingston for the launch of Source London. This brings another wave of electric charging points (some 150) to the streets of London as well as in car parks, supermarkets and elsewhere.

There are already over 2000 electric vehicles registered inside London. They are fantastically cheap to run - the Government will offer a grant of £5000 for qualifying purchases, there is no road tax, no congestion charge, and the electricity is very cheap - £100 a year for using any of the charging points being introduced and whatever your domestic tariff is at home.

A very high proportion of car journeys in London are below 6 miles and 90% of all UK car journeys are under 100 miles. New electric vehicles have a range of about 100 miles and whilst this is clearly enough for most home-based users, additional charging points are considered critical for users to gain confidence in their vehicle and of course deal with people who only have on-street parking at home and cannot easily get an overnight charge.

I drove the Nissan Leaf today - it drives like an ordinary car, with good acceleration and top speed. It has a normal size boot and four good seats. The only main difference is that it is absolutely silent!

Having brought it to a location close to the venue I handed it over to Mayor Boris Johnson who drove it into the ASDA car park and one of the new charging points in front of the world's media and was featured extensively on the daytime and evening news.

Quentin Wilson was also on hand to lend his support and my photo shows him with Boris and our own electric Nissan.

Until now electric vehicles have been considered as specialist technical experiments with limited range and high and uncertain costs. They are increasingly cheap to own and use but a major barrier - the certainty of a recharging point out and about - is now increasingly being overcome. We will have 1300 charging points by 2013 and in handy places - so you can top up whilst shopping or eating out.

Anyway - that was today. Tomorrow Friday the Mayor and I get to see first hand the New Bus for London Engineering Test Vehicle in action. There will be media coverage in the usual places and here!


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Wednesday, 25 May 2011

The roundel

Now I hope you have noticed we are bringing the famous roundel back to London’s buses after long absence.

Of course for decades the famous London Transport fleetname adorned our red (and green) buses and in turn it gave way to the roundel which symbolised the organisation. It disappeared as privatisation progressed and by an accident of history has been missing from this hugely important mode whilst being increasingly used for Streets management, taxis, cycles and new territory such as London Overground.

So surely it must be right to bring it back for use on buses and we are doing so now on all new vehicles, joining its slightly quiet introduction on hybrids and other special products. It is only on new (and refurbished) vehicles so there is no new cost.

I was rather surprised at the reaction to this reappearance. Some operators and enthusiasts were not at all supportive. 
It seems only a short time ago people were bemoaning its disappearance. Hmm – was that really over 25 years ago?

Well, we couldn’t have London’s most famous icon, the red bus, the ONLY transport mode in the Capital without a proper roundel now could we? So it is back. We should be proud it is now once again on London’s buses and it does symbolise the great tradition and achievements of Transport for London, London Transport and its predecessors.

As my old conductor, the long-departed Harry Cook, veteran Croydon Corporation tram driver, bus driver, inaugural P4 minibus driver, and route 100’s ST922 conductor would say as he pointed to the enamel London Transport insignia on his peaked cap (which he always wore, even on his days off) – “this symbol, my boy, is a passport to international recognition, friendship.......... and free travel”

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