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Saturday, 17 November 2012

Remembrance Sunday

Brian Everett MBE, President of the
London Transport 
Old Comrades Association
ahead of Peter Orchard, Wreath Layer,
and the TfL contingent formed up
ready to march off.
Last Sunday it was my immense privilege to lead the London Transport Old Comrades as they undertook their traditional annual duty to pay their respects to those London Transport staff who gave their lives in active service.

The veterans are welcomed to 55 Broadway for breakfast early on Sunday morning. Not all are able to march but can watch the whole service on a large screen in our Board Room (in the company of portraits of our founders Lord Ashfield and Frank Pick). Those who are able go to the briefing before assembling in the foyer for photographs.

Peter Orchard, a former Navy man who served on HMS Antrim during the Falklands conflict, was our wreath layer. Peter works for me in Surface Transport in East London as an Area Manager.

At precisely 1015 those who are marching assemble in Queen Anne's Gate and are called to order by Bob Lawrence, former Emergency Planning Manager at London Underground. With the veterans called to attention I am required to address them and finally, in a carefully choreographed military fashion, give permission for them to march off to the Cenotaph.

The right to march past the Cenotaph was granted to the London General Omnibus Company in 1917 by King George V. Some 900 buses and their drivers were requisitioned to drive troops to the front in World War 1 and bring back the wounded. This was astonishingly dangerous and the drivers were reputedly 'volunteered' without choice. In recognition of their bravery the King bestowed the right to march and so the LGOC became the only civilian organisation able to do so. This right transferred through London Transport and to TfL.

On return the veterans march back to Queen Anne's Gate where I receive them. Once again Bob Lawrence approaches, announces that the men have completed their duty, and asks me for permission for them to be dismissed, which of course, I give.

All are then reunited for lunch at 55 Broadway and an afternoon of old friendships, reminiscences, and reflection.

Until next year....


Sunday, 11 November 2012

Lord Mayor's Show

Today, as Vice President of the London Bus Museum, I was invited to take part in the Lord Mayor's Show - a 477 year old tradition celebrating the annual appointment of the Lord Mayor of London.

My hosts had both horse and motor bus participation and I was pleased to be aboard Dennis D142, dating from 1925, for a number of reasons.

It was rescued from otherwise certain extinction by the late Prince Marshall with whom I worked in the late 1970s. Having been expertly restored it had been as far afield as Japan on promotional visits and after the London Transport Museum opened in 1980 it ran from time to time on a special Vintage Bus Route 100 from Covent Garden. The only remaining vestige of that service is the old bus stop post (but not flag) in Wellington Street.

In fact I drove it myself in the Lord Mayor's Show in 1980 with the Chelsea Pensioners aboard so today's trip was a significant piece of nostalgia for me.

D142 is now resident at the London Bus Museum at Brooklands. It stayed overnight at Bow Garage before being on point at London Wall at 0730. For the parade the Worshipful Company of Tallow Chandlers in their blue and white regalia were aboard. We followed their Master and guests in open vintage cars and we ourselves were followed by the Three-Light Horse Bus from the Museum led by Tony Drewitt.

The early morning rain faded, and very soon we were ready to move. D142 demonstrated the same shyness in getting started as she did to me 32 years ago, giving the team and the Pageant Master one heart-stopping moment. But soon we were underway and beautifully captured by the live BBC television coverage as we passed Mansion House.

It was over too quickly and before long we were at the lunch stop by Temple, followed by a trouble-free return.

As ever the thousands of smiling faces said it all as Londoners and visitors saw modern and ancient vehicles, from civilian life and the military, parade through the City of London.


Friday, 9 November 2012

Euro Bus Expo 2012

The new Optare MetroCity for London
Photo: Stuart Jones Bus and Coach Buyer

It only seems yesterday we were bathed in the heat of summer in the Olympic Park. Now it is mid-November, the nights are long, which must mean our  annual expedition to Birmingham for the industry's trade show at NEC Birmingham.

There are in fact two different shows both occurring every two years. This one was the Euro Bus Expo and lasted over three days.

Our New Bus for London was there - LT3 looking resplendent despite already having several months' daily service under its belt. ADL and Optare showed their latest wares, as did all the other major manufacturers.

Technology continues to make great strides; the latest hybrid and electric vehicles demonstrate how far things have come in the past few years. Transport Minister Norman Baker announced a further £20m Green Bus Fund, again demonstrating Government determination to get the volumes of ultra-low emission vehicles up and unit costs down.

Science is also delivering assistance in many other areas of the industry. These include systems to improve engineering and operating efficiency, vehicle tracking, and fuel economy.

I was impressed with the Optare MetroCity on display for London operation. This 10.6m single-decker is designed for urban bus conditions, is light, which allows a capacity of 60 passengers, and at long last allows a rear window - a feature missing from this particular manufacturer's products for some time.

Optare already has a number of full, size electric vehicles in operation - so far with good results - and in a design where the vehicle requires very little modification regardless of the power plant, be that diesel, hybrid or EV.

So an optimistic show in tough economic conditions. The industry is trying hard for sure.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Poppy Day

We are supporting even more vigorously than usual Poppy Day 2012, recognising those who have given their lives for this country. We do so especially given the great contribution by the military to the London 2012 Olympic Games.

There are buses, trains and locations promoting the poppies and in an event this past week on Trafalgar Square HRH Prince Charles demonstrated the value of hopping on and off - in this case RM1005 owned by Commissioner for Transport for London Peter Hendy.