Brian Paddick writes: Building a better future for Londoners

Since I retired from the police I have not had a car. Since then ‘the world is my Oyster card.’ I rely on trains, tubes and buses to get around London and I’m appalled by what I see.

Vanity projects and electoral gimmicks like the new Routemaster and replacing bendy buses are soaking up millions of pounds of the transport budget. The new Routemaster will cost nine times as much as a conventional bus – never mind the millions spent on development! On the right routes and properly regulated so they don’t end up stuck together, bendies do a perfectly adequate job. Bendy buses are now fitted with satellite tracking so the service can be regulated but they still go around in pairs causing chaos – it’s not a lack of technology, it’s incompetence! Instead of bendies, you need at least 1 1/2 times as many conventional buses, with 3 drivers for every 2 on bendy buses and some of the replacement buses have only 20 seats.

In the current climate, the mayor’s election pledges are half-baked, and a criminal waste of money and I intend to punish him for it!

Tube stations are being given million-pound makeovers to impress 2012 Olympic visitors and the Mayor continues to break promises on ending weekend closures on the Jubilee Line. Disabled access is being provided where it’s easiest, not where it’s needed and there is still massive overcrowding. Meanwhile fares on tubes are up by more than inflation and by even more than that on the buses. Expansion of the bus network – especially important in suburban South London – has also been halted.

We are in difficult economic times & that means we should be restricting spending to essentials. We should be concentrating on keeping fares low to help hard-pressed household budgets. We should be restricting spending to improving service and reducing overcrowding, improving air quality and reducing delays. We should also be seeking to expand public transport networks in key areas (like the south) to ensure people are adequately connected.

I will work with our team of Assembly candidates to campaign for better transport like switching London’s fleet of buses and taxis to electric and introducing a 1 Hour Bus Ticket. These will help make our city greener and will stop penalising people for changing buses – as well as helping those who have to travel furthest to work.

In short we need a mayor who has got his priorities right. Someone who cares more about Londoners than his own ego. Someone who is practical not ideological.

We need a Lib Dem Mayor and of all our mayoral candidates I believe I have the best chance of beating ‘all about me’ and ‘all about yesteryear’, the Tory and Labour candidates, by being ‘all about building a better future for Londoners’!

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This entry was posted in London and Op-eds.


  • Sorry Brian. As a cyclist, bus user and very occasional car driver the bendies are no less than Satan’s juggernaut. Getting rid of them off the streets is one of the best things Boris has done. I thought you were doing well up until this point. The cheap cost and not the safety of London’s streets was the reason Ken put them here in the first place. It was also the act that indicated Ken had lost the plot. The man who took the juggernaut’s off the streets in the 80s, only to bring in his own fleet of cyclist slayers as they were on special offer, indicated he had given up on both the safety and quality of the London transport experience.

  • Brian Paddick 25th Aug '11 - 11:42pm

    David22 I understand the propaganda around bendies but the facts appear to be somewhat different. The figures Boris Johnson used during the last election did not differentiate between the routes bendies operate on (busier, inner city routes) and those where non-articulated buses operate. A Freedom of Information request in April last year about Route 507, one of the few routes where bendies have been replaced by non-articulated buses, does provide the following direct comparison:
    Route 507 operated articulated buses between June 2002 and June 2009. In this period:
    · no cyclist fatalities were reported involving route 507 buses
    · there was one reported minor injury involving a cyclist on 4 May 2006 and no reported major injuries involving cyclists and 507 buses.
    Since articulated vehicles were withdrawn in July 2009 there have been:
    · no reported fatalities or major injuries to cyclists
    · two reported minor injuries on 15 October 2009 and 30 September 2009.
    This is only one route but it does provide a direct comparison and it shows one accident involving a cyclist in 7 years with bendies and two accidents in 9 months involving non-articulated buses.
    We need to ask for further information from Transport for London about the other routes where bendies have been replaced by non-articulated buses but if that shows a similar picture, that there is no safety issue, the replacement programme should be halted until the economy recovers and we can better afford to replace them. I am not saying bendies should not be replaced eventually but at the moment the priority must be keeping fares down.

  • Bendy buses may do an adequate job on the right routes, but I don’t believe there are any such routes within Zone 1 or 2. The main problem for me is junctions – bendy buses try to get over a junction to get their front end in but then get stuck in traffic on the other side and end up blocking side roads and pedestrian crossings.

    It’s all very well blaming incompetence rather than design, but incompetence should be planned for. Good design needs to be idiot-proof.

    While we’re on bus design – something that would get my vote would be making all the door-opening alarms more pleasant and less, well, alarm like. Especially the “there’s a disabled person getting on/off” klaxon. I’d be mortified if I was in a wheelchair and every time I got on or off a bus it sounded like I’d set off the fire alarm…

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