Route 521 passengers next for lower capacity buses

tfl_busesPassengers on bus route 521 could find themselves having to wait longer to board a bus and stand during their journey when the current bendy buses are withdrawn from Tuesday (1st September).

The route is the second to replace the bendy buses with shorter, lower capacity, single deck vehicles. To make up for the loss of capacity more buses will need to operate on the route but even this won’t guarantee everyone a seat.

Using Transport for London’s own figures of 15 bendy buses per hour compared to 24 of the single deck buses per hour, seating capacity will fall from 735 seats per hour to just 504.

Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor of London’s Transport Advisor, said: “The Mayor was elected with a clear manifesto of getting the bendy buses off our streets and he’s delighted to see the second set of them leaving the Capital. Route 38 will be the next to lose bendy buses later this year, after which there will be just nine routes left to convert before the end of 2011.”

TfL officials say the choice of single deck vehicles was in part to allow the route to continue to use the Strand underpass. It’s understood that some converted routes, including route 38, will use double deck vehicles.

Speaking in July at the time of route 507’s conversion from bendy buses, London TravelWatch Chair Sharon Grant, said the passenger watchdog: “have yet to hear a credible reason for scrapping bendy buses, and we are unaware of any evidence that supports it. We do not believe it represents value for money for London’s travelling public, especially at a time when Transport for London (TfL) is short of funds.”


  1. Leo says

    I dont think that Londoner’s voted to have Boris Johnson waste millions upon millions of pounds during a recession just to get rid of Bendy Buses . Aswell as it be’ing an insane waste of money that could have been spent on something more important , this will also hit the travelling public in the pocket at some point. Who in all honesty , would vote for something like this ? Personally I think that we have all been taken for a ride on this matter.

    Where is Kuveer Ranger’s evidence that ” The Mayor was elected with a clear manifesto of getting the Bendy Buses of the Streets of London”, and this is what Londoner’s really wanted . If you carried out a survey you would soon find that everyone is confused as to why such an insane idea was carried out just because a few cyclists disliked the Bendy Bus.

  2. says

    where were you when Boris was campaigning?

    The bendy bus and its demise was part of the reason, most sensible Londoners voted for Boris!
    If you want to see why most Londoners want to see this monstrous, unnecessary vehicle removed from our streets, just pop along to Oxford Street, any evening round about 10 pm and see the congestion caused by this dinosaur. Watch the way they pollute the box junctions and cause mayhem.

    With Westminster council doing their utmost to bring London to a stand still by narrowing roads, we have to try to utilise other means at our disposal.

    What we really need to do is bring back conductors. Keep the traffic moving.

  3. Tim says

    So if the 521 avoided the Strand underpass, it could use double deckers. Therefore having more capacity and more seats than the new buses.

  4. Leo says

    Thomas The Taxi

    1.168.738 people voted for Boris Johnson to be Mayor for London . And London has a population of 7.700.000 . There was numerous reasons for the low turnout of voter’s , which would take up to much time to write about , but I can assure you people did not vote for Boris Johnson and his adviser’s to waste all this money getting rid of the Bendy Bus which is going to course the travelling public so much inconvenience and on top of that it will hit people financially , you can see or will know about it soon enough !

    I can understand your concerns as a Taxi driver for your dislike of the Bendy Bus but most times when I have been in a Taxi or Cab they appear to moan about everything from Road Works , Lorries , Motor Cyclist and most notably ” CYCLIST “.

    Lastly you appear to misunderstand that they are going to put more Buses on the routes that they are going to withdraw the Bendy Bus from , so there will be more congestion and pollution for you to worry about ! Sadly I think that Boris Johnson’s decision to remove the Bendy Bus is going to also make more problems for you.

  5. Nick says

    Bendy Buses were fine for the Red Arrow routes (those with a ‘5’ pre-fix) but not suited to other services.

    Getting rid of them for the sake of it from all routes is a huge waste of money, as is wasting millions on a new Routemaster (Retromaster).

    In the meantime the Mayor scrapped the Cross River Tram and the South London Line (both badly needed) to ‘save money’. But ask any Londoner – “do you want rail services to Victoria and London Bridge or do you want a bus that looks a little bit like a Routemaster?” and they’ll pick the former anyday.

    But none of this matters to Boris. In his sepia-coloured world, Londoners’ main priority is getting rid of bendies. Rail services or a tram to take the pressure off the Northern Line are clearly much less important

    Meanwhile, back on Earth…..

  6. Tim says

    There has been lots of publicity for the New Routemaster, but I don’t think that much money has been spent on it. Anyone have a link for amount?
    I’d stick with the current double-deckers as they do the job.

    There was never the money for the Cross River Tram, TfL was hoping to get the Government to cough up. Its on hold rather than cancelled, which is where it would have been anyway.

    The South London Line was alway going to have to stop using London Bridge as there will not be enough space once the future extra Thamelink services start to run. The linking of it into the East London Line was the best option. The Victoria end seems to have been driven by the DfT who gave the money to cut the Victoria – Bellingham service, and also wanted TfL to promise not to run the ELLX into Victoria for 10 years.

  7. says

    Thomas the Taxi, as a black cab ultra, is anti-bus in general, and not to be trusted on this or any other subject connected to public transport since his chosen profession is *in direct competition*, partlcularly with night buses.

    It’s daft – it will hit the bus traveller in the pocket (not so much the Red Arrows, but based on the 38 figures the next ten routes really crank up the bus subsidy by about £20m a year by 2012). Considering TfL pay about £4m annually for a reasonable large double decker route such as the 16 you can do the maths yourselves to work out what the money could have been spent on instead of this entirely manufactured campaign. Add in the various other holes kicked in the budget and it’s inevitable that fares will rise at some point, and bus passengers are already waking up to the fact that, for them, this doesn’t buy anything in the way of better service.

    Don’t give me the manifesto thing – Boris reversed direction pretty sharply on overseas offices, Income Support subsidy and rape crisis centres, after all. He’s doing it because he wants to make bus travellers’ life more difficult, or at the very least doesn’t care about them.

  8. GravyG says

    I wonder why Boris and his cronies even bother conducting consultations about these issues when it is clear they always intended to ignore the results.

    I’ve just read both the consultation findings document:
    and the TfL response:
    and it is plainly obvious that on both the 501 and 521 routes the majority of parties consulted were against the conversion.

    Not only that but all the statistics show it to be a bad idea!
    As Martin states the number of seats will actually decrease despite the fact more busses will be timetabled ultimately leading to more congestion and pollution.

    On top of that more busses means TfL spending more on the routes for less seating? (Many of the 521s I used were less than 3 years old!)

    I really find it hard to comprehend how TfL could have written their response document, which clearly shows it to be a bad idea, and still gone ahead with the plan. What happens in the London Assembly that meant this was not raised (or was it and still ignored?)


  9. TawkinSenz says

    I agree with Leo – when did Londonders give a ‘clear manifesto of getting bendy buses off the streets’?

    I seem to recall that the election promises were a package and that you cannot selectively pick and choose the policies of the different parties – therefore Kulveer has no idea if Londoners voted for the removal of bendy buses or one of the other election promises, sorry lies – such is the pointless nature of our political system.

    If you actually look at Boris’s transport manifesto – apart from scrapping the congestion charge extension and removing the bendy buses – very little has actually happened. I realise there is talk of the new bike hire scheme – but no sign of

    The extended tube hours
    24 hour datford crossing
    Control over roads being dug up
    Longer trains and all stations being manned
    Chronic overcrowding and oyster use at all national rail stations
    Orbital bus route

    I could go on all day….

    However what is our illustrious mayor busy doing at the moment? Ah yes, fighting the corner of the hedge funds so they’re not taxed too much and have to go to the trouble of moving ALL their assets to a small tax haven.

    I hope Londoners are learning, this man has no interest in Londoners as he professed in his election campaign, he is solely out for himself and his ‘buddies’ – none of you lot matter.

    If you look back I and several other people made the point that the result of scrapping bendy buses would result in more congestion – so if we can work it out then why couldn’t Boris and his army of expenses swigging deputies? – they even had TFL telling them!

    Incompetent or corrupt – that is the question.

    Next time I shall run for mayor with the following transport manifesto

    1) Each Londoner will be collected by mini helicopter and flown to work for 9am
    2) Doubling car park capacity by ‘stacking’ using a JCB – or ‘slimming’ by using a crusher
    3) Make all buses come to anyone who hails them from the side of the road – no matter what route they are on.
    4) Free taxis for all
    5) Removing river speed limit to allow speedboats to get to London from Windsor in less than 15 minutes.
    6) Having a cleaner in every carriage of the underground trains – prepared to wipe noses of children, fetch a paper, make a cup of tea and call home if required

    With that manifesto I should get elected – but by the time the dullards of London realise I cannot possibly deliver any of the promises I will have taken my ‘chicken feed’ mayoral salary and departed for a nice bit of retirement – OUTSIDE LONDON.

    London voter for Boris = Mug.

  10. Leo says

    If nobody knows exactly how much withdrawing the Bendy Bus is going to cost in the long term and TFL is short of funds , and the fact that TravelWatch also confirms that there is no credible reason for withdrawing the Bendy Bus surely The London Assembly should call an emergency meeting to establish the reality of this situation and most importantly how much is this going to cost and who will end out paying in which ever way . Also it will establish if there is any information that has been held back that we should know about.

    Surely The London Assembly or whoever could go to The High Court and put a temporary hold to the withdrawing of the Bendy Bus until a detailed analysis on this matter is made to establist if it is right to withdraw the Bendy Bus at this time and whether it is Legal to do so given the many arguments against withdrawing the Bus.

  11. TawkinSenz says


    …or at least have a vote of ‘no confidence’ in the mayor and have him removed on the grounds that he’s clearly mentally deranged such is the absurdity of the bendy bus plan.

    I’m sure if the prime minister said he was going to have all the post boxes painted blue because he didn’t like red anymore then there would be grounds for this?

  12. Alex says

    Tim Re: South London Line.

    No the South London Line can continue to use London Bridge if a) platforms were all lengthened to and b) If another service was withdrawn to allow SLL to continue.And it was TfL Rail’s MD Ian Brown who instigated the scrapping of the Victoria-Bellingham service. He requested the service be axed and the money given to ELLX2 instead. The DfT agreed on condition he consulted about this publically. In fact he deliberately did not inform key stakeholders or London TravelWatch. The truth was discovered by one of the stakeholder groups by accident. London TravelWatch condemned TflL’s non-disclosure as “deliberate..insulting and nothing short of deceitful” There is a strong sense TfL officers are lying when saying people were notified

    Now under pressure TfL held a ‘consultation’ study: they released it in August and gave respondents 3 weeks to make a submission. This ‘consultation’ (TfL Rail has yet to meet any of the stakeholder groups in SLL) was loaded with preconditions: the London Bridge connection was ruled out and all responses had to fit a modelling formula. None of the main groups accepted these ludicrous conditions, designed to fit forgone judgements. Already one London Assembly Member has slammed the consultation as a ‘sham’. In fact TfL DOES have the cash for both ELLX and SLL. TfL recently sold East Thames Buses for £30 million in savings over ten years, more than enough to keep SLL or Victoria-Bellingham going. TfL refuses to answer why it won’t hand the money it took from the DfT back given it has the cash. Does TfL prefer to spend the money on bonuses for its staff?

    The DfT were wrong to agree to axeing Victoria-Bellingham, but don’t for a moment think they were the chief culprit – that was TfL Rail. London TravelWatch though has been a bit lacklustre of late despite their initial condemnation. What is this watchdog for?

  13. says

    “a) platforms were all lengthened to and b) If another service was withdrawn to allow SLL to continue”

    Um, the latter sort of rules it out, given capacity squeezes elsewhere on the SE network – you’d need to suggest a suitable service and why its withdrawal is less of a problem than SLL. I support Victoria-Bellingham and am deeply unhappy at the way it was withdrawn surreptiously, but the London Bridge end has far less of a logical case for retention.

    “Does TfL prefer to spend the money on bonuses for its staff?”

    WEZ scrapping is a big hole in the finances, Metronet doesn’t help, debendification and the uncertain costs of the new Routemaster also have multi-million per year price tags (I think I worked out retaining bendies allowed ELLX2 to go ahead right there, as it saves £20m before 2012).

    On the other hand, scrapping nearly all south London’s transport projects must have saved a bit, eh?

  14. Tim says

    To me it looks like the DfT don’t want the SLL / ELLX2 / Other Service to run to Victoria. The propsed ELLX could run on from Clapham Junction to Victoria but the DfT wanted TfL to state that they would not do this for ten years. OK I know this would still leave Wandsworth Road and Clapham High Street out. Is there some problems with congestion at Victoria?

    I’d support an extended congestion charge zone if it hit three points. You don’t get charged if your car is just parked (ie you are charged for driving in the zone), it was extended in all directions (not just towards an area that didn’t vote for the mayor), it was seperate from the central area (if you paid, it didn’t give an incentive to drive into the centre).

  15. Leo says

    Alex and Tom

    This is the reason why I believe that The City Hall / London Assembly needs to go to The High Court and temporarily stop the withdrawal of the Bendy Bus and then call an emergency meeting at City Hall to establish the facts of what the plans are for the transport system as an whole and most importantly the finances of it , where the money is coming from , or diverted from , how is it going to be paid for and by whom and whether fares will increase and when. A meeting such as this , with an in depth Analysis of all the information and facts would establish if there was any information that we should know about and not kept back and also everyone would know exactly where we stood regarding the plans for the future of “Our Transport System “. Londoners would then see ” Transparency ” and then be able to hold people ” Accontable “.

    With regards to The Bendy Bus there is paticular Urgency , as it is be’ing withdrawn now , and I believe that there are so many strong reasons and arguments against it’s withdrawial that a legal challenge should be considered as soon as possible before anymore are withdrawn , and to save money.

    Maybe if such a meeting was held , it would sort out the Transport System’s differculties altogether , at the least , Londoner’s would know where they stood .

  16. TawkinSenz says


    I would suggest that the reason the bendy buses are being removed are because it makes strict financial sense to the bean counters.

    However like all good bean counters their analysis is strictly income and expenditure only, it does not take into account the social costs of the (now) overcrowding on the buses and the cost to the environment.

    Sadly market forces never take these into account – which is why our planet is bearing the disproportionate cost of our development.

    I could well believe that the ‘cheaper to run’ and ‘cheaper to maintain’ replacements for the bendy are showing a financial saving, but I would dispute whether this was a total cost saving, or simply moving the costs elsewhere.

    This is how all modern politics are run, moving the costs on to the environment and the people. A proper analysis of this move would have to include the:

    Future financial cost of poor health in London caused by more buses.
    Future cost to the capital in flood defences as the polution causes sea levels to rise
    Future cost to business for all the people who will now be late for work on these routes
    Future cost to the environment of more vehicles sitting in queues on the 512 route (more buses = more congestion)
    ….and so on…

    However thanks to the inability of society to thin past it’s own nose – charlatan politicans get away with this constantly – demonstrating ‘savings’ whilst simply moving the costs elsewhere.