This article was published in 2008, in Newsletter 79.
On July 5th The Guardian reported that the much-criticised eighteen-metre-long articulated buses are all to be withdrawn from London streets by 2015. Withdrawal will start next year. They are to be replaced by double-deckers, including, according to the new Mayor Boris Johnson, an updated version of the Routemaster.
Where will the articulated buses go? We have recently come across the following point in the County Council’s response to the outline planning application for the station area:
CB1 – Redevelopment of Cambridge Station Area: Cambridgeshire County Council’s Transportation Consultation Response V1
5.4 The vehicle swept paths that have been used are unacceptable. Existing buses using the station are 12 m. Swept paths must be modelled using the design vehicles for the guideway, which are 15 m triaxles with steering rear axles, and 18 m long articulated buses (both 2.55 m wide). [my italics]
Could it be that some of London’s 389 articulated buses will be used as guided buses and will snarl up the traffic in Cambridge as they have in London? Time will tell.
For me, as an occasional London cyclist who now cycles rather more slowly than in the past, the main problems with articulated buses are these. When I’m cycling along I’m too often overtaken by one of these buses which pulls into a bus stop forcing me to stop inside it until it pulls away again. It’s even worse when one overtakes and turns left cutting me off – this is particularly intimidating when there are pedestrian guard rails at the junction. Again there can be difficulties when cycling past a stationary bus at a bus stop. If it pulls away when you are half way along, you’re in trouble. But perhaps worst of all is the way that these buses block road junctions: if they get part way across and are then halted, everything gets blocked. They also frequently block crossings and access to side roads. All of these difficulties derive from their great length. Fast cyclists can more readily avoid or overcome the difficulties than those who cycle more slowly and who are often not given enough consideration in transport planning.