Now the figures are out, we have the immensely satisfying task of examining our guesswork and rune reading over the last few months.  Regular readers will know that the Boris Watch conclusion on bendy replacement was that it would cost a lot more and put a lot more vehicles on the streets, be ungreen, do nothing for congestion (possibly making it worse) and fundamentally do nothing to improve the travelling environment.  Here are the statistics we can now use to test our assumptions and assess the spin:

Peak/Off-Peak Frequency:

  • 38 – Morning peak 28 per hour – one every 2 minutes 8 seconds.  Evening peak 25 per hour – one every 2 minutes 24 seconds
  • 507 – Peak 18 per hour – one every 3 minutes 20 seconds
  • 521 – Morning peak 30 per hour – one every 2 minutes.  Evening peak 24 per hour – one every 2 minutes 30 seconds.

The increased frequencies are given most of the billing in the press release, which tells you where the spin is going – ‘Boris Gives You More Buses’.  Boris doesn’t give you more capacity, though, does he?  Also, on the Red Arrows the offpeak service remains the same frequency, so has 33% less capacity.  I suspect usage outside peak hours is lower, however.  The 38 has a frequency increase off-peak, too, but only 20% against the 40% increase on peak which, with 30% smaller vehicles, is again a cut.  Boris is clawing money back by cutting capacity off-peak, in other words.

PVR (Peak Vehicle Requirements):

  • 38 – 47 bendy to 72 DD, 53% more vehicles
  • 507 – 9 bendy to 15 SD, 67% more vehicles
  • 521 – 19 bendy to 32 SD, 68% more vehicles

Total 75 bendy to 119 non-bendy, a 59% increase.  Notable changes since the original London Travelwatch investigation is that the 38 has six more new buses, the 507 two fewer and the 521 two fewer, so our original total figures are slightly on the low side.  One odd thing – the press release talks of 83 bendies being removed, so possibly the figures I’ve been using for existing capacity are wrong, or perhaps the Mayor’s office is wrong or perhaps they’re talking about PVR plus maintenance spares, in which case they’re being misleading since they don’t give an equivalent non-bendy figure.  We’ll stick with PVR according to londonbusroutes.


Using the Boris Ratio of 32% more collisions and 36% more collisions with cyclists for bendy v. non-bendy, let’s do the maths:


Taking the baseline of 1 unit of accidents for a non-bendy route of the same PVR:

  • 75 non-bendy = 1
  • 75 bendy = 1.32
  • 119 non-bendy = 1.59
  • Extra accident units = 0.27
  • % extra accidents = 20.4%

Collisions with cyclists:

Again taking the baseline of 1 unit of accidents for a non-bendy route of same PVR:

  • 75 non-bendy = 1
  • 75 bendy = 1.36
  • 119 non-bendy = 1.59
  • Extra accident units = 0.23
  • % extra accidents = 16.9%


[Assumption time – technology advances mean that modern buses are getting greener at a fair rate, so newer buses will be greener.  I’ve only got the figures Caroline Pidgeon got out of TfL to go on here]

  • Bendy – 1.69kg/km
  • Non-bendy – 1.25kg/km (possibly slightly less for the 507/521 replacements)

Assuming, as before, that vehicle kilometres travelled scale with the number of vehicles employed:

  • 38 – 47*1.69 = 79.43 now, to be 72*1.25 = 90 = 13% more CO2
  • 507 – 9*1.69 = 15.21 now, to be 15*1.25 = 18.75 = 23% more CO2
  • 521 – 19*1.69 = 32.11 now, to be 32*1.25 = 40 = 31% more CO2

So not very green then.  Remember, Boris scrapping the WEZ was partially justified by offsetting the resultant CO2 saving onto public transport, particuarly the Tube and Overground.  Here’s another bunch of CO2 from the rear end of ‘Green Boris’.


Obviously this breaks down to two things – the sheer number of extra buses on the streets has its own problems, particularly when the now slow-loading 38 bunches up, but the actual length turns out to be about the same as now, 1341m against 1350m.  So that’s 9m of roadspace returned to poor put upon motorist.  You can fit two taxis in that.  Well done Boris.

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8 Responses to Boris’s Bendy Policy – The Facts

  1. Mark Lee says:

    Cracking analysis there. Interesting to see that there’s not one article about the decision on the Standard website. I’d have thought AG would have been jumping for joy.

    Can’t wait to see the final cost.

  2. Tom says:

    AG is having a go at Phil Pavitt today. Awfully odd.
    I’ve just emailed TfL’s press office and the Mayor’s press bloke with a lengthy list of questions. I’ll let you know if they answer me.

  3. re; The Numbers of bendies.

    I suspect your figures are not up to date or complete. The total number in each fleet will always slightly exceed the number rostered for service, for one thing.

    Plus several fleets have been ‘reinforced’ with ex-Selkent bendies from Route 453, when they lost it to London General.

    This matters, because it also affects the ‘percentage change’ in bus numbers proposed in the new tender documents.

    Worth your while to check, I think, as these comparisons will need to be accurate to show the loopiness of the Boris Blunder Bus (if / when it arrives), as well as Gilligan’s Torification of the facts.

  4. prj45 says:

    As a cyclist I’m not really worried about CO2, but particulates and other noxious stuff.

    It does sound strange but local air quality is more important to me on a day to day basis than the amount of previously locked away CO2 being put back into the atmophere, at least in the short term!

  5. OHOC says:

    The CO2 emissions play a part in degrading air quality, prj, as do the other exhaust emissions such as NO (Nitrogen Oxide, one of the things Hilton over on CiF uses to criticise Ken’s diesel bus policy, quite rightly some might say) and Sulphur Dioxide.

    It isn’t just about CO2 emissions, because if you follow a “green” bus policy, all emissions are reduced to the benefit of everyone.

  6. James says:

    You may have missed Boris on being the “Star in the Car” on Top Gear at the weekend. Clarkson quizzed him on various policies before he did a slow lap in very wet conditions.

  7. Tom Miller says:

    Hi Tom, I don’t suppose you could email me your contact details? I’d like a brief chat about something.

    Best regs and all that,
    Tom M

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