Two more articles – first Pro London cover the matter here, while Andrew Gilligan displays his big worry – that his arch-nemesis Peter Hendy and his evil Ken-worshipping coven will undermine Boris’s wonderful Routemaster with their sordid attempts to run London’s transport professionally for its users:
I know your game, Mr Hendy
Ominous, little-noticed words from the head of TfL, Peter Hendy, amid the euphoria of the new Routemaster designs last week. “The Routemaster is so good because it was developed over two decades,” he said. “What we should aim to create now is not just a Routemaster replacement, but a whole new generation of London buses that could affect the future of the entire industry. You can’t rush that … What we might end up with is something more radical than anyone has yet proposed.” Translation: “I’m going to try to string this process along until long after Boris has left office, run out of money or lost interest, and it’s going to be gradually watered down over that time until it looks like what I and my fellow bureaucrats want. You know what, how about a long, single-decker bus with a concertina-type bit in the middle?” I know what your game is, Peter — in fact, the development of the Routemaster took nothing like “two decades” — and I’ll be watching.
Ooeerr, scary. What’ll you do, Andy, misquote them until they go away?
The two decades quote is interesting though, since Pro London picked up on it. It was reported in Jonathan Glancey’s article here. The full quote, which as usual Gilligan snipped to put his spin on it, was:
The Routemaster was so good,” says Hendy, “because it was developed over two decades. Specifications for the bus were drawn up in 1946, the first prototype was unveiled in 1954 and production models began regular work five years later.
Add in that the lengthened RML became the standard design after 1965 and a single front-door prototype was built in 1966 and you’ve got 20 years development from clean sheet of paper to first roll-out of the final version. I’d say Peter Hendy’s case pretty much stands up here and Gilligan looks a twerp again for misquoting someone. Hendy also sounds a lot more sensible than either Boris or Gilligan, since he recognises the importance of evolution and progressive improvement in design and understands that the state can have an active, but not controlling, role in this (after all, the bus builders have to make buses for other people, too, in a global market). Particularly given the hybrid drive decision, not allowing the design to evolve risks missing the point completely – instead of something radical (or useful) you end up with the Betamax Bus – hybrid drive systems are in the constantly-evolving phase. There’s another quote about the engineering being more important than conductors, too, which suggests that Mr. Common Sense is still at home.
Of course, if you take now as 1946, the first prototype wasn’t on the streets until eight years later, which would be 2016, with route conversion in about 2019. Cripes! Boris will be Prime Minister by then, probably launching a competition to design a new dreadnought, or something.
What Gilligan will never admit is that he needs Peter Hendy if the RM is to get anywhere. That’s got to hurt. I wonder if they’ll publish my comment this time.
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