Another day, another TfL press release asking us to give credit to Boris for something he didn’t start.  Uh-uh.  This time it’s the iBus automated bus information and location system, the rollout of which is now complete across all 8,000-odd London buses:

Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: ‘I put providing Londoners with clear concise information at the heart of my transport manifesto.

‘iBus represents a huge leap forward in this regard, and makes the Capital’s bus network more attractive and easier to use.

‘For the visually impaired or for those travelling in new parts of the city it has proved to be a fantastic resource, it is improving the accuracy of next bus Countdown signs and will lay the foundation for the delivery of bus information direct to mobile phones or the internet.’

Now, I think iBus is a great idea, not least because it sits squarely in opposition to the ‘oh-horrible-modern-noisy-helps-the-disabled’ hate fest that is Andrew Gilligan.

Every trip is an aural shelling, and now it’s on the buses too.

The 253 boasts about two announcements a minute. At each stop, they say its name, the route number and the final terminus. Loudly. But if I’m getting off, what do I care where the bus will be in 20 minutes’ time?

Once the bus pulls away, they announce the route number and destination again. Perhaps it’s another thing for the blind. But does any blind person just board a random bus, then wait for the announcement to check they’re on the right one?

Interspersed with all this: bossy little reminders that fare dodging is a crime, and you should pull up your socks and get an Oyster card. I don’t know about you, but being lectured by a robot makes me want to hit someone (although not the robot, obviously – I’d hurt my hand).

The autistic announcements are another sad example of how London Transport, a beacon of aesthetics and consideration for passengers, has become TfL, an anti-human, technocratic, bendy-bus-loving disaster – not unsuccessful, but to many of us somehow hateful.

What a berk.

iBus is also, from personal experience, is an excellent way to get children to learn their way round the city, since it announces the bus route, destination and next stop, and repeats it the same way each time.  I like it on crowded buses in the rain where you often can’t see out of steamed up windows.  However, all this obscures the fact that, as if you couldn’t guess from Gilligan’s ranting tone, it’s not really a Boris thing – in fact, it won an award for excellence from the Intelligent Transport Society last March, at which point 1800 buses had been fitted.  The contract for the system goes back even further, to 2005.  Then there’s this description of the scheme, from 2006.  It didn’t, therefore, particularly matter what Boris put in his manifesto – it was happening anyway, and early 2009 was always going to mark the end of the rollout.  As a public sector IT project, it looks to have come in bang on schedule, which is always cause for celebration.

Now, obviously a busy journalist like Boris with his part time MP’s job couldn’t necessarily have been expected to keep up with public transport award schemes.  However, looking at who presented the award to TfL, there’s less scope for the broad, understanding view here:

ITS (UK) President Steven Norris, who presented the award at Painter’s Hall in the City of London, praised iBus in the ‘Area Wide Schemes’ category for its on-board ‘next stop’ audio visual displays and announcements, which make bus travel much easier for everyone, including visually or hearing impaired passengers, or those with learning disabilities.

Tut.  Does nobody *check* these things?

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9 Responses to Boris Begs Credit For Not Screwing Up iBus

  1. D-Notice says:

    The only bad thing about iBus is that it makes it difficult to sleep on the night bus!

  2. Tom says:

    I have to say I haven’t found that an issue, as several puzzled wake ups some way west of my stop will testify. I did make it all the way to Hounslow once.

  3. Different Duncan says:

    Mega useful for visitors to London too. When I have used buses on a visit London, I found it a rather daunting an experience, as knowing when you are at your stop is far from obvious a lot of the time.

  4. Mathew says:

    Sorry. Off topic but had to share. I was guiding a group of Dutch people on a sightseeing tour this afternoon and at about 3pm we stop near City Hall where I point out the various landmarks including City Hall and who works there. At which point a Dutch girl asks very politely “but isn’t your Mayor an idiot?” (said with a serious face). I replied with an honest answer and said yes. Moments later the “idiot” breezes past us heading down to City Hall at which point a young lad on a BMX whizzes past and shouts “Boris you w**ker”. An embarrassed Mayor scuttles along a little faster followed by much Dutch laughter. Made my day.

  5. Deaf and blind people, children and tourists. Does Andrew Gilligan hate all of these demographics, or just the ones who dont read his newspapers?

  6. OHOC says:

    The autistic announcements

    This is something which I keep seeing from the right side of the political divide. Gilligan uses it about the iBus, Staines keeps implying Gordon Brown is autistic and a clown and George Osborne said much the same.

    Did I miss the meeting where it became acceptable or does everyone else consider it to be the lazy slur of people who can’t say anything better?

  7. Tom says:

    It does show again why AG got together with the Policy Exchange bastards and their war against anyone who wants to make life better for people with disabilities. He’s somehow tied in hatred for what he sees as the loss of aesthetic sensibilties in public service (which is true, and due, if anything, to Thatcherism and the perpetual and continuing grasping Conservative obsession with cuts and shoving public service off onto the voluntary sector) with the quite proper provision of better services for a wider range of people than just AG and people unfortunate enough to look like him.

    Hence the support for a new RM with its able-bodied-only-please hop-on hop-off feature and opposition to bendies, which are specifically designed to allow ghastly things like *gasp* women with buggies on board easily*. Don’t forget the misogyny, too.

    * As witnessed by me at Shepherd’s Bush the other day.

  8. prj45 says:

    Didn’t Gilligan a while back say he’s not travelled on a bus for years?

  9. ConcertPianist says:

    I think it boils down to whether you have sensitive ears or not. If you appreciate peace and quiet, aesthetics and so forth, then one prefers not to be bombarded with aural detritus.

    We are forced to endured noise via speakers everywhere – cafes, the tube, the dlr (why so loud???) and now on iBuses. What is an iBus anyway? A cross between a bus and iPod?

    Bring back peace and quiet – and us with sensitive ears (i’m a concert pianist) will be much happier.

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