They should be coming thick and fast – three are done (38/507/521), three are known about (18/149/25) and the seventh debendification, Route 12, has just been announced.  Let’s update our chart:


Route    Tender    5    5+    Old PVR    New PVR    Revised End Date    Factor
507    1-Jun-2002    1-Jun-2007    1-Jun-2009    9    15    25-Jul-2009  1.67
521    1-Jun-2002    1-Jun-2007    1-Jun-2009    19    32    29-Aug-2009   1.68
38    20-Jul-2002    20-Jul-2007    20-Jul-2009    47    72    16-Nov-2009  1.53

149    18-Oct-2003    18-Oct-2008    18-Oct-2010    27    35    23-Oct-2010  1.30
18    23-Aug-2003    23-Aug-2008    23-Aug-2010    32    48    13-Nov-2010  1.50
25    26-Jun-2004    26-Jun-2009    26-Jun-2011    44    59   25-Jun-2011   1.34

Consultation and tendering under way

12    31-Jul-2004    31-Jul-2009    31-Jul-2011    31    39 (? estimated ?)    ??-Nov-2011  1.25 (? estimated ?)

Subject to contract (dates and PVR provisional)

73    1-May-2004    1-May-2009    1-May-2011    43    66    1-May-2011
207    9-Apr-2005    9-Apr-2010    9-Apr-2012    26    40    31-Dec-2011
29    14-Jan-2006    14-Jan-2011    14-Jan-2013    29    44    31-Dec-2011
436    9-Feb-2008    9-Feb-2013    9-Feb-2015    26    40    31-Dec-2011
453    16-Feb-2008    16-Feb-2013    16-Feb-2015    23    35    31-Dec-2011

What’s notable from the TfL documents I’ve seen is that the capacity will be sharply reduced, by 11%, due to the increase in frequency being only from 5 minute to 4 minute intervals, rather less than previous routes.  This, using some shaky estimation, means the debendification factor is now down to around 1.25 (this is the multiple of the bendy PVR required to meet the revised route timetable):

  • Now – 1440 capacity per peak hour = 12 bendies
  • Then – 1275 capacity per peak hour = 15 double deckers
  • 12 to 15 is a 1.25 multiple of buses running per peak hour, which must therefore be about the same as the PVR increase, although there’s one extra journey per peak not included which might raise it slightly, but the current inbound morning peak is actually 14 buses at the moment, which reduces it rather more.

The result is that extra buses are having to be introduced on parallel routes to provide for the lost capacity, which rather defeats the whole object, and certainly isn’t cost-free.

However, there’s some good news – according to TfL:

We consider our proposals will not cause additional congestion

That’s OK then, we can conclude that Boris’s debendification has no effect on congestion.  Shame he campaigned on the congestion-causing bendy buses, then.

Final thing – the November changeover date is getting perilously close to Boris’s self-imposed end-2011 target (the one which neatly removes any requirement to make the replacements all-hybrid).  We’re going to start seeing routes change over mid-contract fairly soon, which is going to be an opportunity for the incumbent operator to extract a chunk of money from TfL for varying the contract.

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