Boris Johnson's new bus: only twelve days to go as another city dumps bendies

In the city of York, just as in London, the utter unsuitability of bendy buses became a political issue. At last year’s York elections, just as in London, the incumbent party was defeated by a rival which promised to scrap the “costly disaster” of the bendy bus. Ken Livingstone types slagging off the removal of their beloved junction-blockers as a Tory plot should know that York’s victorious anti- bendy party was… Labour.

In accordance with their election promise, York’s new Labour rulers have announced that the council-subsidised bendy bus service will end in April. The bendies will be replaced by double deckers. What a shame.

In accordance with his election promise, Boris’s new open-platform Routemaster hits the streets of Hackney on February 27 for its first day carrying fare-paying passengers (passengers more likely to be paying their fares than on the bendies, anyway.) Bus-spotters will need to set their alarm clocks: the maiden voyage, on route 38 to Victoria, leaves Hackney garage at 6.09am. (TfL’s timekeeping fairy has been in action again – the first day has just been put back from the 20th.)

There are only two of the buses to begin with, so for the moment most of the 38 will still be run by the old double-deckers. There will be no Borismaster service, for now, at the weekends or at all on the northernmost extremity of the route, between central Hackney and Clapton Pond (there are thought to be concerns about the social makeup of the Clapton neighbourhood, with an over-concentration of lower-echelon media figures.) But on Mondays to Fridays there will be buses in each direction throughout the day and evening from Day One.

The buses will leave Hackney Central at 0609, 0708, 0753, 0927, 1031, 1221, 1321, 1507, 1611, 1743, 1942, 2026, 2211 and 2253.

They will leave Victoria at 0657, 0812, 0904, 1044, 1148, 1338, 1438, 1619, 1725, 1857, 2055, 2136, 2317 and 2353.

I will be riding on the first day (if probably not at 6am) unless the Daily Telegraph sends me off on another foreign job, as it infallibly has at all previous milestones in this story. I will also be running a competition, with prizes, for the stupidest and most joyless piece of lefty sour-grapes about the new bus – get thinking now!

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