Some habits are hard to kick: Maily Telegraph “London editor” Andrew Gilligan got found out being less than totally honest and principled when he dropped the BBC in the mire, and he’s still less than totally honest and principled when it suits him so to be. Today has brought an excellent example of Andy’s inconsistent relationship with reality as he once again sings the praises of his political hero.
That hero is of course London’s occasional mayor and regular collector of “chicken feed” from the Telegraph, one Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson. Bozza is about to complete his irrational crusade against the bendy bus, so Gilligan celebrates by marshalling a host of not always correct facts, while glossing over Bozza’s appetite for vanity projects and dishonest use of figures.
Andy starts badly by telling that the Routemaster managed 51 years’ service in London. Wrong. The first prototype was completed 51 years before the RM bowed out in 2005, but did not see service for another two years, and not regular service, either. Production RMs did not enter service until 1958, but then, what’s four years when you’re laying into the opposition?
That opposition, it seems, is not just Ken Livingstone, but the hated Guardian and its London man Dave Hill, who is portrayed as a “diehard bendy-bus fan”, rather than a regular user of public transport who would rather it worked half decently. Gilligan gets himself over-excited by telling that the vanity BozzaMaster will enter service next year on a route serving Dave’s manor.
Then it’s back to creative retelling of the facts, as Andy tells that removing “bendies” has meant “vastly more seats”. The TfL blurb he cites makes no mention of this, and with good reason: more buses does not mean more seats, but it does mean more drivers, more maintenance, and longer dwell times – especially for double deckers – which means slower journeys.
And the supposed cost savings for eliminating bendy buses (TfL estimate just over £7 million annually) are all to do with fare evasion. This is too often blamed on those buses, but in reality is down to TfL’s own revenue protection regime. The same kind of buses run in cities across the UK and mainland Europe without such problems, and will continue to do so for many years to come.
What Gilligan fails to mention is that the aforementioned BozzaMaster will cost rather more than that £7 million. Design, development and five prototypes into service equals £11.37 million. Compare that to off-the-shelf hybrid drive double deckers at £350k a throw, and no orders from outside the capital as yet. Why? Because all those rotten foreigners are happily running bendy buses.
What Gilligan failed to tell his adoring public, take 94. Cable car next, Andy?