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Friday 9 December 2011

Gilligan – Also Spinning For Boris

So the election campaign for the London mayoralty has started – at least among the fan club of Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, occasionally at City Hall when not picking up his regular “chicken feed” from the Maily Telegraph. Today is the turn of discredited tribalist Andrew Gilligan to cheer for Bozza’s irrational hatred of bendy buses and his vanity “New Bus For London”.

Gilligan has taken time off from demonising Lutfur Rahman to eulogise over Bozza’s spectacularly expensive vanity project, gushing that the first BozzaMaster “will arrive at Trafalgar Square in exactly one week’s time” before going into service on route 38 early next year. He also confirms that the first five vehicles will cost £1.6 million each, although that amount has increased to over £2.2 million.

That mere fact, though, does not detain Gilligan as he tells his readers that there will be “hundreds” of the new buses. Well, whoopee-do: the BozzaMaster will operate over twelve routes and so the number of vehicles will be in the 500-600 range. Compare that with the Routemaster, which had a production run of over 2,800, and that should have been many more.

The RM’s predecessor, the RT (and its Leyland built cousins), numbered well over 6,000 buses. The RM, which was initially brought into service to replace the capital’s last trolleybuses, would have been expected to run to as many, but by the late 1960s the spread of driver-only operation meant that builders and operators abandoned front engine double deckers.

A production run of no more than 600 would not be good economics by comparison, and no operator outside London is likely to buy the BozzaMaster. This, of course, does not deflect Gilligan, whose ability to include citations in his post mysteriously vanishes when he once again asserts that “There has in every route converted been more seats”. Some figures would be instructive.

Gilligan does concede that “there will be less ... ‘capacity’, in other words standing space”. But then he rallies: “who wants to stand? On the new double deckers, far fewer people have to”. Only 22 seats downstairs on the BozzaMaster, so wrong again. And more than half of those are not at deck level, so not an appealing proposition to the elderly and less mobile.

But Gilligan is in full PPB mode, telling that “The predicted capacity problems have in every case failed to materialise”, which translated into plain English means he does not ride the 507 in the peak. The BozzaMaster has serious shortcomings, and no amount of partisan hot air will make them go away, whether there is an upcoming mayoral election or not.

Not a good result for Londoners.

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