A Lady's Ruminations

"Jane was firm where she felt herself to be right." -Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

Sunday, November 06, 2005

In a PC World: No Room for Doubledeckers

USA Today.com: British icon reaches the end of the line---

Few cities are identifiable by their public transportation. New York has its yellow cabs. Venice has its gondolas. San Francisco has its cable cars. And for 51 years, London has had the red, double-decker Routemaster bus - a streamlined work of art.

But last week, the Route 38 Routemaster was replaced by a behemoth known here as a Bendy bus. Except for two token "Heritage" tourist routes, the double-decker will all but vanish from London's landscape as of Dec. 9, when the last route is shut down.

The double-deckers are being replaced by the two-part Bendy buses and by angular, modern two-story buses that have all the charm of a brick with wheels.

Transport for London, which runs the capital's public transportation system, says the Routemaster outlived its usefulness. For one thing, the bus is inaccessible to wheelchairs. There also is a liability problem. One to three people a year are killed by falls from the platform. About 25 people per 100 Routemasters are injured every year, compared with five for every 100 modern buses.
Londoners are not letting the Routemaster go quietly. Ben Brook, 28, has launched a save-the-Routemaster campaign. Brook, a publicist, and other critics want Transport for London to build a modern, accessible bus that retains the styling of the old Routemaster.

More than 11,000 people have signed his petition urging Mayor Ken Livingstone to reconsider. Livingstone once made a campaign promise to keep the Routemaster.

In the end, the Routemaster could not be retrofitted to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act. "By the end of the year, every bus on the network will be wheelchair-accessible, which is a fantastic step forward for London," says Mike Weston, director of operations for London Buses. (emphasis added)
Very sad when being PC means the end of a fabulous tradition. I wish I had had a chance to ride on one.