Examination of Witnesses (Questions 360-367)
MR PETER HENDY AND MR ALAN TEER
WEDNESDAY 15 MAY 2002
360. Could I ask a question about route turnover? How many routes do you lose each year and how many do you establish?
(Mr Hendy) We are not taking anything away. If you are asking about the rate of change which is a subject of debate and interest outside London the London bus network changes quite a lot. We have about 700 routes. There are 400 changes of some magnitude a year, most of which are improvements. We very rarely take routes off. We normally put new routes on or enhance existing routes these days.
361. Stability and improvement are critical factors?
(Mr Hendy) Improvement is a significant factor. It is very difficult to achieve an urban bus network with the realities of operation on the road unless you change it quite often and I encourage operators to submit schedule changes in order to make the schedules realistic and take account of traffic conditions.
362. Is it important for you to specify the quality of buses?
(Mr Hendy) We think it is, because if we do not we lay ourselves open to the mercy of the operators.
363. What about our famous Routemasters? How long are you going to be able to patch them up?
(Mr Hendy) There is a view that they might last for ever.
364. That is only held by those people who can be called bus enthusiasts.
(Mr Hendy) There are some very influential bus enthusiasts. Eventually, the buses will become unable to be used because of the Disability Discrimination Act. In the meantime, the rest of the London bus routes we are planning to be entirely accessible by 2004-05. That is clearly achieved by specifying accessible, low floor buses and paying for the costs of those buses to be provided.
365. The reality is you operate an efficient system. You are trying to improve it and you are trying to keep your existing routes. You are seeking very sensible solutions in terms of the movement of buses because you have control.
(Mr Hendy) Yes and because there is a sufficient budget to pay for it.
366. Mr Teer, you did talk about a lack of suitable premises for garaging buses. Is that fairly generally widespread?
(Mr Teer) It is a cause of one part of the demise of a number of operators who want to start up companies. They do find it difficult.
367. How do you solve that one?
(Mr Teer) I think it is to do with getting greater sympathy at the district and borough level when considering planning applications. That is outside my expertise.
Chairman: Gentlemen, you have been very tolerant and I am very grateful. Thank you very much.