Transport for London in a spin over Boris bus failures
Transport for London have reacted angrily to our story yesterday revealing the extent to which passengers are being prevented from hopping on an off Boris Johnson's 'new Routemaster' buses.
They have sent us the following remarkable statement:
Mike Weston, TfL’s Director of Buses, said: "It is completely incorrect to suggest that rear platforms on New Routemasters have been closed off to prevent passengers boarding and alighting."
So if the rear platforms are not closed off to prevent passengers boarding and alighting, what are they closed off for? Decorative effect?
"The Mayor and TfL have always been clear that some routes will not have conductors and others will have them at certain times only."
Yes and when they don't have conductors on them, the rear platforms are closed off. And on some routes they have been and will be closed off permanently.
The statement then moves on to the buses' safety record.
"Since coming into service in February 2012, passenger injuries while either boarding or alighting from the rear platform while the bus is in motion amount to one in every one million passenger journeys and in the vast majority of cases the injuries have been minor."
They go on to claim that just 33 people have been injured hopping on and off the buses.
This is interesting, but it doesn't get the point of our story yesterday.
The point was that people are being prevented from boarding and alighting via the rear platforms, not that they're falling off of them.
Of course it's the case that the more difficult you make it for people to use the rear platforms, the fewer injuries there will be.
And if you close off the rear platforms altogether, as they plan to on several routes, then there will be no injuries at all.
But this completely misses the point of what Johnson had promised to do.
Boris spent millions of pounds in order to bring back buses which imitated the freedom of the old Routemasters.
But while the policy was designed to stick two fingers up at what Johnson called the "health and safety fiends," the precise opposite has actually happened.
Instead, we have a multimillion pound 'open platform' which TfL increasingly won't trust people to use and an army of health and safety staff, whose main job appears to be preventing people from using it.
This isn't freedom, this is an expensive fudge.
TfL's statement goes to the heart of the farce that is Johnson's "new Routemaster" project.