Page last updated at 09:29 GMT, Friday, 24 July 2009 10:29 UK

Bendy buses taken out of service

Boris Johnson with decommissioned bendy bus
All bendy buses will be phased out by 2011, the mayor has pledged

A group of bendy buses is being taken out of commission in London by mayor Boris Johnson.

The nine vehicles, operating on Route 507, will be replaced by new buses after their final day of service.

He pledged to scrap the "much-loathed" buses last year, saying they were dangerous and enabled fare evasion.

But passenger group London TravelWatch and the London Assembly's Labour group said there was no evidence bendy buses caused more accidents.

Removing bendy buses was one of Mr Johnson's key pledges during last year's mayoral election, and he plans to phase them all out by 2011.

'Writhing whales'

Buses on Route 507, which travels between Waterloo and Victoria, will be replaced by a new, more frequent single-decker bus on Saturday.

Mr Johnson said: "These writhing whales of the road have swung their hefty rear ends round our corners for the final time."

He said the new buses will emit less CO2 than the bendy buses, which will be sent back "to their spiritual home, an airfield in the Midlands" next week.

Scrapping bendy buses does not represent good value for money
Jo deBank, London TravelWatch

Transport for London (TfL) said it would cost an extra £12m per year to replace the vehicles.

However, a spokeswoman said: "We would expect to see an increase in revenue of about £5m per annum thanks to a reduction in fare evasion on these routes."

Nevertheless London TravelWatch spokeswoman Jo deBank said: "Scrapping bendy buses does not represent good value for money."

"The 507 runs on a busy commuter route and we are concerned that replacement buses won't have the capacity to carry enough passengers."

'Effective job'

And Val Shawcross, Labour's transport spokeswoman on the London Assembly, said the mayor "has yet to make a proper case" for the removal of bendy buses.

"They do an effective job of moving lots of people from A to B quickly and efficiently," she said.

"Londoners who, unlike Boris, get the bus everyday face longer journeys, longer waiting times and more over-crowding."

Bobbi Ingram
It depends how big the new buses are - if we can't all get on it will be a real problem
Commuter Bobbi Ingram

Morning commuters waiting to board the 507 at Waterloo on Friday had a mixed response to the replacement of the bendy bus.

Bobbi Ingram from Kent said: "It depends how big the new buses are - if we can't all get on it will be a real problem."

Susan Hylton-Ebubeh, 32, from Abbey Wood, south-east London, said: "I've been on a bendy bus when there was an accident - the driver turned straight into the side of a car.

"But it depends on the driver. I don't think the new buses will make any difference to my journey."

David Gott, 42, from Southall, west London, said: "I'm sorry to see the bendy buses go - they are great for swallowing up people.

"But if passengers avoid paying by getting on halfway down the bus, then that should be addressed. We'll have to wait and see."

Mr Johnson also intends to introduce a new Routemaster bus to London roads from 2012 but its routes have not yet been decided.

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