The End of the Line
7 January 2017, 20:52
Sadiq Khan has dumped the new double-decker bus which was annoyingly dubbed the 'Boris Bus', because everything that Bozo the Mayor did always had his name appended to it by the press and, I suspect, by himself.
We had Boris Island, Boris Bikes, Boris Lanes, and if the Garden Bridge had been built during his tenure, that would have been the Boris Bridge too.
The new Mayor, Sadiq "my old man's a busman, I lived in a council flat" Khan says the new bus is expensive to produce.
Well, the best things usually are.
I have taken a completely non-scientific, unrepresentative survey, and I can tell the Mayor that Londoners love that new bus.
We like its style, we like its curveyness, we like the lights inside which aren't those hideous strip lights that make everyone look like they are in a zombie film and we especially like the way it reminds us of the old Routemaster buses which we loved a very great deal indeed.
We love the three doors and the two staircases and we love the fact that it was designed by one of the top designers in the world, London's own Thomas Heatherwick.
A new Mayor, with a keen eye on his profile and popularity, messes with our new bus at his peril.
It took decades to come up with a design that referenced and reflected the old London bus.
We have suffered the indignity of those square double-decker replacements for absolutely ages, and when we finally got something that was worthy of their predecessor, along comes the new Mayor to take them away from us.
This stuff is important - it's the look of the place. They are the most visible means of getting around town and they are on their way to becoming as iconic as the red telephone box, which we've lost and the red post box, many of which we've lost and the old London taxi, which we are in the process of losing.
How about asking us whether we want the new bus to stay? In fact, Mr Mayor, why don't you put it to a referendum. We seem to be keen on those these days.
It could ask which of the following would Londoners most like to keep: the new bus or the new Mayor?
And they don't just look good, they're environmentally friendly too.
The flora and fauna that are left in London like them because they are kind to the ozone layer.
They use the latest green diesel-electric hybrid technology. In test conditions they produced just half the carbon dioxide of conventional diesel buses.
Of course, that's not nothing, but it's a start and if new equally expensive buses can be all battery driven, it is surely not beyond the wit of man to rip out the engine and keep the part we like - the bit above the wheels.
If it was just about money, a bus without any windows would be cheaper.
Would London look better with something that is clearly the best looking bus since our beloved Routemaster, the only one we have taken to our hearts since the death of those wonderful clattery old things, or with more of those charmless squares on wheels?
We are supposed to be the fifth richest economy in the world. London could quite possibly be the richest city on earth and what we get around in is important.
We could save some money on the refurbishment of Buckingham Palace. We could save some on the spectacular transmogrification of the Palace of Westminster.
In fact let's have less spent on palaces altogether and more spent on brightening up the lives of the little people - us poor sods who have to pay for it all.