Why ‘bendies’ would be bad for the Isle of Man’s bus service

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I see Council of Ministers is again considering the use of bendy buses despite the public, in general, feeling they are unsuitable for Manx roads.

However, the Minister for Infrastructure said in the Keys the use of such buses will produce revenue savings. Really! Is not the aim to increase revenue?

It would appear the bendies will be introduced on selected routes reducing the need for buses and as a consequence less drivers will be required with the associated saving in costs.

This is likely to backfire as happened in the UK from the 60s onward.

As an example suppose there are four buses an hour on a route capable of carrying 200 passengers which are replaced by two bendy buses capable of carrying 200 passengers an hour. In theory the same number of passengers can be carried each hour but, of course, passengers now have to wait twice as long. Whilst this example is extreme it does illustrate the point.

In the UK in the 60s great emphasis was made on the ‘seats per hour’ remaining the same but in practice passengers voted with their feet and were unprepared to wait longer so deserted buses for their cars so revenue was lost usually for ever. The eventual introduction of minibuses at greater frequencies helps bus usage, eventually leading to larger buses but still at greater frequencies. Bus Vannin could do no better than study how the buses are operated successfully and profitably in Brighton.

If costs are to be saved how much did it cost for Mr Longworth to go to Scotland to check on the suitability of ‘Jumbo’ buses a few months ago and what is the cost of the Enviro 400 demonstrator currently on the island? Does this mean that double deckers are still going to be needed and new ones at that?

Finally, having recently been to Malta where many ex London bendies have ended up and where roads are in a similar state of repair to the island’s I found most are shaking themselves apart and are in a deplorable state. That is likely to happen here.

John Crittenden


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