Bendy buses – answers to FOI requests

TfL have responded to my Freedom of Information requests about bendy buses, specifically the 507 and 521 routes. The questions and their responses follow below the fold, but the key points are:

  • The proposed replacements for 18m bendy buses are 12m single deckers. Operators have been asked to submit bids for 12m single deckers and 18m articulated.
  • There has been no public consultation on the change; there has been stakeholder consultation. As most people on the 507 and 521 come from outside geographic stakeholder areas (that’s why they arrive at Victoria, London Bridge and Waterloo), it seems likely their views will not be taken on board.
  • Only 1% of passengers on the 507 and 521 use paper tickets bought from roadside machines.


Update: Many thanks to the excellent Dave Hill for writing about this at his blog over at The Guardian.

1. What, if any, assessments have been made of the difference in loading and unloading times between double-decker buses and bendy buses?

I have attached a report providing this information entitled “Comparative dwell and journey time surveys on routes 36 & 436 and 53 & 453” that was prepared for London Buses by SDG in 2003.

2. What studies, if any, have been conducted on the breakdown of tickets, Travelcards and passes on the 507 and 521 routes?

Nearly all passengers on articulated buses use an Oyster card (including pay as you go and Freedom Passes) or a paper Bus Pass. Around 1% of passengers purchase a ticket at Roadside Ticket Machines.

3. What studies, if any, have been conducted on the nature and length of journeys on the 507 and 521 routes?

The average passenger journey is 0.9 miles on route 507 and 1.2 miles on route 521.

4. What advertising has been placed regarding the change from bendy buses to double-decker buses on the 507 and 521 routes?

5. What passenger and stakeholder consultations have been conducted regarding the change from bendy buses to double decker buses on the 507 and 521 routes?

There are no plans to use double-deck buses on routes 507 and 521. However, we are considering a proposal to use 12-metre long single-deck buses in place of articulated buses on these routes. No advertising has been placed in relation to this, but we have consulted stakeholders (including the relevant Boroughs, MP’s, Assembly Members and London TravelWatch) on this proposal as part of our regular review programme. Responses were requested by 3rd October.

6. What studies and/or proposals have been conducted or issued on the effect of the 521 no longer being able to use the Aldwych underpass?

As mentioned above, single-deck buses have been proposed, which would be able to use the Aldwych underpass.

7. What studies, if any, have been made on the effect of longer loading times on the 507 and 521 routes, with particular reference to Waterloo, Victoria and London Bridge stations?

The operating contracts for routes 507 and 521 are being retendered. Operators have been asked to submit bids based on 12-metre long single-deck buses and on 18-metre long articulated buses. We are considering operational issues as part of the current tendering process.

Bendy buses – answers to FOI requests

6 Responses to “Bendy buses – answers to FOI requests”

  1. Tom Says:

    If you haven’t read it already, the London Travelwatch stakeholder consultation (which was very negative to bendy replacement) has more information, specifically around replacement numbers, which they’d asked TfL for as part of the consultation. The 507 goes from 9 to 17 vehicles, the 521 from 19 to 34, which are both hefty old increases. 28 to 51 vehicles is 82% more drivers, so there’s a big cost right there.

    The notable thing about these two routes is that I *think* the replacements have a longer wheelbase, plus there is a whole lot more bus on the streets, 504m at the moment rising to 612m, which I make about 21% more area covered. I’m not sure how this is either supposed to cut congestion or save money, which are two Boris priorities.

    Also, they share a terminus at Waterloo. Are 21% more buses there going to fit?

  2. dave Says:


    I’ll take a look. The report is at

    In answer to your question about Waterloo, I would have said ‘yes’, but that there’ll be more pressure on the roundabout that leads to the taxi rank. Now that would be an irony – taxi drivers annoyed by lack of bendies!

    I wonder what Boris would say to some of the cities of the world, like Hamburg, Utrecht and Curitiba, that use double articulated buses.


  3. Tom Says:


    Actually, looking at it, they terminate at different parts of Waterloo. It’s the 38/507 at Victoria that share, but obviously while there’ll be more 38s, they’ll be slightly shorter overall. What would be very interesting is how Victoria could cope with more 507s during the station rebuild, assuming that goes ahead.

  4. jameshigham Says:

    I have an idea – bring back the Routemasters.

  5. dave Says:

    What do you have against people who use wheelchairs?


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