1. Transport
January 13, 2017

Bus collisions in London are on the rise – but should we be worried?

By Ella Wilks-Harper

We’ve all been there.

Squashed like sardines and trying to find something other than the ads to look at – we turn our attention to how well the bus driver is doing, negotiating the narrow streets of the capital.

Ooop! Bit close to that tree there, buddy. Woah! Dubious as to how sure you were about avoiding that old lady, mate. Blimey. Why did I choose to sit in the front left seat of the top deck? 

Apparently, drivers aren’t doing so well. Complaints about bad driving totalled 18% of all complaints TfL received about its bus network.

So, does this mean buses are going to get seat belts anytime soon?

Well, maybe. Especially as figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show that bus collisions in London have risen in the last three years. Yikes.

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Though TfL have changed their approach in collecting collision data, craftily collating major and minor collisions in one big data set, including mere brushes with tree branches, it’s hard not to notice a few unsettling patterns. 

Between 2013 and October 2016, buses in London were involved in over 20,000 collisions each year.

Unsurprisingly, the congested central borough of the City of Westminster has the highest. Its tally is nearly double its surrounding boroughs, with a mighty total of 8,085 collisions.

Collisions include hits with so-called “street furniture”; not sofas, but the hard stuff – fences, benches and the odd concrete bollard.

Trees have also been notable victims, with a staggering 1,462 getting a bit too close over the years.­­

Despite what might seem to be alarming figures, TfL has tried to put an optimistic turn on it all.

“We now collect more information than ever about bus safety”, TfL’s managing director of surface transport, Leon Daniels, said.

Which means, he says, “we can drive improvement”. Basically, the idea is that a change in the way bus safety data was recorded in 2014/15 led to a rise in recorded incidents. It’s the equivalent of when the UK suddenly got loads richer after we decided to include prostitution and drug-dealing in our measure of the nation’s economy.

But don’t worry. TfL is also planning to introduce “ a wide range of improvements as part of our comprehensive bus safety programme. This includes trialling automatic speed limiting, redesigning junctions and enhancing bus driver training as well as providing specialist support to those affected by serious bus incidents.” 

So there you have it. Hold on tight, kids.

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