Monday 13 June 2016

FirstBus: don't make it a class thing: the M32 commuters would never forgive you

A PR group funded by FirstBus and other bus companies have just published a "Dodgy Dossier" on why their buses suck.

The Bristol "dead" post went for it, but chose to blame 20 MPH and RPZ zones, that is "max speed between queues" and "limit on number of vehicles that can park for free in the inner city".

In doing so they made a couple of mistakes

One: In their claim "bristol is the slowest" they forgot to say "except Reading, which the graph clearly shows is slower"

This is one of those things that the less mathematically inclined (i.e. the Brexit leadership) get wrong all the time. Smaller numbers mean "less", bigger numbers mean "more". According to the shiny graphs this PR agency made up, it takes longer to get round Reading. What's worse: you're in Reading.

Two: They missed the key scapegoats of the bus companies: the cyclists.

This issue has been picked up, along with the brazen attempt by a media relations group to appear vaguely independent.

As for the congestion, well, looking at this video from RedVee of the Centre, you can't blame the cycling infrastructure —none— for the multiple lanes of stationary traffic

What's causing this? The combination of (a) too many people trying to drive and (b) The Centre being ripped up for Metrobus. Does the bus marketing document note that? complain that "bus passengers are being held up by the millions being spent in the city for bus passengers?". No: they pick on the noisy ones who make lots of noise but don't get dedicated lanes down the M32.

And how do they do that: by calling out the cylists in London of being "wealthy" white men
What is less well-known, is how relatively affluent cyclists in London are compared with bus passengers. Transport for London describes the London cyclist as typically white, under 40, male with medium to high household income. [Further] A report by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine’s Transport & Health Group (LSHTM) in 2011 describes cycling in London as disproportionately an activity of white, affluent men. Only 1.5% of those living in households earning under £15,000 cycled compared with 2.2% of those living in households earning over £35,000’.

This is something the cyclist campaigners have torn into for being bogus —but we aren't here to argue that. What we are concerned about is that they are using "benefits wealthy white men" as an argument against a transport option.

For if we were to make a list of transport-related work going on in the city which would appear to disproportionally benefit the wealthy it comes down to: anything which makes it easier to get between the more well off parts of the region and their places of working, shopping and leisure.

  1. Metrobus to Bristol International Airport connections
  2. Metrobus as a P&R alternative for most residents of North Somerset and S Gloucs.
  3. The Managed Motorway work on the M4/M5
  4. Bristol mainline train electrification

And. let's be honest: the entire M32. The people living down alongside the Frome River weren't wishing they had a flyover at bedroom window height: they believed the same bollocks that politicians always say "yes you will suffer, but it will be better in the long term", and so a motorway went in to aid the people from Clifton to head to London; to help the people who moved out of the city to live in the rural wastelands past the ring road and their ghettos of boredom around Emerson's Green. And the inner ring road work started, thankfully never completed: But notice which parts of the city came out worse. Not the bits with money.

We say to FirstBus —who also own FGW railway line—: don't make your war on cyclists a class one. Because that will call into question a lot of the infrastructure you are having built for you by local and national governments.

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