Boris's Bus (A Political Journey) Part 43: No More 'Hop On, Hop Off'?
A modification to the rear door of Boris Johnson’s flagship “New Routemaster” bus may signal the beginning of the end of one of its key electoral selling points
In October it emerged that the next batch of Boris Johnson’s “New Routemaster” buses would not operate with the two crew members on board – a driver and a dilute descendant of a conductor – he’d promised they all would when seeking election in 2008. We now know that future New Routemasters will close the door on any chance of these “customer assistants”, as they’ve come to be known, being restored and in the process designed out passengers’ option to “hop on” or “hop off” the bus when it is stationery between stops.
The door in question is the one at the back of the vehicle. On current New Routemaster models these open by folding inwards, which means they can be kept open while the bus is on the move. This only happens, though, if a customer assistant is present. With customer assistants officially dropped, leaving the rear door open between stops is no longer permissible. This has opened the way for the rear door to be radically modified.
This bus stands for freedom, and choice, and personal responsibility. It not only fulfills a promise often made to Londoners by bringing back conductors; it restores to the streets of London the open platform at the rear – and in so doing, it restores the concept of a reasonable risk…if the bus got stuck in traffic, or at the lights, you knew that you weren’t a prisoner. You were allowed to get on and off at will, provided the thing wasn’t moving, and now that freedom and benefit will be restored…It is, as far as I know, one of the few recent examples of a public policy that actually gives back, to sentient and responsible adults, the chance to take an extra risk in return for a specific reward.
We need to develop this thought, because I worry that in the post-crisis world, we have become all too paranoid, too risk-averse. Yes, the banks made grotesque errors, largely because they could not understand the risks they were taking. But unless we allow businesses and banks to take reasonable risks, they will never hit the jackpot at all.
Source: Guardian Transport