rothwell.im

by Jonathan Rothwell

Bollocks

Marco Arment, creator of the popular Instapaper app, once said that “everyone has their bullshit” and you simply have to decide whose you’re willing to tolerate.

This sprang to mind when Boris Johnson, on national television, said:

Stuff [Tim] Donovan, his fucking bollocks!

It’s true. Everyone—Donovan included—is full of bollocks. None, however, are more full of bollocks than the candidates for the London mayoral election: the question of who to vote for, then, is whose bollocks you’re willing to tolerate.1

Of course, the type of bollocks varies between candidates. Here, therefore, is a blow-by-blow summary of each candidate’s campaign, and associated bollocks.

Boris Johnson (Conservative)

  • I shall make Tube trains driverless, thus meaning no more strikes!2

  • I shall introduce 600 New Buses for London! LOOK at the shiny new bus! It won’t kill cyclists, unlike the bendy buses!3

  • I shall free up £3.5 billion by cutting waste at City Hall!4

Ken Livingstone (Labour)

  • Boris wants to introduce six hundred of his £1.4 million vanity buses!5 Because of this bus fares are up 50%!6

  • I shall take over Southeastern’s crap suburban rail services, and bring them under the London Overground banner!7

  • I will campaign for a London Living Rent, so that no Londoner has to spend more than a third of their income on rent!8

Brian Paddick (Liberal Democrats)

  • I shall end the misery of weekend closures on the Underground!9

  • I shall end the scandal of being overcharged for incomplete Oyster journeys!10

  • I shall press towards a carbon-neutral London by 2030!11

Jenny Jones (Green)

  • I shall ban HGVs from narrow London streets!12

  • I shall ensure one third of all Tube stations are accessible by 2018!13

  • I shall campaign to abolish tuition fees!14

Lawrence Webb (UKIP)

  • I shall make booze cheaper!15

  • I shall impose a 25p levy on foreign visitors to pay for the restoration of Big Ben!16

  • I shall scrap the congestion charge entirely! You have a right to drive your car around London wherever you like, however fast you like!!111!!!17

Carlos Cortiglia (BNP)

Fuck off.

Siobhan Benita (Independent)

  • I shall make the Tube run an hour later!18

  • I shall protect libraries!19

  • The BBC (Ban Benita Corporation) won’t let me on television! Vote for me!

Footnotes

  1. Or, if you want to be more idiomatic, whose bollocks you’re willing to fondle, teabag, or suck upon tearfully.

  2. Boris probably will manage to introduce Jubilee, Central and Victoria line-style automatic train operation (ATO) on some extra lines, and may even succeed in coaxing drivers out of the driving cab. Fully unstaffed tube trains, however, aren’t going to happen for at least another forty years: Health and Safety will never allow it.

    For instance, on the Docklands Light Railway, which has been automated and driverless since it began service, each train has a Passenger Service Agent who effectively performs the job of a guard, and is also trained to drive the train should the need arise.

  3. The last bendy bus left London’s streets earlier this year, resulting in a total number of bendy-related cyclist deaths of nil.

  4. The exact methodology for the calculation of this figure is… nebulous, to say the least.

  5. The £1.4 million figure for each New Bus for London (or Borismaster—a bus that sort of looks like a giant lovechild of an original Routemaster and Gort with a mohican) comes from dividing the entire £10m development cost of the bus by the initial run of eight prototypes.

    In reality, the New Bus will only be technically “wasteful” if cancelled: the £10m development costs will have been lost, there will be a fleet of eight non-standard buses to maintain, and Wrightbus will probably want to seek compensation from TfL for their investment. Once production starts fully, each NBfL will cost around £315k, which is broadly similar to the cost of a regular hybrid double-decker. The cost of staffing the rear platform with a conductor who doesn’t collect fares is a whole different can of worms, but there’s no reason why the NBfL can’t run without a conductor.

    It’s also worth noting that the NBfL is unlikely to find much use in the ex-London bus market in other towns and cities. In some ways, this could be a good thing: if NBfLs could be made to last in London for their twenty-year lifespan, the towns and cities outside central London might get new buses for a change, rather than cast-offs that have been abused by Zip card holders for eight years.

  6. To the heady heights of £1.35, with a daily cap of £4.20. Outside London, this is almost unreasonably cheap, especially given the service level. For instance, in Camberley, where I come from, the fare from the bus stop near my house into town is £2.20 (not £2.70 as previously stated—correction thanks to my mum) for a single, buses are every half an hour, there is no Countdown service (and no compensation if the bus is late), and the last bus home every night is at 1830, after which you’re expected to walk, cycle or take a taxi.

  7. All well and good in principle, but Southeastern’s performance is crap for a number of reasons. Firstly, their (relatively new) trains are shockingly unreliable; second, the infrastructure has been problematic for decades (and this is unlikely to change, as renewal would cost more than the London mayoralty could dream of); third, Southeastern also runs longer-distance mainline services. If something goes wrong with those (which rarely happens on the North, East and West London lines, given that those are mostly self-contained routes) then the new Overground services will soon go titsup as well.

  8. Ultimately a very noble, but highly infeasible proposition, and one that is unlikely under the present Government to gain much traction.

  9. Paddick intends to do this by extending “block closures,” something that both Boris and Ken have avoided as much as possible, and with good reason: this means that entire routes are shut for weeks and months at a time, as that’s the only other feasible way to get engineering work done.

  10. Because of the way Oyster works, this is impossible. If the system doesn’t know where the user touched in and touched out, it can’t deduct the correct fare: rather than assuming that no journey, or the cheapest journey, was made (which some will inevitably take advantage of) it deducts the maximum fare. This, in my opinion, is fair, and the only sensible solution.

  11. Noble, again, but it will be a long game, and not one future Mayors will necessarily be willing to play.

  12. In theory a good idea, but how will construction projects and deliveries take place in central London without HGVs? How will HGV drivers flouting the rules be penalised?

  13. Even assuming enough money can be found, in many places there simply isn’t enough space for tube stations to be made accessible. It is possible to make one third of tube stations accessible, but I doubt that anyone could manage it in a sustainable way by 2018.

  14. No, really.

  15. These particular bollocks should debunk themselves.

  16. Ditto.

  17. Ditto.

  18. This is something Boris has promised, and failed to deliver on. There’s a very simple reason why it won’t happen: you can’t extend the evening service without delaying the start of the service the following morning, or causing service levels to plummet.

  19. More than anything, this will involve a lot—a lot—of lobbying, and there’s no guarantee it will be successful.