Robert Hampton

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21st October 2013

Bus Pain

A great piece on the great SevenStreets blog, about Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson’s boneheaded decision to scrap bus lanes:

Liverpool is making it just that little bit more difficult for us to use public transport – at a time when study after study shows bus lanes to be a catalyst for urban regeneration, we’re shoving things into reverse…

Read the whole thing, which makes the case for buses (and public transport in general) very well.

My own observations: some of the bus lanes seemed a bit illogical and poorly signed (the one along Lime Street between the Adelphi Hotel and the station always seemed to catch drivers out), but most of them did seem to work to help buses beat congestion. Getting rid of all of them en masse, without any proper study or consultation, is madness. It’s quiet this week due to it being half term, but I dread to think what will happen next week.

I’m more thankful than ever that I live near a Merseyrail station.

12th April 2012

You wait ages for one, then 1,000 come at once…
Posted by at 11.56pm | Gay, In the News | No responses

THIS IS A BUS bag from The ApprenticeLast month, when the Government launched its consultation on equal(ish) marriage, I predicted “three more years of unpleasant rhetoric from opponents of equality until the law is passed.”

I’ve been proved right, but I didn’t expect it to get this unpleasant this quickly. I’ve previously mentioned Cardinal O’Brien calling gay relationships “grotesque”. We’ve also had a Kent MP claiming that Shakespeare’s plays will have to be rewritten, and the Daily Mail screaming that terms like “mother” and “father” will be replaced by “progenitor”(?!).

The campaign took a new twist on 3rd April, when gay rights group Stonewall relaunched their “some people are gay, get over it!” ad campaign on the back of the current push for equal(ish) marriage rights. The advert is on 1,000 of the capital’s buses, ensuring that the equality message is brought to every community of London.

A response came today from the misleadingly-titled Anglican Mainstream, a Christian organisation which claims to support “traditional” teaching on the family (and you know what that usually means). They booked a smaller ad campaign on 26 London buses, claiming that sexual orientation can be changed with therapy. The ads, which were due to appear from next week, were a spoof of Stonewall’s design and slogan: “NOT GAY! EX-GAY, POST-GAY, AND PROUD. GET OVER IT!”

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25th November 2010

Winter Blunderland
Posted by at 7.56pm | Liverpool | 1 response

St Michaels In The Snow

Snow is falling in parts of the UK and more is forecast over the coming days, with Liverpool expected to receive its first dusting over the weekend. Last time this happened, back in January, much of the city ground to a halt, with buses sliding comically on untreated roads.

The January snowfall was particularly severe because Liverpool, like several other local authorities, ran out of grit. They assure us that this time they are more prepared. We shall see.

Photo: St Michaels in the Snow by adebâ“žnd on Flickr. Photo license: Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike

16th October 2010

Just for a change, a rant about transport

A familiar refrain from certain quarters during Labour’s time in office was that the government had declared “war on the motorist”. The phrase originated from right-leaning tabloid newspapers and was picked up enthusiastically by the Tory party as an easy vote-winner with its middle class base.

With Labour gone and Tory Philip Hammond (a man who thinks that trains should stop and wait for cars at level crossings) firmly entrenched in the Department for Transport, the war on the motorist is well and truly over. The final front has been closed, apparently, with the removal of the M4 bus lane.

On its own this would not make much difference: the war on the motorist was about as successful as the war on drugs, the war on obesity and the war on Iraq. However at the same time as ending the war on the motorist, the Government has declared a new war: on public transport users.

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19th September 2010

Lark in the Park
Posted by at 9.57pm | Out and About | 2 responses

Birkenhead Park Festival of Transport 2010This weekend offered a great variety for the intrepid Merseysider intent on transport-related frolics. In the north of the county, the Southport Air Show offered fun in the sky for the whole family. Unfortunately the sky decided to have some fun of its own, depositing a large amount of rain on the showground overnight, causing flooding and a hasty cancellation.

Marginally better off was the Birkenhead Park Festival of Transport, the annual event showcasing all sorts of transport-related… er, stuff. The official web site, which played an embedded MIDI file on a continuous loop (is it 1996 in their webmaster’s mind?), promised “Traction engines, vintage cars, buses and military vehicles, steam engines, steam boats, radio controlled model boats, sailing boats, steam powered carousel and vintage fairground”. Exciting, yes?

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18th May 2010

The man on the Clapham (and Balham, Streatham, etc) Omnibus
Posted by at 1.18pm | In the News | 1 response

We finally have the answer to a question which has puzzled scientists for decades: what would happen if Boris Johnson invented a bus?

It’s only at the design stage, so it’s quite hard to judge, but I can’t see it achieving the same iconic status as the Routemaster. I’m also yet to be convinced that it is needed, other than to satisfy Boris’s anti-bendybus dogma.

In fact, watching the video I can’t help but think of that episode of The Simpsons where Homer is invited to design a car because he is allegedly in tune with what the average person wants… the resulting vehicle ends up being a hugely expensive flop.

Seriously, with three doors, two staircases and a wheelchair space, the lower deck is going to have room for approximately two passengers.

One postscript to the story is that about 20 ex-London bendybuses are heading to Liverpool to run services for Arriva, which caused the Echo to do a wonderful story about the DEATHTRAP BUS HORROR ON CITY STREETS (or words to that effect).

10th January 2010

No Country for Cold Men

Great Britain in the snow

Everyone has their own story to tell about the cold weather the country has been experiencing recently, which saw parts of Scotland reach temperatures similar to those at the South Pole. People in work have been swapping stories about having to walk home on Tuesday afternoon after Liverpool’s bus companies withdrew services, allegedly due to the Council’s failure to grit the roads.

On a related topic, thanks to the amazing staff at Merseyrail, who pulled out all the stops to keep their trains running, even running empty trains through the night to keep the lines clear of ice. The end result was that, except for a few minor delays and cancellations, the trains have been running normally, even on Tuesday afternoon when there was a near-whiteout for a time. The Liverpool Echo, not known for its love of the railways, had to grudgingly recognise the achievement. Let me just add to the praise: you guys are AWESOME (Merseyrail, not the Liverpool Echo)!

As the trains were running I had no excuse not to be in work, but on Wednesday morning the pavements in the city centre were like glass. I was wearing the least practical shoes imaginable and had barely set foot outside Central station before I slipped and landed on my bum. It wasn’t even a dignified fall: there was much flailing of arms and feet before I eventually toppled over. Still, it seemed to amuse the man on the corner who was giving out Metros.

(satellite image taken on 7th January 2010, NASA/GSFC, MODIS Rapid Response)

21st January 2009

Incubus
Posted by at 10.14pm | In the News | 1 response

The Advertising Standards Authority will not investigate atheist bus adverts. Probably just as well: I’d imagine ruling on the existence of God is a teensy bit outside the ASA’s remit.

5th June 2008

You wait ages, then none turn up at once
Posted by at 1.06pm | In the News | No responses

A nursing home in Germany has come up with a novel idea to stop their Alzheimer’s patients from wandering off – a fake bus stop.

The plan is that patients who decide they want to go somewhere end up waiting at the stop for a bus that will never arrive and eventually forget why they ever wanted to go out in the first place. Presumably they got the idea after trying to travel by bus in England on a Sunday.