New Bus for London – Made from Lego

How this came about

New Bus for London out of LegoAs you can imagine, my children spend a lot of time with our Lego collection.  Recently, they asked me to build them a Lego bus based on those seen in London, following a trip to the capital and the result was the bus you can see here.

The outside has used Lego Bricks to replicate the style of the New Bus for London whilst the internals allows minifigs to be seated. There is also a wheelchair space for those with mobility issues.  The roof and top deck can be removed to enable access to the lower deck which means that it is easy to allow people to sit downstairs.  The destination panel is blank to allow customisation, either by Lego or the user.

New Bus for London - By calflier001 - TRANSPORT FOR LONDON METRO LINE WRIGHTBUS LT CLASS BUSES THE SO CALLED BORISMASTERS AT HAMSTEAD HEATH BUS STATION LONDON SEP 2013Uploaded by MainFrame, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28882192

New Bus for London – By calflier001

Because there is nothing else like this out there, I’ve decided to ask Lego to make it a set available to others.  I believe that this would sit well on the shelves of the Transport Museum and in Lego Stores around the world.  What I need next is 10,000 “supporters” – people who agree that it’s a good idea. This does not mean you have to buy it.  It only asks you to sign up to the Lego Ideas website, support the idea and answer 3 questions.  You won’t be bombarded to buy the product afterwards.

Click here to open the Lego Ideas New Bus for London page

New Bus For London

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The Omnibus Ownership Query

Bit of a short one this – but almost sad, too – I am close to saying yes to taking on a bus and preserving it. Sadly, however, its a little beyond my means and far beyond my own capabilities to say yes.

Someone mentioned they had some Optare Solo’s available to preserve. Someone else has told me that they could look into getting it here – someone else offered it somewhere to live.

Quite gutting really, then, that I know sensibly, I’d have to say no.

Almost in tears…

The Omnibus Prism

On a day that I was happily taking photos, some serious shit happened.  The reason I took the photos was to show someone and the rest of the world some additions and changes to my little bus world on my desk and since the day that time stood still, as it is henceforth to be known, I’ve not felt like writing the post.

But I’m writing it because someone else I know is going to appreciate this and I’m going to write it if it fucking kills me to do so. 

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This is a Mercedes Citaro – in the GreenLine 724 livery, designed by Ray Stenning’s company Best Impressions. 

This is a first version Mercedes Citaro, noted by the fact that the front lights have coloured indicator lenses, the rear are two part (red and orange) and the bus is a 54 reg.  BU06 HSD is a recent acquisition and a local bus to me – as it comes in to Harlow.  DDA compliant, the bus also has a luggage rack for those going to and from the airport.

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The other thing about this bus is that it does not have a Driver Defence Screen fitted – unlike the other airport Series 7 Citaro – and is ran by Arriva along the route.  You can actually use an Interlink Explorer ticket on the route – which ends at Uxbridge.

Struggling to think of what else to tell you about this one – moving on! 

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YN04 YJT is another bus with a local connection.  In the livery I have, it is a dual door vehicle running for Uni-Link (Accord) in Southampton.  However, this vehicle, in its current guise, is now single door, red and yellow, working for Nibs Buses of Wickford.  It originally worked the U1A route (as it is on my model) before moving to Essex.  This model, for notes, is unique in my fleet as it has steering front wheels. 

So – there are two recent new vehicles to my fleet. 

The Depot Conundrum

I haven’t written much about the depot yet.  I somehow feel that this is going to end up taking more of a life of its own than I currently have, so perhaps I should introduce you to a few of the vehicles…

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LK07 CCN – Fleet number 64035.  A Firstgroup vehicle, operating the BAA Sponsored service “Series 7”, between Heathrow and Windsor.

This is a Euro V vehicle (in real life, at least) and is DDA Compliant.  However, the things I particularly like about LK07 CCN include the accurate detailing within, such as the additional luggage rack for those heading for flights.WP_20130111_008b

Other little bits about it include the DDA compliance (important for service vehicles in my fleet) and the rather neat driver protection screen, which sadly has become a necessity in suburban services.  This vehicle is one of two in the fleet with air conditioning, too.

WP_20130111_012bLJ56 ONH – Fleet number DP1.  This service vehicle is a Plaxton SLF Pointer 2 Dart.  Originally built by Transbus (which will appear more shortly), this vehicle operates route 441 – another BAA partnership service to Heathrow. 

DDA Compliant, this is a funky little bus that fits neatly down small streets and around sharp corners. 

WP_20130111_016bSN53 ETE – Fleet number 43840.  A recent acquisition from the South Wales Valleys, this little Transbus variant of the a Pointer 2 SLF Dart.  The SLF means “Super Low Floor”, of which this was one of the first serious contenders in the DDA compliant vehicle market.

This little bus actually still works in the Welsh valleys, however it was purchased for me by MBW for my little depot.  It is currently off the road, as Ammanford is a million miles from me.

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So, these are a few of my vehicles for today.  I’ll have to write some more about the rest of the fleet as it develops.

The Omnibus Conference

If I look through my drafts, there are five or six pieces of writing I never finished.  This isn’t one of them.  This one is about buses.

I have long come to accept that it would not be a good idea to buy a bus.  Mostly because I am unlikely to be able to drive one. Even as much as I’d like to.  But I do have my little concession.

If you are a Bus Operator, you need an operators licence.  I don’t have one of those.

But I don’t need one if we’re talking about my own little domain.

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Lets see, we have a USA Metro Articulated, a couple of Enviro200s, a Mercedes Citaro (version 2), a Metrobus (the heritage bit of my fleet) and a new Citaro mark 3.

I like my fleet, even though it lacks some Scania or Volvo influence.

I might even introduce them on this blog over the next few months, just to show how funky my buses are.

The Gold Medal Permutation

This week I had the rather huge honour (thanks to ATCO) of speaking along side a prestigious Paralympian.  She has more gold medals to her name than I have chocolate coins (because I have eaten them).  Sophie Christiansen demonstrated time after time how to be in control, confident as she made (in her own words) a “horse dance around”.  In a sandpit, no less.

Sophie Christiansen and Dominic Lund-ConlonAs I sat beside her and listened to how she faces challenge after challenge trying to access her local area and beyond, like anyone else living in the outer west London area, the stories were all too familiar – over travelling to accessible stations, lack of access to public transport, taxis driving straight past.  I wonder just how she manages to maintain control and confidence, as I’m not sure I could.

My own experiences were similar to hers in just travelling to the event in Birmingham.  On the Monday night, when arriving in Kidderminster at 19:45, I found the lift locked out of use and the staff had all gone home.  I had to throw myself on the mercy of a Chiltern train guard to help me up a steep ramp with my suitcase and wheelchair.  (Sophie experiences the same problem on South West Trains, too.)  The reason?  If it breaks down with no staff on the station, I’d be left stranded. Its “un-safe”.

I asked a London Midland Customer Services Manager about this on Tuesday at the “Meet The Manager” event who replied “oo it would take months to sort that”.  He said the solution is to alight me at a station with staff and taxi me to Kidderminster.  “Will the additional time I incur be compensated?” I asked. “No.”  Was the reply. 

Equality for access, but the extra 20-30 minutes in getting to my dinner, the toilet and a shower are not so equal after all.

MAN Bus Headlight ClusterOnce at the show on Tuesday, I tried out the latest in Gas Buses, this one destined for Arriva.  I bumped up on to the platform of the bus, where I went to turn right and move down the gangway, only to find that the drivers cabin protruded in to door platform and gangway; the open door protrudes into the gangway further.  I highlighted the issue, particularly as I am a very narrow chair, to the MAN engineers.  One key designer-engineer said “We pushed a wheelchair through fine no problem” before walking away.  I had to wonder how hard they pushed it through to the otherwise lovely and access compliant bus.

So, when talking about accessibility in public transport on Thursday afternoon, how many of the 12 or so bus manufacturers were there to hear about how their vehicles affect the customers that really rely on them? 2? 5? 9? 

None.  Not one. 

I noted about 4 operators.  Probably 10 or so local authorities.  6 or 8 disabled persons from representative groups.  A few trade organisations and a some media.

As I explained how going on transport for me is a gamble of how accessible it will be, I ponder if bus manufacturers are happy to have their own gamble with the vehicles they sell.

Partnership has been key to a lot of what I have done so far in my public transport career.  So, on behalf of disabled people everywhere, I extend an olive branch to public transport operators and vehicle manufacturers everywhere – come and talk to disabled people (and I don’t mean just a select few that you know of).  Seek out the access groups and individuals.  Learn of who we are and where we are.  Learn what we might need to access your transport services or your solutions you sell.  Let us, disabled people, be able to turn to others and say “look how good it has got”.  Let CPT turn and show others “this is how it should be done.”

Welcome AboardWe all had a lot of momentum over the summer.  It would be a travesty to lose that.

Because each time I manage a trouble free, accessible journey on public transport, I’ll put a chocolate medal around my neck.

I’m in Islington

I’m just having lunch and I wanted to blog about what I’ve seen. 

I’ve got the 507 bus from Victoria to Waterloo – the driver asked Chris where I was getting off the bus at.  I’ve got the tube from Waterloo to Stratford, which was hot and noisy.  At Stratford we discovered that there was duplications in the lifts – the duplication not highlighted to DDA standards like the other.  Pathways with differing paving textures within feet of leaving the station.  And then two bus rides – one where I could see where I was going and one… I couldn’t. 

It’s been busy – there have been steps, steep slopes, buggies, old people and smelly people.  Fortunately, Chris isn’t smelly.

The built environment though, does suck.  As does the “disabled” toilet at the weatherspoons on St Johns Road, Islington.  It’s too small and not very accessible unless you are a minute wheelchair user.  Pah.

More soon folks.