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“I hate buses… the symbol of a socialist society where people rely on the state for transport”

Communist busWe recently reported on the TaxPayers’ Alliance’s latest statistically-challenged assault on speed cameras. The report was co-published by the Drivers’ Alliance, the TPA’s astroturf partners with whom it shares staff and office space.

So the next time you see the Drivers’ Alliance given a serious airing in the media, be sure to reflect on the entirely reasonable and balanced views of its founder, Peter Roberts, expressed in his latest blog post:

I hate buses

I hate buses, I really do hate them.

I hate them because they are so uncomfortable, I hate them because they rattle, stink and are sweat dripping hot torture chambers in the hot weather. I hate them because the driver cannot turn the heating off even when the outside temperature is 28deg and inside is 38deg plus. I hate them because they are so slow and trundle all over the place before letting you off. I really hate them because they are loved by the environmental zealots who think it is OK to cook passengers in tin with the heating on in the middle of summer and I hate them because they are an environmental catastrophe.

Buses are the biggest gas guzzlers on the roads. They burn diesel at the rate of a gallon every 3 to 4 miles and chuck out 1.8kg of C02 for every km travelled. A decent family car emits about 155g which is more than 10 times less.

Oh, but the public transport advocates will tell you a bus carries more passengers so they are good for both you and the environment, but the average number of people on a bus is just 9 and the car carries an average of 1.6. This means a bus passenger emits 200g of CO2 per km whilst a car occupant 97g.

I hate buses because the industry behind them is spinning the argument in favour of public transport over the car and using lies, damn lies and statistics to stake their claims. I hate public transport because the companies fund anti-car pressure groups to try and make cars the environmental pariah whilst claiming the bus/train is the solution to all our problems. I hate the bus because their backers conspire to remove parking spaces, increase parking charges, introduce speed cameras and reduce speed limits.

I hate buses because they hold up lines of traffic whilst stopping every few hundred yards at a stop and I hate them because I have to suffer their stink when behind them or when they pass by.

And finally I hate buses because they are the symbol of a socialist society where people rely on the state to provide transport.

I believe we should encourage aspiration and ambition and to make our own way in life. Owning a car offers freedoms and opportunities bus passengers can only dream of and the car is the most efficient form of transport there is.

So much anger can’t be good for you. But is it really buses he hates, or just the people who use them?

Posted by Other TPA at 05:26am on 16 July 2010
Tags: Drivers Alliance,TaxPayers Alliance,Transport

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The thing about this is, although I don’t like the comment quoted in the title one bit, being a lefty, if he is right about the stats on CO2 emissions then that does create rather a bad case for the red symbols of London because environmental factors are the main arguements for using the things.
So, if he is right, my opinions may have to change somewhat. Having said that, I strongly disagree with a notion, say, like that of Thatcher’s, where a man can consider himself a failure if riding a bus by 25.

Posted by Harry Peto at 10:46am on 16 July 2010

Not only is he apparently bonkers, he’s also using the same selective approach to statistics that he accuses others of. During rush hour the average bus occupancy is 60. Would it really be a paradise of freely moving venture capitalists if those 60 were in 37.5 different cars, no matter how efficient? And I assume from the things that bother him that he doesn’t live in the village of Little Snodling, but in London, where the removal of buses would result in an exciting pedestrianisation scheme where walkers wander around on the shiny roofs of stationary gridlocked vehicles.

It would be nice to imagine that he’s joking. He’s obviously not.

Posted by Speedy Russell at 10:53am on 16 July 2010

He claims buses emit 1.8kg of C02 for every km travelled - but this is more than double the average figure normally quoted, of 822g/km.

Posted by Clifford Singer at 11:07am on 16 July 2010

Figures from TfL (I you believe the stalinist state-monkeys, of course):

“It should be noted the amount of carbon dioxide emitted from the latest EURO 3-engined bus (the EURO is the EU standard on minimum bus emissions) is about 1188 grams per kilometre. When taking into account the average passenger loading for a London bus of 15, the CO2 emitted is 79 grams per passenger km. In comparison a new car produces about 171 grams per kilometre, with an average passenger loading of 1.2, showing that on a passenger kilometre basis, bus journeys are far less polluting.”

Posted by Speedy Russell at 11:49am on 16 July 2010

I’m assuming he doesn’t hate congestion then right?

Posted by Ben at 01:45pm on 16 July 2010

Whilst I am very pro-bus, I think it is important to understand in more detail about the pollution stats. The comment from Speedy Russell refers to London buses but these must be the most crowded in the country and no doubt more modern a fleet than other areas. Is there any evidence from across the UK of the statistics?

Posted by A Viewer at 02:09pm on 16 July 2010

Assuming the writer’s statistics are correct on CO2 emissions, and assuming the consensus of scientific opinion on man-made global warming is also correct (that it is happening and close-to-irreversible), then the logical course of action for civilised societies is to do everything in our power to reduce fossil fuel use right now.

Therefore, along with action on housing, farting cows and air travel, we ought to significantly reduce the number of cars on our roads and massively increase the numbers using buses and other mass transportation systems instead.

This may be inconvenient but necessary if significant environmental degradation is to be avoided.


Posted by Al Shaw at 02:22pm on 16 July 2010

I’m quite pro bus, at least in theory, and used to like taking them. However I have noticed a real decline in standards and an increase in anti-social behavior. It’s as if the bus companies feel that buses are the mode of transport for those that have no choice, and don’t care about the service they offer. And I can’t see anything socialist about the bus companies, our local evening saver ticket has just soared from £2.10 to £3, and all the fares keep increasing to the extent that it makes no financial sense to take them any more, especially when more than one person is travelling. I would happily take the bus more, if I felt that it provided a pleasant ride and value for money. I’m not totally evil though, I’m just about to jump on my bike rather than take the bus wink

Posted by Abi at 03:03pm on 16 July 2010

As an unstinting admirer of Matthew Elliott and the “real” Tax Payers’ Alliance here are my comments. As a classical liberal capitalist I like the bus. I guess it is a childhood thing as a ride in the bus for me was considered a treat and still marvel at the sound of a Routemaster as it reminds me of holidays with my grandparents. On a more practical level it has got me to work and gets me home at 3.00 am in central London after a night out on the sauce.

What I think Peter Roberts is saying is that the bus is a sign of socialist and green lobby bullying and oppression where we are to herded onto public transport by tax or by law to get us out of our cars. Cars to the vast majority are seen as a signal of liberty and personal freedom, and not only a matter of convenience. I will say Amen to that.

Posted by Dave Atherton at 03:18pm on 16 July 2010

Given that we are lucky to have 1 bus a day in some rural parts I would imagine that the CO2 emissions even out nationwide.

Posted by Liz at 03:37pm on 16 July 2010

What complete nonsense this man utters. Any bus operator running vehicles at 3-4 mpg would be out of business very quickly. Most modern buses operate at twice that level of consumption and the large number of midibuses in service do anything up to 14 mpg. There’s also an increasing number running on clean fuels like bio-methane, Pure Plant Oil and other fuels that emit much lower levels of CO2, not to mention hybrid electrics and even pure electric buses that are zero emissions.

Living in a semi-rural area in the north east of England my wife and I rely on the bus to get to the shops, keep hospital appointments and numerous other things that are essential to our lives. And we find them on time, clean and pleasant to use.

With his ‘I hate buses’ rant Mr Singer has shown himself to be extraordinarily biased and ignorant of the facts.

Posted by Dennis Rowlands at 03:59pm on 16 July 2010

Agreed Dennis… though I think you mean Mr Roberts not Mr Singer - don’t run down the messenger!

Wondering if there’s any mileage [sorry] in “The Other Drivers’ Alliance”...

Posted by Clifford Singer at 04:13pm on 16 July 2010

Surely a “Roadusers’ Alliance” would be a more inclusive antidote to the Drivers’ Alliance?

Posted by anon. at 09:55pm on 16 July 2010

And another thing, if comparing car users and non-car users for like for like journeys, the car would be used for longer distances than the bus. I will illustrate this ...
A person who lives in suburb A and works in city B, if using public transport, will inevitably have to walk some of the way at the beginning or end of the journey, whereas the car will go door to door in most instances. When that person needs to go a few streets away from home to the shops or take the kids to school, they will probably walk, unless they have a car, then they will probably use the car, with higher CO2 emissions on shorter journeys when the catalytic convertor isn’t effective. The car user is more likely to go further in order to do shopping, leisure activities, etc, than someone whose bus fares will be higher the further they go, or prefer a walking/cycle option to avoid cost. The car user is more likely to use the car for all journeys, why walk when you have a car sitting there?
So in short, you cannot compare bus users and car users for C02 emissions per person in the way this bus hater from the Drivers Alliance does.

Posted by Helen S. Shinn at 10:17am on 17 July 2010

The independent website has assessed the Drivers’ Alliance claim and given it 1 out of 5, meaning “it is false, inaccurate or erroneous”.

Posted by Other TPA at 10:27am on 17 July 2010

Assuming that the “independent” website is as it says.
I find that when you dig they are all-too-frequently not independent.

“A hybrid-electric drive system for buses, for which Revolve Technologies’ systems engineering team has developed a specially optimised engine management programme, has achieved the best results for fuel consumption and CO2 emissions ever recorded from a double deck vehicle – an unprecedented 10mpg”

Unprecedented !
The old routemaster had better fuel consumption than the new ones !

Posted by John Murray at 01:02pm on 20 July 2010

Dear Mister TaxPayers Alliance,

You should come to Brighton and get an open top bus to Devil’s Dyke; not only do all the buses run on bio-diesel but it is the habit of Brightonians to say ‘thankyou driver’ as they disembark.

Your friend,

Betty BusPass

Posted by Betty Snake at 04:47pm on 21 July 2010

“it is the habit of Brightonians to say ‘thankyou driver’ as they disembark”


Posted by Clifford Singer at 10:45am on 22 July 2010

If we invested properly in tramways and trolleybuses using modern technology and renewable power sources we could improve much more on those figures. A lot of pointless bus emissions comes from either congestion, or from buses stopped while collecting fares from passengers. These can be addressed with more bus only routes, and cleverer funding mechanisms. I introduced a free bus service to Ipswich still running six years later, funded entirely from car-park receipts at Suffolk County Council HQ as part of a green travel plan.

Posted by Julian Swainson at 02:31pm on 22 July 2010

Aren’t the buses owned and operated by private companies?!

Posted by James at 02:41pm on 22 July 2010

Something else is being forgotten, too - not everyone can drive and/or afford to run a car, or get taxi’s everywhere, or even walk too far! I am disabled, can’t drive, on income support (and contrary to popular opinion, I don’t have the money to buy designer clothes, the last new jeans I bought was way back in 1997 and I’m still wearing them, nor do I take three holidays a year - I can’t even afford one!) so couldn’t run one even if I could drive, so my freedom bus pass is my lifeline.

This “but the average number of people on a bus is just 9 and the car carries an average of 1.6”  amused me in an ironic way - I have never been on a bus with that few passengers in the daytime, I have even had to stand (despite using crutches) because it is so full and there is not a seat to be had, so that makes a mockery of his figures. And that’s before you take into consideration that the majority of cars going into, around and out of Central London have just one person in them - the driver!

Posted by Mungojerrie at 07:09am on 30 July 2010

Where I live the public subsides the PRIVATE bus companies, so how is that socialist? Thankyou James.

Posted by Rich Banks at 11:35pm on 10 August 2010

And what about those who cannot drive on medical grounds? Epilepsy? Those with mobility or vision problems? Or those who - like me - just can’t darn well afford to drive? I agree with all of the aspects he points out about buses which are pants; never using them he missed out the fact that they are more often not the ‘invisibus’ as they fail to show at all.

So what are us losers without our own transport to do? Shall I get a stick and tie a spotted hankie to it and take my laptop to work five miles on foot each way? Or is he going to come and give me a lift?? No, didn’t think so. Wouldn’t want unambitious plebs like me scumming up his car now would he?

And by the way, Peter, I’m a brand and marketing manager for a huge corporate group and I’d have to tell you - in my distinctly PROFESSIONAL opinion - that you’ve done yourself no PR favours there. In plain speak - what an EPIC FAIL of both logic and character!!

Posted by Melanie Biddle at 01:27pm on 17 August 2010

The idea everyone should stop using public transport and use cars instead is ludicrous.  As other posters have said some people can not afford to buy cars due to being on low incomes and may have medical conditions which prevent them from driving.  Another factor which may prevent people owning cars is living somewhere with nowhere to park.  Many older houses have no drives and limited space to park on the street. If Peter Roberts had his way and buses were banned, how are people who can not own cars supposed to get round?  If buses were banned, bus drivers would loose their jobs and companies who manufacture buses would go bankrupt.

I am not anti-car and cars give people freedom and are essential for people in areas with limited public transport.  However, travelling by bus has advantages.  For instance, a bus is useful if you are going somewhere with nowhere or park or very few spaces to park. 

Posted by Ian at 09:40pm on 29 September 2010

“Owning a car offers freedoms and opportunities bus passengers can only dream of “

Quite so.  I enjoy the freedom to dream in safety while travelling on a bus.  As well as the freedom to read a newspaper or book, various other productive activities, or just to look - safely - in any direction other than at the narrow strip of road and vehicles ahead (although I’m free to look at that too).

Posted by Duncan at 06:30pm on 17 January 2011

What about people who just dont like cars? It’s not illegal,  yet!!!

Posted by Michael Weinberg at 10:52am on 31 January 2011

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