The Anonymous Widower

A Bus For The Twenty-First Century

What puzzles me, is why bus drivers in London, seem to be suffering more from COVID-19 infection, than drivers elsewhere!

In London, all buses have two or three doors and contactless ticketing, whereas in many parts of the UK, there is often only one door and no contactless ticketing.

This must mean, that there is generally less interaction between the driver and passengers in the capital. So logic would say, that outside of London, there should be more passing of infections between everybody on the bus.

An Observation In Manchester

Ten years ago, I observed behaviour on a single-door Manchester bus going to Oldham, with a union rep for bus drivers, who by chance happened to be sitting beside me.

The scrum as passengers entered and left the bus by the same door was horrific and the rep told me, that the local riff-raff were always trying to nick the driver’s money.

He told me, that a London system based on contactless ticketing was union policy and would cut attacks on staff, which he said had virtually stopped in London.

A Bus For The Twenty-First Century

The government has said that millions will be available for new zero-carbon buses, powered by hydrogen. I doubt that batteries will be able to provide enough power for many years.

It is my belief that given the new circumstances, that the bus should also have the following features.

  • It should be as infection-unfriendly as possible, as COVID-19 won’t be the last deadly infection.
  • Contactless ticketing by credit card or pass.
  • Full CCTV  to identify non-payers or those with stolen cards.
  • Two doors with one in the middle for entry and one at the back for exit.
  • It would be possible on some routes for both doors to be used for entry and exit.
  • Wheelchairs would enter and leave by the middle door, where the ramp would be fitted.

I would put the stairs to the top deck on the left hand side of the bus, with the foot of the stairs leading directly into the lobby by the middle door.

The Van Hool ExquiCity

The Van Hool ExquiCity is an alternative solution, that is already running in Belfast, where it is named Glider.

It is probably best described as a double-ended articulated bus, that runs on rubber tyres, that thinks it’s a tram.

This press release from Ballard is entitled Ballard-Powered Fuel Cell Tram-Buses From Van Hool Now in Revenue Service in France, describes the latest hydrogen-powered version of the Exquicity, which is now in service in Pau in France.

  • Each bus appears to be powered by a 100 kW hydrogen fuel cell.
  • The buses are over eighteen metres long.
  • Twenty-four metre double-articulated tram-buses are available.
  • The buses seat 125 passengers
  • The buses have a range of 300 kilometres between refuelling.

I like the concept, as it brings all the advantages of a tram at a lower cost.

Here’s a video.

It certainly seems a quiet bus.

I desperately need to get to Pau to see these vehicles.


We could design a new bus for the twenty-first century, that tackles the problems facing the bus industry.

  • Climate change and global warming.
  • Control of deadly infections like COVID-19.
  • Efficient, fast ticketing.
  • Attacks on staff.
  • Petty crime.
  • Access to public transport for the disabled, the elderly and those with reduced mobility.

We certainly have the skills to design and manufacture a suitable bus.

April 9, 2020 - Posted by | Energy Storage, Health, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , ,


  1. Here in Manchester ticketing has gone largely contactless.

    Southside – is almost entirely Stagecoach. Most regular passengers either use their ITSO card which can be topped up online or using cash or contactless card on the bus or a phone app’ – the latter is shown to the driver and can only be topped up online.. Irregular passengers are increasingly using contactless cards. OAP’s etc. also have a contactless card. The driver has a Perspex screen and AIUI the holes are now covered with cling film.

    Northside – Was Aviva / First. Also use a phone app’ which is shown to the driver, In addition TfGM any bus products can be loaded onto Stagecoach ITSO cars and used on other operators services. I have not travelled on anything but V1/V2 since the other First services were [disastrously IMO] fragmented.

    Comment by R. Mark Clayton | April 9, 2020 | Reply

  2. I should be able to use a bank card, if I didn’t have a bus pass, as London has shown it encourages visitors.

    What annoys me at several places outside London, is that I have to pick up a paper ticket. I usually drop it on the floor to express my disapproval of a bonkers system!

    Comment by AnonW | April 9, 2020 | Reply

    • Here in Essex First buses still issue paper tickets to pensioners but Stagecoach don’t issue a paper ticket .

      Comment by Melvyn | April 9, 2020 | Reply

  3. The biggest irony in London is that it was only a few weeks ago that Mayor Khan banned boarding of borisbuses by centre and rear doors thus forcing all passengers to use front door where the driver sits . Reversal of this action would be simple solution but being a politician reversing decision is hard so experiment of entering a normal two door bus via middle entrance is announced instead !

    London buses are fully cashless so contamination by coins and notes doesn’t apply .

    London also only has a single fare no matter length of journey which one would think would lead to less contamination given how outside London passengers have to state destinations or types of tickets required meaning more interactions with drivers .

    London does of course have a very large single network so one would expect more cases in London.

    Covid19 is a new condition so we still don’t know how it affects different people although more men than women seem to have been affected while it doesn’t affect children to same extent but we still don’t know whether issues like blood group or race makes any difference.

    Comment by Melvyn | April 9, 2020 | Reply

  4. As Melvyn has said, you might expect more London bus drivers to get the virus than drivers outside the capital simply because London has a denser bus network. Also we can’t assume that they contracted the virus while working, although it’s probably a high risk environment. Other factors may be in play, eg ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected based on the figures I have seen, and bus drivers have a higher ethnic minority proportion – although the link between the virus and ethnicity is rather mysterious.

    Comment by David | April 10, 2020 | Reply

  5. I do hope that any analysis is done in a scientifically-correct manner and that the truth is published.

    Comment by AnonW | April 10, 2020 | Reply

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