21 TfL bus announcements that would improve Londoners lives more than ‘Hold on, the bus is about to move’

A London bus, inadvertently annoying everyone on board, yesterday.

Poor old Transport for London: they just wanted to suggest to people that it is safer to hold on when the bus is about to move away from the stop, and now every Londoner with an internet connection is using it to yell at them.

Not only is the new safety announcement, currently to be heard on all London buses, slightly patronising for anyone who has, say, used any form of wheeled transportation before, but it suffers from a technical fault. Passengers are treated to a rendition of “Please hold on, the bus is about to move” repeatedly throughout their journey, regardless of whether the bus is actually about to move or not.

If TfL really think buses need yet another announcement to break up the monotony of a bus journey, here are few bits of advice we think some people could really do with an occasional reminder about:

1) “Passengers sat on the aisle next to an empty seat in an attempt to claim as much personal space as possible are invited to get off the bus and hail a taxi instead.”

2) “Passengers sat on the aisle next to an empty seat across from a friend who has done the same are invited to get off the bus and jump into the nearest canal.”

3) “Passengers are reminded that sitting next to the only person on an otherwise empty bus is weird and creepy.”

4) “Unless they’re sitting at the front, which is fair game, let’s be honest.”

5) “If you just heard a ‘ding’, someone has pressed the stop button. Pressing it again won’t somehow cause the bus to stop more.”

6) “Seriously, would it help if we told you the bus explodes if it goes ‘ding’ more than three times in a minute?”

7) “There are seats available on the upper deck of this bus. Go up there and sit down so the bus won’t sail past the poor gits standing at the next stop in the pissing rain, you utter bastards.”

8) “Sorry chaps, if your willy is so big you need to spread your legs across two seats, it has to have a valid Oyster card.”

9) “Stop trying to make eye contact with strangers. This is LONDON.”

10) “Oh my god seriously leave that person alone they don't want to talk to you they just want to get home and cook sausages.”

In heaven, everything is fine. Image: Wikimedia Commons/Matty.

11) “Tourists: getting on the bus solely to ask the driver to explain how to get to Big Ben while everyone else is late for work will often offend. Especially at a bus stop in Parliament Square.”

12) “Anyone eating anything more substantial than a Twix is required to offer all the other passengers a bit first.”

13) Anyone drinking alcohol is reminded that not only is it now illegal, but it will make anyone who isn't extremely jealous.

14) “If you were listening to your piss-awful music through headphones instead of that crappy phone speaker you probably wouldn’t even be able to hear this annoying announcement.”

15) “Don’t stand on the stairs getting in the way, or if you do at least have the decency to fall down them so we can all have a good laugh.”


16) “Passengers considering having a loud and lengthy phone conversation should first rectally insert their handsets.”

17) “You. Yes, you. Everyone knows it was you that held up the bus fumbling around in your bag for your Oyster card and now wants you to die.”

18) “Chin up everyone, there is always at least a very slight chance that everything will be okay.”

19) “We apologise for the delay. It’s mainly down to all these dicks who think driving a car through central London is a good idea.”

20) “Please, can you all just stop being dicks, all the time.”

21) “Could the red-faced weirdo please stop getting so uptight about what other people do on the bus, you’ll do yourself an injury mate.”

Ed Jefferson works for the internet and tweets as @edjeff.

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The Tory manifesto promises to both increase AND decrease the rate of housebuilding

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick. Image: Getty.

In his 2014 Mansion House speech, the then-chancellor George Osborne expressed with uncharacteristic honesty the motives at the heart of how the Conservatives see British housing politics: “The British people want our homes to go up in value, but also remain affordable; and we want more homes built, just not next to us.”

Five years later these contradictions remain unreconciled and present in their manifesto, which contains two different and contradictory – but clearly extensively targeted and focus-grouped – sets of policies.

The Conservatives have two housing targets. The first is to make significant progress to hitting “our target of 300,000 houses built a year by the mid-2020s”. The second is their aim to build “at least a million new homes” during the next parliament, which implies a target of 200,000 homes a year. This is not only 100,000 lower than their initial target but also lower than the current rate of housebuilding: 213,660 new homes a year. They have therefore implied at separate points in the same manifesto that they intend to simultaneously increase and decrease the rate of housebuilding.  

There are similar conflicts in their approach to planning. They intend to make the “planning system simpler” while simultaneously aiming to introduce community-led design standards for development and planning obligations to provide infrastructure for the local community.

None of this is unsurprising, The Tories don’t seem to know if they want to build more houses or not – so of course they don’t know whether they wish to make it easier or harder to do so.  

Politicians like obfuscation on housing policy to placate NIMBY voters. Take for example prospective Conservative MP and ‘environmentalist’ Zac Goldsmith’s crusade to save treasured local car parks. The manifesto can equally be accused of pandering to NIMBY instincts, protecting their shire voters from all housing, including ones they might actually need or want, by promising to protect the greenbelt.  

Instead, Conservatives intend to foist development on Labour-leaning inner-city communities and prioritising brownfield development and “urban regeneration”. This requires massive, infeasible increases in proposed density on brownfield sites – and research by Shelter has shown there are simply not enough brownfield sites in cities like London. Consequently, it is not clear how such a policy can co-exist with giving these inner-city communities rights on local design. Perhaps they intend to square that circle through wholesale adoption of YIMBY proposals to let residents on each street opt to pick a design code and the right to turn their two-storey semi-detached suburban houses into a more walkable, prettier street of five-storey terraces or mansion blocks. If so, they have not spelt that out. 

Many complain of NIMBYism at a local level and its toxic effects on housing affordability. But NIMBYism at the national level – central government desire to restrict housebuilding to make house prices rise – is the unspoken elephant in the room. After all, 63 per cent of UK voters are homeowners and price rises caused by a housing shortage are hardly unpopular with them. 


There is anecdotal evidence that protecting or inflating the value of homeowners’ assets is central to Conservative strategy. When George Osborne was criticised for the inflation his help to buy policy caused within the housing market, he allegedly told the Cabinet: “Hopefully we will get a little housing boom, and everyone will be happy as property values go up”. More recently Luke Barratt of Inside Housing noted that most Conservatives he spoke to at the 2018 party conference were scared “they’d be punished by their traditional voters if the values of their homes were to fall”. He was told by a Conservative activist at the conference that, “If you build too many houses, you get a Labour government”.

But the senior figures in the Conservative Party are painfully aware that the continuing housing shortage presents major long-term problems for the Party. As the manifesto itself acknowledges: “For the UK to unleash its potential, young people need the security of knowing that homeownership is within their reach.” Perpetual increases in house prices are incompatible with this goal. The problem has greatly contributed to the Conservatives’ severe unpopularity with a younger generation priced out of decent accommodation. 

Equally, there is increasing evidence that ‘gains’ from rising house prices are disproportionately concentrated in the south of England.  The differences in housing costs between regions greatly reduce labour mobility, suppressing wage growth in the north and midlands, which in turn leads to greater regional inequality. The policy of coddling southern homeowners at the expense of the economic well-being of other regions is a major long-term stumbling block to Conservative desires to make inroads into the ‘red wall’ of Leave-voting labour seats outside the south.

Before dealing with the issue of where housing should go, you must decide whether you want to build enough housing to reduce the housing crisis. On this issue, the Conservative response is, “Perhaps”. In contrast, even though they may not know where to put the necessary housing, the Labour Party at least has a desire in the abstract to deal with the crisis, even if the will to fix it, in reality, remains to be seen. 

Ultimately the Conservative Party seems to want to pay lip service to the housing crisis without stopping the ever-upward march of prices, underpinned by a needless shortage. Osborne’s dilemma – that the will of much of his party’s voter base clashes with the need to provide adequate housing – remains at the heart of Conservative housing policy. The Conservatives continue to hesitate, which is of little comfort to those who suffer because of a needless and immoral housing shortage.

Sam Watling is the director of Brighton Yimby, a group which aims to solve Brighton’s housing crisis while maintaining the character of the Sussex countryside.