The photos below, taken with a mobile phone, show the seating configuration on the buses used on Route 271 from Highgate to Moorgate, compared with a normal bus.
The lack of legroom is such that it is physically impossible for a person of my size to be seated without either occupying both seats, with my legs splayed apart, or sideways on the outermost seat, with my legs in the aisle. Either way is singularly uncomfortable! Admittedly at 6 ft I’m quite tall, but I’m hardly in the Peter Crouch league.
Below is the rather condescending reply I got when I raised this matter with TfL back in March. The buses were converted to facilitate disabled access, but rather than accept a slightly reduced capacity they hit on the brilliant idea of reducing the legroom. The assertion that the majority of passengers can sit without difficulty is nonsense – I have a friend who is 5ft4 who finds them uncomfortable. I doubt if anybody but a young child could be seated in comfort.
Dear Mr Seddon
Thank you for your recent email about leg room on the route 271 buses.
I am sorry to learn that you have found the seats uncomfortable and too close together. Please accept my apologies for any discomfort and inconvenience you have suffered as a result. We do try to operate an efficient service for the benefit of all our passengers.
Since the beginning of 2006, all London buses have been of a low floor, accessible design. In order to accomplish this we had to alter the seating layout on new buses so that overall passenger capacity was not reduced because of the accessible design.
I can assure you that all London buses operated on our behalf meet the necessary legal regulations (including those related to safety). All public service vehicles in the UK must comply with the legal requirements before they can enter service.
We do have a Bus Design Forum which provides us with passenger feedback about the diverse needs of commuters and the barriers they encounter. We ensure that the Forum is representative, by recruiting members from different user groups. This includes older people, young people, wheelchair users, passengers using buggies and people with learning difficulties or physical impairments. All buses are built to standards specifications which fulfil the standards detailed by the Disabled Passengers Transport Advisory Committee.
The comments received from the Forum are fed into our discussions with bus operators and manufacturers about bus design. Our decision to ensure that all new buses have a vertical grab rail at the end of every seat on the lower deck of buses is one such outcome from discussions with the Forum.
The seat dimensions on buses enable the majority of passengers to stand or be seated without difficulty. I appreciate that you have found the route 271 buses to be restrictive in this respect. Once again, I am sorry about this.
We will continue to work with the operating companies, bus manufacturers and the Bus Design Forum to ensure that each new bus design is better than the last.
Thank you for contacting me about this matter. Please let me know if I may be of any further assistance.
Basically, given a choice between a slight reduction in capacity and making the upper deck of the bus horribly uncomfortable for just about everybody, they opted for the latter. As is all too often said these days, you couldn't make it up!
© Christopher Seddon 2008