Thursday, December 25, 2008

Transport for London

Dezeen ran a story on Transport for London's competition to design a new bus for London during the Northern summer. Below are a couple of interesting and quite cute design entries from Aston Martin and Foster + Partners (first pic) and by London-based architect Matthew Heywood (second pic, which looks Mini-inspired). The Aston Martin/F+P design was joint first place in the Imagine category.

For all its faults, public transport in London is still pretty darn good when you compare it to places like Sydney. As a person who only recently obtained a driver's licence (who dares ride with me, huh?), you could happily live there without needing or wanting a car. If you resided and worked in Zone 1 or Zone 2, most local amenities are within short walking distance and you are never more than 500m away from a tube station or major bus route.

So the tube system is ancient, overcrowded, dirty and intensely stifling during summer, but its network is extensive and services (when the lines are working) are frequent and relatively efficient. Buses run at regular intervals (even throughout the night on popular routes) and are inexpensive with a standard fare (no complicated red, blue, brown et al. zones!) for the whole route. I even like the much derided "bendy" buses which do what they were brought in to do by increasing the capacity on the busy routes that were once serviced by the ancient routemasters (which, although charming in an old fashion way, were dangerous, disability and elderly unfriendly and lacked passenger capacity). Also, you can board from the back doors and "accidentally" forget to swipe your Oyster card on the card reader (thinking like a East Ender there :-p !).

It would be interesting to see if the East London line does open as scheduled in June 2010. That would cut commuting time from places within Hackney Borough to destinations serviced by the London Underground lines such as Canary Wharf and West London quite considerably. With the new Hoxton and Haggerston stations only a few hundred metres from my old place, I can imagine it would also mean the accelerated gentrification of my old neighbourhood.

Speaking of my old neighborhood, oh how I miss buying the Guardian newspaper and a cupcake on Saturday mornings on Broadway Market; browsing with the other homosexualist couples and buying "two for a fiver" on Sunday mornings at Columbia Road Flower Market; the diverse mix of fashionistas, students, foreigners, yuppies, Bangladeshis and old school East Enders and weekend buzz of Spitalfields Market and Brick Lane, Haggerston Park and Hackney City Farm, strolling along the Regents Canal; the granola-crunchiness (and, to be crass, DILFs) of Church Street, Stokey... and the Turkish and Vietnamese restaurants!


j a s o n said...

You should perhaps consider in a country town doesn't seem to suit you.

I'll come visit!

Keith said...

Not enough money la. Plus, how am I going to get a visa?

It's been a bit tough adjusting back to life here but I think the worst is over and I'm sure 2009 will be a good year for me in Sydney! (Optimism... that's a new thing for me.)

Watch this space!