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Anorak | We’re Not Going On An Olympic Holiday

We’re Not Going On An Olympic Holiday

by | 26th, May 2008

ALL change. The No. 16 to Beijing will not be stopping at Beijing.

Proposals to send a red double-decker bus by road from London to China, to coincide with the Olympics, have been dropped after critics derided the idea as a gimmick and a waste of almost half a million pounds…

Taxpayers will still pay more than half the bill for the project, lauded by Ken Livingstone, because of the expense incurred in planning the journey and hiring bus drivers.

The move comes as Boris Johnson, the new Mayor of London, launches an Olympics cost-cutting drive and says that as few officials as possible would be attending the Games.

Mr Livingstone claimed that the Beijing trip would highlight London’s public transport system to the world, via one of its most recognisable symbols, and help to forge ties with China.

It was cancelled last week by London 2012 organisers and Transport for London (TfL), which funded the journey, in the wake of the earthquake in Sichuan province.

The trip, which was to be undertaken by eight drivers at a cost of £450,000, was considered to be unsafe and in bad taste, given the scale of the disaster. However, given that Mr Johnson had denounced it during the election campaign as a publicity stunt and a “ludicrous waste of public money”, the decision was regarded by his aides as a “happy coincidence”.

A spokesman for Mr Johnson said: “He was already very sceptical about it and in need of persuading, but TfL and the Olympics board reflected on the earthquake and decided to pull it anyway.”

Mr Johnson scrapped another facet of Mr Livingstone’s legacy when he axed a controversial tie-up with Venezuela, and half-price bus and tram travel for some of the capital’s least well-off. Mr Livingstone signed a deal with the South American nation’s state-owned oil company last year, agreeing to provide transport advice in return for a 20 per cent cut in TfL’s bus fuel bill.

The savings were used to offer discount fares to around 250,000 people on income support.

At the launch of his successful campaign to oust the two-term Labour Mayor, Mr Johnson called the deal with Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez “completely Caracas”.

No room up top – although it’s empty…



Posted: 26th, May 2008 | In: Back pages, Broadsheets, Politicians Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink