diamond geezer

 Sunday, July 07, 2013

Here is a photo of a number 425 bus.

I'm not posting it because the bus route is five years old this weekend (although it is).

I'm not posting it because that's a brand new vehicle on its first day (although it is).

I'm not posting it because as of yesterday route 425 is run by an Australian bus company (although it is. They're called Transit Systems, and their UK operation is called Tower Transit, and they bought up three First Bus garages last month, and they have a dull logo and a mostly empty website. They've bought up three London bus garages, including the garage in Leyton the 425 runs out of, so I now have an Australian bus going past my house).

I'm posting it because the blinds on the front used to be yellow. And now they're white. What is going on?

For years all blinds on London buses have had yellow writing on a black background. It's been the rules. Yellow on black, easy to read, ideal for inclusivity and the visually impaired. Not any more. Someone's changed the rules. Someone official now thinks white is easier to read than yellow. I'm not convinced.

All the New Buses on route 24 have white-on-black blinds. I've seen other buses with white-on-black blinds too. It seems that when new buses or new contracts are introduced, white is now replacing yellow. It'll be a gradual change, but eventually expect all London bus blinds to be white on black. OK, so that's how they all used to be in the not-so distant past. But what is going on?

August update: Clair asked TfL. Here's their response...

Re: Bus blind text colour

Thank you for your email dated 31 July 2013 regarding the recent change in the bus blind text colour. I am sorry for any inconvenience this matter may have caused you.

However, white lettering on a black background is the maximum contrast available which is why Transport for London (TfL) is using this format on bus destination blinds for all new buses entering service, following improvements to powerful LED lighting used to back illuminate blinds.

TfL previously used ‘dayglo’ yellow on black at a time when they were illuminated by ordinary bulbs or florescent tubes. Since then, TfL has reduced the number of words displayed and introduced much larger numbers and very bold destinations to increase visibility.

There are some other advantages of black and white over dayglo yellow which are not immediately apparent. Dayglo yellow fades over time. The route numbers fade more quickly as they are changed less often than destination. Thus we have inconsistency on vehicles.

The white on black that will now be used as the standard for new vehicles fully complies with the Discrimination Disability Act, as well as meets legibility standards. In addition, the heritage Routemasters on routes 9 and 15 have always retained their black and white blinds, and the prototype New Bus for London vehicles on route 38 were introduced with them.

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