It’s been a political fixture since the 70s, and inevitably in the final days leading to elections, our TV screens are filled with footage of politicians hopping on and off of appropriately-coloured buses and chatting to the waiting crowds. But this year, who’s driving what, and more importantly, are they liftsharing?
In alphabetical order…
Well, it won’t surprise anyone to hear that this year’s bus is bright blue, but the Tories are riding in an Irizar coach – so Spanish built, to fit with the topical Europe theme with, of course, Union Flags painted on the outside.
The inside of the bus is kitted out with comfy black leather seats, plasma TVs, plenty of power sockets for phones and laptops, and sandwiches, fresh fruit and a coffee machine. There are journalists on-board, but strictly by invitation-only… so David Cameron’s on the right road to liftsharing, but not quite listing available journeys yet.
We’d expect nothing less than an eco-friendly alternative for the Greens, and they’re travelling around this year in a bus that’s running on cooking oil and chip fat. Emblazoned with giant sunflowers, it’s a converted London red Routemaster that will only be driving for the final fortnight before the election, and so ensuring their carbon footprint is kept as small as they can manage.
Voters and party members are invited on-board, and anyone’s welcome to hop on and chat – so the Greens seem open to liftsharing, but we have yet to peek at the interior to suss it out!
Labour’s transport choice has already made the headlines this year, with them packing a punch across 3 vehicles – a full-sized Mercedes coach, Ed Miliband’s silver Fiat minibus, and Harriet Harman’s pink ‘Women to Women’ minibus.
The downside of course to Labour’s battle buses has been the performance thus far, with the silver minibus breaking down on the first day of use, but, they’re certainly gaining a reputation as party buses (and not just of the political kind!). There’s been rumours of cupcakes, hen parties, and lots of selfies. That said, journalists are looking at £100 per day to ride with Labour, so although well on the way to liftsharing, they’re still looking a little pricy.
Travelling in a large 42-seat Van Hool, the Lib Dems won’t go unnoticed in their very bright yellow coach! The inside not only has broadcast facilities for Nick Clegg to deliver radio interviews whilst in transit, but also on-board lighting in, of course, bright yellow. There’s even a party member on-board to serve coffee.
The Van Hool is very big, and does for the most part need to stick to pretty major roads (it got stuck in Oxfordshire, so best to play it safe from now on). The big bus is, however, separated into three areas – for journalists, the campaign team, and a VIP area curtained off at the back. This isn’t really ideal for liftsharing, but at least they’re all travelling together… but at £750 for a day ticket, they may not be quite ready to join us yet!
The purple and yellow comes at us this year in both a Mercedes coach and a Smart car.. The former has yet to be sighted much out and about, but is an open-top custom-painted coach that’s well suited to seeing the sights of Great Britain’s lovely cities and towns.
However, the latter may well not actually be road-worthy. In place of the EU flag on the number plate, they’ve customised a small UKIP logo. This isn’t actually on the DVLA’s approved list of symbols, so could be tricky if actually taking it out. But, a party member told a newspaper recently that their MPs would be hitting the campaign trail on public transport, so they’re sharing their transport with lots of people, one way or another.
What do you think? Who would you liftshare with… and which of the battle buses takes your fancy the most?
Author Lex Barber