The No. 30 London Bus Bomb.

By Veronica Chapman, June, 2006

1.      I drove buses in South-West London for 3½ years. So obviously I know how the bus services operate. Furthermore I am very much in touch with one of my previous garages of employment, having written, on their behalf, some software which is in (almost weekly) usage by the Controlling Staff. Because of my history, and the production of this software, I am on first name terms with most of the Controlling Staff, including the Chief Controller. Unfortunately (or fortunately … whichever way you look at it) this garage is not one that belongs to the Stagecoach Company (the operators of the No. 30 bus in question). Its operations, however, are controlled by London Transport (Transport for London, TfL), and consequently its operations are in line with Stagecoach to a very large extent. From this I can fairly readily deduce what happened to the No. 30 bus.

2.      It is imperative to understand a certain amount of background. I apologise for this, but I have kept it to the minimum in order to document my deductions.

a.      The first thing to understand is that bus drivers are not taxi drivers. Bus drivers are taught routes, and must stick to them (under normal circumstances). Buses can only proceed off-route if given instructions to do so. Any other diversion is firstly a disciplinary offence, and secondly is not expected of a driver for the simple reason that the driver is not expected to know where side-roads lead.

b.     There are only three possible bus diversions:

                                                              i.      By the Garage Controlling Staff;

                                                            ii.      By CentreComm (the overall TfL control);

                                                          iii.      By the police.

c.      Cases i and ii are similar, and very different from case iii. Case iii is the case in question. The difference is simple. In cases i and ii the driver is informed, by radio, the entire diversionary route to take. This will be worked out beforehand, and will be designed to place the driver back on route with the minimum of time lost, and the minimum of bus stops unserved. Case iii is ‘ad hoc’. It will comprise the police telling the driver to go ‘that way, you can’t go this way’. That’s it. It is then left up to the driver and the Garage Controllers to work out what to do. In this case the driver will need to stop (park) as soon as possible (minimising the distance off route), and contact the Garage Controllers appraising them of the situation. This will catch the Garage Controllers ‘on the hop’. The driver will need to stand by, while the Controllers work out a suitable diversionary route. Once worked out, this will be radioed to the driver, who will follow the instructions given.

d.     There is one other case not discussed above. It is possible for the Emergency Services to ‘commandeer’ a bus in order to move a quantity of people away from an area, or (as was the case on 7/7) to hospital. It is known that a number of buses were commandeered in this fashion in order to take those with minor injuries to hospital. The No. 30 bus can be ruled out of this equation for the very simple reason that it was parked and stationary when the bomb exploded. If it had been a commandeered bus then it would have been heading towards the nearest hospital. (Quite obviously, if there were injured people on board). In the case of commandeering the driver will be asked if he/she knows the way. If the driver says yes, then he/she will be left to take the known route to hospital. If not, then either a policeman or St. John’s Ambulance medic (etc.) will board the bus to guide the driver. There is no need for the bus to be stationary.

3.      To work out what happened it is necessary to consult this map of the area:

The blue arrow shows the normal line of route. The No. 30 came along the Euston Road (l-to-r), and took a left turn at the traffic lights at the far end of Euston Station. It then proceeded to left turn again into Euston Square and parked at its bus stop. We are told that the alleged bus bomber boarded here at 9:30am. Pulling away from the stop the No. 30 would now do right turns out of Euston Square , cross the main road, and back to the traffic lights. It would be signalling left to continue on towards Kings Cross. It was here that the police diverted it straight ahead, into Upper Woburn Place. Referring to what I said above about case iii ad hoc police diversions, the driver would have found the first parking place (large enough for a bus), which was about 300 yards down Upper Woburn Place, outside the BMA building. This is opposite Tavistock Square, and has postal address ‘Tavistock Square’. The driver would have radioed for instructions, and been told to stand by. At 9:47am, i.e. 17 minutes from Euston Square, the bomb exploded.

4.      It would have taken the bus a maximum of 2 minutes to arrive at the traffic lights, when it was diverted. It was the only bus diverted. The alleged bus bomber would have, therefore, been on board for 2 minutes (absolute maximum).

5.      One very important aspect has not been explained up until now. If a bus driver is given any reason whatsoever to suspect the safety of his/her passengers then that driver must immediately stop the bus, and disembark everyone until the bus is checked out. This could happen, for example if a passenger reports a seat to be on fire (started, for example, by a yob). Failure to do this would be a disciplinary offence leading to instant sacking. For this reason the driver could not possibly have been given any reason to suspect that his passengers were in any danger at all. Otherwise all of the passengers would have been disembarked when the bomb exploded. Consequently the police gave no indication to the driver. This does not mean that the police who diverted the bus lied or withheld information. They were almost certainly simply given orders to divert that bus, which they no doubt did visout kvestchion. But what it does mean is that someone, in the chain of police command, must have known the reason for the diversion, and not passed that information down though the chain of command.

6.      The bomb exploded while the driver was waiting for diversion instructions. This would easily account for the 15 minutes between the traffic light diversion and the explosion time. The Controllers would have been caught on the hop, and be working out the necessary itinerary. That would not be an easy task in the circumstances (havoc), bearing mind the narrow London streets, many one-way streets, etc.

The questions are, therefore:

A)   Why was it that only the bus that had received 20 hours of alleged CCTV Maintenance in the previous days was the one diverted (which must have been by virtue of its Vehicle Registration, because there is no other way for a ‘lay’ person to distinguish one bus from another)?

B)   How come this ‘maintenance’ was undertaken by a person with whom the Garage Controllers were unfamiliar? I can assure the reader that this situation is unheard of.. The Garage Controlling Staff know everyone who comes to maintain the Ticket Machines and the CCTVs. How someone got through ‘the system’ is a mystery. He must have had a cast-iron excuse. Note: Health & Safety regulations require that anyone doing this kind of work ‘signs in’. There must, therefore, exist some form of record as to who this ‘maintenance engineer’ was.

C)   Why did the police not divert the bus when it arrived in the area? Why wait another 5 minutes for it to go around Euston Square and pick up the alleged bomber?

D)  When the bus was diverted the alleged bomber had been on board for between 1 and 2 minutes at the most.  Do the police have ESP? 

E)   The police who gave the bus driver orders know who gave them those orders. The one giving the orders knows who gave them orders, etc. It is a simple matter to find out who knew more than they ‘let on’. When a murder is committed the police have an immediate £50,000 budget for investigation. Quite a few people were murdered on 7/7. The Investigatory Budget must therefore be substantial. Why could not some of this money be spent on finding out who originated the diversion? (Note: Tony Blair says we do not need an Inquiry. Personally I say we very much do, for the reasons I give here).