Norris on pram-friendly bus is fine media fare: Minister of several affairs conducts attention. Rhys Williams reports

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The Independent Online
YESTERDAY was a big day for London Transport. Its new low- floor bus - just the job for people with prams and disabled passengers - was launched by Steven Norris, Minister for Transport in London.

The bus types outside the London Transport Museum talked of rosters ('I was on the N98 on New Year's Eve, terrible mess') and memories of rides gone by ('when I lived in Harrow, I used to take the number 19 to Queen's Park'). But everyone else had eyes and lenses fixed on Mr Norris, who allegedly serviced five mistresses. Mr Norris is very much the Government's unofficial spokesman on getting down to basics. Would he, as expected, be demonstrating how easy the new bus was to use by wheeling on a pram?

Helen Morris from LT's PR company hovered in the background with her 15-month-old daughter, while Mr Norris said the bus was 'the happy marriage (titters) between something that is good for disabled people and good for the bus companies themselves'.

Then it was Mrs Morris's turn to wheel Georgia on to the front of the number 222 to Uxbridge station. Mr Norris had meanwhile nipped on through the back door and disappeared under a ruck of reporters. Midway through Mrs Morris's subsequent wheel-on, wheel-off demonstration, Andrew Braddock, head of LT's unit for disabled passengers, swooped and led her away. 'They don't want me in the same shot as the minister,' she explained. 'Because his name is Norris and my name is Morris, and someone might think this is his love child.'

Confirmation that LT wanted to keep Mr Norris away from young women with small children came from Mr Braddock: 'Well, you know, people will put two and two together. It's very sensitive.'

The low floor of the new bus means no awkward steps for people with prams or disabled passengers, and puts it almost level with the pavement, allowing virtually a roll- on, roll-off effect. Now there's a manoeuvre Mr Norris knows a thing or two or about.

(Photograph omitted)