Boris (or TfL, who are increasingly operating as a semi-detached body these days) wants to build a tunnel under the Thames from the southern Blackwall Tunnel approach to Silvertown on the northern bank.  This is, fairly obviously, a rubbish idea from start to finish; induced traffic, sprawl, air pollution, obesity and congestion are what road projects bring, not alleviate as TfL claim, so I’m filling in their consultation as follows.  Note that they ask for your views on the consultation before you’ve filled it in or seen the questions:

“What do you think about the consultation itself (leaflets, website, publicity etc.)?”

“It is unclear as to what TfL’s consultation strategy is, given the plethora of consultations being offered to the public on east London river crossings and the fact that this is not apparently the statutory consultation required by the new fast track infrastructure planning process. It would be far better to have one, widely advertised consultation on a range of road and non-road based options.

The visualisations offered are misleading, since they give the impression a new road will not be used by traffic, when the opposite is true. They should be redone showing the expected level of traffic generated by the tunnel plus other visualisations produced showing the traffic induced in other areas where no congestion relief is planned, such as on the A2 approaching the tunnel or on local roads around Lewisham, Greenwich and Newham Boroughs.

Finally, in discussion of journey times (such as Lewisham to Stratford) no reference is made to the existing public transport alternatives – the existing DLR from Lewisham to Stratford is already quicker than the car journey now or with the tunnel.

“We consider that a new crossing is needed to improve the resilience of the road network in east London, relieve congestion at the Blackwall Tunnel and beyond and to support growth in London’s population. Do you agree that a new crossing is needed and could successfully address these issues?”

“The resilience of road networks is not increased by adding traffic to them, but by removing traffic *from* them. Since adding new roadspace such as Silvertown induces new traffic, which inevitably adds to congestion on routes where no roadspace has been added, the net effect will be to increase congestion and reduce the resilience of the network. It therefore fails in this primary objective.

As for supporting growth in London’s population, London has increased by approximately a million people over the last few years while road traffic has declined. There is therefore no supporting evidence for needing to support road traffic growth as an inevitable corollary of population growth. In fact the evidence is the other way.”

“Would you support a user charge that was similar to Dartford charges levels, and during peak periods slightly higher, to help pay for the new crossing and resulting in more reliable journey times and less overall delays?”

“The route, if tolled, would disincentivise use of it during peak times – that’s the point. Unless roadspace reallocation is planned in local town centres traffic will be displaced to those areas, worsening the local environment. Additionally a time-based user charge will incentivise travel around the edges (say at 6pm, as happens in the congestion charging zone). This will therefore push traffic seeking to avoid the tolls through residential areas in the early evening.

A true road pricing system would avoid these negative effects, actually deliver the targets for resilience and reliability and almost certainly avoid the need to pay for the expensive tunnel altogether.

“Would you sign-up to an account system, with the benefits of auto-pay and a charge that would be lower than what non-account holders would pay?”

“No.”

“The Silvertown Tunnel would create an opportunity for new cross-river bus connections. What sort of new bus connections do you think are important?”

“It is more important to improve the reliability and speed of existing public transport alternatives, which requires bus priority and reduction in traffic. This scheme includes neither, so it is immaterial what bus connections I consider important as they would not be effective.”

“We will link the new tunnel to the existing road network with new junctions in the Royal Docks and Greenwich Peninsula areas.

Do you agree that the new junction in the Royal Docks area on the north side provides the right connections?”

“No.”

“We will link the new tunnel to the existing road network with new junctions in the Royal Docks and Greenwich Peninsula areas.

Do you agree that the new junction at the Greenwich Peninsula on the south side provides the right connections?”

“No.”

“Please use the space below to let us know any additional comments you may have on our proposals for new junctions to link the tunnel to the existing road network:”

“The southern one appears to have extremely tight corners and a junction for merging traffic possibly with poor sight-lines.  The northern one, with a dual carriageway terminating on a signalled roundabout linking several existing roads, has extremely limited capacity and begs the question as to what the point of spending the thick end of a billion pounds on all that capacity is if you’re going to hold it up at traffic lights and expect an unmodified existing road network to disperse it”

“We have published a large number of technical reports. These deal with a number of disciplines, including traffic, the environment, optioneering and engineering, amongst others. If you have any comments on our methodology or approach to any of these disciplines, please let us know in the space below.”

“The traffic forecasts (st-silvertown-traffic-forecasting-report.pdf page 5) suggest that car use will continue to be a declining share of trips, yet no public transport alternatives for river crossings are being prioritised, nor is this called out properly.

This risks misleading people into thinking that car traffic growth is overwhelming when in fact it isn’t. Further, it indicates that new developments north of the river should (and probably will) cater primarily to the public transport mode share and therefore will disproportionately attract people via those modes despite the investment going into roads.

Far from supporting the case for the tunnel, the technical reports tell me that it could easily become a white elephant, never paying back its construction cost, because the developments it is intended to serve are not built to generate tolled trips via the tunnel.

It is clear that elsewhere in London major developments such as Kings Cross and Old Oak Common, the City margins or the existing Docklands sites are not demanding increased road space on this scale, and the reasons why this trend does not apply to the Royal Docks and other local developments are unclear.”

“Please use the space below to let us know any other thoughts you may have”

“It is dispiriting to find that in the 41 years since the 1973 abandonment of the Ringway plans, a decision which paved the way for London to lead UK transport policy economically and environmentally ever since, that the arguments that were entirely disproved by that decision have been ignored or forgotten.

- Encouraging car use does not automatically bring growth – we have had sizeable economic growth in London for years with reducing car use

- Building roadspace does not alleviate congestion – the M25 widening schemes that fill up immediately show this, as do myriad examples around the world.

- Increasing population does not require new roads – London’s population was around 7.1m in 2000 and is now 8.6m, without any additional roadspace and in the centre particularly quite large reductions

- The public do not demand the right to drive everywhere without congestion as much as they demand freedom from traffic in their local environment

The view that people need to drive from home to work and workplaces therefore need good road connections is wrong – in London commercial property developers, judging by where they choose to invest, know that good public transport access attracts top-rank tenants to their developments far more than being right beside a major road. They also know that land used for parking is land you can’t make money from, and without parking there’s no need for new roadspace. If no one’s building new commercial developments requiring car commuting and internet shopping is replacing car-based shopping, where is this vital traffic growth coming from?”

 

The unveiling of the stupidly named ‘New Tube For London’ was a relief for a few reasons – first, it wasn’t designed by Thomas bloody Heatherwick, and thus looks like a thoroughly modern urban metro rather than a badly executed nostalgia fantasy, second it looks nothing like the ugly Siemens concept that was flying around a couple of years go, but also because it confirms that two of Boris’s much-vaunted RMT bashing pronouncements were as false as we suspected all along:

Boris Johnson promises driverless Tube trains within 10 years

Mr Johnson, who is standing for re-election in May, said if returned to office he would not buy new Tube trains with drivers’ cabs.

Both the promise of driverless tube trains by 2022 and no purchase of trains with cabs have now unquestionably been broken.  As we’ve seen, the capacity crunch on the Northern and Jubilee, where the new SELTRAC signalling enables more trains to run but there aren’t enough trains, will require a purchase of a considerable number of new trains in the next year or so to avoid severe overcrowding.  Modern Railways ‘London Special’ in the October 2014 issue says:

Up to 68 new trains could be bought, but this is the top end of the estimate.  Current thinking is that five will be needed for the Battersea extension, 19 for service intensification on the Northern Line and between 10 and 18 for service intensification on the Jubilee.

The OJEU notice reveals that the project is now called ‘Jubilee and Northern Additional Trains’ (JNAT):

To support the planned upgrade of the Jubilee and Northern Lines and extension of Northern Line service to Battersea, TfL currently intends to purchase between 11 and 63 tube trains in 6 or 7 car formation. It is anticipated that the trains will be required to substantially replicate the gauging and functionality of the existing Jubilee and Northern Line rolling stock in the form of a “modern equivalent vehicle”. Apart from specific differences associated with infrastructure and operating differences, the new trains are expected to be of generally the same gauge and specification for each line. TfL may also include certain upgrades to the existing fleet on the Jubilee and/or Northern Lines within the contract. The scope of the contract, number of trains required and maintenance arrangements will be further defined following completion of ongoing feasibility studies.

These trains will have to have cabs, and train operators in them, because that’s how the Northern and Jubilee operate.  They will also be ‘new’, in the sense that TfL is aware that the existing design is 20 years old, so these will be substantially new designs, but to the same broad shape as existing ones, and one presumes similar interfaces and controls to reduce training costs.  The first is intended for service in 2017, so major changes to the operation of the line are out of the question, there isn’t time, and in fact 2017 is pretty ambitious given that no one currently has an in-production tube gauge train – the most recent ones apart from Bombardier’s Victoria Line stock were the extra carriages inserted into the Jubilee Line trains in 2005, which were built by Alstom in Spain.  It would be highly odd if anyone other than Alstom got the contract for these trains, since they built them and maintain them under a PFI deal, so are pretty much on their own as far as understanding the existing trains and the interaction with the lines.  Of course, the trains need new drivers, so one presumes the prediction last year that Boris will leave office with significantly more tube drivers holds true.  In fact the number are likely to have gone up.

So, why are the Piccadilly Line trains, which are a new design restricted to one line, not driverless from day one?  The basic engineering facts are:

  1. Mixed running – the large new fleet will take several years to deliver, starting in 2022.  You can’t run driverless and non-driverless on the same line
  2. The enhanced frequencies require automated train operation – computers are better train drivers – and this will be SELTRAC as on the Northern and Jubilee and by then the SSL lines too, barring another procurement disaster
  3. PEDs – TfL now appear to accept that driverless trains require platform edge doors, which are complicated and expensive to add to existing stations, particularly given the amount of traffic on the lines – out of hours installation is also constrained by the 24 hour tube plans.
  4. The Piccadilly has 53 stations, 25 of them below ground. At any conceivable level of progress (say one a month) fitting PEDs to all stations will take several years to complete.
  5. You can’t start installing PEDs until the old trains go, as it’s unlikely the door spacings will match (unless TfL accept this as a limitation of their new design, and even if they did you’d need to equip the trains you’re about to scrap with interlocks to open the PEDs)
  6. Until you’ve got all stations PED equipped you can’t run driverless trains due to the risk of grating the customers down the tunnels
  7. There are a number of stations where PEDs are problematic due to platforms shared with the different length/different door spacings of S-Stock (Acton Town and Ealing Common plus Rayners Lane to Uxbridge).  London Reconnections covers this extensively here.

This means, regardless of what Boris and his anti-RMT cheerleaders want there’s no engineering prospect of unattended operation on the Piccadilly in 2022, nor really until around 2030, to give enough time for the new trains to bed in, old trains to be removed, PEDs to be introduced everywhere and any service changes to cope with mixed stock made.  Since there’s a train operator at the front there has to be a cab for them, so TfL’s next two tube stock purchases will be of two different designs of cabbed tube train, totalling more than 150 sets.

Even once you’ve got the engineering sorted it’s not clear that UTO will mean no staff on the trains (for evacuation assistance reasons if nothing else, as there are no walkways down the side of the train as are normally provided on new lines like Crossrail/DLR/JLE) as this RMT leaked document shows:

One of the key areas of concern for many members of our train teams is the prospect of ‘driverless trains’. However, let’s be clear – when the New Tube is introduced it will have an operator (driver) on board. No final decision has been made on the long term staffing arrangements of the New Tube

If you’re a train operator today and you’re prepared to be flexible you will continue to have a job, in the cab of a train, for your entire career at LU

In short, UTO is sufficiently far off for most RMT members to be retired and on their pensions by then, so one assumes their usual woofing is in fact hiding a large helping of ‘I told you so’ and some grins. They know that TfL are constrained by rising passenger numbers, limited funding and basic engineering facts and will be hiring large numbers of new train operators over the next decade.  In turn TfL know that they’ve got to build some industrial relations bridges after the disastrous Boris era, and the soothing tone of the briefing document suggests that they are beginning this process.  The sum total of Boris spending six years shouting about driverless trains is no driverless trains, more strikes, zero tube trains ordered and a rush to buy enough to cope with the ever-growing congestion on the network.

 

Boris Johnson has allegedly been assaulted on an East Coast train on the way back to Kings Cross this evening:


He was spotted on his way North on a train last night:


and apparently spent today engaging in that people’s sport of grouse shooting:

 

£40 to you, squire/lady. Yes, Boris Johnson’s found time in his busy schedule of running London electioneering in Uxbridge, dashing off his £250,000 chickenfeed column and writing weighty tomes of biography with attendant research trips to take part in a Q+A with Telegraph Head of Books, discussing his new book.

 

Someone please remind Boris Johnson that he’s (supposedly) the Mayor of London and is meant to work for Londoners.

Earlier this week, Johnson visited the HQ of Nationwide Building Society in Swindon - located near the M4 motorway due to ease of access to Heathrow Airport. You remember, that place which provides direct and indirect employment for over 100,000 people yet Boris Johnson wants to raze it to the ground and build a new play-set for himself in the Thames Estuary.

Then again, now he’s pretending that Heathrow would stay open in the unlikely event that his new toy was ever built. Like a petulant toddler, however, he’s refusing to be told and has vowed to continue to waste time and money on just one of his many vanity projects – £5.2m of Transport for London’s budget [PDF] has been squandered due to Johnson’s pig-headedness.

Johnson’s visit to a company several counties away from London was part of his attempts to pretend that he cares about businesses outside the capital – only yesterday he was feigning interest about industry in Stoke:


The reason for Johnson’s new-found enthusiasm for the regions is that he is angling for a Cabinet position after his election as MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

Why waste time on the concerns of Londoners when you can travel about at their time and expense, campaigning for Wiltshire Conservative candidates:


Have afternoon tea at a Wiltshire hotel:


and then be the cabaret at a swanky fundraising dinner for Somerset Conservatives?

A tiring day of self-publicity for the Mayor of London on Tuesday this week, so he’d be back hard at work for Londoners at City Hall the next day? Not quite. The prospective Conservative candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip obviously has better things to do:


This is what Londoners can expect until the end of Johnson’s term as Mayor of London in May 2016 – complete disregard for the job he is being paid to do and utter contempt for those who were foolish enough to vote him in. Boris’s number one priority is Boris.

 

£3m of TfL’s budget has already been wasted by Boris Johnson on lobbying for a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary, despite the fact that the Mayor of London has no responsibility for aviation and no jurisdiction over Kent.

Not content with publication of the report Making Connections: Improving the UK’s Domestic Aviation Connectivity with a New Four Runway Hub Airport [PDF] a mere two months ago, Johnson then commissioned the same organisations, York Aviation and Oxford Economics, to produce yet another report, Gateway To Our Future: Why The UK Needs A New Hub Airport [PDF]which was released today – on the same day that Johnson’s Conservative candidate application for the seat of Uxbridge and South Ruislip was revealed.

Johnson’s astonishing level of political interference in the aviation capacity debate sees the latest report exhort readers to contact the Aviation Commission or their MP and both reports feature the website address www.newairportforlondon.com on their back covers, whilst the latest report also carries the Twitter address @NewAirport4UK.

www.newairportforlondon.com diverts to the Estuary Airport propaganda page on TfL’s website whilst the Twitter account @NewAirport4UK is evidently the complementary social media account which is staffed by TfL.

Johnson’s role as Mayor of London has meant that he has been able to plunder Transport for London’s budget to waste on his own personal projects – a not-fit-for-purpose bus, a money-haemorrhaging cycle hire scheme which he promised would be at no cost to taxpayers, a cable car which is nothing more than a tourist attraction rather than public transport, a privately-owned garden bridge which he can’t see the point of and a fantasy airport which would see the closure of Heathrow Airport, the largest single-site employer in the UK which provides work for many residents in Uxbridge and South Ruislip, where Johnson is desperate to be elected as MP.

 

It was confirmed today that the Mayor of London has submitted his application as prospective Conservative candidate for Uxbridge and South Ruislip to Conservative Campaign HQ.

Boris Johnson’s current term as Mayor of London does not expire until May 2016 yet his desire to return to Parliament means that, if selected for Uxbridge and South Ruislip, it’s possible that he will both serve as an MP and continue in his post as Mayor of London.

London’s part-time Mayor already has his weekly chickenfeed column in the Telegraph and has been devoting a considerable amount of time to his forthcoming biography of Winston Churchill - curious, then, that at his first general news conference as Mayor, in June 2008, he announced that he was standing down as MP for Henley, saying:


This job, here in City Hall, is simply too big, and it is growing all the time

What has changed? If the job of Mayor of London is simply too big to cope with whilst also serving as an MP, how much contempt does Johnson have for Londoners?

Yes, Ken Livingstone continued to serve as MP for Brent East until June 2001, just over a year after he was first elected Mayor of London, but Livingstone did not spend this time canvassing for re-election as MP, yet Johnson will spend the time from his successful selection up until the 2015 General Election canvassing for Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

 

We could take a guess…

 

We may just have an inkling…

Possibly the same idiot who appeared on Vanessa Feltz’s BBC Radio London show this morning [limited availability online] denying any evidence that there’s a heat problem on his “stupid vanity buses” :


Vanessa Feltz: This is from Sandy – I’ve got to tell you that these are Sandy’s sentiments and they’re put in Sandy’s own personal way and this is what Sandy says:

“Ask him about his stupid vanity buses that cost half a million pounds each but have no open windows. I had to get off one, the last time I used the 38, and that was on a cool day in May”

I must say, the heat in the buses, or On The Buses, Reg Varney-style, and the heat down on the Tubes, is one of the pressing London conversations at this point. It’s the sort of thing when, you know, people are standing at the water cooler recovering, having to tip a glass of water over their heads because they’re so hot, this is what they’re talking about – boy, was it hot on the bus and the Tube.

Boris Johnson: Sure. For starters, the buses cost nothing like that amount and there’s no evidence at the moment, and I’ve asked TfL this question, there’s no evidence that the buses…they’re all as hot as each other or as cool as each other. We’re trying to, obviously, make them cooler, and on the Tube we’re putting in a huge amount of stuff to make that system better. I’ll single out the air-conditioned service on the Metropolitan and Circle, Hammersmith and City.

Vanessa Feltz: Loads of people are saying “Go on the Metropolitan Line, it’s the only one that’s cool!” – that’s exactly what they’re saying.

Boris Johnson: That’s right, well, the, the, the…but it’s coming. The new Tube for London, it’s going to be on the Piccadilly, the Central, the Bakerloo and the Waterloo and City lines so that will be a cooled train, that will being heat relief, as it were, to 8 out of 11 of the Tube lines. And on the stations, I mean, we’ve got this incredible…we’re pumping ground-water out, we’re pumping it through the sta…we’re cooling the stations with fans, we’ve got chiller units, we’ve got all sorts of devices for trying to cool down the stations. I do appreciate that it’s hot and I do, you know, as the Chairman of TfL, I apologise to Londoners who are suffering excess heat.

Vanessa Feltz: Dwayne says: “The old Routemasters are definitely better than the new Routemasters”


“They’re all as hot as each other or as cool as each other” – No, they’re not. Some of London’s double-decker buses have very effective air-conditioning units positioned on the upper decks, above the stairs. I proved in September last year that a Routemaster built more than 50 years ago was three degrees cooler than a brand new “New Routemaster” and there is no evidence to convince me that this situation has changed.

When TfL Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy and “New Routemaster” designer Thomas Heatherwick took a spin on an empty bus just over a year ago, to “prove” that the new buses weren’t airless sweat-boxes, they gave no evidence of the temperature they recorded.

I think we’re going to see exactly the same TfL attitude as last year – continual denials that there’s anything wrong with these vehicles, holding out until the weather gets cooler and people have forgotten. London can expect over 300 more of these not-fit-for-purpose buses to enter service on central London routes by 2016, condemning even more bus users to journeys made thoroughly unpleasant and, in some cases, utterly unbearable by this badly-designed vanity bus.

A round-up of passengers’ experiences in the last couple of days:

 

The hottest day of the year so far in London today – 30°C.

Boris Johnson has described his “New Routemaster” as having amazing new air conditioning .

TfL Commissioner Sir Peter Hendy has claimed that the new bus, when the cooling is working properly, is cooler than the equivalent latest ordinary bus .

TfL have recently stated The air cooling system on NRMs is now working effectively on virtually all vehicles in the fleet as verified by assurance checks carried out in early summer.

Can we, then, assume that the temperatures for passengers onboard the vehicles today were perfectly acceptable and exactly what could reasonably be expected from a bus touted as being designed for Londoners and the bus to the future?

Why not compare the tweets that follow with those from a year ago:

To get to the nub of the problem:

It’s summer – this is what the weather is like in summer. To explain in terms that even Boris Johnson could understand: In the autumn, it gets a bit chilly. After that comes winter, when it’s pretty nippy and you’ll want to wrap up warm. Then comes spring, when it gets warmer. Spring becomes summer, when temperatures increase even further until it’s really quite hot, like it is today.

Boris Johnson, however, like many of his fellow Conservatives, is a climate change-denier – his favourite meteorologist is one Piers Corbyn.

When Boris Johnson was first elected Mayor of London in 2008, one of his manifesto pledges [PDF] was:


commissioning a 21st century Routemaster with conductors



We’re now into the second decade of the 21st century and it’s been apparent for quite some time that summers are getting hotter. 600 of Boris Johnson’s “New Routemaster” buses will be on London’s streets until at least 2026 – they have a projected working life in London of 14 years. This, remember, is a bespoke bus which was supposedly designed specifically for London – a city whose summer temperatures make a vehicle with sealed windows and inadequate air cooling utterly unsuitable.

In the 2007 BBC TV programme Climate Change – Britain Under Threat, presenter Kate Humble examined the effects of increasing temperature on transport:


We’re already seeing the first signs of a warmer climate. Last July was the hottest since records began. But, with prolonged high temperatures, comes danger, especially for the very young and the elderly. In August 2003, during a ten-day heatwave, 35,000 people across Europe died from the heat. It’s predicted that by 2020, heatwaves like this will be 25 times more likely.

The impact will be felt most in our cities – that’s because of a phenomenon called the Urban Heat Island. What happens is that buildings and man-made surfaces absorb much more heat than green spaces do. That heat is then slowly released, increasing city air temperatures well into the night. On 9 August 2003, central London recorded night-time temperatures 9 degrees hotter than the surrounding countryside. So, is there anything we can do to cope with the anticipated increase in heat?

In London, one of the hottest places is the Underground. If a train breaks down in a tunnel, then the situation can, quite quickly, become really dangerous. In July 2001, 4,000 people were trapped for 90 minutes. Temperatures soared to 40 degrees. 17 people were taken to hospital and nearly 600 were treated for heat problems. But trying to cool down the Tube is a major challenge. You’d think the obvious answer would be air conditioning, but the problem is that most of the tunnels on the Underground network are simply too narrow to fit air conditioning on the outside of the trains. And even if you could, the air conditioning systems would simply throw the heat back out onto the platforms.

But now, London Underground believes it may have found an answer. Parts of the Victoria Line are so deep underground that they’re actually below the water table. Pumping stations work around the clock to prevent the tunnels from flooding. David Waboso, London Underground’s Head Engineer, hopes that this water will help cool down the Tube.

Waboso: “The Victoria’s got a particular abundance of ground-water, we pump out enough to fill two Olympic-size pools every hour”

Humble: “That’s extraordinary, and it feels quite cool down here compared to upstairs”

Waboso: “It’s quite cold, it’s about 11-12 degrees centigrade”

This cold ground-water is pumped up to the station where it cools the air.

Humble [on platform, holds hand up to vent]: “Yeah, I can definitely feel that the air is definitely cooler coming out of there”

It’s early days, but they are already seeing a drop of 2 degrees Celcius.

Humble: “But the real problem is on the trains themselves. How’s that going to help the people on the trains?”

Waboso: “If we did this all over the station, eventually the whole station would cool down, the cold air gets into the tunnels and the trains get cooler”

A 2 degree fall in temperature so far is, no doubt, a help, but is it enough? Cooling the Tube in the years ahead is going to be an increasing challenge but the impact of heat doesn’t just stop with London Underground. By 2020, thanks to our hotter summers, we could face major problems across the country on all our transport networks. The first effects of climate change we will face are likely to be nuisance and cost. Rail lines can buckle in the heat, causing delays and chaos to commuters. Our roads can soften, like these did last year in Norfolk. One answer would be to resurface using better, heat-resistant materials, but with nearly 250,000 miles of road it could take decades.


Boris Johnson’s predecessor, Ken Livingstone, delivered what he promised - air-conditioned trains on several of the London Underground lines. Sadly for Ken, the first air-conditioned trains were delivered just a few months after Boris Johnson had been elected Mayor of London, so Johnson took all the credit for them. And yes, they work, unlike Boris Johnson’s promised amazing new air conditioning on his “New Routemaster”:

 

Last weekend saw London’s celebration of 60 years of the first prototype of the Routemaster bus – the vehicle which saw regular service on the streets of London for nearly 50 years. Boris Johnson’s New Routemaster (née New Bus For London) is an attempt to ape the external design of (and cash in on the perceived nostalgic affection for) the AEC Routemaster.

It took 11 years of design and development and four different prototypes from three different manufacturers before London Transport were satisfied that the Routemaster was ready to go into full-scale production.

Boris Johnson’s new bus, however, was rushed through for political reasons, with more attention given to superficial aesthetics than practicality and capacity specifications.

Despite several hundred New Routemasters now being in service, they are still under-capacity due to being overweight, meaning the vehicles each carry fewer passengers than the standard double-deckers which they replaced. As they are also much longer than any other current London bus, they take up even more road space.

The New Routemaster has been touted by Transport for London as the “Bus To The Future” yet it is becoming more and more apparent that there are many problems with the vehicles which TfL refuse to acknowledge. Tom has covered TfL’s caginess in releasing details of the vehicle’s fuel economy.

Apart from failing to achieve the promised reduction in fuel consumption, the new buses frequently break down, a fact which is becoming more widely noticed as the vehicles are rolled out onto more routes:

We have been sent, anonymously, a list of major faults noted by a driver of the New Routemaster (reproduced verbatim):

10 major problems with this new Boris Bus…
1.fare dodgers sneeking on at the back door.

2. 1 button opens all 3 doors at the same time causing problems when the bus is rammed full but someone has rang the bell for the next stop where there are some 10+ passengers waiting to get on, need I say more!!

3. upstairs passengers sometimes will not get up from their seats until the bus has stopped, by this time the doors have been open long enough that boarding passenges are now walking up the stairs!!

4. no camera monitor on the centre door when moving, this creates a problem when alighting wheelchair users as you can not align the ramp between obsticals i.e. lamppost, bins and bollards ect.

[5 is missing from our transcript]

6. the air cooling does not work hard enough in hot weather so the bus feels like a mobile greenhouse.

7. the internal mirrors that look down inside are to small and reflect light off the perspex reflective screen, so you can not see anything in them.

8. reliability issues…bells, oyster readers, blinds not working, automated anouncements coming out wrong, doors not closing properly, air pressure problems, overheating batteries and other software problems.

9. the windscreen wipers arc upwards dragging rain water to the top of the screen so that in a heavy downpoor the water falls back down the screen in your line of vision.

10. it’s plain ugly at the front!!

TfL have got this completely wrong, £30m development cost and £345,000 per bus…more than twice the cost of a normal bus that does the job better!! They could have saved millions by just using a conventional hybrid bus with 1 stairwell and 2 doors…on at the front, off at the back, IT WORKS!!

Conventional hybrid double-deckers may well work, Mr Bus Driver, but they do not pay tribute to the ego of Boris Johnson, which is the purpose of the New Routemaster.

23°C in London at midday today, so how is the vehicle’s air cooling system, which, despite repeated and continued evidence to the contrary, TfL claim is “working effectively” and “provides reasonable comfort in normal summer conditions”:

A comment from a tweeter in Ballymena, where the New Routemaster is manufactured:


Retweeted by a London journalist who obviously feels their pain:

Windows? Who needs old-fashioned ventilation when expensive mechanical air cooling which is utterly inadequate can make your bus look “futuristic”:

Good luck to anybody forced to use these vehicles tomorrow as temperatures are predicted to reach 31°C in London.