What you won’t read. Quick maths to see how much capacity the 24 will lose when shiny new Borismasters take over in June:
- PVR 27 (buses on the road at peak time)
- Current mix of buses:
- 5: H39/21D Volvo B5L / Wrightbus Gemini 2 hybrid double deckers (VWH’s)
- 24: H39/23D Volvo B9TL / Wrightbus Gemini 2 double deckers
- Assuming all 5 lower capacity hybrids are in use along with 22 diesels that’s
- 39*27 = 1053 top deck seats
- 21*5 + 23*22 = 611 lower deck seats
- All of these can carry up to 87 passengers* as they come in 100kg under the 12,000kg mark, so that’s 27*5 for the hybrids and 25*22 for the diesels = 685 standees
- Future 27 NB4Ls:
- 40*27 = 1080 top deck seats
- 22*27 = 594 lower deck seats
- 18*27 = 486 standees
Summing up we go from:
- Top deck: 1053 to 1080, increase of 2.5%
- Lower deck seats: 611 to 594, decrease of 2.8%
- Standees: 685 to 486, decrease of 29.1%
- Lower deck total: 1296 to 1080, decrease of 16.7%
- Total capacity: 2349 to 2160, decrease of 8.0%
I’ve no idea how crowded the route is at present, but losing 16%+ of your lower deck capacity overnight would hurt most inner London routes where people don’t always check upstairs.
* Wrightbus actually claim 91 as a maximum with 29 standees on the two door B9TL, but I’ve gone with the TfL specification of 87.
Thanks to Simon Harris of ITV for taking and tweeting this picture:
We can now confirm the maths in the previous post and say that contrary to what Boris and TfL have been saying for years they’ve just spunked £212m on a 600 buses which carry 9% fewer passengers than a regular off the shelf hybrid, which is also 25% cheaper.
We still don’t know the fuel consumption because TfL won’t tell us. The ICO will be contacted later about TfL’s refusal to answer simple FoI requests.
For comparison, here’s the stats for the the original long Routemaster (RML) against the ‘best bus in the world’ (as Boris put it):
- RML: 7874kg – 72 seats – 5 standing
- NB4L: 12460kg – 62 seats – 18 standing
So the NB4L achieves the magnificent feat of weighing 58% more despite having fewer seats.
Prompted by @tomburke999 on Twitter, I’ve worked out the cost per passenger of the New Bus compared to a notional* 87-passenger £300k hybrid:
- 8 pre-production buses of 77 capacity – £11m
- 600 production buses of 80 capacity (so far) – £212m
- Total 608 buses at £223m including development costs (which we’re assuming won’t ever be defrayed by sales outside London because, well, they won’t)
- That’s actually £367k per bus, not the £354k calculated purely for the production vehicles
It’s also 8*77 + 600*80 = 48616 passengers, at a cost of £4587 per passenger. Our notional hybrid is 300000/87 = £3448. So that’s a nice round 33% more expensive per passenger, then.
This isn’t just a numbers exercise, though – London’s transport grant is being slashed by George Osborne and the DfT just as Boris is putting TfL’s cash into a bus that costs substantially more to carry people around. That’s going to hurt someone at some point, either through being unable to meet demand for travel as London expands or by continuing massive fare hikes. The Greens have started pointing this out:
The New Bus for London is an expensive vanity project which the next Mayor will abandon as an outdated and polluting waste of money. Londoners’ simply can’t afford the higher fares that will come from paying £37m a year to bus assistants whose only real job is to stop people falling off the rear platform when it is open.
Indeed, what the next Mayor does with them is difficult, there’s no doubt they’re conceptually popular with the public, because the relentless presentation is entirely on the upside and they falsely think they’re getting conductors and an open platform and they’ll operate widely across London. It’s got friends in very high places in TfL (Hendy and Daniels) who are presumably not challenged from below, and certainly not from above. I’ve long thought that when Boris goes TfL will quietly abandon the standing around doing nothing person and use them purely as three door open boarding vehicles (a bit like, er, bendy buses), which will at least offset some of the cost. We sure as hell aren’t going to see our £223m back, and at this rate fares are going to continue rising into 2018/19 as the subsidy reduces year on year. By which time Boris will have sodded off, with any luck, and be busy lying to everyone about his great bus project. That’s partly why it’s important to point all this out now.
* Yes, I know, but if TfL can invent a wholly spurious ‘average’ hybrid to make the NB4L look better on emissions (rather than, say, comparing it to the current evolution of its rivals) I don’t see this as particularly outragous
I put in an FoI request back in January for the in service fuel consumption for the prototype New Bus for London, as I’m fairly certain its weight problem will mean it’s a bit higher than expected (and certainly not the 11.6mpg spun to the press, which was a test track figure).
TfL’s response was basically ‘we don’t hold it and even if we do, bugger off and wait for the production buses’, which is obviously not on, so I requested a review in February. Come late April and having heard nothing I sent a rude note promising a referral to the ICO if skates were not got on. Today I got a response accepting that I’ve got a point, and my original request was perfectly clear in referring to prototypes and thus I can’t be fobbed off.
The initial finding of the review is to confirm that there are some potential discrepancies in the response and that the reference to the future publication of information of a statistically robust selection of production vehicles does not actually constitute the information that you have requested. It is clear that your request concerned the prototypes currently in use and the fuel use already experienced, and therefore we are seeking confirmation as to exactly what information is held, including whether it is held by any third parties on TfL’s behalf, and whether it is held in a form that answers the specific questions that you have raised.
Which doesn’t move us on very far – what were they doing in the 20 days from submission if not ‘seeking confirmation as to exactly what information is held’ – but at least they accept the fobbing off was not allowed. Mind you, it’s not just me who gets this treatment, Darren Johnson AM got a suspiciously similar evasive answer to a question back in February, which ended:
I am confident that the carrying capacity will be in line with conventional buses once production vehicles are delivered to Route 24 in June. This will make the bus even cleaner on a per passenger basis.
Well, it isn’t, so that’s another Boris Lie, or possibly Boris Not Bothering To Check If TfL Are Bullshitting Him.
This isn’t the first time Darren has tried to extract the figures:
When will Transport for London produce the in-service data, from the significant running experience already available, on the real world New Bus for London fuel consumption?
Answer by Boris Johnson
TfL plans to publish fuel consumption figures when the vehicles have been in service for a reasonable evaluation period.
So they do keep fuel consumption figures, then? According to my FoI response:
TfL does not currently hold this information.
So they’ll publish data they don’t keep at a time they won’t say? Yeah, right. I’m considering my response, but I may contact the ICO anyway due to the delays and admittance the FoI request was incorrectly handled.
Finally, it’s nice to help Boris out from time to time. Having not answered this question in March, tonight’s revelations have enabled me to tell the questioner what he wanted. It’s a service we provide, this.
Question by Stephen Knight
Further to your commitment to roll-out 600 new buses by 2016, are you now in a position to confirm the anticipated kerb weight and maximum gross vehicle weight (GVW) of your new bus for London?
Answer by Boris Johnson
The weight-saving programme for production vehicles continues and the kerb weight will be determined over the next couple of months.
There’s another one in this month’s MQTs, too, requesting publication of the data underlying Boris’s emissions claims. For some reason the Lib Dems don’t trust him, which won’t be helped by the discovery that this answer was all BS too. Dear oh dear. Transparency, value for money and environmental credentials all gone up in diesel smoke.
Sorry about the Daily Mail-style headline, but this tale is a wonderful tribute to the power of digital photography.
First a quick recap of events since the original revelation of the New Bus for London’s substantial weight problem, TfL’s attempts to cover this up, the spying trip and the eventual grudging acceptance via FoI that it was overweight but that this would be sorted out. TfL said at that time:
It should be noted that the current vehicles on route 38 are prototypes, subject to modification, following a period of evaluation. They currently have a slightly lower capacity of around 83 passengers but once design refinements are made to the first generation of production vehicles, this will rise to the anticipated number of 87.
There we left it (apart from the correction down to a capacity of 78), while Wrights got on, apparently without a contract (because that’s how manufacturing industry works, apparently) with building enough buses (32) to convert the 24 route in late June.
Then on the 12th of April TfL announced with some smugness that the first production vehicles had left Northern Ireland:
The first two buses have left the Wrightbus factory in Northern Ireland, these will be followed by another four next week and a further 594 over the next three years.
When they arrive in London the buses will initially be used for driver training and familiarisation.
Some other guff in the PR which reveals that contrary to what they told me under FoI TfL have been measuring performance will form another post.
So, we left it with 8 over-heavy 12650kg kerb weight vehicles with a capacity of 77, a shortfall of 10 over the design load, and TfL having assured me via FoI that this would be remedied in the production vehicles. We worked out that this would require about 680kg removed from the kerb weight, allowing 68kg per passenger, so the target was about 11970kg, a 5.3% reduction and about the weight of current Enviro400H and B5LH competitors, neither of which suffer from capacity issues despite also being shorter. Back in February I took a walk round central London noting down bus weights and found the latest models of both major hybrids:
- E400H – 61 seats – 11900kg
- B5LH – 60 seats – 11901kg
The problem with announcing that the first two vehicles are on the road is that they get photographed, and the problem with buses on the road is that you have to write the weight on the side. Add in a powerful camera and you get this taken at the Wright’s factory in Ballymena. It’s LT14, so the fourth production bus - the two TfL were referring to on the 12th April were probably LT13 and LT16 which were papped at Heysham (ferry port for Wrightbus deliveries to mainland Britain) on the 13th.
Now, that Flickr image was uploaded at a whopping 6016×4000 resolution, and downloading that super-detailed image allows us to read the weight clearly. Here’s a section (fair use, I hope, I’ll remove it if asked) of the image to show what I’m getting at:
Compare LT6 which I found on Shaftesbury Avenue back in February:
So the weight loss programme appears to have stalled at 190kg, or 1.5%. That’s not remotely what was needed to put the capacity back up to what TfL originally specified, in fact at 68kg per person (which we’ve established is what’s being used) you get 2.8 more people on board, so assuming we have the same number of seats (40 upstairs/22 downstairs) we get a boost to standing capacity from 15 to 17 or 18 depending on how lenient you’re feeling. That’s a total of 79 or 80 passengers in a bus longer and heavier than existing off the shelf options. We’ll need a view of the placarded capacity to get the final picture, and if that’s still hidden in the cab we’ll all know they’re trying to cover it up again.
It’s not only longer and heavier, though, TfL have now announced the expected cost of the 600 unit fixed-price contract:
Transport for London is to spend £212m buying 600 of the Mayor’s New Bus for London vehicles.
The average cost of each bus over the life of the contract, which runs until 2016, is £354,500.
That’s not only far higher than any figure Boris has previously ‘fessed up to, but about 20% more than those lighter, shorter, higher capacity alternatives. We could get another 100 of those for the same money, or use a fraction of it to ensure every double decker entering London service this year was a hybrid, boosting both Wright’s and Alexander-Dennis’s new product lines and giving a significant shove in the back for the British bus industry in international markets. But no, London’s shrinking transport budget needs to be pissed up the wall so Boris can have his day with the press hanging off the back of it and rabbiting about ‘health and safety’, despite the bus having a) a door b) a person making sure you don’t fall out and c) two big yellow elfnsafety stickers warning you of traffic. Nanny state in full retreat there, Bozza.
Finally, is there any way this isn’t going to end up either in court or with an inquiry into the conduct of the project? It strikes me that in that eventuality a certain blond gentleman might regret having the nickname ‘Borismaster’ applied to the great fat wastes of money. We don’t want that kind of association tarnishing the old image, what? Cripes!
In the Evening Isvestia:
The claims provoked an immediate response from Mayor Boris Johnson, who said: “If Paris is seen as the city of light it must be plugged into the London grid.
“Ours is the real capital of culture, the arts and fashion — a vibrant, diverse and welcoming city steeped in history.”
He added: “It is bursting with world class attractions and entertainment, and filled with more Michelin starred restaurants than our Gallic cousins can muster. Venez à Londres.”
No it bloody doesn’t. 2012 Michelin Guide (which is when he originally started using it):
- Paris : 82 (including 10 3 stars)
- London : 55 (including 2 3 stars, the same as Bruges and fewer than San Sebastian in Spain)
London is clearly the second most starred city in Europe by a good long way but is also twice the size of Paris and thus has considerably fewer Michelin starred restaurants per capita than the French capital.
Let’s see how often Boris has used this in the past without being pulled up:
July 2012, Channel 4′s FactCheck isn’t fooled for a moment, at what’s probably the first use of the false fact, at the opening of the media centre:
“More Michelin-starred restaurants than Paris, if I’ve got that statistic right…I think I’m getting some learned nods there, but if I’m wrong I’m more than happy to go and verify that. In Paris.”
On restaurants, we foresee a trip to Paris in the offing, because he’s wrong on that one too.
October 2012, the Independent doesn’t do its homework:
Before the Olympics, in a last-minute sales pitch for the city, Boris Johnson boasted that London had more Michelin-starred restaurants than Paris
November 2012, the Telegraph doesn’t rock the boat either, it’s perfectly obviously untrue, but that’s fine, it’s Boris, and he’s a legernd. To point out that he’s a congenital liar makes one a ‘spoilsport’:
The capital, he went on, exported bicycles to Holland, mosquito repellent to Brazil, tea to China, Piers Morgan to America. It even had more Michelin-starred restaurants than Paris. “Yes! A fact too good to check!”
If, like a spoilsport, you do indeed check, you will of course find that Paris has comfortably more Michelin-starred restaurants than London. But to a Boris audience, mere accuracy is beside the point.
March 2013, ITV:
Overheard – Johnson to Blanc: “I keep claiming we have more Michelin stars than Paris but I’m told the statistic is nonsense”.
“A fact too good to be checked,” according to one City Hall insider.
This is a classic example of a Great Boris Lie – it was known to be wrong from the start, yet he’s not only carried on using it, but the press are letting him despite (mostly) knowing it’s wrong. This isn’t looking very good for the press really. A proper free and unafraid press, like the one Boris has been trying to kid us that Leveson is going to remove, would find out whether he was given it or just made it up and why he continued using it for at least nine months after it had been pointed out as baloney by Channel 4.
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, 26 April 2013:
“I’m not aware of any threat of any epidemic in London at the moment,” he said. “Take-up of MMR was better here than some other places.”
Professor David Salisbury, the Department of Health’s director of immunisation:
“If Swansea has had close to 1,000 cases, anywhere like London could have the same experience multiplied by the difference in size between London and Swansea. The scale of what could happen in London could be a very large outbreak.”
The Independent, 28 April 2013:
The rates of MMR uptake in London, particularly among 10-12-year-olds are far lower than the rest of the country, according to figures from Public Health England.
Parents were scared off the vaccine in the 1990s after now discredited research by Andrew Wakefield claimed a link between the jab and autism. Wakefield has since been struck off the medical register.
In Brent, northwest London, only 46.1% of children aged 10 have had the required two doses of MMR, only 48.7% of 11-year-olds in Kensington and Chelsea have had two doses and just 49.5% of 12-year-olds in Camden, north London.
Immunology doctors are concerned that several outbreaks have already occurred in London schools. Dr David Elliman, from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “Once you get it in secondary schools you are into a different ball game.”
Measles is highly infectious, can have serious complications and even be fatal. Who would you trust – an experienced healthcare professional or a Mayor whose prime concern is self-publicity rather than the welfare of Londoners whom he supposedly represents?
John Griffin, Chair of minicab firm Addison Lee, is not happy with the Mayor of London.
During a London air pollution conference today, held at University College London, Griffin made plain that he thinks the Mayor is wasting his time with half-hearted promotion of electric vehicles.
Griffin, a Clean Air Ambassador for Change London, said:
I sponsor the Mayor…I have never been inside his office. A cup of tea and a bun would be nice!
Addison Lee donated £250,000 in cash and over £4,000-worth of minicab journeys to the Conservatives between December 2008 and September 2011.
With reference to the lung capacity of London’s children being permanently reduced by high levels of PM10 in the capital’s polluted air, Griffin claimed that London’s black taxi cabs were responsible for 38% of all air pollution in the city but his minicabs were 44% less polluting. Griffin stated that as the Mayor awarded 15-year licences to black taxis but 10-year licences to Addison Lee, he was more concerned with cabbies who might not vote for him rather than reducing emissions.
Boris Johnson wrote to him to promote electric vehicles but Griffin responded:
Please don’t insult my intelligence, talking about electric cars!
Griffin then proclaimed that Addison Lee would never have electric vehicles in our lifetimes – or ever.
We’re not going to be fobbed off by a Mayor who, just because he can’t find a solution, has dreamt his own up. While we’re looking at something that’s not going to happen, things are not going to get any better.
The Mayor needs bombarding – he is not taking this seriously. People are dying, this is serious – children are dying.
Get rid of him and sling him in the Thames!
If only large donations from those with vested interests could guarantee results….
Most of this post was prepared around a year ago, before the current Toby Helm investigations into the startlingly bad DfE spin and smear Twitter account @toryeducation started. I never finished it because I never felt it was quite there as a post rather than a set of idle notes about something I found mildly amusing, and the Boris connection is fairly small (it’s still interesting, though). It’s likely given subsequent developments that @toryeducation isn’t one person but is under the direction of Dominic Cummings and/or Henry de Zoete, at sufficiently plausible-deniable distance and Ben Mascall’s LinkedIn profile now indicates a move to the DfT since the original post was researched, where he’s a SpAd.
Kelham Salter appears to be at the GLA and running marathons for charity (and good luck to him on that, at least). Two of the donations come from ‘Jim de Zoete’ and ‘Ben Mascall’. Jim de Zoete’s Twitter account links to a video liked by the YouTube user devonport3 as recently as 15/2/2013. He’s almost certainly Henry’s brother, the latter calls him ‘bruv’ on another justgiving page here. Virtually the whole crew play for this London football team called ‘Freelance Euro’, which features yet another spelling of Kelham Salter’s name. He’s not trying to hide his eminently searchable handle from nosy Googlers, is he?
I’ve also revised my opinion on whether Boris and Gove are mates, I’ve formed the distinct impression they’re not on good terms and are obviously rivals to succeed Cameron. Here goes anyway:
For about a year now I’ve been following a Twitter account called @toryeducation, which is a hilariously one eyed transparent spin account purporting to be from the Conservative Party’s education people. That it spends its time exclusively bashing Labour or bigging up Boris’s mate Michael ‘Oiky’ Gove is, of course, a given, but the question of authorship (the author is anonymous) never really bothered me until a tweet crossed my timeline today claiming to have unmasked him back on 8/6/2012:
The name Ben Mascall is sufficiently rare enough to get some solid hits on Google which fit someone matching the image I’d built up – I’d have thought he’d be younger than me (part of the new breed who grew up with spin and entered live politics in 2010), university educated, posh, possibly public school, well connected. Arrogant, ignorant and unpleasant go without saying given the contents of his Twitter feed. Also, we are helpfully pointed to a LinkedIn profile:
- Political Press Adviser, Health and Education at Conservative Party
- Account Director at Bell Pottinger Group
- Account Director at MS&L Worldwide
- Account Manager at MS&L Worldwide
- University of Bristol
This is just too easy now. Bell Pottinger, of course, are a notorious PR firm who have been accused of shilling for such luminaries as President Lukashenko of Belarus, Europe’s last dictator. Naturally they were set up by a Thatcher acolyte, Tim ‘Lord’ Bell, and good connections with the Tories can be assumed. The important thing to emerge from LinkedIn is a background not in running a press office but in the nastier ends of the spin trade, making shit look like gold, but that again was kind of obvious. There’s also a gap of three years from graduation in Philosophy and Politics in 2003 to the first mentioned job with Financial Dynamics in 2006.
Moving on, a search of YouTube finds two videos from 2010 tagged with ‘Ben Mascall’, crucially one of them is tagged with ‘Henry de Zoete’, who is already known as a Gove advisor and possible Mascall’s (former?) flatmate.
- 20/1/2010 – 4 World Cup fans investigate England’s Algerian opposition in a restaurant in Hampstead, before they set off on their dream trip to follow their team at the World Cup in South Africa
- 4/6/2010 – Ben Mascall, intrepid reporter goes in search of answers to help England on their way to World Cup Glory (presumably allowing a positive ID – see picture)
The ’4 World Cup fans’ are helpfully named in the tags:
- World Cup
- Daily Mail
- Henry de Zoete
- Duncan Robertson
- Kelham Slater [sic]
- Ben Mascall
Henry de Zoete and Mascall we know. Kelham Salter (the tag is misspelled) turns out to be the son of Patience Wheatcroft, Tory and head of Boris’s early and unsuccessful attempt to prove that Ken Livingstone was siphoning public money to Cuba or something. Moreover, Livingstone himself made an interesting point in 2008 in accusing Wheatcroft of running a politically-motivated hatchet job:
I note that when you were appointed you did not bother to state that you were a member of the Conservative Party, nor did you state it in subsequent television interviews. Your membership of the Conservative Party was revealed only in your Declaration of Interest to the GLA. It is evident that it if it was intended to have an independent investigation into any matter it should not be headed by a member of a political party. Any person who wished to lead, and wished to be seen to lead, an objective and impartial enquiry would clearly have refused to chair a body with such a composition.
I also note the further irregularities that have occurred during your being chair of this body. First your son Kelham Salter was appointed to a post in the GLA – even though journalists have been informed he is not paid this is not an action of the type that would be expected from the chair of an independent ‘forensic’ body.
How awfully cosy these people are. Salter is still (2012) at the GLA, incidentally, having originally been brought in by Kate Hoey and being mentioned lavishly in Marketing magazine here on the subject of the Olympic legacy:
Salter said that in the UK, “we have the Wimbledon effect, where the tennis courts are full during Wimbledon and then a week after, they are dead. We can’t allow this to happen with our Olympics.”
One way of meeting this challenge, said Salter, would be to make sure every Londoner was involved with the Olympics in some capacity, whether it be regeneration of a particular area, or a local business winning an Olympic contract.
Moreover, it would be a rather generous man who worked six years for the GLA without payment. Does Salter have another paid job (and if so, where) or is he now on the paid staff? Marketing introduces him as a ‘senior policy officer’.
What’s perhaps most intriguing here is why a current press officer/Tory spinner appears tagged in two videos on YouTube also tagged ‘Daily Mail’. What was the Mail’s involvement in this otherwise rather lighthearted exercise, and why did it stop after two outings, months before the World Cup (hypothesis: the 2010 General Election came along and they all become SpAds)?
Spot the difference:
The more recent photo was used in a People Of Freedom party election leaflet which was sent to Italian expatriates living in London. According to Italian newspaper La Stampa, the Mayor of London is furious that his image has been used without permission and he does not endorse any of the candidates. The People Of Freedom (Il Popolo della Libertà) party is, of course, the party founded by Silvio “Bunga Bunga” Berlusconi. Quite why Boris Johnson might want to suddenly distance himself when he’s evidently been more than happy to publicly support the party’s Europe Overseas candidates is anybody’s guess.
As Guglielmo Picchi says on his Facebook page:
Do you think that he would have agreed to having the same picture shot twice with the same people 4 years apart and exactly during his campaign and ours had he not wished to support us? His campaign director and staff can confirm the reciprocal use of the photo for electoral purposes. We used it in 2008 and again in 2013 in our parliamentary elections.
Contact usSend us an e-mail at staff [at] boriswatch.co.uk
- Geoff on NB4L Means Capacity Cuts On The 24
- Dave H on NB4L Means Capacity Cuts On The 24
- california on Boris Airport: Found The Proposals
- Andrew W1 on NB4L Means Capacity Cuts On The 24
- Reverend Trevor on NB4L Means Capacity Cuts On The 24
- Calamity Jane on NB4L Means Capacity Cuts On The 24
- Stratford on NB4L Means Capacity Cuts On The 24
- Max on Paparazzi Snaps Reveal Production New Bus For London Still Overweight
Tagsagendas BBC BBC London bendy Boris Airport borisport broken promises budget bus buses crime culture cycling earnings environment Gilligan grasp of detail humour incompetence jobs Johnson Administration Ken Livingstone lies Mayor's Question Time olympics police Policy Exchange Press questions Rape Ray Lewis resignation RMT Routemaster salaries Speeches spin strike Stuff On Nonsense team TfL transparency transport tube TV