Well, it is.  First off, the 73 debendification’s been announced:


  • 73/N73 Re-awarded to Arriva London North, PVR increases from 43 to 51. New double deck (see note below), start date 3rd September 2011

leaving our running scoreboard as follows:


Route    Tender    5    5+    Old PVR    New PVR    Revised End Date    PVR increase ratio
507    1-Jun-2002    1-Jun-2007    1-Jun-2009    9    15    25-Jul-2009  1.67
521    1-Jun-2002    1-Jun-2007    1-Jun-2009    19    31    29-Aug-2009   1.68
38    20-Jul-2002    20-Jul-2007    20-Jul-2009    47    70    16-Nov-2009  1.53
149    18-Oct-2003    18-Oct-2008    18-Oct-2010    27    36    18-Oct-2010  1.30
18    23-Aug-2003    23-Aug-2008    23-Aug-2010    32    48    13-Nov-2010  1.50


25    26-Jun-2004    26-Jun-2009    26-Jun-2011    44    59   25-Jun-2011   1.34
12    31-Jul-2004    31-Jul-2009    31-Jul-2011    31    41  5-Nov-2011  1.32
73    1-May-2004    1-May-2009    1-May-2011    43    51    3-Sep-2011 1.18

Subject to contract (dates and PVR provisional)

207    9-Apr-2005    9-Apr-2010    9-Apr-2012    26    40    31-Dec-2011
29    14-Jan-2006    14-Jan-2011    14-Jan-2013    29    44    31-Dec-2011
436    9-Feb-2008    9-Feb-2013    9-Feb-2015    26    40    31-Dec-2011
453    16-Feb-2008    16-Feb-2013    16-Feb-2015    23    35    31-Dec-2011

Note the ever dropping replacement ratio, which conveniently allows Boris to pretend debendification is cheaper – debendification and a cut in capacity is cheaper, but so’s not running any buses at all, but Boris wouldn’t expect to be congratulated on that one.

On to hybrids, and it’s interesting to note that the 73 (and previously the 149) include a number of hybrids; 20 out of 51 new buses in the case of the 73.  However, it looks like the long planned commitment to all new buses from 2012 being hybrids (which Boris inherited) has been dropped, as part of the mystifying late Clean Air Strategy that’s been occupying my Twitter stream.  Suffice to say the Greens aren’t impressed.

TfL will work closely with bus operators and manufacturers to maximise the number of hybrids introduced after 2012

which isn’t really the same as the existing line:

Our aim is that all new buses entering service after 2012 will be hybrid powered

All new buses entering the fleet after 2012 will use hybrid technology.

Or a Boris press release from December 2008:

Both TfL and the Mayor are committed to the introduction of hybrid technology and by 2012, TfL expects all new buses joining the fleet will be hybrid.  At a rate of 500 buses a year, it is expected to be the largest roll out of hybrid buses in Europe

which contains a priceless quote from the Osterley Information Minister:

Kulveer Ranger, the Mayor’s Director of Transport Policy, said: “…By 2012 we expect every new bus entering the fleet should be using hybrid technology and their roll out will contribute to the Mayor’s target of a 60 per cent reduction in emissions across London by 2025.”

Even internally the 2012 plan was presented as recently as June:

The current business plan assumes 300 hybrid buses will be in service by 2012 and that all new buses from 2012 onwards will be hybrid. The business plan includes £47 million over the plan period to support the roll-out of hybrids and assumes that the capital premium reduces as volumes increase. If these capital cost reductions are achieved, then the business plan has sufficient funding to allow a fleet total of 300 buses in 2012

What they’re actually doing is saying ‘we’ll roll out hybrids as they come down in price’, which can be spun as prudent and sensible until you start looking at the Boris back-history for gems like this:

Johnson: “I imagine the cost of the development of that new bus will be borne by the industry, and as for the rolling out of the bus….we’re going to have rolling out of the buses, some prototype new buses on the streets…”

Jones (interrupting): “You’re saying that your new bus isn’t going to cost any extra money over and above what we’re expecting the [anticipated] replacement of [any] buses to cost…”

Johnson: “No, that’s absolutely right. If you look at the current cost of a bus…£250,000, roughly speaking, buys you a new bendy bus. We think we can get a wonderful new bus for London which will be considerably cleaner, greener, lighter, exactly what this city needs…”

Jones: “At no more expense?”

Johnson (continuing): “…for much less than that.”

Jones: “That’s a wonderful commitment, and I’m sure we’ll all be grateful.”

Yes, it’s the New Bus For London (which is a bigger, more complicated, untried, bespoke hybrid) blowing a hole in things.  Unless that’s coming in at under £250k (which it won’t, existing hybrids are still costing £300k or so, 50% more than a conventional diesel and unlike a conventional hybrid there’s none of that free market competition to bring prices down) there’s no way they can actually justify them other than by making them a special case or, to put it another way, Boris’s vanity.  As the ‘Proposals’ section of the ‘Clean Air Strategy’ says, this is presumably what’s going to happen:

The Mayor will introduce the ‘New Bus for London’ which will be hybrid and will deliver significant improvements in the reduction of climate change and air quality pollutant emissions. The new bus will incorporate the latest hybrid technology and will be both 40 per cent more fuel efficient than conventional diesel buses and 15 per cent more fuel efficient than current London hybrid buses.

This is boondoggle territory – since it doesn’t exist yet we don’t know it does what its makers promise.  The figures, by the way, look like this:

  • DD – 5mpg
  • Current hybrid – 6.1 mpg (average across a variety of relatively early models)
  • NB4L – 7mpg

Notably, BAE also claim 40% for the system in the ADL Enviro400H, as this recent article about the Reading hybrid trial shows.  The proof of the pudding, as ever, is on the streets, but with the Clean Air Strategy Boris appears to have jettisoned the known state of the art, honed by market competition in favour of his own personal, unproven, expensive vanity project.  Very prudent.

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