The second day of operation of the New Bus For London on route 24 and it’s dawning on people that the “hop on, hop off” facility (indeed, the Mayor now likes to refer to it in his speeches as “hop on, hop off, fall over”) promised by Boris Johnson was never anything other than a fanciful illusion:
Boris bus conductors trying quite hard to stop people using the platform between stops…which is what it is for….policy rethink required?
— Ben Barker (@dbrb2) June 23, 2013
Just been on a ‘boris bus’. Waste of time. Conductor lets no one jump on/off platform. Only at bus stops! ‘Elf and safety’ #wotsthepoint
— Tom Hutchinson (@hutchie100) June 22, 2013
On a new route 24 bus. V.slow as all doors open at every bus stop & conductor was not allowing people to hop on or off – so whats the point?
— Ian (@Ldn5) June 23, 2013
@Mayoroflondon Why do we need conductors to ‘advise’ us not to hop on and off the new Routemaster in between stops. It’s the whole point!
— david strahan (@lastoilshock) June 23, 2013
— Sam Evans (@shadrachbari) June 23, 2013
What is the purpose of a conductor? The Merriam-Webster dictionary informs us that a conductor is:
a collector of fares in a public conveyance
The second crew member currently being employed on the New Bus For London is there solely as a Health and Safety Operative, to prevent people from taking advantage of the open back door to get on or off the bus in-between stops. This “conductor” does not collect fares or give the starting signal to the driver, as a genuine conductor on a real Routemaster would. A genuine conductor, though, would also prevent boarding or alighting in-between stops as this has always been contrary to the Conditions Of Carriage of Transport for London.
The most recent TfL Conditions Of Carriage are dated 19 May 2013 [PDF] and clearly state:
on our bus services, you must board or alight from the vehicle only at official bus stops except in places where we advertise the bus service as being operated as ‘hail and ride’ when the driver will stop where it is safe to do so.
They also state:
If the bus has a conductor, you must touch your Oyster card on the yellow card reader on his/her ticket machine as soon as possible after boarding the bus. If the yellow card reader on a bus or a conductor’s ticket machine is not working, you must show your Oyster card to the driver or conductor.
Logically, the second crew member on the New Bus For London cannot be a conductor as they have no ticket machine.
As well as the Health and Safety Operative, the New Bus For London also has warning signs by the back door, a warning message which scrolls across the interior display at the back of the bus and a recorded message telling passengers to look out for traffic when getting off. Coincidentally, Metroline, the bus operator which has been lumbered with the bus on route 24, is currently advertising for two Claims Administrators. Expecting an increase in litigation?
At a time when TfL has seen its government grant cut by £150 million in 2014-15 with greater reductions to come, is it prudent to be wasting so much money on a bespoke bus which has ramped up its operational costs by employing a redundant staff member?
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