TfL said they would lay on extra buses to cover this week’s London Underground strike action and it’s evident that some truly ancient private hire vehicles have been contracted into service today.

These vehicles are over 60 years old – a running life that the New Bus For London New Routemaster (as TfL now insist on calling it) can only dream of a fraction of.

However, none of the vehicles pictured above are Routemasters – a distinction lost on those who have photographed them.

The fact that many Londoners are now unable to identify a Routemaster makes a mockery of Boris Johnson’s 2008 election promise to “bring back the Routemaster” – what uniquely identifies a double-decker bus as a Routemaster?

The open platform? Absolutely not – the buses pictured above are all RTs, a class of bus which first ran in London in 1939 - all of them have open platforms.

Buses, horse omnibuses, trams, trolley buses – they all had what can be identified as “open platforms” in the past.

Nor was the open-platformed double decker ever unique to London, as Boris Johnson would like to fool the public into believing. Virtually every major city in the UK had open platform double-deckers: Liverpool, Leeds, Bristol, for starters.

Why are open platform buses no longer in service when they once dominated?

Open platform buses with two members of staff were more dangerous for both passengers and crew and they pushed up operating costs to unsustainable levels as the wage bill is doubled.

Back to today’s Tube strike – London Underground plan to shed up to 1,000 staff yet TfL are now committed, thanks to Boris Johnson, to running 6,000 new buses with two members of staff instead of just a driver.

The second member of staff, a “customer assistant” rather than a conductor, is there to stop people falling out of the open back door of the new bus. False nostalgia does not justify doubling the wages cost of one of London’s essential transport services whilst simultaneously closing all Underground ticket offices and cutting back Underground station staff to a level where passenger safety is compromised.

 

10 Responses to Vintage Bus Parade For London Commuters

  1. Nathan says:

    What makes you think all the “New Routemasters” will have two staff?

  2. FreeBBC says:

    @Nathan, currently route 38 (ones with NBFL prototypes) are operating without conductors so its simply a 3 door bus operation. The NBFL’s on the 148 done the same during the Tube Strikes. Also when the route 8 new tender starts they will be having NBFL’s operating in driver only operation.
    http://www.stagecoachbus.com/London%20Routes%20Retained.aspx
    Its due to lack of funds from TFL to convert all 600 NBFL’s to crew operation. But on routes 11, 24, 9 and 390 there is no second crew member on weekends. The purpose of it is to keep the cost of operation more balance.

    Also during the Tube Strikes I see passengers entering by the middle doors on conventional buses because of overcrowding at bus stations. I think TFL should trial more open boarding buses on conventional buses like what they done with the 507 and 521.

  3. AndrewE says:

    Routemasters? Those all look like the preceding model (RTs) to me. (The clue is in the painted fleet number)
    A

  4. Jublet says:

    No, not all are RTs, the last picture is of a bus with a route indicator on the front of the roof which RTs (see the others) did not. An RTL or an RTW perhaps?

  5. Anne says:

    While they might not all be RTs I do love the look and vintage feel of those older buses. They have character.

  6. Peter says:

    The four pictures above are all RTs, but Jublet is right that the last is different – it is an RT with a different body type. See all RT types, including RTLs and RTWs, on London Bus Museum’s special route 22 (Piccadilly Circus to Homerton) on Saturday 12 April – see londonbusmuseum.com/RT75. Part of the celebrations of this 75-year-old design.

  7. Greg Tingey says:

    Can we have more old-bus porn please?

    What we REALLY want, of course, would be a return to TROLLEYBUSES.
    Ahem.

  8. Dave says:

    Just mentioned on BBC News there, a route served by the NBfL that’s not going to have a conductor on it, making a mockery of the benefits of this so called New Routemaster.

    Did anyone travel on these old buses last week? Did the conductors on there have hand held Oyster readers or are these in short supply and so effectively everyone with an Oyster card travelled free?

  9. Nathan says:

    The additional buses, whether RTs, RMs or just funny coloured ones were all free to travel on.

  10. Elmtree says:

    These points are true, but pretty pedantic. The big advantage of open-platform buses is that when you’re twenty feet from your bus stop but locked in solid traffic you can just jump out. Everyone who has ever used a bus in central London knows that feeling. It’s nothing like so much of a problem on rural and suburban routes. Hiring conductors? As a Keynesian I think I’m supposed to be in favour of creating jobs.

    And spending money to buy buses like that against the advice of consultants-meh. That’s democracy. Everyone knows there’s a risk. Using the platform isn’t compulsory. Boris made bringing in new buses a campaign pledge, and people voted for him (not me, incidentally), twice. He’s a populist. Don’t like it? Blame the electorate.

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