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.

 
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