It’s the middle of summer and, guess what, reports of sauna-like conditions on the “New Routemaster” vehicles continue.

Transport for London has issued the following statement in response to an enquiry about the manufacture, operation and efficacy of the cooling system on these vehicles:

The manufacturer of the air cooling system is Heavac of The Netherlands.

Transport for London (TfL) became aware of a configuration issue affecting
the way the air cooling system had been set up on some New Routemasters
(NRM) on route 24 for which we apologised to customers at the time.
Wrightbus worked throughout the weekend immediately after the roll out to
configure the systems in the way expected. Immediately after work was
conducted, passengers experienced more comfortable temperature levels that
were comparable or slightly cooler than other double deck buses fitted
with a similar air-chill system.

We are not aware of correspondence conducted by email or letter between
TfL, WrightBus and Grayson Thermal Systems or other third parties as the
issue was connected to how the systems were set up, not a functional
defect, and was dealt with verbally with our main supplier WrightBus and
operator Metroline to expedite the matter.

The air cooling system on NRMs is now working effectively on virtually all
vehicles in the fleet as verified by assurance checks carried out in early
summer. As with buses of all types in the fleet, there can be a small
number of systems not functioning at full effectiveness and these are
referred to the companies concerned so checks can take place and remedial
action can be conducted to improve performance. The air cooling system on
double deck buses in the fleet is thermostatically controlled, rather than
permanently on, and works at partial, then full capacity, in response to
warmer summer temperatures, but this does not mean it isn’t currently
working effectively.

TfL does not advocate more powerful air cooling systems on buses as it is
striking a balance between providing reasonable comfort in normal summer
conditions, and minimising exhaust emissions from the fleet that could
arise from greater fuel consumption.

Because of the nature of bus journeys, cooled air will be lost from the vehicle during the frequent
intervals at which it stops and the doors open to allow passengers to
board and alight every few hundred metres on its route. Buses cannot
regulate temperatures in the same way as coaches or trains which stop less
often and tend to involve longer overall journey times for passengers.

TfL assures itself of the maintenance standard of the fleet by
independently inspecting the condition of vehicles in approximately a
quarter of the 8,700 fleet each year. Additional regular checks are also
conducted on vehicles in service as part of normal business.

All vehicles in the fleet are fit for purpose and any issues raised about the specific
performance of a bus are referred to bus operator concerned with the
details so checks can take place and additional maintenance can be
undertaken where necessary. If you believe a vehicle’s air cooling system
is not operating in the way expected, you can provide details to our
Customer Services team along with the vehicle’s number plate or running
number so that we can look into the matter on your behalf.

TfL claim that the excessive temperatures experienced by passengers last summer only occurred on vehicles on route 24; they made repeated claims in the summer of 2013 that the “problems” had been fixed yet the sauna-like conditions on the vehicles on all routes continued into September.

TfL claim that there is no written correspondence between TfL, WrightBus, Grayson Thermal Systems or any third parties concerning the air cooling failure – I find that astonishing.

TfL claim that “the air cooling system on NRMs is now working effectively on virtually all
vehicles in the fleet as verified by assurance checks carried out in early summer”
– not the experience of passengers. TfL Commissioner, Sir Peter Hendy, recently dismissed claims about the unpleasantly hot and humid conditions on the vehicles as a folk myth.

When I attempted to report online the complete absence of air cooling that I had experienced on route 24 back in May, I was unable to as the TfL website just returned an error message. An easy way to pretend that no complaints have been received?

My favourite part of TfL’s response: “TfL does not advocate more powerful air cooling systems on buses as it is striking a balance between providing reasonable comfort in normal summer conditions, and minimising exhaust emissions from the fleet that could arise from greater fuel consumption”

Quite right – which is why a bus with sealed windows and a mechanical air-cooling system which requires generated energy to operate, relying on a diesel engine, is definitely not “clean” or “green” or “the bus to the future” as TfL have been claiming.

Meanwhile, TfL’s been bragging that one of their vehicles features in a new film:

Has it forgotten that the vehicles’ summer temperatures exceed the legal maximum for transporting animals?

Temperatures are predicted to hit 30C in London on Friday – expect more Twitter comments such as these, and perhaps some ambulances being called due to passengers passing out:

 

One Response to The New Routemaster – Still Unable To Cope With London Summers

  1. [...] TfL have recently stated The air cooling system on NRMs is now working effectively on virtually all vehicles in the fleet as …. [...]

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