Last weekend saw London’s celebration of 60 years of the first prototype of the Routemaster bus – the vehicle which saw regular service on the streets of London for nearly 50 years. Boris Johnson’s New Routemaster (née New Bus For London) is an attempt to ape the external design of (and cash in on the perceived nostalgic affection for) the AEC Routemaster.

It took 11 years of design and development and four different prototypes from three different manufacturers before London Transport were satisfied that the Routemaster was ready to go into full-scale production.

Boris Johnson’s new bus, however, was rushed through for political reasons, with more attention given to superficial aesthetics than practicality and capacity specifications.

Despite several hundred New Routemasters now being in service, they are still under-capacity due to being overweight, meaning the vehicles each carry fewer passengers than the standard double-deckers which they replaced. As they are also much longer than any other current London bus, they take up even more road space.

The New Routemaster has been touted by Transport for London as the “Bus To The Future” yet it is becoming more and more apparent that there are many problems with the vehicles which TfL refuse to acknowledge. Tom has covered TfL’s caginess in releasing details of the vehicle’s fuel economy.

Apart from failing to achieve the promised reduction in fuel consumption, the new buses frequently break down, a fact which is becoming more widely noticed as the vehicles are rolled out onto more routes:

We have been sent, anonymously, a list of major faults noted by a driver of the New Routemaster (reproduced verbatim):

10 major problems with this new Boris Bus…
1.fare dodgers sneeking on at the back door.

2. 1 button opens all 3 doors at the same time causing problems when the bus is rammed full but someone has rang the bell for the next stop where there are some 10+ passengers waiting to get on, need I say more!!

3. upstairs passengers sometimes will not get up from their seats until the bus has stopped, by this time the doors have been open long enough that boarding passenges are now walking up the stairs!!

4. no camera monitor on the centre door when moving, this creates a problem when alighting wheelchair users as you can not align the ramp between obsticals i.e. lamppost, bins and bollards ect.

[5 is missing from our transcript]

6. the air cooling does not work hard enough in hot weather so the bus feels like a mobile greenhouse.

7. the internal mirrors that look down inside are to small and reflect light off the perspex reflective screen, so you can not see anything in them.

8. reliability issues…bells, oyster readers, blinds not working, automated anouncements coming out wrong, doors not closing properly, air pressure problems, overheating batteries and other software problems.

9. the windscreen wipers arc upwards dragging rain water to the top of the screen so that in a heavy downpoor the water falls back down the screen in your line of vision.

10. it’s plain ugly at the front!!

TfL have got this completely wrong, £30m development cost and £345,000 per bus…more than twice the cost of a normal bus that does the job better!! They could have saved millions by just using a conventional hybrid bus with 1 stairwell and 2 doors…on at the front, off at the back, IT WORKS!!

Conventional hybrid double-deckers may well work, Mr Bus Driver, but they do not pay tribute to the ego of Boris Johnson, which is the purpose of the New Routemaster.

23°C in London at midday today, so how is the vehicle’s air cooling system, which, despite repeated and continued evidence to the contrary, TfL claim is “working effectively” and “provides reasonable comfort in normal summer conditions”:

A comment from a tweeter in Ballymena, where the New Routemaster is manufactured:

Retweeted by a London journalist who obviously feels their pain:

Windows? Who needs old-fashioned ventilation when expensive mechanical air cooling which is utterly inadequate can make your bus look “futuristic”:

Good luck to anybody forced to use these vehicles tomorrow as temperatures are predicted to reach 31°C in London.


10 Responses to The New Routemaster – What Transport For London Refuse To Admit

  1. Doubting Terrapin says:

    Watch the MPG figures, promised for one year after the buses were introduced on route 24. A conventional bus MPG is from the fuel-consuming engine running ALL the time over the operated mileage and when idling. A hybrid engine only runs to top up the stored energy, so it boils fuel when its on, not when the bus is running. Beware of TfL deceits when they quote a NBfL MPG – that’s spread the fuel consumption over the whole operation, not when the bus is running. There are lies, damn lies and TfL statistics. I wonder how the next London Mayor will feel towards these profligate wastes of public money in austere times (finding £200m [allegedly], plus the secret on costs to operators) while losing £billions from the budgetary reviews.

    The immovable windows are there to SAVE OVERALL WEIGHT as a two axle bus has 18,000 kg max laden weight. This includes onboard fuel and greatest passenger load, no luggage allowance. By trimming body construction and ‘value engineering’ the fixed elements, overall UNLADEN weight (which TfL secrete instead of being on external public display, as on any other bus type, usually near the ground on the body nearside – it’s a legal requirement to ‘display’ but interpreting that is a political coward’s delight) comes down and using the assumed weight of 68kg per adult (if anyone has a more up to date assumed weight, please advise), that’s the legal limit of carriable passengers.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I took a 148 from White City this afternoon and it was appalling. The air-conditioning was about as effective as a gnat’s fart. People who had gone upstairs were coming down very quickly. Open the platform door for pity sake.

  3. FreeBBC says:

    Hello all

    You may be interested reading this from the FOI request.

  4. Anonymous says:

    I have seen this and it’s a lot of hot air (pun intended). Seriously, this is a bloody disgrace.

  5. Jim Blake says:

    As a bus enthusiast of more than sixty years’ standing, and someone who worked as a REAL conductor on route 38 forty years ago, I fully agree with ALL the criticisms of these dreadful buses. The worst things of all are that they are just as prone to fare evasion as were the bendibuses that Boris so hated; and that on routes 8 and 148 (and, in a few weeks 55), they do not have a “conductor” and the real doors are only open at stops – completely defeating the “hop on, hop off” concept. On yer bike, Boris!!

  6. jim tuite says:

    I left comments on here before but now they are gone?
    Obviously not critical enough of the new routemaster or Borris i guess?

  7. D K says:

    You really do need to grow up as each new vehicle has a few teething problems and you seem to play on the worst features possible or is it because you just like bashing Boris and that is pathetic as I doubt you could really do an better !

  8. david says:

    These buses need a conductor on them, if you can’t hop on off, plus to stop people on them free.

    Action needs to be taken or it will be us the public paying for a another mistake, when they replace them in the future.

  9. joov says:

    i have noticed that on the new London buses such as the 38 and 55 buses, the stop button does not work sometimes. i try multiple buttons and they do not work.

  10. Annoyed says:

    Forget teething problems. Whoever designed these buses must have had a massive stroke or something while doing it.

    What sick freak would make an airtight container to put people in AND turn off the aircon?

    Someone needs to measure the carbon dioxide levels INSIDE the top deck when it’s full, because I’m pretty sure it reaches toxic levels at times. A tube train has much more ventilation – because they have windows!

    Forget aircon, what in the blue hell was wrong with windows? I am tempted to cut holes in the windows on the top deck just to get some air.

    Poor pregnant woman sat next to me looked like she was feeling light-headed just as she got off. I was even feeling sleepy. That’s oxygen deprivation. That is messed up.

    TFL fix it.

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