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.

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