Saturday’s Times reported that the first of Boris Johnson’s new Routemaster buses will cost £1.6 million each, with five of the hybrid vehicles to be built under the £7.8 million contract awarded to Northern Ireland’s Wrightbus back in December 2009.
Venturing beyond the headlines reveals that the contract is for the design, prototyping and testing of the new vehicles, with further orders capped at a less sensational £300,000 per bus. The Mayor’s Office and TfL’s Peter Hendy point out that the initial development costs will ultimately be spread across a future fleet; sources quoted in the Evening Standard anticipate orders for “at least a couple of hundred” of the new buses.
However, compared to the £190,000 cost of an existing double-decker or £250,000 for a bendy bus (the latter holding 149 passengers, compared to 87 intended by the new design), the cost per bus remains contentious; the Times quotes one unnamed bus operator’s view that “[i]t is, frankly, farcical. We did not ask for the new Routemaster and I am not sure we would want them.”
Finally, one interesting reminder via BorisWatch: in September 2009, the Mayor stated both that “I imagine that the cost of that development of that new bus will be borne by the industry” and “[w]e think that we can get a wonderful new bus for London which will be considerably cleaner, greener, lighter […] for much less” than the current cost of a bendy bus (see pages 4-5)