TfL have released a press release confirming that Route 24 (Hampstead Heath – Pimlico) will be the first London bus route to be fully served by the New Bus for London. Although actual timings are yet to be clarified, it is intended that the route be fully converted by the end of summer 2013.
It will not be the first time that a hybrid has graced the route, as the 24 was used to trial Enviro 400H hybrids back in 2008. The route has also had an on-again-off-again relationship with Routemasters, to which the NBfL is claimed to be a spiritual heir. These featured intermittently on the route until one person operation (OPO) was finally introduced in 1986. The announcement also comes shortly after the route switched operators, with Metroline having recently won the contract back from Go Ahead (who originally replaced Metroline as route operator back in 2007).
So far, the NBfL has been confined solely to limited service on route 38 and a brief day in service on route 23A (the “Imber Bus”). Fulfilling the entire service pattern of the 24 will thus arguably mark the first true test of the bus, something that both its supporters and opponents will now doubt watch with great interest.
Edited to add:
Leon Daniels has just given a bit more background on how the services will be staffed on his personal blog. The key information:
As currently on route 38, buses will run in crew operation mode during the day and with only the driver in the evenings. The existing prototype vehicles will continue to operate on route 38.