We are ashamed to admit that there is a distinct bias on London Reconnections towards trains. Despite the fact that it is used for 50% more passenger journeys than the Underground, the venerable London bus is infrequently mentioned. As we enter a period where bus technology is rapidly evolving though, it is time to look at where London’s buses are, technologically speaking, and were they are going. In part one we thus look at the New Bus for London – Boris’ “New Routemaster,” and more particularly at the vehicle behind the political hype. If it had a bonnet we would delve beneath it.

This article will look at the future of the London bus and by that we mean the bus itself. Whilst from the passenger perspective great changes have been seen in recent years, with more to come (not least the end of cash fares now confirmed to happen on the 6th July) the basics of how the bus itself has been powered has not changed that much. Typically it has an engine, two axles, usually two decks and runs on diesel fuel. The engine is connected to the wheels by a propshaft. Speed is determined by engine speed and a gearbox.

Buses beneath the Wires

Buses in London have become much more accessible and comfortable but these things tend to be of a more evolutionary nature. At the same time there are those who would argue that in some ways we actually had something better than today’s bus many years ago in the form of a trolleybus – fast, high capacity, no noisy internal combustion engine and, to use modern parlance, no tailpipe emissions. Those who are believers in trolleybuses remain disappointed that they are never given any consideration in modern transport thinking within London.

It is important, however, not to view these things from just one perspective. In contrast to the trolleybus evangelists there were those at the time who felt that the rather inflexible trolleybuses were quite rightly consigned to history and that the bus was the future. Instead, the golden days are nostalgically perceived to be the heyday of the Routemaster – the last bus specifically designed for London’s needs before the government required London Transport, as it then was, to buy off-the-peg buses in order to qualify for a substantial grant towards the cost of the buses.

Buying generic

The off-the-peg buses that came after the Routemaster were built in the north of England. The bus builders (especially the state run one) knew they had a captive market and then, as now, the choice of suppliers was skewed by political dogma. This is not to say that elected politicians should not be involved with specifying what buses London should have, but there is a world of difference between an elected London mayor taking into account additional factors that may not be of primary concern to TfL and a national government sacrificing then needs of London to prop up industries that cannot operate competitively due to the poor quality of their product.

trafalgar square

A busy New Routemaster at the eastern side of Trafalgar Square. Most of the passengers appear to be tourists. At times and locations like this there appears to be a clear benefit in having three doors and a conductor on the rear platform.

The current builders of London’s buses

Over time, the quality and suitability of buses for London has improved, with London Buses operating in a free market and two firms in particular being very responsive to the requirements of London Buses. In the old days London Transport officials would visit the production line at Park Royal to ensure that the Routemasters were built to their exacting specifications. In today’s world one doesn’t design the bus and tell the bus builder to build it, one explains what is required and works with the bus builder so that they can provide that.

front of lower deck

A front view of the lower deck of a New Routemaster. Looking at this one would be justified in wondering what the fuss was about. This is very similar to any double decker bus now running in London.

One of London’s bus builders, Alexander Dennis Ltd (ADL), actually assembles their buses in Guildford. With a worldwide market but London at their doorstep they have shown consistent willingness to adapt their designs to the London market and this may in part account for the fact that they currently have around 47% of it. They see themselves as evolutionary bus builders with a world-wide reputation that needs to be maintained. They are also aware that to ensure competition they are unlikely to get more than 50% of the London bus market regardless of how good a bus they produce.

rear of lower deck

A rear view of the lower deck of the New Routemaster built by Wrightbus. This is on route 24 south of Victoria which is a very quiet part of an otherwise busy route. The floor is low throughout which means that the seats over the wheel arches are exceptionally high and that some have to be rear facing. Like the previous picture there does not seem to be anywhere to house certain vital pieces of equipment – such as an engine.

Wrightbus, based in Northern Ireland, currently holds the number two spot within the capital, which makes it very aware of the “must try harder” requirement. Unusually it is privately owned, which means the firm isn’t nervously looking over its shoulder at shareholders who might be concerned as to whether their strategy is the most profitable one. On the world stage it is not so established as ADL so is probably more dependant on the London market. At the same time Wrightbus does not have the might of the resources that ADL has behind it. It does, however, have a good working relationship with both TfL and Arriva who, amongst many other things, run some of the buses in London. Wrightbus’s Gemini double decker is similar in appearance to ADL’s Enviro 400 series of buses and comes in both conventional and hybrid versions which are both found in London. It is a Wrightbus body built on a Volvo chassis – which harks back to Wrightbus’s roots as a bodybuilder.


Because the engine can go anywhere is has been conveniently placed under the rear staircase thus utilising space that would otherwise be wasted.

cropped fuel inlet

The cover of the fuel filler cap. Cunningly hidden flush with the rest of the bus this shows the attention to design detail. The filler cap is here because the fuel tank is underneath the front stairs

Beyond these two suppliers, there are other bus builders that have a presence in London. A notable third is Volvo, but because of their size they tend to offer a product with standard variations and it is generally a case of “take it or leave it.” Mercedes also have a presence but a lot of their fleet went with the disappearance of bendy buses. Again, being a very large player in a world market it is more a case of Mercedes offering a standard product with various options and service providers then seeing if these buses are consistent with TfL’s specified requirements.


Upstairs on a New Routemaster at night. The design is distinctly retro and loved and hated in equal measure it seems. Photo courtesy Graham Feakins.

Air Quality

Having set the supplier scene, we now move on to a seemingly unrelated subject but one that is in fact very closely bound up with the future of the bus in central London – air quality.

TfL has a large and varied range of responsibilities. It seems to have acquired or have some responsibility for various peripheral activities in its short existence such as licencing roadworks, licencing buskers, crime prevention, anti-terrorism, operating a cable car over the Thames and cycle proficiency.

A responsibility that one would probably not associate with TfL is air quality, yet some would argue this is amongst one of its most important responsibilities that it has. It is certainly one that is of great concern to the Mayor. Whether this is a result of the threat of large EU fines or a realisation of how diesel particles are a silent killer that affects the health of Londoners is something on which we leave readers to form their own opinion. It is certainly not the case that London is alone as was recently shown during a period of smog in Paris when driving was restricted and public transport made free in an effort to reduce it.

What is often the case though with the EU is that it not just the issue of the breach of regulations that matters, but what the offender is doing to rectify the situation. So, apart from any health benefits to London or political benefits to the the Mayor, he has a strong incentive to be seen to be taking the problem seriously and have a programme in place to address this issue.

Targeting the culprits

The problem is, as ever, that politicians don’t want to do to much to upset voters and businesses. So when it comes to pollution from transport and those particularly troublesome diesel particulates the first stage is for TfL to put its own house in order. This is no bad thing, for this, combined with further tightening of the requirements of commercial vehicles from 2020, means the biggest problem in central London will actually be from buses and taxis – both of which are under TfL’s control.

Taxis leading the way

In a radical but very little noticed move, TfL has actually announced that new taxis will be required to be zero emissions capable from 2018.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, today (Thursday 16 January [2014]) announced plans that would require all new taxis presented for licensing in the capital to be zero emission capable from 1 January 2018, with the expectation that they will automatically operate in zero emission mode while in areas where the capital’s air quality is at its worst such as parts of central London.

It is clear from the press release that the objective is not so much an improvement of overall air quality but an aggressive targeting of hotspots. In reality this is likely to be within a few hundred metres of the air quality recording stations with the highest readings. At the same time, even using today’s more conventional hybrid technology, this should lead to reduced emissions of at least 30% and be cost effective over the life of a taxi – though obviously it will require more capital investment upfront.

It will interesting to see how the zero emission taxi will be implemented and enforced. In particular whether there will be GPS or similar to define the areas. It does seem that it will be a requirement that the the engine would automatically switch over if not already in electric mode. It is not stated whether the areas affected would be static or dynamic. One would expect that a similar technology could also apply to buses and both ADL and Wrightbus have stated that it would not be hard to make their hybrid buses zero emissions capable to enable them to run for a mile or two without any tailpipe emissions at all.

Other vehicles are not forgotten in the press release which goes on to state:

The news follows a pledge the Mayor made last year to introduce an Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London by 2020.

Cleaning up the buses

When Boris Johnson became mayor London already had hybrid buses. These were basically existing bus designs that were “hybridised” by adding regenerative braking, a lithium-ion battery and, in parallel with the existing mechanical transmission, a means of powering the wheels electrically. The source of the electrical power was from regenerative braking.

The early hybrid vehicles were not entirely satisfactory for a number of reasons. The first and probably main one was simply cost. For the 20-30% saving in fuel (and emissions) you had an awful lot of extra initial cost in buying the bus. It is said that the hope was that by TfL buying a lot of hybrid buses a new demand would be created that would result in economies of scale and a reduction in the price. The trouble was that these price reductions just did not seem to be materialising.

Another major problem with these early hybrids is that they really did not reduce emissions by the level required. They were described as a “Prius-type” bus and in one sense that is really what they were. Just as the car manufacturers took an existing car and modified it, the bus manufactures did the same. By doing so they were not taking full advantage of the technology and either having to compromise on battery size or rather awkwardly include it in an existing design.

Series Hybrid v Parallel Hybrid

There appeared to be a real reluctance amongst bus builders to totally put their faith in hybrid buses and commit to it. This is rather like a Deutsche Bahn signal engineer who doesn’t really trust modern ERTMS signalling to do the full job and so sticks in a tried and tested signalling system in parallel. The earlier parallel hybrid buses weren’t fully exploiting the technology and they still had propshafts and gearboxes which were really completely unnecessary. ADL were already going along the route of progressing to so-called series hybrid where batteries power the bus and either a diesel generator or regenerative braking tops up the batteries. This they incorporated into their existing bus design – the Enviro 400.

A big advantage of series hybrid was that you didn’t need a propshaft and if you didn’t have a propshaft you could be quite radical and you could put the engine anywhere you wanted on the bus – upstairs if you wanted to. However, this was only really possible if you redesigned the whole bus. A complete redesign also gave the benefit that one should not be struggling to find space to include the sufficiently large battery required to store the energy recovered by regenerative braking.

One further advantage of the series hybrid was that, if the engine wasn’t turning the propshaft and all that it was doing was running an alternator to keep the battery topped up the engine could be much smaller. In fact the ADL EnviroH (H for hybrid) and the New Routemaster use the same small 4.5 litre engine. Potentially, if designed properly, one could always be running this engine at optimum efficiency and regardless of traffic conditions.

The Boris Bus

One can only speculate what thoughts were going on inside the heads of TfL directors when Boris Johnson was elected mayor of London, with his stated commitment of creating a new iconic bus for London with a rear open platform and a conductor on board. Shortly after his electoral victory he triumphantly appeared with Sir Peter Hendy and began talking about his new bus. Hendy had a microphone thrust in front of him and was asked what he thought. Clearly put on the spot, he replied to the effect that they could make something of this.

With many already used to Boris’s hyperbole his commitment for this bus “to run on green fuel” and be energy-efficient could not really assessed. Was it just a soundbite or something more serious?

The thought must have already been crossing some minds in TfL that if you are going to design a new bus that is iconic, and has to have green credentials, then this could potentially be a massive opportunity to innovate. It may have crossed their minds that if it all went wrong it might be the Mayor, and not TfL, that would get the blame. It certainly soon became clear that Hendy, whilst being scrupulously obedient to his political masters, had a somewhat radical agenda.

What we should aim to create now is not just a Routemaster replacement but a whole new generation of London buses that could affect the future of the entire industry.

In the competition to design and build a new Routemaster most of the contestants dropped out when they grasped the enormity of what was asked. Not surprisingly, given the scene we set earlier as to the current London marketplace, it came down to ADL and Wrightbus.

In many ways the situation was probably similar to procurement of Thameslink stock, with one home-grown supplier expected to get the contract and an unfavoured overseas one having to do that bit more to get the order. In the end it seems that ADL did not want to stick their neck out too far, especially as the company had recently been through some difficult times financially, whilst Wrightbus seemed up for the challenge. ADL wanted to build on their hybrid models that either already existed or were being developed whilst Wrightbus, despite their comparative inexperience at chassis building, wanted to embark on a radical design more in keeping with the mayor’s aspirations. Just how radical is probably best illustrated by the fact that at the time there were no purpose-built series hybrid buses in existence.

The rest, as they say, is history. The New Routemasters are offering energy savings of around 40% which means emissions reductions of around that magnitude. The all important NOₓ is around a half that of conventional double-deckers and even most hybrids. The CO₂ level comfortably beats other hybrids and is less than half that of a conventional bus.

There are obviously other opportunities for the future depending on how technology advances. For example, it is not currently possible to top up the charge in the New Routemaster’s batteries in the garage. As lighter materials get cheaper, it may also become more cost effective over the lifetime of a bus to replace some parts simply to reduce the weight further. A basic bus designer’s maxim is that “weight means fuel”. During the lifetime of any bus one would expect the engine to be replaced at least once. One would also expect on a bus like this to replace the lithium-ion batteries once every five to seven years. These occasions may also be an opportunity to take advantages of further advances in relevant technologies.

If one wanted to be even more radical (and playing something of a devil’s advocate), one could even, in principle, simply replace the diesel generator (engine + alternator) in a New Routemaster with a voltage regulator and connect it to a couple of trolley poles on the roof. One then has trolleybus – one with the added advantage of being able to run off wire for a short distance by using its battery. Of course you could do the same with a parallel hybrid, but from a technical standpoint it would a far less satisfactory solution. We will see in part 2 why this would probably not be good idea unless one already had the trolleybus infrastructure for it to run on.

There are lots of clips on YouTube about the New Routemaster. This rather old one from The Mayor’s Office, amongst other things, includes David Brown, MD of Surface Transport at TfL, explaining with passion what they wanted from the bus.

Navigating the Controversy

The New Routemaster has certainly been controversial. A lot of that has been down to looks with, inevitably, some loving it and some hating it. It has also been seen as Boris’s vanity project – but that should not be seen as a reflection on the bus itself – just the process by which it came into being. Likewise, the issue of conductors seems to raise emotions, but again is a separate issue from that of the technology and engineering. Indeed it is probably fair to say that any pretence of these buses being frequently double-manned has effectively been abandoned now that they run on route 148 without any conductors at all.

There have also been other, more physical, flaws. The air-conditioning did not work in the early days, for example (but then the original Routemaster has some major design faults in the early days as well). There have also been criticisms over its weight. As the design has developed the unladen weight has gone down, but this has lead to the strange situation of different but identical-looking buses being authorised to carry different numbers of standing passengers.

doors closed

A New Routemaster in central London in the afternoon on route 148. The rear door is closed and there is no second crew member. This shows that the bus does not require a crew of two to operate it at any time and whether or not it has a conductor is ultimately the choice of the current mayor.

All the above criticisms will no doubt be forgotten about in time by most people, leaving only those with a long memory and those who are determined to condemn the New Routemaster on past faults. Unlike the original Routemaster though, the New Routemaster will probably not be on our streets for more than around 15 years. The modern economics of buses including re-certification means it doesn’t usually make sense to keep buses going for longer.

Even if the New Routemaster survives for more than the expected 15 years (availability of spare parts is guaranteed for 29) they will probably be relegated to a less demanding location. More critically the bus is going through a phase where development is changing rapidly and, although the New Routemaster is unlikely to replicate the original’s longevity, it will almost certainly be seen as the first of a generation of buses that broke the traditional mould.

Indeed back in 2010 we asked whether the obsession with rear-entry by media and mayor meant that the real legacy of the Routemaster was being lost. We asked whether an opportunity was being missed to take a leap forward in bus-building, both in terms of the way they are built and their environmental friendliness. Whilst the New Routemaster cannot be said to have entirely embraced both those opportunities, we must admit that – politics ignored – it has done so more than any of us here in LR towers anticipated. It is a “B+, good effort” when we were perhaps pessimistically expecting a “D.”

If the mould has now been broken though, then what then comes next? In our next article on this subject we will look at other alternative technologies. These technologies may mean that the New Routemaster will not be seen as futuristic or iconic for long, but if that’s the case then it will be, at least in part, because the New Routemaster opened the door for them…

…even if it was only the front door that it opened. Not the rear one.

Much of the information for this article was taken from “Boris’s Bus” published by Capital Transport. Until recently it was almost impossible to buy at a discount and it is quite expensive at nearly £20. The London Transport Museum does not stock it and this is allegedly because they refuse to sell it. This is somewhat strange to say the least. Whilst the book is definitely a “warts and all” offering it does tell the story of the bus in great detail and the overall picture is one of being very impressed with what was achieved. Thanks also to ngh for clarifying a number of technical matters.

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There are 508 comments on this article
  1. Chris H says:

    Thanks for another good article. I think this shows the benefit of having clout to buy products in bulk. The new bus can be both bespoke to London’s needs, and innovative (indeed game-changing) in its design and credentials. As you say, hopefully the innovation will keep coming even as the design brings benefits to passengers.

  2. Castlebar 1 says:

    Thank you for a very good article

    It is now forgotten just how much a barrier the unions were to OMO buses 50 years ago, and we saw single deckers with 30 or so seats with a crew of 2. Simply, they could never be made to pay.

    The question perhaps is, “Has the pendulum swung too far in the opposite direction?” With a conductor, fare evasion was minimal. “Over-riding” has been abolished via the zoning system, and today many have Freedom passes etc, but nonetheless, I wonder what the real revenue loss is with such high capacity buses and a driver who cannot leave the cab.

  3. Tim Burns says:

    Will you be looking at the cost impact of that second crew member on the wider bus network in London? For example is there any trimming round the edges of the netwrok going on, or full to bursting routes not able to get any capacity upgrades?

  4. Rich Thomas says:

    Excellent introductory article – although has a chunk been lost from the Series Hybrid v Parallel Hybrid section? The single paragraph there doesn’t actually explain either, which would be helpful for those who don’t know what they are.

    [Fair point. I added the odd word here and there and have emboldened a “parallel” and a “series” in order to try and make this a bit clearer. PoP]

  5. Boriswatch says:

    Oh dear. Quite a few things to take issue with in this article but I’m off out for lunch so I’ll have to leave it to later. Quite apart from anything else *don’t* for the love of God, believe anything TfL tell you about fuel use or the ‘radical’ nature of the blasted bus – it’s just a heavy conventional series hybrid of 2010 vintage in a silly frock with design severely compromised by political meddling.

  6. Steven Taylor says:

    Quote One of London’s bus builders, Alexander Dennis Ltd (ADL), actually assembles their buses in Guildford. Unquote

    Forgive me for going off at a tangent…. Your comment reminded me of a school trip undertaken in 1967 to tour the Dennis works in Guildford. I seem to remember there were several fire engines being literally hand built – or so it seems. I assume it is the same Company and they are still in Guildford. I am surprised.

  7. @Steven Taylor,

    Basically the same company but a lot of mergers and takeovers and change of emphasis. Before “Dennis the Fire Engine” it was “Dennis the Dustcart”. It combined with Scottish body-builder (that is bus bodies) Alexander to produce Alexander-Dennis Ltd.

  8. IslandDweller says:

    Manufacturers. I thought some of the new buses London is getting (not Borismasters) are built in Scotland? I’ve seen quite a few recently coming south on the M74. I assumed when I saw them near Lockerbie they were on a delivery journey?
    On the technical stuff. A number of new cars (eg Mitsubishi Outlander, some Golf versions, Volvo V60) combine an engine and hybrid battery – with plug in at home charging. These cars run about 30/40 miles on battery before the engine fires up.
    Why can’t the buses include depot charging to reduce engine use? Is it because the (heavy) bus depletes the battery so much quicker, making the depot charging a marginal benefit. I’m thinking aloud and would be fascinated if someone does know more.

  9. HellOnWheelz says:

    And this bus appears (from afar) to continue down the British path of non accessibility! Where are the fold-out ramps and wheelchair parking bays?

    Thought you lot were “phasing in” acessibility!

    Looks like the wife and I won’t be making that “hop across the pond” anytime soon (both wheelies).

  10. @Island Dweller,

    That will be the bus bodies built by the Alexander bit of Alexander-Dennis and on their way to Guildford to be assembled into a bus. Or alternatively the final result being shipped south – the chassis having previously being taken up north from Guildford. It all gets a bit complex to optimise and balance the workload bearing in mind one has a “free” return journey with every parts delivery from one factory to the other.

  11. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ Island Dweller who said

    “Is it because the (heavy) bus depletes the battery so much quicker, making the depot charging a marginal benefit.”

    I would suspect that it isn’t just the weight of the bus. It’s also use of two sets of doors which sap energy when the bus isn’t moving, and lighting which is also draining power full time. This is particularly relevant to something learned from early Trolleybus days. Although obviously wired in to the juice at all times, some of the earlier models had interior lighting which dimmed when the bus was stationary, and noticeably brightened up once the bus got on the move. And don’t forget, there were no folding doors then, so the lighting was the only source of power drain apart from traction motors as I don’t think any had heaters.

  12. Walthamstow Writer says:

    An interesting but rather disappointing article. I am not sure it is factually correct in terms of dealing with hybrid technology, its history or the introduction of hybrid buses to London. I also think there is some blurring about the role of the ADL and Wrightbus when it comes to providing bodywork and / or complete vehicles. Ditto with Volvo. Wrightbus, for example, have big sales in the Far East and have had long term partnerships with Volvo. First Bus were and remain a big buyer of Wrightbus bodywork and more recently the Streetlite single decker. ADL have worked very hard to develop a North American business and are just as successful in the Far East. They are also a big supplier to Go Ahead and, of course, Stagecoach.

    The article acknowledges the split of opinion caused by the NB4L and I really don’t like them. They’re the only bus to give me splitting headaches when the engine runs which is far too often for what is supposed to be a quiet hybrid bus. I avoid catching them if I possibly can as I don’t want an aching head. Sorry Wrightbus and TfL. I have no issues with other buses giving me headaches.

    I fear we must also be careful about indulging fantasies about sticking trolley poles on the NB4L. The article is correct to note that trolleybuses are a perfectly viable technology with an established supplier base and yet their potential use is not acknowledged by TfL. I completed the Clean Air Consultation over the weekend and there’s no recognition that trams and trolleybuses could be a solution to improving London’s air quality. The clear inference was that hybrid vehicles and electric cars plus a splash of cycling and walking was the answer. That’s a load of old rubbish if that’s the only option for improving air quality that is being given serious consideration.

    I won’t drone on about other technologies as that’s for part 2 but let’s hope there is some full consideration of other propulsion technology that is in use outside of London and which London shows no sign of using (for whatever reason). It is also worth noting that the supply market is now developing solutions that the private sector bus operators are happy to buy and which aren’t in use in London!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Fact check: Alexander Dennis are actually based in Falkirk in Scotland and the Guildford plant is merely where the chassis of most of the product range are constructed before being sent north to ADL plants in Falkirk and Scarborough for the bodywork to be fitted. ADL is also privately owned (with a substantial share held by Stagecoach co-founder Sir Brian Souter and his sister), just like Wrightbus!

    Also quite a few of the buses that came after the Routemaster were also built by Park Royal in Greater London for many years until the plant closed in the early 1980s. Quite a few were also built at MCW in Birmingham and ECW at Lowestoft. North of London I admit, but not really North of England. It was only really immediately pre or just post privatisation that ADL (and its predecessors), Optare and Wrightbus (the latter only a decade or so ago in any real numbers) actually broke into the market.

  14. Anonymous says:

    “Buses in London have become much more accessible and comfortable”
    Accessible – this is an interesting area. Have you ever watched a standoff between a wheelchair user, who will not let go of the entrance grabrail, and a parent, who refuses to take her child’s buggy off the bus?
    Comfortable – no way! The London bus bench seat, last seen on the upper deck of late (S reg.) Olympians, was orthopaedically correct. The various current plastic bucket seats, covered by a very thin layer of foam, are positively painful and the reason I have to stand on buses.

  15. straphan says:

    Thanks for the article, but…

    Whilst you do try hard to detach the technical aspects of the Borismaster from the operational ones, it is the operational ones that I have issue with. Had TfL simply requested a series-hybrid bus that would have been far cheaper to ‘organise’ than this whole ‘Borissy’ type grand projet that simply isn’t one. TfL have been at the forefront of hydrogen bus trials (firstly Citaros then Wrights on route RV1), and are currently testing two battery-electric Chinese BYD buses on the Red Arrow routes. All without even half the fanfare and controversy of the Borismaster, all operated by one person, and all either suited to or actually operating a front-door boarding policy, which (for better or worse) is the norm here.

    Not to mention when Boriswatch finally prised the emissions data for the NBfL it showed ‘regular’ hybrids are over 30% cleaner. So much for the green credentials, then. Parallel hybrids (where the battery starts the vehicle moving and the diesel kicks in later) are best-suited to London’s stop-start traffic, whereas series hybrids are all about range and fuel efficiency on long-distance trips. Why on Earth did someone think that a series hybrid would be a better idea?

  16. Frankie Roberto says:

    I’d be interested to know if, with current or near-future technology, the diesel generator could be eliminated altogether by fast charging the (bigger capacity?) battery at depots or route terminuses? That would save the weight of the diesel engine + fuel, and would mean zero emissions along the whole route.

  17. Boriswatch says:

    [at lunch, but on wifi]

    ‘The new bus can be both bespoke to London’s needs’

    It isn’t, though, as can be seen by the number of modifications needed to routes to accommodate it and the rumour tha tat least three routes (including the 7 and the 94) have been excluded from conversion because it doesn’t fit. Notably the 94 already (mostly) uses ADL E400H hybrids and the 7 is being re-equipped with Volvo/Wright B5LH hybrids in a few months’ time, neither of which have trouble fitting London’s needs (and both of which are lighter, and cheaper to buy).

  18. Benedict says:

    Excellent to see a bus mini series in the making. These are indeed interesting times for development of bus transport in London, not just in service structure but in technology, funding, opperation, strategy, and popularity. All the ingredients for a game change, should any Mayor have the money and the motivation to do so.

    Incidentally, TfL is now a fortnight late with their formal response to the London Assembly’s bus Report. In the meantime speculation is that it might contain a few suprises, but that it must also straddle a very fine line between calls for bus provision to explode and calls for finance and ‘subsidy’ to be slashed drastically. Is there any insider news yet? Is the delay a deliberate ploy or a reflection of some kind of contentious content?

    @Castlebar, an valuable point to raise. It seems almost bizarre in this day and age to think that even a 26′ short single deck with more than 21 persons was required by law to be crewed by two at one point. How much did this restrict opperations or curtail enhanced service provision, one wonders, and what was the knock on effect from this? No doubt such speculation is a moot point now, but did the unions end up hurting themselves…

    As bus’s increase in capacity and shear size, perhaps it will start to become more attractive to employ conductors again. A 42′ tripple doored double deck simply doesn’t seem a tenable proposition for a lone driver to be expected to manage effectively. Perhaps the best of both worlds would be roving conductors – this would at least make it impossible to gaurentee the ability to evade a fare. Perhaps it could further absorb the role of Revenue Inspector.

  19. @HellOnWheelz,

    Where are the fold-out ramps and wheelchair parking bays?

    If you look at the second picture on the right you will see the vertical padding for the wheelchair position. A wheelchair can be safely parked here. That is how it is generally done in Britain and what our disability regulations mandate.

    In London we have nothing as crude as fold out ramps. Indeed I am rather taken aback when I go to the continent and see how crudely it is done there. We have ramps that are remote controlled and come out from under the door. All London buses have that and we have a 100% wheelchair accessible fleet. On a New Routemaster you have the added advantage of the very low floor only fractionally about the kerb (that is curb to you) and that the conductor is trained to assist. I have seen a conductor doing just that.

    The one area where you may have grounds to complain is that TfL refused to sanction two specific wheelchair places on the grounds that this led to too many design problems. This doesn’t mean you cannot get two wheelchairs on though.

    From my experience (admittedly I haven’t been to America for many years) we are way ahead of most countries although there is still a long way to go. We even have a TfL board member (who also happens to be Olympic Paramedallist) who is, as you put it, a wheelie.

    The reason I did not bother to mention disabled access in the article is that in London one just takes it for granted that our buses have it.

  20. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Island Dweller – IIRC Alexander Dennis have plants at Falkirk, Scarborough and Guildford. Complete vehicles may be seen moving from any of these locations. Optare’s plant is in West Yorkshire and, of course, Wrightbus are based in Northern Ireland. Volvo’s chassis or complete vehicles are now made in Poland. Vehicles may also be seen in Darlington as Cummins’ engine plant is there. Experimental vehicles are regularly seen in the area. Therefore sightings of new buses do take place on the main motorways but also at ports in the North West such as Heysham.

    @ HellonWheelz – *every* London bus is accessible. They all have wheelchair bays and as nearly all buses are dual door London uses automatic ramps that are deployed at the centre door. Small, short midibuses are usually single door and they have an automatic ramp at the front door. The only arguments we have about bus accessibility in London is about the total space on the bus (covered in other LR articles) plus the range of wheelchairs / mobility scooters that can be safely carried on TfL buses. TfL have spent time and money on updating guidance and driver training to reduce the risk of inconsistent practice by drivers.

    Most buses in use outside of London are accessible as are growing numbers of coaches used on scheduled coach services across the UK.

  21. Chris L says:

    Whilst riding on RTs over the weekend (OK they have had money spent on restoring them) I was struck by the lack of creaking sounds from the bodywork compared to new buses running in London supplied by ADL (the worst) & Wrightbus.

  22. Boriswatch says:

    [finished lunch]

    ADL have plants at Falkirk and Scarborough as well as Guildford, which is why their buses tend to have ‘S..’ or ‘Y..’ registrations, for Scotland and Yorkshire. Here’s a recent E400H (SN14TWE) to prove it:

  23. Philip says:

    What still infuriates me about the Borismasters is that, after the early DLAs got massive passenger complaints, we’ve once again got a bus that you can’t see out the rear of to check if the one you might want to change to is just behind.

  24. Long Branch Mike (London Bus Mike) says:

    The illustration at the top of the article appears to be a mirror image of the UK version, as it is for right hand (non-UK) driving. Perhaps it is the version meant for export to Europe and North America?

  25. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Benedict – part 3 of my series of LR articles on London Buses is “paused” awaiting sight of the TfL response to the London Assembly Transport Committee and also the Finance and Policy Committee paper about cost reductions / savings on bus services. I’ll certainly try to “wrap up” where those papers leave us in terms of public knowledge about the bus network. Quite what may be being contemplated in private is beyond the scope of my knowledge. We may have a wait until June because City Hall, its functional bodies and the Assembly are in “purdah” because of the local elections next month.

  26. scd says:


    I think you have drawn the inverse conclusion.

    Series hybrids typically have a smaller internal combustion engine (ICE) than a parallel hybrid (since the ICE need only generate electricity at a constant RPM, not provide torque over a wide RPM band).

    This makes them MORE suited to inner city stop-start traffic where the electric motor and large battery capacity can provide the constant/ repetitive acceleration / regenerative-braking effort without engaging the ICE as often. A parallel hybrid typically has a normal-sized ICE and a small battery pack so it cannot work as an EV for as long in stop-start traffic.

    On suburban routes, series hybrids are less effective since the ICE has to be on and under high load all the time to generate enough electricity for free(er) flowing traffic. As a result they are NOT very suitable for range and fuel efficiency for long-distance trips. In this case, the parallel hybrid with its larger ICE is more suitable. I think you will see this in London with TfL running the series-hybrid NRM centrally and the parallel hybrids in the suburbs.

    As an illustration, consider the series hybrid Chevrolet Volt gets pretty bad gas mileage (for its class) when it is running on ICE alone since it has a small engine for a heavy car (due to battery weight). However, in stop-start traffic it has a large EV range so is more suited to congested city centres.

    As an aside, I believe the ADL E40H is a series hybrid so equating NRM with ‘series hybrid’ and ‘bad’ doesn’t make sense.

    Series hybrids also have the advantage (and are the future in Central London) because they will be able to use the “virtual electric” idea where the batteries will be topped-up at certain locations to allow EV-only operation in city centres. For example, you could have an inductive under-ground charger at each end of Oxford St. where the bus loiters for say 5 minutes to recharge part of its battery capacity. The bus can then run as an EV for say 5 miles (which covers most of Central London) before the range-extender kicks in the suburbs. This obviates the need for trolleybuses and associated overhead wires while yielding the same EV-only operation on Oxford St. with the added flexibility of the range-extender in the outer-London parts of a bus route.

    The EU in combination with Volvo and others are researching this idea further and TfL is (I think I have read) in the planning stages for testing this in London. Note that parallel hybrids cannot easily run in virtual electric mode since they typically have far smaller batteries which are not useful for EV-only operation (compare the EV-only range of the Toyota Prius (parallel hybrid) – 1 or 2 miles – with that of the Chevrolet Volt (series hybrid) – 30 miles)

  27. scd says:


    The BYD k9 EV buses are good and represent the future as do their e6 taxis but they are 14-tonne single-decker buses so the common complaint of Boriswatch against the ‘lardbus’ NRM applies equally. Also they are single-deckers, so if you want a double decker EV bus you are out of luck for now.

    The fuel-cell buses are a dead-end as are most fuel-cell vehicles because generating, transporting and storing hydrogen is a massive headache. It is a fundamental physics problem that cannot be solved without resorting to renewable-produced hydrogen (and that will only solve the first problem, not the transport or storage problems).

  28. New bus for Paris? says:

    Sorry for the pedantry, but the illustration at the header of this article – much as it is lovely – depicts a left-hand-drive NB4L!

    Has Boris started exporting them?

  29. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ SCD – and yet the number of Volvo B5L (parallel) hybrids in London service continues to grow with the next batch beginning deliveries to Stagecoach for use on route 53. I’m not arguing over your technical description but just musing that routes like the 12, 13, 29 and 73 are very intensively used and are certainly stop start from one end of their routes to the other. They all have Volvo hybrids working on them. It seems the operators are happy to deploy the technology where you suggest it is less than optimal. We also have ADL series hybrids about to be deployed on suburban routes 54 and 75 which obviously do stop and start but have more chance of “stretching their legs” out in the South London suburbs. This all rather suggests there are other factors in play (price, back up service, mainteance, fuel economy etc) rather than a pure choice of drivetrain technology.

  30. scd says:

    @Walthamstow Writer

    Agreed, not saying deployment of buses is technologically-optimal (or maybe it is, I don’t know) but my point was to correct the notion that series hybrids are no good because someone dislikes the NRM.

    Given that we now HAVE the NRM, I think the “virtual electric” idea will be a happy accident of the whole program allowing emissions-free busses along Oxford St. (and similar) in relatively short order (at least it is not technologically difficult to achieve, certainly easier than tram/ trolleybuses).

    Presumably the E40Hs can be used for this too, I don’t know the feasibility of running the B5LHs in this mode with their smaller batteries, maybe it will work for them too!

    Personally, don’t care what they use as long as I can stop coughing whenever i’m in CL!

  31. Boriswatch says:

    The fuel consumption figures for both types of double decker hybrid came out virtually the same at around 7.2mpg on average, so the parallel/series thing appears to matter a lot less than thought. Evidently operators think the B5LH is an excellent product, though, as it took a healthy lead in the market over the last year or so as ADL look to the next generation (being a fan of incrementalism they tend to offer fairly conservative designs which work and then improve them slowly). Both models of course attract Green Bus Fund subsidy, which the New Routemaster has curiously never been put through the tests for so doesn’t. The thing to look for in the next generation of hybrids is pure electric range – better batteries and lower weight should improve this to the point where substantial amounts of inner London service can run without the diesel at all.

    Mind you, having been repeatedly rude about it one thing the Lard Bus is actually good at is weight reduction – the latest Wright bodied normal buses are a good deal lighter than the previous generation, about a tonne or so, which is a significant amount and only really explicable by a technology transfer. This is supposedly a by product of the desperate and unsuccessful attempts to bring an 11.3m two staircase three door bus in at 11800kg – the latest ones appear to have settled at 12230kg. So they’ve clearly made great strides but meeting the specification TfL set was probably not possible.

    By the way, no view on the wisdom of TfL’s forced marriage of Wrights and Heatherwick Studio, who had never worked that way before, in the latter’s case had no experience, didn’t enter the design competition and didn’t have to tender for the job? It’s not entirely surprising serious cockups on weight and passenger usability (that missing rear window) happened, really.

  32. scd says:


    Agreed, I think the endless debate over incremental differences in MPG/ NOx/ CO2 etc… between the various buses is largely irrelevant outside the context of “virtual electric” buses.

    This idea/ technology is a relatively simple and dramatic (overnight step-change) way to reduce localised Central London (exhaust) emissions from EXISTING buses to ZERO given that there will be no trams/ trolleybuses in the near future.

    With strategic recharging points on the Central London routes and some (relatively?) minor retrofits of existing hybrid buses, performance differences between ADL/ Volvo / NRM buses will be rendered moot since they will all just be in EV mode anyway.

    For all its faults, the NRM “will do” for this technology.

    I hope the next in this series of articles addresses this !

  33. timbeau says:

    My main gripes are the missing rear window and the absence of conductors on many of them, making the extra weight and length incurred by the rear platform a complete waste, especiually as it reduces the carrying capacity.

    To judge by the caption picture the future of the London Bus is driving on the right – is this a new EU directive? If it works, will taxis, cars and lorries drive on the right later? Or maybe the idea is a safety measure to put the driver nearer the cyclists.

    I too am mystified by the statement thatthe buses introduced to replace the Routemaster were built in the north of England. After the RM production run finished we had four years of single-deck Swifts and Merlins, chassis by AEC in Southall, bodies by Metro Cammell in Birmingham, Marshalls of Cambridge, and Park Royal in er, Park Royal. Once one-man-operation of double deckers was authorised in 1970, Fleetlines with chassis by Daimler of Coventry and bodies by the aforementioned Metro cammell and park Royal were the order of the day until British Leyland, Daimler’s parent company, moved chassis production to Lancashire in 1973.

    Have any reliable and fair comparisons of fuel consumptoin between a Boris Behemoth and a good standard hybrid been published yet?

    On a side note, it seems remarkable to me that the entire taxi fleet is still diesel – not to mention congestion-charge exempt – nearly 15 years after reliable hybrids came on the market, and long after the problems with regeneration of particulate filters have started to make city-based diesels a liability. Particulate filters need a good run at 50mph from time to time to regenerate: no wonder taxi drivers like airport runs!

  34. Graham H says:

    @LBM – yes, I noticed that – I assumed that it was an anti-Farage thing…

  35. John Bull says:

    I inverted the image because I needed the bus to “read” left-to-right visually, else it would jar with the flow of the text.

    Design trumped reality in this particular instance.

  36. timbeau says:

    @Graham H/LBM

    Or maybe this is a new development – the driverless bus, with only a conductor (at the back of course……….).

  37. Boriswatch says:

    “Have any reliable and fair comparisons of fuel consumptoin between a Boris Behemoth and a good standard hybrid been published yet?”

    No, TfL are curiously reticent on the subject. Leon Daniels mentioned ‘7.3mpg’ in a recent seminar, for one route (the 9). Assuming he picked a representative one that’s mid-table in the hybrid world and well within the margin of error. Alternatively if he cherry picked the best route the average is quite probably below the average for other hybrids (7.2mpg).

    I have an FoI in for this, of course…

  38. tog says:

    Regardless of its other qualities or deficiencies, the NB4L does seem to solve the main issue I encounter on London’s increasingly overcrowded buses – downstairs standing passengers blocking disembarking upstairs passengers, leading to increased dwell times.

    A second staircase that exits straight onto the street (rather than dispensing passengers into the main standing area) seems so obvious, I can’t believe no-one thought of it before…

  39. Q199 says:

    Although this article is more based on the Technology as opposed to specifically being about the Boris bus then it misses quite a few things about the NBFL and reads like a TFL press release:-)

    Im with Boriswatch and the various articles on boriswatch give a true representation of the Borismaster! From what Ive read the buses carry 3 people less than the buses they are replacing,dont have conductors but a Customer Experience Assistant or whatever they are calling them this week and do nothing useful really other than taking space up during the busiest periods as well as nothing about the cost of running them double staffed,the environmental conditions inside the bus(I wonder what its like now the temperature in London has started heating up) and the cost of each bus.

    The 3 best buses London has got running around are the Enviro 400’s,Scania and Volvo’s of which Boris has replaced the Enviro’s on the 24 with Borismasters. Im lucky enough to live far enough near the border where I’ll not see a Borismaster on any of my local routes thankfully(he only comes to visit when its election time but that’s it) and half of the routes run out here are done by Scania Omnicity and ADL Enviro 400’s,

    Ive only been on a Borismaster once and that was enough for me! 24 about 6 months ago I think it was and only went Hampstead-Euston Square and was like a sauna when I got on so had to get off but was around 10c outside if that.Luckily there wasn’t any traffic as was early afternoon and only a few people on on board(There was 4 of the NBFL parked up at Hampstead). When the A/C did start,it sounded like a 747-400 starting up and then stopped a few mins later and then started up again.An asthmatic would have produced more air.

    Ive been travelling on Buses for over 30 years and been in London 15 years and happy to say I could count on one hand the amount of times Ive travelled on an old Routemaster and only once on a Borismaster and once got off a Routemaster 15 and transferred to a Double Decker 15 behind and when the driver asked why my reply was “If I can travel on here or on that Routemaster I choose this every time”

    Considering the TFL Bus funding Black hole that is speeding towards us in 2016 (just as Boris leaves hopefully)as quick as a driver running back empty to depot to finish his shift then will these Buses become economically viable when the cuts start kicking in?

  40. FreeBBC says:

    Well I may tell this simple, the route 148 currently have no conductors because TFL is promoting the bus as a usual 3 door open boarding bus. The next route which is route 8 will have no conductors as well, and it will start by the end of June for the new contract. But it will end up causing confusion to commuters when they see the New Routemaster stationary, when they walk to the rear and they expect to see the open platform shut. But another benefit is the open boarding where you board by any door to speed up passengers entering the bus.

    But the masses think the bus would have an open platform so they can jump off between stops when the bus is stationary and stuck on the traffic jam. Some of the conductors act like ‘bouncers’ and tell the passengers off for not boarding between stops. On the TFL’s condition of carriage it mentions that the passenger can’t get on or off between stops on the bus. But TFL mentioned this on the FOI request “This term does not appear in our Conditions of Carriage as it is not something we want to encourage passengers to do, and passengers should only get on and off at recognised bus stops. However, we accept that boarding and alight between stops does occur.”

    The 507 & 521 still provides open boarding because the 12 Metre long have no seats in some parts of the bus which can carry up to 90 passengers which is more than a Routemaster can.

    Also First Group in Leeds is proposing to have an alternative to the NGT trolleybus system to have New Routemasters instead.
    But if they set the orders on for the New Routemaster in Leeds, I think it will be pretty interesting to see how it pans out.

    Even in Hong Kong when one of the New Routemasters went on a world tour, the KMB operator is not ordering and this is what Vivien Chan, KMB Corporate Affairs Director says. “While KMB has no intention of introducing the NBfL to Hong Kong in view of the lack of an air-conditioning, necessary given Hong Kong’s climate, and the open design of the rear door, which does not meet the operating situation in Hong Kong, we have incorporated some of the environment-friendly features as well as the ergonomic seat design on newer buses in our fleet,”

    Well it also had popularity as the first 3 prototypes went on World Tour and it attracted lot of people, specially Singaporeans when they crowd around the New Routemaster in Singapore. Lastly it had some air time on Top Gear programme, it usually appeal to the masses.

    I think that’s all I got to say, so I rest my case.

  41. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Tog – I recognise we all have our own experiences of the NB4L but try one when it is really busy with people crushed into the lower deck and standing upstairs and you’ll soon see that the dual staircases don’t help very much. Ironically they encourage two flows of people upstairs and if it’s full you then have people completely crushed in downstairs given the inability to stand on the rear platform if the “conductor” is present. However I have seen a photo of people stuffed on the rear platform on a bus in OPO mode. Quite how that is safe or sensible given how the rear door opens I am not sure. Goes to show that the driver cannot control the loadings on the NB4L when in OPO mode. I must go and watch the AM peak at Elephant and Castle to see how the NB4Ls are doing on route 148.

    Give me a bendybus any day – preferably with three sections and booms reaching up to wires. Oh look there’s Boris running screaming down the road crying “never, never!” 🙂

  42. Greg Tingey says:

    Oh dear –turn my back for about 3 hours & HOW MANY comments appear on a new thread?

    Air Quality
    You are reminded of the coming adbvances in battery & PV-generation technology, mentioned elsewhere, recently – plus of course “tricks” like induction charging a la Milton Keynes.
    Oh, are there not Hydrogen-fuelled buses ( Route RV1 ??) running in London, as well?

    PLEASE – just because we HAD to have Boris as Mayor – because of Ken’s public love of religious extremists – doesn’t mean we support him … but you do have to remember that this was a manifesto commitment- wasn’t it?
    And, whatever the interior design faults – it’s horribly space-inefficient, nonetheless, the technology is quite good, actually. You are reminded that the Routemaster had considerable teething troubles, which cost a lot to put right, too!
    The thing to look for in the next generation of hybrids is pure electric range – better batteries and lower weight should improve this to the point where substantial amounts of inner London service can run without the diesel at all. Again – you are referred to a previous article & link to a discussion on battery technology coming down the line …

    The disabled access IS there, actually ….
    See also PoP’s reply

    Fully agree with youtr moan about Trolleybuses & Trams
    But they are not really part of TfL’s current plans are they – not since Boris killed-off tram-extensions ….

    The Borismaster is a triumph of so-called “design” over practicality, unfortunately.

    Timbeau Once one-man-operation of double deckers was authorised in 1970, Fleetlines with chassis by Daimler of Coventry and bodies by the aforementioned Metro cammell and park Royal were the order of the day … – and weren’t they unutterably ghastly, without exception!

    The 3 best buses London has got running around are the ROUTEMASTER’s actually – oops. Sorry, but the ghastly things we got between 1970 & 2000 must have pout a lot of people off bus travel.
    It was “Oyster wot won it” – a different application of technology, entirely….

  43. Anonymous says:

    @Walthamstow Writer perhaps Bendy Buses will make a return after Boris is gone on non cycle routes and roads where there tight turnings? I see no problem with them for as long as they don’t come too far in Zone 2 and don’t come into Zone 1 unless the route on a straight route most of the way in Central London !

  44. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon – I don’t expect them to return for many years as the vested interests who fought to get them off the road will crawl out from under rocks and frighten the politicians to death. It’s this sort of nonsense that makes we wish for no political involvement in transport! Artics have a definite role and there are several routes where the single deck and extra buggy / wheelchair space would be very beneficial. I’m not as bothered as others are about the road space issue simply because such vehicles cope with a vast range of traffic layouts / road widths / turns in any number of countries. I think part of the problem that we had in London is the way our traffic system “works” and the particularly manic driving and parking style we see from a range of drivers in London. With a different approach to bus priority, bus stop design and revenue protection there’s nothing wrong with longer buses or open boarding. Routes like the 227 and 358 are very busy but are constrained by low bridges and the X26 could certainly do with longer buses (not necessarily with 3 doors). Extra seats and luggage space would be welcome. Leon Daniels has had to concede that longer double deckers (on 2 axles) will have to bought in London to raise capacity further. Of course we can’t have anything with three axles in Central London unless they’re carrying rubble and containers and (mostly) come with visual black spots as standard (lorries in case anyone was wondering). 🙁

  45. straphan says:

    @WW: Hear hear! Given the bendies were introduced with next to no repainting/rebuilding of junctions in Central London I think they did very well for themselves.

    @scd: Sorry, shows I’m less into buses and more into rail… And I confess I could never tell which hybrid is which and confused myself again… Nonetheless, I still think the criticism of paying through the roof for a bespoke design when similar ones already existed virtually off the shelf (or were going to be created imminently) was a waste of money. Especially if you consider that the bendies they replaced still had lots of useful life left (and I bet a few will still soldier on in the Sudan for a few years more!).

  46. timbeau says:

    “A second staircase that exits straight onto the street (rather than dispensing passengers into the main standing area) seems so obvious, I can’t believe no-one thought of it before…”
    They have – trams had two staircases. More recently, (well, 30 years ago, we had this

  47. T33 says:

    I find all these criticism’s of the NRM rather odd. As a regular bus user on 11’s and 211’s west of Victoria I am very impressed by the new buses. In fact prefer the NRM on the 11 to the old fashioned things on the 211 and they are a massive improvement on the “eclipse’s”(?? – sorry not a bus man) that ran the 11’s before – my legs were wedged into the seat in front all the time.
    The air-cooling system (which to be fair is useless on very hot days) is lovely most of the year. The drive is smooth and the comfort high.
    They may not be perfect or have hit all the Spec’s – however they are impressive looking and have a genuine Wow factor – which is good for London

  48. Anonymous says:

    Bendy Buses should have a role in outer London, routes like the 5 could really benefit from them. Places like Romford or Wimbledon or Croydon (which has Trams so there wellused to something ‘Bendy’). I’m not saying that they should not have routemaster going into London from the surburds but use Bendys on routes that connect the suburbs to eachother

  49. Philip says:

    Berlin double-deckers have two staircases and a passenger flow of in the front door, up the front staircase, down the back staircase and out the back door. Really good for cutting dwell time. The only potential for the Borismasters would be if a similar flow could be set up but I suspect London passengers will not be co-operative enough.

    The problem with artics was not just car drivers but the layout of junctions. I remember once being trapped on a 73 that stood stationary at the traffic lights coming out of Gower Street towards Tottenham Court Road for fifteen minutes in the rush hour, because at no point was there enough free space on the road towards Centre Point when the light was green for the bus to turn without blocking the crossroads…

  50. SteveOfTheStow says:

    Surprised that so many are clamouring for the bendy buses back – they were a fare-evader’s paradise from considerable personal experience and I hope they never greet London’s streets again. I do wonder how much money TfL lost through the use of those buses to evasion.

    That said, I’m not happy about the current operation of NRM, where the ‘second man’ (or woman) on board does not check tickets and simply ensures proper use of the platform, because it still means that anyone can board on any of the two rear doors and not pay their fare.

  51. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ SteveoTS – err I don’t detect a clamour. I was extremely careful in setting out some criteria where I think they’d be useful. There are a load of routes which are really struggling to cope with loadings and they’re in the suburbs. Higher capacity single deckers with more seats on one level would please older passengers who can’t cope with stairs and the mums wielding buggies and lugging shopping. We can all sit and trade examples where we think something “failed”. It doesn’t get us anywhere.

    The fact is that bus use is still rising [1], some routes cannot take double decks and there is no money to run extra buses. Therefore what do you do? Just leave people to wait for 1, 2 or 3 times the headway before being able to crush on board? Bigger single decks don’t come for free (obviously) but we do need to make sure that the professional bus operators have the biggest armoury of vehicle types available to them to match capacity to demand in a cost effective manner. Bendy buses should be part of that armoury and the politicians (of any hue) should be told politely to stop interfering. We have wasted tens of millions of pounds faffing around with vehicle type based policies when that money could and should have been spent of delivering more service volume and better network connectivity.

    [1] I checked the stats again today.

  52. Fandroid says:

    On an entirely trivial note, my grandad was a toolmaker in the original Dennis works in Guildford (the big one above the railway- not the town centre one that’s now a pub!). I’m pleased to hear that they still do make things in the town. They most definitely made fire engines in his day (the 1950s).

  53. Melvyn says:


    Borismasters are also a fare evaders paradise especially as you can enter through centre door and just sit down or go upstairs and with the end of cash fares in July fare dodgers will have even greater freedom given how new routes lumbered with these lard butts won’t have a 2nd person on board thus defeating the object of these buses !

    Boris was the one who consulted on removal of roadside ticket machines got agreement and then went on to decide to remove cash fares from buses having removed RTMS – seems it will be ” Sorry judge I would have paid but driver won’t accept my money and those ticket machines I used to use have been removed …!” Judge Oh I see case dismissed !

    Artic buses do what it says on the label and move large numbers of passengers on a busy route with best VFM and are used world wide so why can’t London do what everywhere else manages to do ?

    Finally, with the end of cash fares and more and more Borismasters is it not time to install oyster validators in the centre entrance of all buses ?

  54. Gerald of Newbury Park says:

    @SteveoftheShow ah but think of how much it happens daily on the DLR? People just walking in to the station and getting on a train like it for free? However the DLR has a Train Assistant which can check if a passenger has touch in (not always but sometimes) so would having a ‘Bus or ‘Bendy’ (lol) assistant on a Bendy Bus be an ideal thing to look into?

  55. Anonymous says:

    Who cares if the NB4L carries 3 less people,its a marvellous vehicle,please Boris order another thousand,even without a csa the 148 gets me from white City to Victoria much more quicker and reliable in 30 mins. Thank god 38,10 & 8 are being converted and hopefully many more routes.

  56. Boriswatch says:

    T33: “to the old fashioned things on the 211”

    ? 211 runs nearly new E400s and E400Hs, last time I was walking down Victoria St. Three years old, looking at this picture of one at Hammersmith (*points at Flickr*), so same age as the first NRMs.

    “which is good for London”

    I’ve never understood this argument – the purpose of the bus network is to help London move people around, and buses move more people around than any other PT mode in London, so that’s pretty much the be all and end all of why we have a bus network. Spending more money on heavier buses that move fewer people around and require either higher subsidy or higher fares detracts from this, and is therefore not good for London at all.

    Of course you could be taking the Boris view that London is basically a tourist attraction designed to bring in foreign money, but that’s not a view that makes much sense, really, although it does explain a lot.

    As for bringing back artics, the point there is that given the apparent desire to squeeze 10m people into London and the pre-eminence of the bus in moving them around, you’ve got no real choice other than to raise the ratio of passengers to crew – crew being the most expensive thing on the operating side of the bus network. The NRM cleverly manages to be both longer and carry fewer people, so it’s not at all clear that it’s possible to raise the ratio with a double axle double decker even if you ditched the dafter aspects. This leaves three axle DD or artics (or possibly 12m cattle class single deckers with nearly no seats, like the 507/521, but that’s very much a niche really). What’s crucial though is that we’ve got to get way from the six year distraction of politically driven aesthetics and think throughput and cost efficiency again. We need a Class 378 for the road.

    Finally on the old canard of artics=bog up the streets, surely we should be seeing much freer running streets with 550+ double deckers instead of 350 artics? Shouldn’t we? Doesn’t look like that, congestion’s going up in London to the extent that its impact on bus journey times (and PVR and thus cost/subsidy) was being discussed in a recent TfL Board Paper.

    SteveOfTheStow: ‘I’m not happy about the current operation of NRM, where the ‘second man’ (or woman) on board does not check tickets and simply ensures proper use of the platform’

    Well, yes, it’s daft, but this was all pointed out to Boris and TfL years ago. The bendy fare evasion thing was revealed as political nonsense from the moment the NRM turned out to be designed for three door open boarding – that’s just how TfL think buses should be run, because they’ve weighed up revenue loss against operating efficiency. It’s got nothing to do with whether the ruddy thing bends in the middle.

  57. Pedantic of Purley says:

    A few comments on a some points people have raised.

    What I stated about Wrightbus being privately owned was entirely correct but could have been worded better. I should have really pointed out that they were family owned and Mr Wright, son of the founder and now aged 86, reputedly still turns for work each day. In contrast ADL was bought out by businessmen after the original company went bust. It has owners such as Brian Souter of Stagecoach and, whilst he doesn’t look for a quick profit, he expects there to be one eventually. So Wrightbus, with a history of being prepared to take on something new and no-one to answer to, were probably more suited to building a series hybrid than ADL who are more cautious and like to innovate and build on what they already have.

    I was not intending to suggest that Wrightbus is a small company. They are a large Northern Ireland employer and have a presence in many parts of the world. Nevertheless they are not nearly as big as ADL and do not have the same resources. The fact that Wrightbus teamed up with Heatherwick Studios is testament to this. I am sure ADL could have managed the design in-house.

    It is true that ADL is registered in Scotland and to that extent are a Scottish company but on that basis Lloyds Bank is a Scottish Bank. The people who work for ADL in Guildford most certainly do not see themselves as just the chassis builder of a Scottish company. ADL assemble their buses on all of their sites. It is arguable which is the main one but the one at Guildford probably has the greatest ability to deal with upswings in orders because it can sub-contract out a lot of work to other firms in the locality.

    The bit about building buses in the North of England was probably a bit of an exaggeration but nevertheless Routemaster production ceased in 1968 and by the early 1970s LT were reduced to buying really rubbish buses built in the north of England – most notably the Leyland National built at Leyland in Lancashire which was totally inappropriate for London conditions. I was a bit surprised by the inclusion of LCW (Lowestoft Coach Works) as a counter-example as I thought they only concerned themselves with the upper end of the market (i.e. coaches) but this is a period of bus history I would rather forget.

    Fuel consumption and emissions is indeed a subject on which it is hard to get reliable data. Remember that foremost in the mayor’s (and to some extent TfL’s) mind is emissions not fuel consumption as such and in particular the ones that are breaching EU guidelines. These tend to be better with a series hybrid as the engine can be run at optimal (and hence the least polluting) speed. There is a table of comparative data known as the Millbrook Emissions Tests. These are so called because the different buses are run on the Millbrook Test Track which is designed to simulate real live conditions. I don’t think these are disputed but, as everyone realises, there is no substitute for real live data. And of course everyone has a point of view then selects the columns for the particular pollutants that back their point of view. There is no outright winner – rather horses for courses.

    One has to take into account that, as far as I know, this is the first series hybrid bus. If not then almost certainly the first series hybrid double-decker. In contrast parallel hybrids have been around for longer and it is difficult to deny that pretty much all manufacturers in this area have done a pretty good job of refining these engines. So do you go for a less good but more mature technology or a more promising but less established one?

    On a subjective note, I very much agree with Walthamstow Writer that the engine when running is really not very pleasant and worse than other buses and I find that a disappointment. It is particularly disappointing that it is so noticeable even if you are sitting upstairs at the front of the bus. I hope it is something they can improve on. In contrast to that I find a run down Whitehall in pure electric mode the most comfortable and pleasant bus ride I have had.

  58. Ben Phillips says:

    Face the truth! Boris didn’t want to pay for segregate cycle routes so he went for the cheap way in just putting paint down instead and during that time he got rid of the Bendy Bus so that it would draw everyone attention away from what was happening with the cycle lanes which shamefully has caused more deaths and injuries then the Bendy Buses did! Okay sure he could of got rid of them where the cycle lane are and gone on with his project of restoring the Routemasters as a Mayor got to have a legacy…but the Bendy Buses removal was political to both get into power and to set up the cycle highways! Bare in mind no cyclist actually got killed by them! Boris is a joke! When it comes to voting a Mayor next I will be voting UKIP!

  59. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – oh dear you’re making me grumpy again.

    Wrightbus have designed several buses from the ground up including some of the early hybrids used in London. I am not remotely convinced that they *had* to team up with Mr Heatherwick. Said gentleman knows nothing about buses as Boriswatch has already pointed out. The Wright Gemini / Pulsar / Solar range of bodywork on a range of single and double deck chassis has been immensely successful and remains so. I am sure that both Wrights and ADL could have designed perfectly decent and distinctive bodies for the BorisMonsterBus using their own designers.

    I appreciate you may not like Leyland Nationals but I would hardly call a class of vehicles that exceeded over 500 vehicles (with LT) a failure. Yes it was a bit tinny and early models had engine problems but they went on to be long lived and reliable vehicles and even of value to independent operators. They managed to carry more people in their length that you can squeeze into a 12m bus today (I recognise that is not quite a fair comparison!). They were also capable of re-engining and rebodying to give them a further lease of life (the Greenway variant).

    I think you mean ECW (Eastern Coach Works) and they bodied the 260 Leyland Olympians for London Buses with the first fleet wide features to improve accessibility. They proved to be long lived and decent vehicles. Many more batches were bought by the newly created London Bus subsidiaries as well as for NBC and those ran in London on newly tendered routes where private sector firms beat LBL.

    I don’t understand your argument about series hybrids. You seem to be saying the NB4L is the first one but that simply is not correct AIUI. The far larger numbers of Enviro 400 hybrids represent a big population of series hybrids. The small numbers of Wright HEV hybrids were also series hybrids. Now these were not a massive success but the 5 with Arriva London have been rebuilt and modernised and are back in London. The 5 with First London left London at the time of the sale but have also been modernised and gone elsewhere in the First national fleet. The Wrightbus Electrocities on route 360 are, I believe, also series hybrids as are the small number of Enviro 200 hybrids with London United for route 371. Some Electrocities with Abellio London have not survived having been booted off the 129 and then the R70. Of the two manufacturers Wrightbus have struggled with their “in house” hybrid buses whereas ADL seem to have been much more methodical in their approach and have done extremely with sales outside of London. IMO Wrightbus tend to do far better when they team up with chassis manufacturers and then design good quality bodies – the Volvo B7 / B9 and now B5 and B5L (parallel) hybrids are good examples as are the vast numbers of VDL/DAF chassis bodied for Arriva London and Arriva national fleets. OK Arriva have a link with VDL but even so the buses are decent.

    As Boriswatch has said Wrights do seem to have really taken on board the industry demands for lighter buses with big advances with the Gemini 3 bodywork on Volvo chassis and their Streetdeck double decker which apparently uses some bits of the NB4L but with a Mercedes engine. I don’t think any Streetdecks have been ordered yet. However the Streetlite single decker is now going great guns with big orders from Arriva and First Group because they’ve made a lightweight but long single deck with “mirco hybrid” technology that is cheaper than full hybrid spec but pulls in extra BSOG money from the Government. London operators have yet to opt for micro hybrid technology – perhaps it is not compliant with TfL’s specs?

    I may have missed your point about series hybrid vehicles but I really don’t see the NB4L as being the “vanguard” design of this class of bus.

  60. AlisonW says:

    One issue that affects buses (or rather is supposed to) is this stupid idea of some councils – Islington and Camden so far – of having their entire boroughs subject to a 20mph limit. A 50%+ increase in exhaust emissions of all vehicles … so much for air quality targets.

  61. ASLEF shrugged says:

    “Even if the New Routemaster survives for more than the expected 15 years (availability of spare parts is guaranteed for 29) they will probably be relegated to a less demanding location.”

    Those “less demanding locations” will have to be within London. Normally buses are owned or leased by the operating companies, they keep them in London for a certain period, I think i heard it’s about seven years, then farm them out to elsewhere in the UK or overseas. With the Boris Bus things are different, Arriva and the rest refused to buy them so TfL had to, no one wants them outside London so we’re going to be stuck with them until they fall apart.

    I’ve not been on a Boris Bus, they currently don’t run on any of the routes I use and as there’s only going to be 600-odd, about 10% of all London buses, it is quite possible I never will.

  62. Graham Feakins says:

    My night view in the article was on the 148 between Elephant and Camberwell after 10pm. What surprised me was that all three sets of doors were in use but I’m sure that the internal cameras give the driver excellent views of all parts of the bus.

    I had boarded in Victoria Street and the engine cut out approaching the Elephant, resulting in a swift and silent run down to Camberwell Green, when the engine cut in again. A surprisingly pleasant run.

  63. Fandroid says:

    One trip on a Boris so far. I found the ride quality to be good, but I was on another hybrid recently and the ride was good on that too. I intensely dislike the Heatherwick retro internal design, but am willing to accept others’ comments that the seats are more ergonomically designed (they just look like another retro fad to me). Boris seems to have gone big on the London icon stuff, but to all foreigners any red double decker is a London icon. They will not see the difference with the Boris, except possibly being confused by the rear door.

    @Alison W. Is that 50+ % emissions comment about 20 mph boroughs based on any facts? Because it doesn’t fit any common sense observations about the realities of London traffic. Accelerating up to 30mph, just to brake harder at the next junction will consume more fuel. Or have the laws of physics changed recently?

  64. timbeau says:

    I’ve been on one Boris bus – a No 38 – and had to get off and walk because it was so stiflingly hot – and this was in march (last year).

    ECW – as well as the aforementioned Olympians for London Transport, it was the main supplier to the nationalised Tilling Group and later the National Bus Company, allied to Bristol chassis. Outside London and the various municipals, ECW-bodied Lodekkas, VRs and REs were the commonest buses around – the Lodekkas penetrated deep into London on Eastern National’s Southend to Wood Green services, and starred alongside Reg Varney in “On the Buses” .
    A VR even appeared in a Dr Who episode a few years back, masquerading as a London bus.

  65. Greg Tingey says:

    I just realised I missed something:
    … it (“the Bus” ) is used for 50% more passenger journeys than the Underground…
    Yes, but what about passenger MILES? Most bus journeys are short, compared to train ones, even UndergrounD. I’m fairly certain that a passenger-distance measure would give a very different modal split. ( ? )

    crew being the most expensive thing on the operating side of the bus network Are you sure about that? Maintenance & overhaul & TLC cost quite a bit too … With OMO on almost all buses, I wonder – now that might be a very good ground for an FoI request?
    Also: …Doesn’t look like that, congestion’s going up in London… Blame the local authorities & the fake-“safety” fanatics demanding 20 mph everywhere, & 10mph in the centre & bloddy “speed humps” in every road – ask WW about back & spinal injuries (?)
    Main bus routes should NOT have “humps” in them, ata ll. It is both expensive, slowing & stupid.
    Ah I see Alison W has raised this piece of extreme fake-environmental stupidity in the debate as well.
    Thank you, Alison!

    I very much agree with Walthamstow Writer that the engine when running is really not very pleasant and worse than other buses and I find that a disappointment. Well, that could probably be, if not cured, improved enormously by changing/altering the engine mountings. I wonder if it was thought that with a smaller engine they though it wouldn’t matter so much, or if they hit a particularly bad case of “finding” a set of resonating frequencies – the latter is always an unseen heffalump-trap for designers. (Especially for bridges, of course! )

    Ben Philips
    Boris is a joke! Yes, but consider the then alternative at that election time … Boris was, in fact the LEAST WORST candidate – assuming that the Lem-o-Crat was unelectable.
    What this says about our political processes & some of the cretins standing for office is outside the scope of this discussion.

    Many outer areas of London have longish distances between stops on semi-open roads out of the peak. Also, you DO NOT HAVE TO DRIVE at max speed & throw the anchors out when a red light shows.
    And, most bus drivers (always excepting the W15) don’t drive like that, anyway, & incidentally, neither do I – I was trained in an older school, which uses the gearbox & tries to avoid braking – it gives a smoother ride, too.

  66. Pedantic of Purley says:

    @Walthamstow Writer,

    Enviro 400
    You have to appreciate I can only go on information provided which I do check from various different sources. I put quite some effort into finding more about the technical details of this vehicle but really specific details are generally hard to come by. Nothing in the online spec available suggests it was series hybrid and other facts such as fuel savings seemed more consistent with parallel hybrid. I was also a talk not that long ago by ADL and the strong impression given was that still a parallel hybrid. I have also been to a talk given by Wrightbus which left me believing that they were the only ones doing series hybrid.

    I may be wrong in all the above in which case what would be really interesting is when the ADL series-hybrid came to market and whether that predated the New Routmaster. Remember the name Enviro is given to a family of buses. It also interesting to learn the date of any other series-hybrid around and whether they are double-decker or not.

    I may have got the general thread of the story wrong but the general picture of ADL and how they see themselves positioned against Wrightbus has come from ADL itself as well as the book I mentioned which I re-read and seemed to be entirely consistent with what I have written.

    All the above said, this could all be wrong and it certainly won’t have been the first time that what one felt was a number of believed safe sources was either wrong or I misinterpreted what they said or wrote.

    If you or anyone else can find out a reliable link to show that the ADL Enviro 400 is a series hybrid I will quite happily modify the article. What would also be really interesting is, if they are series hybrids, when they were introduced. Even so it does not alter the point that the New Routemaster was designed as a series hybrid and the Enviro 400 is a conventional bus adapted to be a hybrid (series or otherwise). Designing an entirely new bus for London was what Wrightbus have done and what ADL were not prepared to do. Whether it was the best course of action to take is not for me to say.

    Leyland Nationals
    I am a bit more astounded by your comment about Leyland Nationals. You must be the first person I have ever known to defend these yet the number of decidedly non-complementary comments that I have heard, often unprompted, is legion. If I recall correctly, when I was a bus conductor, we had 6 out of 18 on the things in the “junk yard” of the garage so nobbled for spare parts they would probably never have seen service again. I doubt if service levels ever reached 50% on the 12A that was run using Leylands and the sight of drivers on that route sitting together in the garage because of NBA (no bus available) seemed to be a permanent fixture. From personal experience they were unbelievably uncomfortable to travel on. I cannot call ever travelling on one in London or elsewhere without feeling that the bus was totally unsuited to the job. I thought they were bad in London but the way they grinded when going up hills on the Isle of Wight made one tempted to get off and walk.

    I also think that the only reason other buses of that period (e.g. DMS) did not get criticised as much as they should have been was only because the Leyland Nationals managed to be even worse – and by a significant amount.

    I take your point about re-engining and accept that maybe something decent could have been made of them if they did that and replaced the incredibly flimsy seats and got rid of the endemic rattles but I never experienced that. Probably in my eyes their reputation was so sullied that nothing could be done to erase those bad memories.

    Heatherwick Studios
    No Wrightbus didn’t need to team up with Heatherwick Studios but TfL thought they needed to team up with someone to get an outside perspective and more radical. Given that 3 doors and two staircases were mandated I personally don’t think a bad job was done with the design. I appreciate it is a bit of love it or hate it. I know people don’t like the lack of a rear window but the radiator has to go somewhere.

  67. Anonymous says:

    If this bus was not brought in by Boris,the political bashers would all be raving about it like the normal general public.
    The bus stands out,its nice on the eye,drives along very smoothly and I am more confident that my journey would indeed be on time which I never found with them awful one man scania’s on the 148.

  68. @fandroid,

    I was trained in an older school, which uses the gearbox & tries to avoid braking – it gives a smoother ride, too.

    So was I but it is not how they are taught now. Brakes are so much better and one doesn’t want to strain the gearbox. I still drive that way – but then I still often double-declutch despite having synchromesh. The modern philosophy, which is probably right, is that brakes are for braking and gears are there you can maintain an appropriate engine speed.

  69. straphan says:

    Since we are already talking about operations, I really do wonder whether front-door boarding is the right policy for a city like London. Places where buses are a proper mass-transit mode (particularly Central and Eastern Europe) work on the basis of proof-of-payment and roving inspectors – at least during the day.

    Roving inspections are perhaps rather intrusive and can be pretty confrontational – but from my good friend’s experience as an inspector (in a medium-sized city on the European mainland) a good half of those who dodge fares turn out to have far more serious offences to their name. Indeed – when controlling night buses they would often ask a police patrol car to wait two stops outside the city centre with handcuffs at the ready, and the coppers would hardly ever drive away empty-handed… Frequent fare evasion patrols formed of joint TfL and Met Police teams (isn’t this an ideal task for PCSOs?) in London could be very beneficial indeed.

    I also agree that – since TfL and the inner London councils are unwilling to accommodate existing junctions within central London to accommodate bendies – they should be reintroduced on busy out-of-centre routes. The Uxbridge Road is crying out for them (routes 207/607/427), as are certain routes in East London (5, 86, etc.). These routes all run virtually in a straight line along wide, busy roads – so I don’t see any serious physical obstacles to their conversion.

  70. Pedantic of Purley says:

    A very helpful investigation from ngh has clarified matters on the Enviro 400H.

    It is a series hybrid. However “due to battery micro-cycling problems partially due to small Li batteries, the engine speed has to match driving load very closely”. So basically a botched series-hybrid.

    This would largely explain the inconsistency. On the ADL Enviro 400 the engine speed relates to the amount of power required. So it is not a proper series hybrid like the New Routemaster where the engine speed is independent of running speed.. Basically it is a bit of a fudge and this all appears to be as a result of trying to modify an existing bus and an existing engine rather than designing from scratch as with the New Routemaster.

    This would also explain why when one travels on an Enviro 400 it does not feel as if you are on a series hybrid.

    ngh has also found an excellent article. I will try to read this at lunch time and try to correct any errors in my article.

  71. @straphan,

    Frequent fare evasion patrols formed of joint TfL and Met Police teams (isn’t this an ideal task for PCSOs?) in London could be very beneficial indeed.

    Don’t want to say too much but this happens in London too for the reasons you give. Each borough has a “Safer Transport” unit with an ST shoulder number to identify them. PCSOs are useful for support (that is what the S stands for) but have no more powers of arrest than an ordinary citizen so you really need police officers as well.

  72. Boriswatch says:

    WoW: “Wrightbus have struggled with their “in house” hybrid buses whereas ADL seem to have been much more methodical in their approach”

    ADL, being conservative and incremental, chose an established technology in BAE’s Hybridrive, which not only powers their UK hybrids but has an awful lot of installations in the USA – putting proven kit in a proven chassis minimises risk at the expense of true bleeding edge innovation – they went all out for reliability to bring skittish bus operators on side with a dependable product – there are one or two costs in this, such as not having true engine start-stop capability for a long time.

    Ironically the E400H and NRM share a common engine, but the NRM uses Siemens’ ELFA II hybrid system, Wrights having sensibly rowed back slightly from the cutting edge after the negative experiences with the Gemini 2 HEV – the recently rebuilt five of the latter actually use the same Siemens system as the NRM, although I’m not sure what engine they are now fitted with *makes note to find out*.

    What’s certain is that by the time the last NRM is delivered in 2016 it’ll be hopelessly outclassed, due to the rate technology is moving on. The lasting legacy is probably Wright’s expanded production capability, and bully for them, but I’m not sure why I needed to pay for it.

    WoW: ” I am not remotely convinced that they *had* to team up with Mr Heatherwick”

    They were told to by TfL, apparently, who took over the design role for the bus that usually stays with the builder. In this case Wrights are merely an assembler, there’s even a clause in the contract that states that after 1000 of them are built TfL can award the assembly contract elsewhere.

    On a related note there are apparently three alternative designs for the NRM out there, two from ADL based on the E400H (by Capoco and Fosters, the two winners of the design competition) and an in house Wright effort – TfL chose Wright, ditched their design and parachuted Heatherwick in. This rather novel approach to competitive tendering explains quite a lot of the deficiencies*.

    * One I haven’t seen mentioned, on an even slightly sunny day there’s always a reflection off the curved front to the destination blind, and as this is now white on black due to Mr. Precious Heatherwick hating yellow, you can’t read it.

  73. Jonathan Roberts says:

    @ straphan
    15 April 2014 at 10:29

    I don’t want to combine the full ‘London 2050’ topic with this article, so I’ll focus here on the bus design aspect of that.

    With the suburbs growing in population, much greater public transport capacity will be required there. Some of that may be by Overgroundising many National Rail routes, but with the tubes getting full and forecasts suggesting busy use early on of new schemes such as Crossrail, then increases in surface transport capacity are also essential.

    Ideally that will be without many more bus staff, yet offering a better capacity, and greater accessibility, to move people around. Alongside that, the emissions issue is likely to be even more important throughout cities – not just London, and certainly including the suburbs.

    Overall, that tends to point towards even larger-capacity, environmentally friendly vehicles than the classic London double deckers. Maybe some bendy double-deckers! What are the largest capacity vehicles in Hong Kong – I thought some buses were very large there? The straighter of the suburban roads might also support high capacity surface modes – as many of them did before the 1950s and 60s – where busy corridors such as Green Lanes and the Croydon, Uxbridge and Commercial Roads could benefit.

    However there is already the possibility for the 2020s and 2030s that available capital funds will need to be focused on expanding the capacity of the rail network. That was the historic example from the 1930s, when the London Electric Transport Finance Corporation raised funding for major works such as tube line extensions, as well as replacing trams by less capital-intensive trolleybuses.

    So that may point to a combination of three bus design elements – internal motive power, fuel efficiency, and overall bus capacity – becoming the most critical factors to address for coming decades, and proving vital for future mobility within London’s suburbs.

    Here is a forward-looking example of a triple-decker in Berlin in 1926 (an April Fool, in case you were worried), from wikipedia:

  74. straphan says:

    @PoP: I have lived in London 7 years and have been controlled three times in that period, even though I have clocked up more bus mileage than the average Londoner – both on weekdays and weekends, and in pretty much every borough (well, maybe with the exception of Bexley). If this was the rate of inspections during the bendy bus era, then little wonder nobody paid the fare!

    Fare evasion is a question of maths and probability. If inspections were frequent enough that the number of unpaid fares between getting caught was lower than the penalty fare to be paid, then nobody would fare-dodge because it just wouldn’t be a profitable activity for the punters.

  75. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Not disputing level of inspections are low. Disagree with you bit about maths and probability because it assumes people both behave rationally and understand probability. Also the majority of people are basically honest. Your argument is the sort of logical thing the DfT comes up with that doesn’t work in the real world.

    Also in the case of the multi-agency fare inspection operations you need to remember, as you yourself stated, that the point isn’t actually to catch simple fare dodgers. It really isn’t often cost-effective to do so. You are trying to catch all sorts of criminals and people who borrow a friend’s discount or free Oystercard or are using a stolen one or a stolen credit card to wave and pay will probably be “of interest” to other people.

  76. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – I’m still a bit grumpy. I really don’t see why you are putting so much stress on “pure” vs “adapted” series hybrid technology. No one is saying the Enviro 400 is NOT available as a hybrid are they? It has sold in good quantities and has been developed at commercial risk by ADL albeit with the demand for hybrids being encouraged by TfL and government “green bus” funding. It offers clear fuel savings (as does the Volvo B5L) against a standard diesel bus and is already running in Euro6 spec (as is the Volvo) while we await the NB4L’s debut in that format (imminent apparently).

    The problem with discussing the NB4L, and I accept I’m pouring oil on the flames, is that it generates very polarised opinion. There are a load of unanswered questions about its whole life costs and also where the financial risks with the design sit. The lack of transparency about the bus’s performance and known problems doesn’t help. There is little that is original about the design of the bus – it reminds me of 1960s Alexander bodied Leyland Atlanteans. We had a lot of those in Newcastle!

    Turning to the Leyland National then we will need to agree to differ. I used them under NBC operation in the North East and they were fine. On moving to London the only reliable local LT route I used was run with Leyland Nationals! I am afraid I am deeply sceptical about stories of LT’s history which blame the vehicle design and somehow don’t recognise the contribution (or lack thereof) from LT’s shambolic garage operations (with the odd exception) where new vehicle designs were bought but no one taught the poor mechanics how to maintain the new buses or provided the right tools or bought enough spare parts. There was no concept of “change management” in those days and then we have to throw in the contribution of the trade unions to resisting change. There was a great deal that was wrong with LT from the 60s through to the 80s but enthusiasts tend to ignore it because they could still ride on RTs and RMs! I rather feel the Leyland National will prove to be a longer lived bus with a greater contribution to the industry than the NB4L ever will but we’ll see what happens in 20 years time!

    @ Greg – staff costs typically form 60-70% of operating costs. That number is from someone who helps prepare tenders for TfL contracts!

    @ ASLEF Shrugged – the usual assumption over bus life in London service would be 10-14 years (based on 2 contract terms of 5 years or 2 of 7 years if Quality Incentive contract extensions are granted). This depends on the operator retaining the contract or finding an alternative use of the vehicles if lost. Different operators have different approaches to purchase vs leasing which explains some of the apparently strange decisions to remove newer buses from service while older ones carry on. TfL clearly have to ensure they get at least 14 years out of the NB4Ls (assuming there are no catastrophic technology failures).

    @ Anon 1009 – nothing to do with the political stance of the Mayor as far as I am concerned. I just think the NB4L is a waste of money and the wrong *transport solution* when you look at the issues facing the bus network. The Mayor decided to align himself with the wrong answer so is naturally open to criticism as a result. In the face of ever increasing demand *no* other mode under TfL control faces a “stand still” budget situation. LU, DLR, Overground, Trams, Cycles and Roads are all getting investment to *expand* capacity. Buses are left to scratch around looking for S106 funding and cutting routes in the Central area to provide some money to add 1 or 2 buses here or there on the network. This is simply wrong.

  77. Boriswatch says:

    “This would also explain why when one travels on an Enviro 400 it does not feel as if you are on a series hybrid.”

    I’m sorry, but this is just getting silly now. The E400H is quite obviously a series hybrid, not a ‘botched’ series hybrid – it has no mechanical link between engine and wheels, a generator, an inverter, an AC electric motor, a load of wiring and a battery. The most obvious thing that tells you you’re on a series hybrid is the lack of gear changes – you just get a smooth acceleration.

    Need I point out that the point of the exercise is to produce a reliable, efficient public transport vehicle, not to jump through your semantic hoops. It clearly produces that, therefore it’s a proper series hybrid.

    “trying to modify an existing bus and an existing engine rather than designing from scratch as with the New Routemaster.”

    The E400H and NRM have the same Cummins 4 cylinder engine, although the installation in the latter is bespoke and awkward due to the rear platform. Tell me again why the NRM does not qualify for Green Bus Fund money, PoP. GBF has funded over 300 E400H and B5LH in London so far.

  78. Ian Brooker says:

    Go easy on the Prius!

    “Another major problem with these early hybrids is that they really did not reduce emissions by the level required. They were described as a “prius-type” bus and that is really what they were. Just as the car manufacturers took an existing car and modified it, the bus manufactures did the same. By doing so and keeping all the existing propulsion mechanism they really were not taking advantage of the technology.”

    Not true. Prius was designed from the ground up to be a Hybrid. It is electrically driven, with no gearbox or drive shaft. The Prius Plug-In, which I drive, is a step forward as it has extended battery capability. Its ont a no emission vehicle, but real life >60mpg is a good step forward.

    [Apologies. I have slightly reworded the article to correct this but retain the point that it is an adapted exsiting design. PoP]

  79. straphan says:

    @PoP: I don’t assume people are behaving completely rationally as they will have different risk perceptions – some will overestimate the risk of getting caught without paying, others will underestimate. And yes – most will feel uncomfortable travelling without a ticket regardless of how frequent checks are.

    Nonetheless, I think we can agree that more checks will lead to reduced fare evasion.

  80. stimarco says:

    @Anonymous, Walthamstow Writer, etc.:

    I couldn’t loathe the old Routemasters more if I tried. Godawful, nasty little things, cramped, that were cold draughty in the winter (despite the heaters being like furnaces), and roasting in the summer too. And, of course, they were clearly designed for people who were rather shorter than 5’11” and who also didn’t take size 14 in shoes. So why basing a bespoke London bus on that overrated torture chamber on wheels is considered a good way to spend taxpayer’s money I’ve no idea. Especially as there was absolutely nothing wrong with the articulated buses they replaced.

    I haven’t lived in London since 2008, so I’ve not used the new buses, but judging by their sheer size, I’m surprised at Boris Johnson’s hypocrisy in suggesting this single-unit three-door, two-stairwell monster is somehow an improvement over articulated buses with multiple wheelchair bays and that didn’t waste valuable space on multiple stairwells. There’s a reason why the top floor of many a double decker bus is half-filled even when the ground floor is rammed.

    Give me a Citaro-G any day.

  81. Graham H says:

    @straphan – “Roving inspections are perhaps rather intrusive and can be pretty confrontational – but from my good friend’s experience as an inspector (in a medium-sized city on the European mainland) a good half of those who dodge fares turn out to have far more serious offences to their name.” I witnessed recently a ticket inspection in Kaunas in Lithuania, which would have had the NKVD rubbing their hands: as the trolleybus drew into the stop, the G4S clones (armed and with plenty of Kevlar in evidence) signalled to the driver to stop with the doors closed. They then went through the bus as brusquely as possible and after about ten minutes of this, two miscreants were led away.

    @Jonathan Roberts – I’m not sure I agree that ever larger buses are the answer. The footprint of the typical bus is already very close, even with double articulation, as to what can be accommodated in London’s mediaeval street network; sure, there are some roads where bigger vehicles can operate but it’s hardly a universal solution. The six-axle single deckers that are operated in, say, Warsaw, simply wouldn’t fit in the streets around Bank, for instance. [I don’t have a glib solution to offer – frequency increases are also horses for courses, and may not work smoothly particularly where multiple routes funnel into a single one-way system or junction.]

  82. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ J Roberts – the biggest deckers in HK are 12m long. Due to axle weight limits many DD in HK are fitted with three axles. The need to fit full air con kit and ducting is part of the reason for this. Interestingly both ADL and Wrightbus have developed two axle versions of their buses which can provide full air con and have been granted an exemption to the axle weight limits. Nice to see innovation and product development pays off. Air quality is a severe problem in HK but so far no bus manufacturer has managed to develop a hybrid tri-axle double decker with full air con. That’s the next technical hurdle and whoever wins will get big orders (assuming the bus is affordable, reliable and fuel efficient).

    Turning to London then we can forget bendy double deckers. Only a few such coaches have been built by Neoplan and they weren’t a success. I’ve never seen a bus version. I agree with your broad conclusions but you have missed a couple of issues. One is dwell time at stops – this is why the bendy buses were tried and why the Nb4L has three doors – and the other is run times / bus priority. There is little point in providing a lot of capacity if buses spend 5 minutes at every stop nor will passengers value and use a service that is chronically slow. I understand one of the concerns about running 12m dual door double decks in London is that stop dwell times in certain locations could be very long – possibly in excess of the service headway on very high frequency services. It is certainly true that HK sees queues of buses on the same route lining up to serve the busiest stops. No overtaking the bus in front allowed in HK.

    It’s a delicate balancing act to get capacity, journey time, vehicle performance, dwell times, comfort, safety and reliability optimised so that passengers get the service they need *and* deserve. This is why I get so “agitated” about a policy framework that is unduly constrained by “prejudice” about the effectiveness of some modes or vehicle technology. We need the right solutions to the challenges we face not some botched answer which is forced on people because someone in a position of influence has a “thing” about a mode or vehicel design.

  83. In the light of earlier revelations I have subtly changed a few words in the article and added a few sentences to give what I hope is a clearer and more accurate description of some of the technical stuff.

  84. Jonathan Roberts says:

    @ WW
    Appreciate your concerns about dwell time and the overall ‘balancing act’. Whatever the technical solutions turn out to be, I do wonder whether some suburban express operations à la 607 might be more operable than others, with a high capacity bus mode. Of course this might also depend on blending in more bus priorities along streets which are increasingly complex for traffic management by having to deliver lots of different policy tasks simultaneously – such as cycle priorities and high occupancy vehicles as well as being nice to buses!

    @ Graham H
    Was primarily thinking of straighter suburban corridors, not the Central London mediaeval jungle – which is as much of a bus stop jungle as a road maze – though there might be some roads which could support larger vehicles within Zone One, eg Edgware Road/Park Lane.

  85. Anonymous says:

    Every bus in london at the moment is ghastly apart from the LTs..this is a fact!!!!

  86. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ J Roberts – well express buses seem to be (largely) verboten in London because of the density of the rail network. I’m not convinced that’s the right answer but if you want express routes then you actually need the traffic to move well and for buses to get past any jams without a fuss. Not many examples of that in London including the X68 and 607 corridors!

    Your point about “multi function” roads is well made. This is my latest concern having seen some of the plans for cycle priority. I have no issue with good quality cycle lanes but I do have a problem with bus passengers having much slower journeys because bus lanes are lost and the overall traffic is slowed to a complete crawl. I don’t have the answer but I just feel the policy balance isn’t right and that’s because the politicians are being yelled at by cyclists (for good reason) but not by bus passengers. It’ll then end being too late when the bus service has been “screwed” because someone built a load of cycle lanes and crossings. There must be a better way than what is in prospect for London. Surely European best practice can teach us something here?

  87. straphan says:

    @Graham H: Whilst practice and custom varies between countries, roving inspections are usually carried out on moving vehicles to avoid delays (plus offenders have nowhere to run).

    @Jonathan Roberts: double-deckers are – in my opinion – unsuitable for high-capacity and high-frequency urban use. The only advantage they have over other bus types is the number of seats they offer per metre length of bus. The disadvantages are numerous:

    – very little room downstairs with many competing uses – doors, wheelchair/buggy space, stairwell, priority seats, room to stand. The effect is a mess.
    – lower overall capacity per metre length of bus compared to what is achievable for a single decker or bendy
    – very long dwell times due to dearth of doors, the difficulty of accessing these (where else can you stand downstairs if there already is a buggy?), and the long walk to the door from the upper deck
    – plenty of opportunity to injure yourself walking up/down the stairs (particularly if your route is operated by Stagecoach London)

    I understand Britain is culturally different from Mainland Europe in this respect and double-deckers have an emotional appeal – but the hard facts are that they are inefficient – particularly if you require two people to operate them. They can – of course – operate on streets where bendies do not fit – but I still think the problem with Central London being unfit for bendies is to do with repainting and remodelling junctions rather than any serious physical constraints that cannot be overcome.

    As WW stated in this thread already, becoming wedded to a vehicle concept and trying to force that concept on as many routes as possible for political or emotional reasons just won’t do if we are to get to 2050 in reasonable shape transportwise. Yes, running bendies through the most congested bits of Central London and the City without so much as repainting a junction wasn’t the best of ideas. But being dogmatic about things like this doesn’t really get us anywhere…

  88. ASLEF shrugged says:

    WW – thanks for the clarification, I think the important point is that for a bus that was supposed to be revolutionary there is a distinct lack of enthusiasm among those who are in the business of running buses.

  89. Mikey C says:

    A very interesting discussion, one of the things I’ve always found strange is people who on the one hand say London should buy off the shelf buses and can’t afford the few million on developing its own vehicles, yet then want to spend billions on fantasy tube and train lines and stations! For a small amount of money, London has a distinctive vehicle. It’s not perfect, but why shouldn’t London be pushing manufacturers to build the vehicles it needs. London’s needs ARE different from the rest of the country.
    As for the bus operators, again I find it funny how the same people who moan about the likes of First and Arriva’s train services are happy to support them when they moan about the Borismaster.
    As has been stated, it was a major part of Boris’s election winning manifesto, to get rid of the bendies and bring in a ‘new Routemaster’, it will be interesting what the main parties campaign on in the next election.

  90. tog says:

    Especially as there was absolutely nothing wrong with the articulated buses they replaced.

    Insufficient seating? No air-con?

    There’s a reason why the top floor of many a double decker bus is half-filled even when the ground floor is rammed.
    Because you can’t get to the inconveniently-placed stairs due to people standing in the way? That you’ll have to squeeze past more people to get off again?

    As others have said, people’s usage and experience of different buses and routes will obviously vary. At the time of the conversion of the 73 to artics it was my main commute; I went from a guaranteed seat for a 30-40 minutes journey to standing for around half the time. When I did get a seat it was either backwards, over the engine or at elbow-height to other standees, as opposed to a relatively undisturbed upstairs seat where I could read a book (I’m also 5’11” btw).

    Given the pressures on the service maybe I shouldn’t expect these things, but a double-decker can and does provide them, so it’s no surprise there’s little love for the artics from some quarters. You’d be hard-pressed to find a Boris voter in Stoke Newington, but whilst the last night of the original RMs had crowds (of ordinary people, not us lot) standing on Church Street to say goodbye, the removal of the artics was celebrated rather than mourned.

  91. scd says:

    @Ian Brooker

    “Prius was designed from the ground up to be a Hybrid. It is electrically driven, with no gearbox or drive shaft. ”

    It has both. In any case, everything has a drive shaft (even EVs) otherwise how would you rotate the wheels (ignoring in-wheel motors)?

    The plug-in prius simply replaces the Nimh battery with a Lion battery of greater capacity and adds the recharging-from-the-plug capability.

    The point about parallel hybrids vs. serial hybrids is not whether they are designed from the start to be one or the other (as long as you can fit the ICE/ batteries in then what else do you need?) but whether the ICE has a direct connection to the driven wheels. If it does it is a parallel hybrid, if not then it is a series hybrid.

    The Prius has this direct connection through a continuously variable transmission and the electric motor, the Chevrolet Volt (despite being mostly a series hybrid) has this in some drive modes (there was some controversy about this at launch), the NRM does not.

    Not massively important but there you go.

  92. scd says:

    @Ian Brooker

    To clarify, the advantage of the “purpose designed” NRM to the extent that there is any, is that the driveshaft from the engine rotates a generator, not the wheels.

    Like the article says this arrangement can be put anywhere (in the case of the NRM under the rear stairs) since it does not need a direct connection to the driven wheels.

    In the Prius the engine needs to be at the front next to the CVTransmission and electric motor. In a passenger car, having the engine at the front makes sense so the implication that the buses were crap because they were Prius-like misses the point somewhat since 1) Prius is a good bit of engineering, 2) the “Prius-like” B5LH buses seem to have same fuel economy as @Boriswatch always points out …

    (although can anyone advise if similar average fuel economy over a route necessarily equates to similar NOx emissions in Central London?).

  93. scd says:

    @Ian Brooker

    However, the Prius (even the plug-in) is not 100% electrically driven in the technical sense. It can be, in EV-mode, but if there is no battery charge, the petrol engine will drive the wheels directly.

    In the NRM if there is no charge in the battery, the engine cannot drive the wheels. It can only generate electricity which is then used to turn the electric motor that drives the wheels.

  94. If nothing else, this article must be the one I have learnt the most from by reading the comments it generated. Thanks to all, especially scd, for the detailed descriptions.

  95. scd says:

    @Pedantic of Purley

    No worries

    My concern is that sloppy use of terms like “green” and “environmentally friendly” and “emissions” is why we now have a tax system that encourages the purchase of “green” diesel cars with 20% better CO2 emissions yet 2500% worse NOx emissions (and even then the “green” bit depends on correct functioning of particulate filters, which nobody knows about or pays attention to).

    In the case of “hybrids” and “electric cars”, the misuse of technical terms and misrepresentation of the technical details luckily does not change the fundamental fact that they add electricity to petrol to somehow save fuel/ emissions. However, the offence is still the same as “green diesel” so I try and clear it up where I can!

    BTW – the chase for lower CO2 has meant increased use of direct injection petrol engines in cars (following the lead of direct injection diesel engines). The German TUV did a study that showed these were EVEN WORSE than diesel engines for NOx emissions.

    I don’t have enough technical knowledge to verify this, but it just shows that unless you get the technical details right, any “good intentions” to reduce “emissions” are worse than useless, they are harmful.

  96. straphan says:

    @Mikey C: London can buy off-the-shelf (well, with minor modifications) buses because – thankfully – it can. It cannot buy off-the-shelf tube trains due to gauge and other restrictions and these are painfully expensive compared to other underground networks, even if they share similar kit with them.

    And regarding the issue of spending money, the cost of development of the NBfL is indeed small beer compared to the cost of developing and building – say – Crossrail. Trouble is – the benefits generated by adopting this solution compared to the next-best one (an off-the-shelf hybrid) do not really seem to outweigh the additional cost. You can make your own assumptions as to the costs and benefits generated by Crossrail vs – say – a major upgrade of the Central Line.

  97. ngh says:

    Re SCD 15 April 2014 at 15:35

    The main factor in NOx emissions is compression ratio be it petrol, diesel, gas turbine or jet engine (the later upto 45:1). The direct injection petrol engines (typically also with turbo and/or superchargers) have higher compression ratios for greater thermodynamic combustion efficiency which has the side effect of greater NOx production. (Splitting the bonds in N2 needs lots of pressure and high temperature.)

  98. Anonymous.2 says:

    What is going to happen to the Crossrail site in Whitechapel sainsbury? Could the space be used for a small bus station?

  99. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Mikey C – please tell us what is so unique about London that it needs specially designed and built buses? The only difference, and it is only a matter of scale, is the level of demand. There are other cities in the UK with dense, high frequency networks who cope with standard vehicles (single and double deckers).

    I will also at this point drag in Hong Kong which, based on stats for 2009, has 11.14m journeys per day on public transport (includes taxis and ferries). London’s figure is 11.6m (also for 2009) [source info from official government / TfL reports]. Hong Kong buys standard buses given all manufacturers produce long tri-axle chassis and bodybuilders in several countries are content to body such vehicles. Long tri-axle deckers are used in London on sightseeing routes and get round Central London with little issue. Further we have several coach operators who run intensive services into London with coaches (single and double deck) up to 15m in length. Therefore London and elsewhere use standard products to cope with high levels of demand.

    I look forward to your objective and well reasoned list of factors (excluding demand) that make London “special” in terms of buses.

  100. Q199 says:

    Loads of new points put forward but as its been sunny outside then Ive been catching some sun but have kept reading while Busing and Tubing it!

    @Greg 19:52
    “The 3 best buses London has got running around are the ROUTEMASTER’s actually – oops. Sorry, but the ghastly things we got between 1970 & 2000 must have pout a lot of people off bus travel.
    It was “Oyster wot won it” – a different application of technology, entirely…”

    London probaly did have some horrible buses no doubt between 1920 and 2000 (I remember when London United did the 140 in 1998 and that was really bad but I didnt use it back in 1998)and we are talking modern day and comparing NBFL with the other 3. I was in Hammersmith earlier and NBFL was on the 9, Scania on 10,H91 and the 211 was a Enviro 400 and that was in the 2 mins I was in Hammersmith Bus Station.Unfortunately the Scania will shortly disappear from the 10 (so thats the 9/10 I’ll not be using) but that does mean they might get sent to West London and who knows maybe the 285 will finally get Double Deckers as it really needs them at Peak Rush Hour as it is the only service to Kingston from Hatton Cross apart from the already busy X26 which you only get on if you are going to Kingston anyway and does nothing for local customers.Id like to see the evidence you have that Oyster is responsible for the increased rider ship?

    The NBFL looks ok from the side and rear but looks horrible from the front.I would have made it a straight red instead. Also to reply to another comment,its not that its Boris Bus,its that its not a good bus compared to what they paid! It would get the criticism no matter who did this but probably not be as bad as watching Boris’s performance on London Assembly Question Time its quite blatant he hasn’t got a clue what he is doing!

    Also someone commented that it was a manifesto pledge! 354,000 P/V x 600 = 212.4 Million pound that manifesto is going to cost so is it really worth it? Just think how much cycling improvements that would have paid for !

    Thankfully it took 3 years of moaning but the 222 changed to Enviro 400’s Summer 2013 and that was because the contract ran out and as with alot of contracts then the new contract asked for Double Deckers as opposed to the Single Deckers. The SD 222 got so bad in peak that it would be rammed before it even left Uxbridge Bus Station and went around the corner to the High Street. I stopped using it and changed to the A10 to avoid the overcrowding and traffic Jams through West Drayton as the A10 hits no traffic usually no matter what time you travel.

    The Bendi’s weren’t designed for Central London Street’s and shouldnt really have been introduced due to their size and “Free Ride” status! You never saw any on the 9/10 that run out of Hammersmith and along High St Ken,Knightsbridge,Park Lane,Piccadilly which is a straight run so probaly would have worked better. I once saw 3 73’s all behind each other trying to get down Oxford Street from Centre Point for quite a few minutes. The best use Ive seen for them in London was as a Replacement Bus Service from Hatton Cross to Heathrow and BAA had quite a few running around doing Staff Car Park duties.

    Sheffield had the Leyland DAB’s in the 90’s and these were put onto the Meadowhall Route and even after they were withdrawn from normal passenger service were used as football transport to ship fans direct from the Football ground to the train station meaning it kept them all together and the normal travelling public wasnt subjected to a bus full of football fans. How they worked was you boarded at the Front door and got off at the 2 rear doors which is how London’s Bendi’s should be and also the NBFL if CEA(Customer Experience Assistant) isnt checking tickets.

    From reading some comments it seems that some people want us to be a city of bendi’s or SD’s and want to get rid of DD’s. If the bus service is over subscribed in places and its only going to get worse than why is TFL or Bus Operators still buying SD’s? Put a DD on a route and all the people that can go upstairs will go upstairs hopefully leaving the downstairs for your buggies/Wheelchairs/VIP’s/MIP’s. Why people stand downstairs blocking the upstairs and when you go upstairs its half entry is beyond me! Also opening windows when the AC is going,yep thats going to work. I honestly dont believe that the majority of Londoners know how AC works! Maybe they should have gone down the same route that Southern have with their 375/377 trains and have the windows locked but in the event of a AC failure then the windows can be opened manually with a key! Stops people opening them but can be opened in the event of a failure.

    The Bendi’s worked fine on the 207 (Hayes-By Pass to Acton) and could have been extended to Westfield.I know they didnt run them to Uxbridge because of the difficulty of turning them around in Uxbridge Bus Station as anyone will tell you who saw it before they took the central roundabout out(which took a few years) and they parked them up at night in a yard backing onto the GWML at Hayes.

    Id like to see the facts behind the 148 running on time as NBFL and late as a Scania? Next time you are on a NBFL,look around and have a guess how many people are travelling for Free? Dont forget you are funding all of them! If someone gets caught fare evading then its not there 1st time,maybe 1st time getting caught? Maybe its cheaper to pay the fines than pay every day? I get the feeling that the 95% (thats a guess ) of people that are honest and pay the fare or touch their oyster is enough and apart from the odd show of clamp downs(like the 18 at Euston Square when on Bendi’s) and RPI’s and Police would board and block all 3 entrances then if lucky you might see a RPI on 5 % of journies?. The money they are loosing could fund the fares increases and fare evaders are never bothered about fare increases because they dont pay so doesnt effect them. Fare evading isnt going to get any better with NBFL and with cashless coming along right slap back in the middle of summer and tourist season then expect buses to be stuck at stops while the bus driver explains it to all the tourists and fare evasion to increase on NBFL routes.

    Last Point… “Wave and Pay” Why Why Why! I was on the 285 yesterday and a bloke was waving his debit card at the oyster machine for 30 seconds and still couldn’t get it to work and in the end the bus driver told him to just go and sit down.The bloke also ignored the driver when he told him to just hold it to the machine to read it and just kept on waving it,Thankfully I wasn’t behind him! Some people all these years on still think the oyster is a swipe card and ITS NOT !! Its a touch card.

    They should have gone with the slogan “Touch and GO” or Touch and PAY? You’ll be stuck behind people waving their Cards at the machine now and not having a clue if it worked or not? Its not difficult using Oyster colour codes with Yellow -Ready,Green-Go,Red-Stop (Error.) Im sure thats going to keep the buses on time and the fare evaders will be laughing at them for even paying for the sauna experience of the NBFL!

  101. Q199 says:

    Knew Id forgot something.

    Who ever said Double Decker Coaches weren’t a success because neoplan built a few was wrong in my opinion. Granted there arent as many running around in the uk since 2007 after the NEX Incident but there is alot running around on tours from European countries in London and I travelled back from Cornwall on a 2012 Double Decker Megabus Coach which had power sockets,Free WiFi and a really good AC unit. Granted NEX Mercedes Benz I went down was really comfortable aswell but if I had a choice Id choose the DD never mind the fact it could carry more people so be more profitable!

  102. peezedtee says:

    @tog “the removal of the artics was celebrated rather than mourned”

    — Not by the ordinary people who actually used them, in my experience. The anti-bendy (and generally pro-Routemaster, though this was of course a false dichotomy, cultivated by Boris) campaign was largely driven by commentators and columnists and aesthetes who, I suspect, don’t themselves use buses much or at all. I wrote about this six years ago here:
    A real daily bendy-bus user, Dave Cole, added this a little later:
    Some other people who opposed the removal of the artics were Colin Buchanan and London TravelWatch, i.e. people who actually know something about the subject.

  103. Melvyn says:

    New bus for London ? – well if you had a blank piece of paper would you really design a bus like the Borismaster with its fancy curves and an open platform through which passengers in earlier generations have paid the ultimate price in falls ?

    The fact is following the London Evening Standard campaign waged by Andrew Gilligan against removal of remaining route master buses and equally biased campaign against Artic buses well the so called competition seemed to be rigged from the outset and so any really new design was suffocated before birth !

    The reality is buses form many functions from small local routes around side streets to major routes where numbers needing to be transported and length of journeys made make Articulated buses more suited than double deck buses and its a question of ” should buses fit a route or route fit a bus?” In which case long straight routes are better suited to Artics than twisty routes .

    Oddly, Boris may have removed Artics but he has also made it easier for his successor to reintroduce them given the removal of one way systems that is leading to straighter routes which avoid narrow side streets and even allow for conversion of one side of roads to bus or even tram ways as was the case before one way streets were introduced in post tram/ trolley bus eras!

    Its worth remembering that Q1 Trolleybus could carry 70 passengers while RMs could only carry about 64 and without standing passengers much larger Borismasters carry only what a RM carried and not a Q1 .

    Now if NBFL was based on design of Q1 Trolleybus (even without the poles!) it would be far better !?

    And now with no 2nd person the reason for Borismaster design is shown as totally flawed and as more to do with dogma than the practical job of moving millions of passengers which is all a bus is for .

    The odd thing about new Routemaster is it is largely being introduced on routes which operated with RT buses while RM replaced Trolleybuses routes on which Boris buses would barely cope off peak !

    Next Mayor will be left lumbered with these buses and the best solution would be to send them to far west London so they can be out of sight out of mind with those who voted for Boris .

  104. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Q199 – I mentioned double deck *bendy* coaches as not being a success. I did NOT criticise double deck coaches. I’ve done thousands of miles on them as a student. It’s also clear that bendy single deck coaches have run services in Scotland for Stagecoach perfectly well.

    In general terms it is usually reliability, frequency and economic growth which will cause bus patronage to increase. However I would say that Oyster ticketing, with cheapish fares and daily capping, has made bus travel very convenient for people. London is interesting as many people do have an Oyster card in their pocket and if a bus toddles along many people will jump on even for relatively short trips. It’s not the biggest factor in causing bus ridership to grow but it is important as it makes bus travel simple and convenient for a wide range of people.

    I would just note that the 207 runs (and ran with bendies) from White City to Hayes by Pass. Bendies certainly reached White City or else I (and my camera) were suffering from delusions when I took photos of them there.

    When we first trialled smartcards on LU we named the project “Touch and Pass” which defined what you needed to do with the card relative to the reader in order to get through the gate. Waving or wafting or staccato tapping on the target will never work – whether Oyster or Bank Card. A small aside – when we were testing the cards at St James Park, Victoria and Green Park we played some silly games. At Green Park we hid the cards in gloves that we were wearing so it appeared that we magically opening the gates with our hands. Some American tourists did the same with their paper tickets with predictable results! I also once hid the card inside a newly purchased BR National Timetable Book and placed the book on the target at Victoria. That caused a double take for the gateline staff. 🙂 Happy days.

  105. Benedict says:


    Few observations to make on a previous post of yours.

    “Yes, but what about passenger MILES? Most bus journeys are short, compared to train ones, even UndergrounD. I’m fairly certain that a passenger-distance measure would give a very different modal split.”
    – Thats a good point, but theres always going to be an apples-n-oranges thing here. Yeah, buses tend to be used for shorter journeys, but one must remember that the average length of bus route has only decreased over time. The days of the trunk route from Hampstead to Caterham (or similar) are long gone sadly, and routes will only get shorter as congestion increases and we keep to a flat fare system. It simply isn’t possible or practical now to make a journey as long as one might on a train, even if there were the inclination to do so. On top of that, the structure of bus routes has changed to one of hub and spoke.

    “Blame the local authorities & the fake-”safety” fanatics demanding 20 mph everywhere, & 10mph in the centre & bloddy “speed humps” in every road ”
    – If the average speed of London traffic is below 20mph then it wont make much difference. What irks me is that it get applied en-mass. A roads and B roads that are either dual or formerly had the middle overtaking lane end up stuck with 20, or 30 as is now. On top of that, speed restrictions are 24hour-365day things. What might be appropriate on a summer saturday mid-day isn’t necessarily the same as what can be most useful on a winter thursday at 3am. Perhaps we could do with variable speed limits? Networked LED signs replacing the speed limit signs on lampposts.
    Buses should not be forced to stick to 20. A PCV license carrying driver is certainly more observant and better qualified than many standard car drivers. On top of that a 10m bright red box is far easier to spot than some kind of small blue car. Bus lanes are far less congested anyway so the average speed on them is likely to be higher than on other lanes.
    Would bringing back cobbeling help reduce some drivers speeds?

    “Boris was, in fact the LEAST WORST candidate – assuming that the Lem-o-Crat was unelectable.”
    Without delving into the wider political cauldren, for buses especially the choice was obvious and that was Ken. Comparing bus usage, development and investment under his tenure to that of Bojo… no question. Boris himself has said many times that he ‘doesn’t do detail’ – maybe thats why his transport policy has been dogged with expensive and contentious ornaments.

    “Also, you DO NOT HAVE TO DRIVE at max speed & throw the anchors out when a red light shows.”

    Actually, to pass a test now you kind of DO. Driving slower than the speed limit unless held up will get you a minor in a driving test, and persistantly driving at only 5mph below the speed limit for a road can fail you. The reason supposedly being that your slowness causes a hazzard to other road users.
    On top of that, showing control of the car now includes ‘eco-driving’ – appropriate gearage.
    I strongly suspect the reason why younger drivers have such a casualty rate is not because they don’t know what they are doing, but because they are unfamiliar with dealing with people who leagally drive, but who themselves dont know what theyre doing!! If you want to raise road safety, make everyone sit a test every ten years – it levels everyone out to the same expectations of driving standard, would renew training on signs, conditions and regulation changes, and weed out the most dangerous or callous of drivers from the modern road environment, who perhaps only passed because cars were a foot narrower and four times as rare.
    My grandfather got his license because during the war one of his jobs in the army was issuing and certifying driving licenses. He simply wrote his own! Such were the times.

  106. Ree1977 says:

    WW – ‘well express buses seem to be (largely) verboten in London because of the density of the rail network’

    I really don’t get why there is such an aversion to express routes from TfL. Places like SE London which are sorely lacking in tube and train options would benefit greatly. An onvious express route could be Thamesmead to North Greenwich tube on existing roads that for 90% of the route have bus lanes. The only part that doesn’t is Thamesmead, which has extensive and underused dual carriageways so not a problem, and a dual carriageway outside Waterfront leisure centre which TfL use as a bus rest stop on a tight bend causing hold ups, so they could easily move that to the ample space around the corner. Oh, and a bit of Charlton that again is dual carriageway and not too busy. Voila, a quick and fast route introduced very cheaply serving areas in desperate need of a tube link.

    The Greenwich Waterfront Transit was going to do something similar but would have cost £30 million + and done little different. It was way, way over-engineered.

    As it is, it is incredibly slow buses stopping every 10 yards so many people drive.

  107. Q199 says:


    Im in far West London and I dont want them and Im sure alot of far West Londoners dont either.We were lucky enough to not get RM out here and wont be getting the NBFL thankfully and the bendi’s ran only on the 207 which was a good straight route and Hayes-By-Pass was a convenient termination point for returning East.

    I didnt vote for Boris on either Election either ! I went with the “Better the Devil You know” as opposed to a unknown entity that was best known for an appearance on HIGNFY. If that’s the basis for election for the job then Prescott and Farage will be running in 2016!


    Ive spent many a hour on DD Coaches from the NEX Neoplan’s and the more modern ones before they retired them in 2007.Ive also been on the Megabus 2012’s which run on the 0900 Glasgow Service daily and also on the 1730 Vic-Penzance service daily and also travelled on the older Megabus double deckers they had when they 1st started.

    On Scottish and Cornwall services the elevated height really helps if you like looking out of the window. I do remember travelling down from Glasgow-LV on a Bendi-Coach when Megabus 1st started as well(£1) each way and Stagecoach use to have a Bendi-Coach on the 909 which did Sheffield-Hull (Via Doncaster,Scunthorpe,Humber Bridge,Humber Airport for Connection to Grimsby and then Hull) It was 3 hours each way and £5 return I think.This was back in the 90’s but use to travel on it alot.

    I remember the Bendi 207 originally running upto Uxbridge and turning around by Uxbridge Garage but when First Centre West got new buses then there just wasnt the space so the 607 ran Uxbridge-White City,207 ran Uxbridge-Acton/Sheperds Bush I think and then the Bendi’s would have run Hayes-White City.

    Ive only been to Westfield around 6/7 times and twice by bus but neither of them was by the 207/607. I used the 607 to get to Shepherds Bush when the terminus was Shepherds Bush as there was no Westfield back then and would transfer to the 94 to get into Central London as it was already a mix of RM and DD’s but this is back in early 2000’s.

  108. Ree1977 says:

    WW – Further to your post I fully agree that taking out bus lanes to put in cycle lanes is moronic. Especially where this a wide pavement alongside to accommodate the space for a cycle lane (which I am very much in favour of installing en masse). Removing bus lanes and bus stops in lay-bys where bus lanes exist will prevent future express routes.

    Anyone who visits other developed nations will see how to accommodate paths, cycle lanes, bus lanes and car lanes. It’s not rocket science and the evidence is everywhere. The UK is so poor at it. A holistic approach is rarely seen. London has difficulty with narrow roads and pavements in many areas of course, but there are also MANY areas segregated cycle lanes can be installed where wide paving exists.

  109. Anonymous says:

    Some points if I may:

    1. My experience as a parent suggests London actually needed a bus design that could accommodate up to 4 single buggies and two wheelchairs. It means a lot more space open up on the ground floor. How many politicians have waited 20 mins for a bus in the freezing cold only for one to turn up . . . and it already has the buggy space taken. Try waiting another 20 mins and or walking . . . depending on whether the children are flipping out yet. Seriously, we need more space for buggies and a bus design, ironically similar to the bendy bus. We need a bus that can carry more buggies.

    2. Wheelchair space. I wonder if any politician like Mr Johnson have had a buggy on the bus in the freezing cold or on a rainy day and then been told to get off because a wheelchair user needs the space? We need a specific space for them. If you have a sleeping child in a buggy you can’t simply fold the damn thing up!! Most politicians have nannies to look after their kids, or male ones just leave it “to the wife”. Result: a untenable situation like what we have now.

    Also how many people know that because of BUS DESIGN no two disabled people in wheelchairs can go out together and get the same bus? Two wheelchair users have to catch two separate buses.

    3. Wheelchair users have told that sometimes bus drivers don’t stop to pick them up. That bus drivers don’t get out of the cab to help them on or off – leaving it to members of the public.
    I saw a wheelchair user left to get off the bus by themselves in a poorly designed bus stop in Bromley – one that had a step. Result? the wheelchair user fell out of the wheelchair. The bus driver didn’t get out of the cab. Members of the public rushed to help. an ambulance was called . . . and the bus driver just drove off.

    How many times is this happening across London?

    On those grounds alone, a second member of staff (formerly known as a conductor should be on all buses, 24 h a day) . . . oh, but then the privatised bus system would collapse and we the public we need to support the buses with more taxes/government grants (like in the bad old days – remember when Michael Caine & Mick Jagger used to complain?) I for one want to pay more taxes, proportionally to live in a more civilised society, so we can have more people working in public services than the people use every day, and so the elderly, parents, and the disabled can have an accessible and useable public transport system. Do you?

    4. The additional member of staff not only helps wheelchair users, but also the elderly – how many of us have seen them struggling to get on or off? They can keep an eye out for younger people and help with checking fares. Maybe they could top up oyster cards on the bus?

    5. One these grounds the new bus design is a failure. The only progressive idea is the extra member of staff. I’m not an expert, but buses should be longer, have the space to carry 4 buggies and two wheelchairs and plenty of space upstairs for those passengers that can get up the stairs (i.e. not the elderly for example). Maybe a bus similar to the bendy bus in length – but a double decker . . . just an idea.

  110. Q199 says:

    Id also say that cycling in a bus lane then you need to keep up with the speed of traffic and cycling away at 5/10 mph delaying lots of people behind doesnt work.If you cant keep up with a reasonable speed of the traffic get off the road and thats where Cycle lanes on split pavements would work better as you can ride along at any speed then.

    Just as driving along in a car can be seen as dangerous then the same applies to cycling at 10 mph and delaying everyone behind you.

    On the latest London Assembly Mayor Question Time then BJ stated about getting rid of Elephant&Castle roundabout to make it safer for cyclists never mind the subways for Peds and the cost but that isnt going to happen in the next 2 years.

  111. Graham H says:

    @anonymous – that’s all very well but a bus on which the lower deck had to accommodate a couple of wheelchairs, three or four buggies (prams) and perhaps the odd mobility scooter wouldn’t actually have any seats at all downstairs. The elderly and many disabled would then be forced to go upstairs – or wait for another bus with seats downstairs (if they were allowed to exist). Ordinary passengers – perhaps 95% of the users – would be lucky to be able to board. There are no easy answers to meeting everyone’s requirements, but what is surely totally unacceptable is then dumping the problem of priorities on the bus crew. An extra crew member can’t, alas, make the bus bigger…

  112. Melvyn says:

    Re Artic Coaches I have seen one being used during the recent closures of C2C between Basildon to Benfleet for Pitsea junction upgrade and while it was suspended last weekend for the marathon its due to occur again over Easter and so opportunity to see or ride said Artic coach may arise over Easter .

  113. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon 2250 – I understand your concerns but I fear your demands are not deliverable. We have covered the conflicting demands for space on buses before. Leon Daniels of TfL says that it is extremely hard to balance the demands for umpteen buggy spaces, lots of seats without any steps for those who need them and then cope with wheelchair passengers too. I have heard people say London should scrap dual door buses in order to provide more buggy space like some provincial operators do. The downside with this is the risk of vastly extended dwell times at stops which then slow journeys meaning you need more vehicles to run a given level of service. I’d suggest this would be a backward step overall. We managed with single door double decks back in the 80s and 90s but ridership was far lower and there was no accessibility in those days.

    I would suggest you do a search for the Big Red Book which is what TfL issue to bus drivers. The content concerning passengers in wheelchairs has been thoroughly reviewed and consulted on with groups representing disabled passengers. There is no requirement for drivers to leave their cabs to provide assistance. This is why TfL specify automatic retractable ramps rather then “flip up” manual ones. The issue with bus stops is being addressed this year with a big push to make 95% of stops fully accessible. This is why there is a plague of bus stop closures across London while kerb lines, heights etc are adjusted. Incidents are regrettable and I’d expect a driver to radio for an ambulance but there are risks for drivers in leaving their cabs which is why they so rarely do.

    I am afraid that the rest of the country probably doesn’t agree with your desire to pay more tax and to boost spending on public services. People moan and complain about lots of things but won’t pay what is necessary to fund them properly. I can’t possibly see the value in every bus having a conductor. They’re simply not necessary and what on earth would they do apart from take up space that passengers need? Why would you put a conductor on the teeny buses that run the 146 to Downe or the 389 to Barnet (Western Way) where ridership levels are low and subsidy already disproportionately high? I want the bus budget and subsidy to go up from its current £470m but only because I want to see more buses, more routes and better service quality. I don’t want to spend money on buses to transport buggies and wheelchairs to the detriment of everyone else. Sorry. Unfortunately for bus passengers the Mayor and the TfL Board do not agree that more money should be spent on the bus network. The Board appears to be looking for yet more efficiencies and savings which is contrary to the hullabaloo from the poor souls who use buses. Therefore you’ll be waiting for your 20, 40 or 60 minutes for a bus with a buggy space for many more years to come.

  114. ASLEF shrugged says:

    Link for the Big Red Book, buggies are on page 33 in part one, wheelchairs are on page 13 in part two

  115. Chris L says:

    London Dial-a-ride still operates as an alternative for mobility impaired people.

    It has to be remembered that it is a tremendous achievement to have every bus in London capable of taking buggies and wheelchairs.

    Pushchairs must be folded is not that far back in history (and can still help today when the bus is crowded).

  116. Fandroid says:

    There is a traditional technology that can provide much of what many here seem to want. They are called trams. Brilliant, fast,quiet, smooth, spacious, smooth-riding, unpolluting, quick to load and unload and popular! All this fantastic effort is going on with buses to replicate something that has been around in its modern form for at least twenty years.

    Much of the argument that’s going on seems to accept as a given that road space should be available in unlimited amounts at all times for cars. The least efficient user of scarce road space in London by several orders of magnitude (and polluting too).

  117. Graham H says:

    @fandroid – indeed – and look what happened to ftr as a hapless attempt to imitate trams badly.

  118. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Fandroid – how true. Odd how trams were not mentioned in the TfL Clean Air consultation that closed at the weekend. Whole questions about electric car ownership and what would incentivise me to own / use one though! 🙁 None of this stuff is difficult *if* the policy makers removed their self imposed shackles.

  119. Mikey C says:

    London already has very different buses to the rest of the country

    Even in the major cities, the double deckers there are

    Single Door with manual wheelchair ramp on the front entrance and a wheelchair space often on the near side
    More compact curved staircase
    Dot matrix destination blind (instead of powered blinds)
    Often low height (Stagecoach)
    Without all the London specification (air cooling, fewer opening windows etc)
    Or occasionally they go the other way, with leather seats and wifi!

    Either way the London spec has diverged significantly in off the peg buses, so that none of them can be easily cascaded to the regions now without very expensive changes. London E400s are already very different to those in the rest of the country, so designing a unique bus for London is hardly an unexpected development.

  120. @Walthamstow Writer,

    Hong Kong buys standard buses given all manufacturers produce long tri-axle chassis and bodybuilders in several countries are content to body such vehicles.

    Now it is my turn to get grumpy. One reason all manufacturers build tri-axle buses is because of the enormous market in Hong Kong. It is certainly not the case that ADL built a tri-axle vehicle and then sell it to Hong Kong. There is deep collabaration here and a lot of local input and two-way feedback into what is required. This goes into great detail into things such as maintenance regimes.

    If there are fundamental differences between TfL/Wrightbus and and Hong Kong/ADL it is the lack of political interest/interference (take your pick) and that TfL/Wrightbus start from scratch whilst ADL/Hong Kong start with an existing bus, because they are a bit more conservative, and work hard together to produce a bus specifically designed for Hong Kong. The principle though, of designing a purpose-built bus for a particular market is basically as, if not more, true in Hong Kong as in London. I believe that the days are long gone when you go to Hong Kong and look at a bus a recognise it from elsewhere. They are distinctively different.

  121. Castlebar 1 says:

    Nearly all the London trolleybuses were 3 axle

  122. Anonymous says:

    When we do get a new mayor why would he remove a bus like NB4L that has been well received? [snip Pop]. If I were going in as new London mayor I would build on the success of the NB4L and increase the fleet.

  123. timbeau says:

    for all their advantages, trams require a huge capital investment and there is a lot of infrastructure to maintain – they never penetrated much of central London and you only need to look at Edinburgh’s experience to see why no more transport authorities are keen to dip their toes in the water, and very few (Manchester and Nottingham being the exceptions) even to expand what they’ve got (and much of that is on reserved formations – old railway lines).

    Space for buggies, wheelchairs etc – fine, but it’s getting to the point where you can’t get a seat downstairs (which, for many people who can’t manage stairs, means at all) unless you bring your own. Even for those who can manage the stairs, there are many reasons people don’t – only going a few stops, don’t know if there are any seats upstairs – drivers could be more proactive here “the traditional conductor’s cry of “plenty of room on top” seems to have died out, or simply not able to get to the stairs.

    @Anon 2250
    “Wheelchair space. I wonder if any politician like Mr Johnson have had a buggy on the bus in the freezing cold or on a rainy day and then been told to get off because a wheelchair user needs the space? ”
    If this actually happens we need another Rosa Parkes. The disabled lobby is entitled to no less than equality – but no more. If the bus is full, it’s full, and you have to wait for the next one. No one should ever be turfed off a bus simply because someone else is a higher priority. (NB this is not the same as prioritising certain seats on the bus)

    [bendibuses] “Insufficient seating? No air-con?”
    Bendibuses had more accessible (downstairs) seating than an NBfL. And aircon is a pointless energy-hungry mistake on a vehicle which opens its doors every few minutes, let alone one designed to run with them open! It’s no wonder the aircon on Boris’ Behemoths is problematic – it’s trying to cool the whole city.

    Yes, some routes the artics were put on were a mistake: the 73 for example. But they were ideal for the 521 – one route we can be sure will never see a Borismaster.

    @anon 1303
    Whether something is ghastly or not is not a fact, it’s an opinion. Please learn the difference.

    @jonathan Roberts 1246
    “there might be some roads which could support larger vehicles within Zone One, eg Edgware Road/Park Lane.”
    That’s all very well, but there are very few routes which are confined entirely to such roads – for example the 16 uses both roads cited , but still has to get in and out of the one way system at Victoria.

  124. Q199 says:

    Funnily enough Ive seen First SD’s that have room for 2 Pushchairs and a Wheel chair definitely out of London and Im sure the Heathrow Fast branded A10 Service that was still running around in 2000.

    With alot of current SD’s and oversized pram’s plus the pole for wheel chair uses to hold onto then getting 2 buggies in can be quite a work of art especially when the other person wont move their buggie so the other person can get it in(Ive seen it a few times) on SD’s.

    If they took the seats out next to the wheel chair area on the same side up to the wheel arch may add abit more space and loose 4 seats to get 2 wheel chairs and 2 ‘normal’ buggies at a push on a DD but still around 10+ seats downstairs for people that need them and anyone that can go upstairs can which at the moment just doesnt happen in London.

    Trams are a good idea in priniciple and having seen them building the Sheffield Tram(which I think was the 1st New Generation) and entered service in 1994 then the Tram is great if you live in an area it serves as it runs in virtually any weather.At least 2 occassions in Sheffield it has been the only PT running while all buses remain in depot due to road conditions and is the best thing to happen to PT in Sheffield.Its run by Stagecoach until 2027 under contract but was originally run by SYPTE(Local Transport body-like TFL) .

    It has special seats for MIP,2 buggies and Wheelchair including mobility buggies in car 1 and Car 3 and can carry 2 wheel chairs next to each other with elevated seats for other passengers.During peak hours then its very busy and rammed(not lul rammed though) and due to the fact that quite abit of the route is off road and on road sections then trams are given priorites at traffic lights.

    Trams do have their problems,the main one being that if their is an accident or car parked illegally or sticking out then the tram is stuck and so is all the others behind it which then also affects opposite direction operation.The cost of trying to recreate buses with trams wouldnt be viable monetary wise and London doesnt have the road space for a tram but maybe a monorail would work better in London if money was no object?

  125. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon 1026 – please do not use insulting terms like “political loonies” on this group. It adds nothing to the debate nor value to the point you are making.

  126. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – Sorry you have caught the grumps from me. 😉 I fear we must beg to differ because Kowloon Motor Bus have, over recent years, ordered Volvo, Scania, MAN, Neoplan and Alexander Dennis chassis and have had them bodied by Alexander Dennis, Wrightbus, Caetano, Volgren, MCV, Duple Metsec. That does not say to me that people are specialising solely in Hong Kong vehicles. There are considerable sales in Singapore too (more Wrightbus and Volvo but ADL have recently won a big order, 201 buses, from SMRT Buses). Further Alexander Dennis have worked extremely hard to develop their Enviro 500 model for the US and Canadian markets and have been rewarded with decent sales.

    No manufacturer or bodybuilder making double deck buses will ignore the Far East ex colonial markets. KMB and Citybus / New World First Bus operate a competitive process for their buses so no manufacturer has a “shoe in” in Hong Kong no matter how much joint working there may have been. Ditto for Singapore where ADL have clearly worked hard to grab the SMRT order. The remainder of the order is for MAN 372 (!) single decks.

  127. Enitirely agree with Walthamstow Writer 10:41

    @Anon. Argue a point but with reasoning. You comment was pretty much content free. Feel free to vehemently disagree with people and say so but only on the basis presenting arguments to the contrary. Relevant sentence deleted.

    Monorail Alert
    Q199 mentioned monorails. He/she probably wasn’t to know but we have had a long-standing rule of not having discussions on this as they tend to be emotional and entirely fact-free. It also seems as if everyone has already a decided fixed belief and no amount of discussion would change that. Mind you, on the last point, perhaps we should ban the discussion of buses!

  128. RichardB says:

    @ timbeau – I would dispute your point on air conditioning. Granted as doors open cool air is lost but could I point to the inverse which is heating in winter. Heat is lost via doors opening too. On that argument you would have neither cooling nor heating as both are wasteful but we managed to have heating for decades. Apart from that fact that if anything central London seems to get a lot warmer and stickier in summer air conditioning is not now a luxury for the idle rich or Americans. Car manufacturers aiming for the British market has had to accept the need for air conditioning as has London Overground, London Underground (the SSL) and most of the TOCs on their outer and inner suburban services. Only South Eastern when it was managed by Connex and subsequently DOR resisted this trend and insisted on procuring non air conditioned stock. I realise there is still former BR stock which has never had air conditioning or been retro converted but I think that will change with time. If you go overseas air conditioning is commonly available on city buses. I do not see the problem apart from the fact there is still a desire in some quarters to, metaphorically speaking, wear hair shirts.

    The issue surely should be to equip all vehicles with air conditioning but ensure it is appropriate for the size if the vehicle and the maximum passenger load

  129. @Walthamstow Writer,

    But surely there is no fundamental difference? We are only arguing over a question of degree. Surely any manufacturer of any product would take into account the needs of his largest customers and Wrightbus, whilst big, is not as big as some of the other worldwide customers. And London might not be a big a market as Hong Kong (I don’t know) but for Wrightbus it is significant. And given that buses can be customised, or even designed from scratch relatively easily, I cannot understand why you so dislike the concept of designing a bus specifically for London. You might not like the end result but that is a different issue.

  130. Southern Heights says:

    I keep seeing this:

    London doesnt have the road space for a tram…

    Obviously you need a quick visit to Amsterdam…. As an example the route 4 includes several of single track sections in the road with passing loops on the bridges. Oh and cars go down the same street as well, with parking on both sides… It’s amazing how it can be done if you actually want to!

  131. Moosealot says:

    order to quality for – qualify, surely
    to Wrightbus roots – I know there’s an apostrophe shortage at the moment, but…

    [Corrected. Thanks. PoP]

  132. Mikey C says:

    This map is quite instructive as it shows how little of the West End was previously covered by the Tram network

  133. Moosealot says:

    One thing which appears to be a legacy holdover which nobody is querying is the choice of fuel for new buses. When the technology becomes cheaper, better and longer lived we will be running all-electric buses, but that’s some way away yet.

    Why are we running buses on diesel rather than something else? Diesel used to be a cheap fuel because it came from an oil fraction that used to be in relatively low demand. Modern diesel is highly refined in order to get the sulphur levels down to something that modern direct injection systems can cope with and demands the same feedstock that just about everything else does. The refinery gate price for a litre of diesel is higher than that for a litre of petrol and has been for well over 10 years now.

    Diesel engines also exhibit far better torque curves for stop-starting heavy vehicles, a petrol-engined bus would wear out clutches in no time. Diesels engines also offer a good thermodynamic efficiency at a far wider range of load and engine speed combinations than spark-ignition engines. I’m not sure when the last bus with a clutch was built, but it would have been quite a while ago; the advent of the series hybrid also removes the need for efficiency over large range of engine speeds or power outputs so these benefits are negated.

    The only remaining advantage of diesel is that there is currently fuelling infrastructure in place in bus garages for it – changing this is small change when looking at procuring bus fleets.

    I submit that buses should be fuelled by liquid propane (alias LPG, Autogas). At my local garage, it’s currently 59.9p/litre compared to £1.349 for diesel; there is less tax on it per litre, but the tax as a proportion of the total cost of fuel is of the same order because propane is now the ‘unwanted’ fraction from oil refining, requires roughly no processing and thus the refinery gate price is very low. For the sake of comparison, red diesel – which is less taxed than LPG – is 87.9p/litre. Last year I traded in a 2.0-litre diesel Audi for a much older 4.2-litre LPG-powered Jaguar… and the Jag is cheaper in fuel per mile, it also does not have a turbocharger or particulate filters to go wrong. Oh, and the NOx and particulate emissions are roughly zero which would be a real benefit in London.

  134. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – I would rather the manufacturers led the way in response to the operators requirements and take the R&D / technical risks. That is part of their core skill set. It is quite clear that there is a divergence in practice between London and the rest of the UK. The Far East has some local requirements such as axle weight limits and air conditioning. Many of TfL’s requirements increase the weight of vehicles and thus worsen fuel economy. As others have said there are conflicts between the aims of fuel economy and emissions performance. The deregulated operators tend to focus on better fuel economy while also meeting engine spec regulations and this is pushing vehicle design in a different direction to London. The best deregulated operators also offer a far superior interior spec to anything you see in London. They are commercial businesses so surely there is some merit in what they do?

    To my mind the NB4L really does not go in the direction that the manufacturers are going in response to what operators want. It is not even compliant with TfL’s own standards which to me is mind bogglingly poor. Would TfL sanction the purchase of buses that were non compliant in any other circumstances (ignoring special trial vehicles like the hydrogen / all electric single deckers)? No it would not. The NB4L is only allowed on the road because it is a political construct and TfL have “waived” whatever it is they need to waive to get it into service.

    I just think we have a strange romantic notion that London somehow “deserves” to have its own custom made bus. I just don’t get it to be honest. Yes there were woes with the early models of “standard” buses bought in the 70s but many of those went on to run for decades with other operators and many in gruelling conditions. As I’ve said LT’s culture and practices were as much to blame as the vehicle design for “no bus available” and breakdowns. We’ve had decades of using standard buses in London and nearly all of them last their full service life in London *and* then do another 5-10 years elsewhere. I don’t see what the issue is with continuing to buy standard products ideally to a revised, less expensive, less heavy TfL specification. This would save money, keep the technical risks with the suppliers and get better value for money from TfL’s limited funds. I’m not a Londoner by birth so perhaps I have not been forcibly injected with the “must love a RT / RM / NB4L” serum? 🙂

    And yes I don’t really like the NB4L. It can be quiet and smooth but more often there is a wretched din from the engine, air con and door beeps and I-Bus in overdrive mode. The downstairs seating layout is appalling. It is hard to enjoy travelling on a vehicle that makes you ill.

  135. Graham H says:

    @Mikey C – not just the West End but the City, too – the direct result of a long term and determined campaign by the City and Westminster corporations to have nothing to do with such a proletarian form of transport. A penny all the way – tcha! – much better to encourage the use of the middle class bus – minimum fare 6d.

  136. Moogal says:

    Couple of things that’ve struck me reading through the comments:

    – the “fare dodging” comments re: bendy/Boris buses – how can you actually tell? Given that Travelcard holders (and when they existed, those who’d bought tickets from the machines at stops) don’t actually need to tap an Oyster, it’s only PAYG users who do. Do we have any figures for the proportion of PAYG vs Travelcard users?

    – air conditioning on buses: a perennial bugbear of mine – I like the idea of it but the implementation is flawed on most London buses by having the top windows still openable when the air cooling is active. Cue a hot sunny day, people get on and automatically open the windows, so all that nice cool air goes straight outside. But then you have the opposite issue on the NBfL which doesn’t have any opening windows so when the air con isn’t working you roast. Needs refinement.

  137. straphan says:

    @Moosealot: Not that I’m an expert on these matters, but might this have something to do with requirements for filling stations for the gas? Aside from the capital cost of actually building them at depots (or close by…) are fire regulations not a barrier? Especially since most bus depots in London are located in cramped environments within residential or commercial areas with lots of people around.

    There is also the issue of tanks. CNG is out of the question because – as far as I know – tanks need to be located on the roof (hence CNG double-deckers are a no-go). LPG tanks can be stored anywhere on the vehicle, but combustion engines tend to use more LPG than petrol – hence tanks would need to be slightly larger…

    On the subject of competing use of space – again, bendy buses are far better than double deckers. I fully agree that double-deckers are an absolute mess when it comes to the ground floor – especially since the time designers stopped bothering about placing the middle door anywhere near the staircase (the last such Alexander ALX400s are 06-reg and run with The Company Again Known as Stagecoach).

    Bendy buses simply have much more ground floor to play with – especially if you put in a step-entrance at the rear of the vehicle (something TfL has no quibbles with when it comes to double-deckers) and a ramp from the front towards the articulation. You can therefore easily design an interior that would fit two wheelchairs or three buggies (or loads of standees in the peaks!).

    The main problem is, though, that whilst we talk of seat cushions, staircase design, hybridisation and air-conditioning, we do not talk about capacity. A bendy bus has 1/3 more capacity than a double-decker – never mind the NBfL which has a lower capacity than others. And I think every one of us could name a couple of routes in London where people get left behind in the peaks. Is the answer to coping with London’s population growth really to procure double-deckers which carry fewer passengers per bus than off-the-shelf designs and ban outright the use of buses that offer the most capacity per vehicle?

    And a final point regarding cyclists. I think LR could do with a good article on cycling (I raise my hand feebly to half-height as a volunteer…). I’m by far not an expert on the matter, but those that want to shoo cyclists onto pavements and point towards Holland or Denmark forget something crucial: their cycling cultures are far different. I am a reasonably fit 30-year old man who owns a bike that is by far not top-of-the-range-Tour-de-France material. I live in Zone 2, 15 minutes’ walk away from my nearest rapid transit station. My commute to work (Zone 1) involves at least one interchange, with the fastest journey involving two. Each of these two interchanges is so congested in the morning I consider those days when I can board the first train that comes along as lucky.

    Now – my door-to-door commute by tube usually takes in the order of 40-45 minutes due to passenger congestion, and about 30-35 minutes if I actually can board the first train. My door-to-door cycle commute takes 25-30 minutes depending on traffic congestion and light phases (I actually do stop for red lights…). This is largely because about 2/3 of it is on bus lanes and only ca. 150 metres is on cycle paths shared with pedestrians. This means I can pedal pretty much as hard as I can and as hard as traffic will allow.

    The cost and comfort side is a no-brainer, too. With accessories, the bike cost something like £800, and I get 1/3 of it back via Cyclescheme. I’m not a fashionista and buy a new bike every 3 years or so. How much is an annual season again? Plus I have showers in the office which is slowly becoming a standard for many large and medium companies.

    However, if you pushed me onto pretty little paths shared with mothers with children, buggies, and dogs on leashes, I would take the tube again. I want my sleep just like the next person.

    Food for though there…

  138. Castlebar 1 says:

    Where I live, admittedly not in London, cyclists are not a problem, but people driving their ‘fat carts’ on the pavement at what seems to be about 20MPH are. Just as a bus is about to turn left, a fat cart whizzes up and overtakes it in the inside. And these things are also allowed on buses??

  139. Pedantic of Purley says:


    I think LR could do with a good article on cycling (I raise my hand feebly to half-height as a volunteer…).

    I think we have acknowledged for a long time our weakness in this area. One problem is that although discussion of what type of bus brought out emotions, the emotions brought out by cycle debate would be far greater. So regardless of what you write you will have masses of stuff about people not liking them because they don’t stop at red lights/wear silly clothing/don’t pay road tax etc. The other problem is to write an even-handed article and you again you are onto a loser because even if you do people will accuse you of being a mouthpiece for the cyclists lobby and someone who is irrationally prejudiced against cycling – at the same time.

    Why not sketch out the structure of an article an send it to John Bull and take it from there?

  140. Ollyver says:

    Re: bike lanes

    Cycling in bus lanes
    Expecting cyclists to ride in bus lanes strikes me as a very weird decision. Does anyone know where this came from? Is it supposed to just be that bikes *can* ride in those lanes, and the road markings are misleading as to whether one *should*?
    The behaviour of buses and bikes is almost completely the opposite: buses want to go fast in their unobstructed lane, stop briefly at bus stops, and repeat. Bikes are optimally ridden at a gentle speed (assuming you don’t treat your commute as a race), with as little acceleration and deceleration as possible.
    The only advantage that I can see (for cyclists) is that buses are less likely than cars to think they have space to overtake a bicycle, so you are less likely to be constantly overtaken too close for comfort. But then there’s the constant awareness of a very large vehicle waiting impatiently behind you…

    Replacing bus lanes with bike lanes
    Seems like a bad idea, and not usually something that’s advocated, is it? The few schemes I’ve seen usually involve replacing car lanes or wide pavements or a combination of both.

    Taking road space away for segregated bike lanes
    Well, assuming that
    a) more, and more pleasant, cycling space leads to more people cycling [induced demand]
    b) less driving space leads to fewer people driving [reduced demand]
    c) bikes take up less space than cars
    d) more space for buses?

  141. Ollyver says:

    Heh. Apparently the issue came up whilst I was typing my comment. I shall await the future article on cycling for further discussion!

  142. Long Branch Mike 1 says:


    Delhi India’s and indeed all vehicles, even the auto rickshaws, must by law be compressed natural gas (CNG), to keep the Capital ‘s air pollution down. It is very successful on this point, as by comparison every other Indian city reeks heavily of petrol and diesel fumes.


    Toronto’s regional public transport provider GOTransit (for Government of Ontario Transit) operates 24 ADL Enviro 500 buses on a regional semi-orbital route around Toronto twixt large suburban college campuses (campii?) on highways (what you amusingly call dual carriageways – though our main highway has 16 lanes split into collector and express lanes), with sufficiently high bridges. Bridges over city streets throughout North America are are single vehicle height so these DDs can only be used on highways.

  143. straphan says:

    @PoP: I am well aware of what sorts of emotions this topic would stir and – as Lech Walesa once famously said: ‘Your point of view depends on where you are sitting.’

    I’ll be in touch in due course when I get a chance to think this through.

    @Ollyver: as my final aside on cycling (I think PoP is getting antsy about going off-topic for too long): this is not that simple. ‘Cyclists’ aren’t ‘cars’ or ‘buses’ – you can’t think of cycling as a homogenous mode with uniform needs – at least not in the British or London context. Segregated cycle lanes are not a panaceum – should these be a part of the pavement coloured red/blue/green (delete as appropriate)? How do you segregate them exactly and how do you control access? How do you allow cyclists across junctions – do you let them across together with cars or with pedestrians?

    And as far as cyclists in bus lanes are concerned: the issue is one of road space and average speed. If cyclists were made to sit in traffic jams together with cars nobody would cycle – in the peaks it is the bus lanes which actually have some room and allow decent speeds. Buses are also driven by drivers who are far better trained than the average car driver. They also have very predictable movements – you know where they are going to stop, where they are going to turn off (if you memorise the bus routes along your commute – not rocket science). Plus their sheer size makes some of the more stupid manoeuvres (squeezing past on the inside) less likely to happen.

    That cyclists are an utter nuisance for bus drivers is also very clear to me, and I appreciate they make their job far more stressful and the journey slower. Still – from a safety point of view I think cycles in bus lanes are the best solution of a bad lot.

    I shall say no more about cycling in this thread from now on.

  144. Guano says:

    The original Routemaster was designed to meet particular the needs of a bus for London as they were perceived at the time, as it was found that all the components of a bus in London were punished more than on a bus in a provincial city. This was shown by the mechanical failure rate of the buses that flowed the Routemaster in the 1970s. My guess is that this is no longer a requirement: buses bought on the open market now appear to be robust enough for London conditions (though I am willing to be contradicted).

    So what are the special needs of London for which a special bus is needed. It certainly isn’t being iconic and being able to hop on-and-off! I would suggest that low pollution, less time at stops and high capacity (in some cases) are going to be objectives for bus design, and the risk is that the market will not provide them. That means some thinking by TfL. Unfortunately there isn’t a bus strategy in the way that there is an Underground strategy and the Bus Priority Unit has been quietly disbanded.

  145. Gerald of Newbury Park says:

    Going back to Buses! Does anyone know how often a cat or dog is hit or run over by a bus? And how many times a bus has to stop to allow a cat to run a cross the road? My dear friend cat was run over by a bus in Woodford last year right outside her house and it was by chance a neighbour of hers saw it happen. But do bus divers if they seen it happen report such sadness to the depot?

  146. Mikey C says:

    @ straphan
    Bendy Buses provide more STANDING capacity, but for a 50% longer vehicle offer a lot fewer seats than a Double Decker. With journey times in London being what they are, 30-45 minutes standing on a bouncy cattle truck isn’t my idea of fun. It’s nothing like standing on a 378 or a tube, which are far smoother and don’t go around corners.

    They also overload bus stops, on stops like busy ones like those on Park Lane where there may be 10 routes stopping at the same stop, it means that once a bendy or two stops every other bus has to stop a long way from the stop.

  147. ngh says:

    Re Gerald,
    In general (not just for buses) run over dogs are reportable but cats are not.

    Re Moosealot/Staphan

    LNG (not mentioned so far) is the most likely option in the UK (over CNG or LPG) sourced from liquefaction of landfill gas. One company is setting up a network of filling stations, a distribution network and liquefaction plants at landfill sites, their initial target market is HGV fleets from the midlands M1 distribution centers.

  148. straphan says:

    @Mikey C: And where did you get the information that an average bus journey in London is 30-45 minutes? In the peak especially? Where does the most crowding occur on buses?

    From my own experience the average peak bus journey is no longer than 15 minutes as that is how long it takes even the most disadvantaged (in terms of location) people to get to a tube/rail/DLR/tram stop and continue their commute from there. Yes, there are also a fair number of people who cannot afford to buy a full season and travel by bus only – but even in the peaks that does not mean they must stand for the whole of their (admittedly rather long) journey.

    Especially with the forecast growth in population in London travelling by bus will be less about getting a seat and more about getting on at all.

  149. Fandroid says:

    Just a final thing on trams. The history of tram routes in London is utterly irrelevant for any consideration of their future in the city. Second, Manchester is not just extending routes but more than doubling its route mileage to create a real network. Nottingham is doing the same. Then there’s Birmingham and Sheffield, both extending theirs too.

    One interesting point about the first generation trams. Once the rush of new electric systems in the UK was complete, the market for tram builders shrank to almost nothing. That meant that there was no commercial incentive to develop anything new. Meanwhile, buses, with much shorter working lives, were being improved at a pace.

    That comparison is no longer relevant, as the tram market is now at a European (world) scale and is a lively one. Both buses and tram models are being improved all the time, as has been illustrated by this article (for buses).

  150. Ree1977 says:

    straphan – by cycling on pavements I don’t think anyone means seriously cycling on the bumpy slabs navigating street furniture and people. Rather, narrowing paving (but ONLY where paving is very wide – say 10 metres and 2 can be taken. This is surprisingly do-able in many places with lamposts moved and attached to buildings or to the left of paving etc) and then widening the road by 2 metres, separating the new cycle lane from the road and paving by kerbs or other solid physical objects so no one strays into it.

    If there are many bus stops then the lane can be on the left of the paving avoiding bus stops. I see this all over in the US and Europe. It’s tricky in the UK as we have little town planning and narrow streets. But we do have quite a few major streets where it is possible – more than many people think, and I include myself in that having paid a lot more attention to it recently as I travel.

  151. Fandroid says:

    Back to buses. I agree that London should not burden itself with ‘special’ requirements, and there should be root and branch review to cut out all that have marginal relevance. However, as the leading ‘municipal’ operator, TfL should see itself as leading the pack in terms of the best public transport service, as opposed to the deregulated private operators who have other worries that might deflect them away from being the best themselves. I mainly mean the absolute concentration on getting the best return on their shareholders’ investments. Most definitely not a proxy for providing the best public service in the current world of local regional monopolies.

  152. Gerald of Newbury Park says:

    @ngh Is there any argument that people should have more tags on or a chips inside there cat’s so that a bus diver (or driver in general) can detect if a cat near the bus and where? This technology actually already exists in that owners can go and look for there cat’s in the local area. This could at least alart the driver that there one or more around area around the bus? Cat’s are a risk to the road and the increase in the population will only add to this risk in that they unlike dogs do not always run away till the last second which is danger to the driver and passengers.

  153. Long Branch Mike (Long Bus Maps) says:


    I know my bus driving training experience here in Commonwealth member of Canada is not directly relevant to London bus operations, but we were not instructed at all on what to do if an animal was struck whilst driving. We Canadians do not have the same passion for animal protection and welfare as the British (just stating a fact, not a judgement).

    I suspect the priority of the Toronto Transit Commission is the safe and quick operation of transit service, and not the delay of such service for an unfortunate animal caught in the path.

    Note that many rural areas of Canada do have large wild animals, moose and deer, which are a major safety concern in that in a collision they will cause major damage to a vehicle, even an intercity bus. So I suspect different operating procedures would apply.

  154. Graham H says:

    @Gerald of Newbury Park – I like the idea of buses fitted with cat detectors but I don’t like the taxpayer having to fork out for it. {In law, cats are “wild animals, unlike dogs, and it would be tiresome and very expensive to create a new liability on transport operators to exercise care in relation to such things).

    Meanwhile, back on the thread, one interesting difference between London and many (most) European cities is the nature if the road traffic. London has (and has had for many years) an unusually high proportion of non-car vehicles in the mix and a very high level of kerbside activity (“white van traffic”). [I wish I could now locate the studies we undertook in DfT in the ’80s which provided the factual backing for these assertions]. At the time, we couldn’t find any simple explanation – possibly the particular nature of the UK logistics market – but it has great relevance both for cycling and bus operation. Reducing the level of unloading would make a huge difference to the use of street space; I acknowledge that doing this by time limitations is expensive but it may be cheaper than widening the roads.

  155. timbeau says:

    “loose [sic] 4 seats to get 2 wheel chairs and 2 ‘normal’ buggies at a push on a DD but still around 10+ seats downstairs for people that need them”
    But the remaining seats would be on top of the front wheel arches and in the raised portion above the rear transmission, and thus not “accessible” to the people who need them most.

    @Richard B = agreed heating is a problem on an open platform bus, but neither heating nor ventilation are as big a problem as air conditioning, which on an NBfL is like trying to run a fridge with the door open.

  156. Long Branch Mike (Long Bus Maps) says:

    @Graham H

    I thought store and business deliveries were mandated to evening and overnight hours in London to avoid congestion. Is this just downtown (Central) London, or just for larger vehicle deliveries?

  157. Graham H says:

    @LBM – to be honest, I don’t know the precise geographical scope of that area. Observation suggests it isn’t very extensive.

  158. Ben Phillips says:

    @Graham H cat’s are becoming more and more less wild. Cat are more intelligence then people think in that they do ‘talk’ to humans using the meow like when they want food and use body language with other cats so to class them as wild animals is a bit outdated in that people do now put them on leads and take them for walks and on buses and trains in some cases. The taxpayer would only pay for the detect devices, it should be up for the owner to get a tag if they love and value there cat as why should the taxpayer pay for that.

  159. Gerald of Newbury Park says:

    @Ben Philips good points! Cat’s running or sitting on the road do pose a big risk to Buses as well as Trams if there going at high speed in part!

  160. Malcolm says:

    I don’t think there are any rules in London about the timing of deliveries, except for (a) certain roads or parts thereof are “no loading” in peak hours (exact hours vary), and (b)vehicles over 18 tonnes without a special permit are restricted between 21:00 and 07:00 (and from 13:00 Sat to 07:00 Mon) (

    The restriction in (b) is meant for noise control, but it actually pushes deliveries into the busier part of the day.

  161. Fandroid says:

    Gerald. I don’t know what sort of cat you have, but I cannot imagine a tram even being slowed by a collision with one, let alone it posing any danger. The real risk for buses is if a driver swerves to avoid them. I personally hope they are trained to keep straight on and to not hit the brakes.

  162. John U.K. says:

    Anyone see TfL’s “Travel News” in today’s Metro?

    It began:
    Countdown The largest real-time bus arrival information system in the world, Countdown provides arrival information at every stop across its network. …. [emphasis mine]

    Either there has been a large-scale theft of countdown boxes across SW6 and W6, or at TfL someone’s right hand knows not what the left is doing!

  163. Graham H says:

    @Malcolm – thanks for that – it reinforces my feeling that this is a fruitful field for investigation.

    [Moderators – this thread is showing signs of merging with the “Suburban” one – apologies but I will try and avoid duplicate posts…]

  164. Q199 says:

    The NBFL may mean that we get better buses in the surburbs and hopefully in far West London. Stamford Brook Garage is limited in space and the Scania’s that are been replaced by NBFL on 9/10 have to be stored some where. 2 nearest garages are Hounslow and Fulwell. So hopefully they put Scania’s on the 285 and then could split the rest between 423 and H98 enabling them to sell the SD Enviro 200’s.

    The 285 and H98 at peak can be very busy but the H98 from Harlington Corner runs the same route as the 81 and 222 both of which are now a DD route so the 285 would benefit more and the 423 is only ever really busy at shift change time for T5 and a Sunday when they are every 30 mins. If numbers will continue to rise then replacing SD with DD will enable the buses to cope better with increased loading in the upcoming years without adding any more buses.

    The bendi is useful for certain routes,I read a blog post about the 521 and about how good it was.It turned up at Waterloo empty,filled up in less than a minute and then was off on its way to London Bridge and the same the other way working its way through the city and Holborn into Waterloo. Thats something you’ll not see a NBFL do as well.

    Got on a DD 90 (they have a couple) this afternoon and there was a massive AC unit stuck to the ceiling over the stairs which is where the Scania’s have them as well but every single windows upstairs was open 🙁 Placing it over the stairs does mean the upstairs is cooled at least if they didnt open the windows and gets around slightly the doors opening every few mins! As Ive said already time to lock the windows like on the Southern’s 377 and have them be able to be unlocked if the AC fails.

  165. Long Branch Mike (Long Bus Maps) says:

    @Graham H, Malcolm

    Certainly expanding delivery ban hours and area would improve the flow of all autos, buses, and bikes avoid congestion. Perhaps the next Mayor could implement this, and re-expand the Congestion Zone.

  166. Q199 says:

    @John UK

    There isnt a countdown timer at every stop but you can find out the times at any stop.
    If you have a smart phone or just a phone with internet connection then you can check the times from any stop! Its what those “Stop Codes” are for on the Bus Stop.

    Mobile Countdown is the best thing that has been invented in the last few years by TFL.I use it every day and saves me loads of time combined in with Trackernet for monitoring train services.
    If you are on Android then look up LT Free and it does everything from one app for you and can even tell you where you are and what’s the nearest stop. If you dont have Net connection then you can text and it will send you the times of the next few buses.

  167. Greg Tingey says:

    Re – trams not in London… and much of that is on reserved formations – old railway lines). Cobblers.
    Ashton-under-Lyme? Manchester Airport extension? Eccles?
    Nottingham – SW?
    Dunedin is the exception, not the rule _ & that mostly due to a toxic combination of political interference & apparently incompetent engineering mismanagement.
    London doesn’t have space for a tram Been to Antwerp – I suggest you go, & then you’d see just what a load of twaddle you’ve just emitted ….
    See also “Southern Heights” comment!
    Or try HERE and here too Ahem

    When the technology becomes cheaper, better and longer lived we will be running all-electric buses, but that’s some way away yet. My money is on 2025, if not sooner – only eleven years away.
    Clutches on buses … err – the RM, in London, which still had the magic pre-selector gearbox arrangement, IIRC?

    (Bloody MS “Word” won’t let me tpe you moniker as a header, grrr ….)
    And a final point regarding cyclists. I think LR could do with a good article on cycling

    Can I fall about in hysterical cackles right now? If you think the politically-motivated / irreconcilable Boris-haters & other special interests are bad, when discussing the NB4L, then starting in on cycling is going to be such fun ….. And I speak as an occasional cyclist who won’t go within a km of the “professional” cycling lobbies.
    See also PoP’s very pertinent comments – you are warned – this subject is incredibly divisive.
    and buy a new bike every 3 years or so. you WHAT? I had my bike-frame made in 1973 – I’m still using it. Why on earth would you want to buy a new one, when you can alter the “additions” without the ridiculous expense of a whole new bike?
    Commute times …
    Always excepting the insanity of trying to get from Walthamstow or Leyton to Stratford or Docklands, that is (!) [ Assume usual rant on re-opening Hall Farm Curve has been inserted here ? ]

  168. RichardB says:

    @ timbeau- but does the NDFL actually gave air conditioning? I suspect not as the term used by TfL is air cooling which I think is a weasel term to imply the presence of air conditioning when in fact something far less effective is present. If it is air conditioning then clearly the system is not fit for purpose which is inexcusable as the technical requirement to deliver a certain standard of air conditioning to a known volume is well established.

    I suspect a compromise was agreed at the design stage due to the power requirements for an effective air con system which might have impaired the NBFL’s ability to meet the emissions standard and I can see some idiot agreeing to this on the basis this would be good enough as most bus journeys are short. If that was the case the failure to include windows which could be opened but lockable a la Southern Railways 377 series was a classic piece of stupidity. Normally I favour sealed windows when using air conditioning but one can compromise and have lockable windows as a fall back. The downside is that a member of staff has to take the decision to unlock them. Perhaps this could have been part of the role for the attendant/conducter?

    [Please tone down in future. Just because you don’t agree with a decision it does not give you the right to refer to someone who thinks differently as “some idiot” or the decision “a classic piece of stupidity”. Future postings liable to deletion if this continues. PoP]

  169. John U.K. says:

    @ Q199

    I know that there is not countdown information provided at every stop. That was the whole point of highlighting TfL’s bold assertion in today’s Metro that there was!!

    I know that there are apps available for internet-savvy ‘phones – but I do not see why I should be forced to purchase / subscribe to one to access the information they claim is at every stop, any more than I should get one to park in Westminster.
    Grumpy Luddite mode off 🙂

  170. Reynolds 953 says:

    There are a few other blogs that cover cycling in London so maybe people who want to rant or contribute could add these to their reading list? ( see The Ranty Highwayman, As Easy As Riding a Bike, Beyond the Kerb amongst others)

    I don’t think traffic modelling in London really knows how to handle cycling anyway. You get commuting on radial routes into the centre but most trips by bike are likely to be under 3 miles, so that means popping down the shops, or kids going to school, rather than the fast and fearless commuter on a racing bike (and yes, on my bike I can easily beat the District line door to door from West London to the City!)

    Personally, I’d be interested in a “macro” view of the future of road use within London. This article and comments has talked about buses and some of the challenges with their capacity, but the buses are competing with road space with bikes, motor bikes, private cars, white vans, HGVs… TfL’s mantra seems to be “smoothing traffic flow” however can this be reconciled with an increase in London population and associated demand on road space? I assume (perhaps unwisely) that simply building more roads is no longer seen as an option so should there be more active management of demand to encourage the most efficient use of the limited space? From my layman’s perspective, it seems TfL are trying to keep everyone happy but I can’t see how this will be tenable if London keeps growing.

  171. Q199 says:

    @John UK

    The fact I can use LT Free to monitor Bus times and know exactly when to leave home to walk the 90 secs to the nearest Bus stop helps alot as no more 20/30 mins wait wondering if one is just around the corner! Ive waited for 30 mins before in both directions for the 140 but both of these were before Mobile Countdown.

    To be fair,they dont say there is a box on every stop but you can obtain it if you want information by either Text or Net. My 2 nearest stops dont have a box(but I dont need one now) but out of the 7 nearest stops covering approx 1/2-3/4 mile to me 5 have displays and 2 dont. In the areas Ive seen then it tends to be every 2nd stop or larger stops if plenty of small stops. SW6 and W6 tend to have alot of stops without shelters so no visible way to install one never mind the cost!

    I do understand what you are saying though 🙂

    @Richard B

    Maybe the AC is run off a USB Fan 🙂 on NBFL. Maybe they could update the I-Bus again to display room Temperature as they recently updated it to show current time constantly on Line 2 now.

  172. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Fandroid – clearly TfL already exerts a very strong influence on the new bus market as a result of its vehicle specifications. However there is a clear divergence when we look at what is bought by the big groups (most of which also operate in London). My main issue is that London may well be missing out on some attractive features that a “market” approach brings. I was not advocating that TfL adopt a purely profit driven motive in setting frequencies, hours of operation. Even so I think a different approach could be adopted to bring together the very best of pubic and private sector thinking to further improve efficiency *and* the attractiveness of the service which could bring in more money. I don’t get much sense that this is what happens and *if* it does it is not obvious what the end result is.

    One small example and not to do with vehicles. TfL announced yesterday that big digital screens, to display Countdown departure info, would be trialled at three bus stations. This is presented as the cutting edge of innovation when such facilities have featured in many decent bus stations around the UK for years. I’m obviously very pleased that the displays are being installed even if my local bus station is not in the trial. I just find it really odd that such an obviously useful facility was not part of the main I-Bus project from day one. Sharing of best practice would have clearly shown that passengers would value such a facility but we have to wait for years for it to materialise.

    @ Timbeau – point well made about lower deck seating on double deckers. There’s no evidence that I have seen that says TfL should move to two wheelchair spaces although I understand the point that was made above. I haven’t heard Transport for All (or other lobbyists) demanding this scale of provision. The biggest issue is working ramps coupled with inconsistent driver behaviours. I won’t go back over the buggy issue as I’ll start to “vent”. There is an acceptance that other people in the population value having level, stepless access to seats which are also close to a door.

    @ Graham H – point also well made about the volume of delivery vehicles and the effect they can have on cycle and bus lanes. Interesting that some research was done in to this a while back. Of course with on line shopping the volume of delivery traffic in all parts of London will have increased since your study was done. In the centre I suspect the amazing growth of food and drink outlets has also increased the volume of deliveries across the day. “Local” versions of the big chain supermarkets are also served by articulated lorries so that means more big lorry deliveries blocking up roads during the day (across all parts of London).

  173. stimarco says:

    @Graham H:

    The “white van traffic” fits in with the statistics of London’s road usage generally: that most traffic is couriers, local goods deliveries (e.g. a fishmonger travelling back to his shop after visiting one of the big markets early in the morning), office maintenance teams, contractors heading to and from building sites, and so on.

    The heavily modular design and mostly prefabricated construction of London’s 122 Leadenhall Street (the “Cheesegrater”) makes for interesting viewing and could well be a foretaste of future construction projects in the city.

    Similarly innovative approaches to London’s other logistical needs are required. This is not a city with multiple convenient parallel routes arranged in a nice clean grid pattern. Many trunk routes have no viable alternatives. (Shades of the Beeching Axe here, except the roads never had those alternative routes and branches in the first place!)

    Fundamentally, the key problem is that we’re trying to squeeze multiple incompatible modes of transport onto the same infrastructure. This is the same mistake made with south London’s rail network and it very clearly doesn’t work well: all you can ever end up with is a series of mediocre compromises.

    One possibility is to consider dedicating entire roads for specific modes. Hence my suggestion earlier of diverting cycle lanes down residential streets. Those streets tend to be quieter by default as they’re not trunk routes. Furthermore, it’s a lot easier to squeeze in a couple of cycle lanes between a pair of houses. (Even buying up a pair of houses to knock through a cycle route to the next road along would still be cheaper than the alternative of buying up a whole row of shops to widen a nearby high street instead.)


    South of the Thames, the lack of extensive existing underground infrastructure means there’s the option of building tunnels below the roads using cheaper cut-and-cover techniques rather than traditional deep-level Tube tunnels. While this would certainly be disruptive for a while, it wouldn’t be noticeably more disruptive than digging up the road’s surface to lay down tram tracks instead.

    All this can be extended piecemeal over time. It could start as the centre of a zero-emissions bus or trolleybus system, with possible conversion to light rail at a later date. Stations would be simple side platforms accessed by stairs and a lift on each side of the road above. This removes buses from the surface and releases a lot of capacity: now cyclists can have those bus lanes mostly to themselves, for example.

    But I’m displaying symptoms of crayonitis, so I’ll stop there.

    All transport networks work best when running on their own right of way – i.e. full segregation. Buses, trams, bicycles, cars, pedestrians – you name it: the same rule applies. Trams and buses in London suffer from having to share road space with other modes – not just cars and vans, but also pedestrians and cyclists. London’s roads simply aren’t designed for this, and nothing short of serious investment in new infrastructure will help solve the problem. Anything else is just using a bicycle pump to bail out the Titanic. You may buy yourself some time, but nowhere near enough to matter.

    You can only slice the roads up so thin before the slices are useless. If buses are the most important mode, then it makes sense to give them their own rights of way. As the tunnels would be designed for such vehicles, you can have articulated buses powered by trolley wires if you wish, which drastically reduces pollution too.

    I mean it: this is the kind of solution we need to be arguing for. Not half-baked political compromises like a pretty new lard-bus that has a smaller capacity than the buses it replaced, but radical new ideas that will make a real difference.

    And if you’ve read this far, we both clearly need to get out more.

  174. stimarco says:

    Incidentally, building new tunnels and similar infrastructure beneath the roads has another advantage: you can lease space along the tunnels for telecoms infrastructure – e.g. fibre-optic cables – and the like. Thames Water are already doing just that with their sewer network.

    The same work can relocate existing services into dedicated ducting, which can then be accessed without having to repeatedly dig up the roads above. This has obvious long-term advantages. The entire infrastructure could be owned by local councils, who then lease it to the utilities and transport operators. So not quite as barking mad as it might appear at first glance.

  175. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Reynolds 953 – I think we are really in “2050 territory” when talking about the future of the road network and allocation of space. The “Roads Task Force” report is certainly trying to be “all things to all people” and does advocate more road buildings or should I say “MOAR ROADS” (to quote Boriswatch tweets!). I don’t think there are any easy answers and I cannot see mass road building being acceptable to residents. It is also likely to mean property demolition and loss of housing stock – the last thing we need.

    @ Stimarco – it is worth noting that TfL grants wayleaves to various telecoms companies and some of those involve use of old tramway conduit (where it is still in place!). I won’t comment on your mega post as we’ve discussed those ideas before.

  176. Q199 says:

    London isnt known for its Bus stations and agreed its strange that the Countdown Technology has been around for years but not been put in Bus station on a wide spread basis which is where you tend to need it.

    Edinburgh,Glasgow as well as Leeds and Bradford then they are Bus Stations as well as Rotherham,Sheffield and Doncaster all Bus stations that would put most London Bus Stations to shame and all had electronic displays for years for times.Sheffield has had the same system running since the last 90’s but recently gone to Live stop times as well at selected stops but like the countdown system each stop has a stop code for checking online and they all have a QR code you can scan for times by just putting your phone to the timetable and scan for times.

    Vauxhall,Westfield,Hammersmith all better bus stations in the London area and funnily enough Hammersmith has had Countdown displays on selected stops within the Station for ages but on other stops nothing and some stations nothing at all.

  177. AlisonW says:

    Once upon a time, London had a big love affair with the Routemaster (in various guises) and lo they appeared on every standard route and their jump-on-jump-off’ness was loved by all except the (thankfully very) few who were ever injured by misadventure.

    Then the button counters came along and lots of different suppliers vied to replace the much-loved Routemaster with their own big red bus. But none of them had rear access platforms even though they only required a driver and no ‘clippie’.

    Then came the ‘Bendy’ bus which *in the right place* provided a fast load and unload service with great access options and many people loved them. Especially those who elected to cheat the operator by not paying for the service they were using. So big bad Boris demanded an end to the Bendy, no matter that it wasn’t always a bad thing, and create a new ‘Routemaster’ because it was a catchy election slogan. And lo some people believed him and he was elected and all the people suffered in the heat and airlessness of his new bus. Which had the rear platform closed anyway.

    tl;dr – London needs a range of bus types on the different services – radial, orbital, central – and not try to use one design for everything. It won’t work.

  178. FredR says:

    The unit cost of £354,000 is the result of a bulk 600 unit order but TfL never did a cost comparison for a 600 order of “ordinary” hybrid buses. As a result each NBfB is costing taxpayers around £80,000 more than a comparable ordinary hybrid! Also wasn’t there a connection between Heatherwick and Moylan from at least 2005 in RBK&C?

  179. Mikey C says:

    @ straphan
    For many people the bus is more convenient, as it may go directly to where they want to go. Indeed that is one of the great benefits of taking the bus, a better chance of getting a seat, and not having the hassle of changing onto tubes. From where I live to/from Baker Street and Marble Arch for example, the bus is generally just as fast.

    @ RichardB
    The NBfL doesn’t have proper air conditioning, I believe it would be too heavy for a 2 axle bus? I quite like it, but it’s clearly been designed by stylists, who wouldn’t appreciate opening windows cluttering up their clean design…

  180. timbeau says:

    “I read a blog post about the 521 and about how good it was.It turned up at Waterloo empty,filled up in less than a minute and then was off on its way to London Bridge and the same the other way working its way through the city and Holborn into Waterloo. Thats something you’ll not see a NBFL do as well. ”

    There’s another reason the NbfL would not perform well on the 521

    As for Countdown, tfL promised it at every stop by 2004, but first delayed it whilst waiting for the “jam tomorrow” of iBus, and then decided it wasn’t needed at all stops. Some of the stops it “isn’t needed” at are some of the busiest in London, for example at Waterloo station, and others are on routes where some routes run only every half hour (such as the X26 to Heathrow, where knowing whether the next bus is 30 seconds away, or 30 minutes away, can make the difference between checking in on time or late). Meanwhile some provincial cites seem to have the facility at every single stop.

  181. timbeau says:

    see here (at about 6:00 onwards)
    to see the ramp and wheelchair space being used, and here to see the way the ramp operates.

    Although there is only one designated space for a wheelchair, there is space for a second if other passengers don’t need to get past (they can always get off one of the other doors, or use the two staircases as a bypass)

  182. Graham Feakins says:

    @ WW – I regret that this might make you grumpy again because you say, e.g. “I just think we have a strange romantic notion that London somehow “deserves” to have its own custom made bus. I just don’t get it to be honest. Yes there were woes with the early models of “standard” buses bought in the 70s but many of those went on to run for decades with other operators and many in gruelling conditions.” I think perhaps you have subtly changed your story from when you knew the Leylands in the North East. The opinion was at the time that there was no way any bus operation in the country could be considered anywhere near the conditions of London. Why, even the faithful RT was reckoned to clock up an average of 112 miles a day in London conditions. Did the provincial concerns you have in mind match such daily mileages constantly in conditions similar to London and with buses that really lasted more than 5-7 years? It reminds me of how 2nd-hand London taxis can be found cascaded in e.g. Coventry and Manchester.

    One bus driver showed me a South London garage with new Leyland Nationals, out of the fleet of 27 of which just 7 had managed to get out on the road that day! Two new (never seen a day in service) had been cannibalised, whilst bits of others lay on the floor all over the place. Another driver pal told me how he was coming down from Edgware on a double-deck version and wondered why his emergency window buzzer kept buzzing, only to find that his rear, top deck window had dropped out completely onto the road half a mile back! Nobody on the top deck at the time.

    You suggest it was a lack of spare parts but why should nearly new buses require spare parts to keep them in service in their first weeks of operation? I know why. The Leylands delivered to London, despite your support to the contrary, really were c**p. The maintenance chaps used stronger terms, and I envisaged all this when I inspected one of the two prototypes at the Commercial Motor Show at Earls Court and I informed LT at the time. A third prototype, designed for Wolverhampton or Walsall, was remarkably worse in several respects as reflected in the available technical specification as well as visually!

    I agree that “many of those went on to run for decades with other operators” and perhaps many in gruelling conditions. More fool them. LT wanted rid ASAP (if they could) and good riddance to the Leyland rubbish. That episode doubtless put back the attraction of good bus transport in the provinces by at least a similar number of decades and encouraged even further the use of the car.

    I also recall Leyland’s pathetic foray into the Hong Kong market during the same era; they’d completely omitted to consider that buses in Hong Kong might benefit from air conditioning (a place where it is said that a suit can turn mildew overnight because of the humidity). That episode was reported in the London newspapers – and how we laughed. Very sad, really.

    I’d sooner continue to read of support for trams and trolleybuses (with some help from batteries if must be).

  183. Q199 says:

    @ Mikey C

    “The NBfL doesn’t have proper air conditioning, I believe it would be too heavy for a 2 axle bus? I quite like it, but it’s clearly been designed by stylists, who wouldn’t appreciate opening windows cluttering up their clean design…”

    Maybe Im wrong but isnt that a proper AC Unit on the Scania Omnicity’s? It looks and sounds like one and if the windows are kept shut then it works well.


    Granted the Bendy could use Kingsway Subway meaning it could avoid all the Aldwych traffic where as a NBFL would have to go via Aldwych and then left onto Kingsway.

    Using LT Free and Mobile Countdown,it enables me to know whether I need to run for the Bus (Due) or 1/2 mins walk around the corner for the bus:-) Agreed its taken a while to come though.

  184. Fandroid says:

    A serious foray into trolleybuses would allow all these power-hungry add-ons, such as AC, to be accommodated fairly easily. The technological advances that have been described here could be used to extend the range of these beasts beyond the wires, and allow them to go off the wires to get around obstructions. But fundamentally, they would be capable of really effectively sorting out the emissions problems in the central areas and in any of the hot-spots. SD bendy versions could even use the Kingsway subway.

    If Boris wants retro, here it is in spades!

  185. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ Fandroid

    A good psychologist will tell you that any dictator will have an aversion to any idea that he cannot claim the credit for. It undermines his own status.

    If Boris could claim the credit for inventing trolleybuses as a new Boriswonder idea, I expect we would get them, but as they already existed once in London, and withdrawing them could thus be seen to have been a mistake, I doubt that we shall. (ditto trams)

  186. straphan says:

    On the subject of the appeal of the NBfL and whether London is ‘special enough’ to have its own bus design:

    First have launched an attack on Leeds’ proposals for the New Generation Transit (trolleybus). Rather than having the PTE (sorry -Combined Authority as of 1st April) spend £250m on the trolleybus, they propose to pocket the money themselves and buy an unspecified number of NBfLs (hey – same acronym!) instead. No mention is made as to whether these would be crew-operated, and whether it is a good idea in itself to replace existing double-deckers (74 seats on the Wright Eclipse Gemini II model) with buses of a smaller capacity (62 seats on the NBfL), given people are regularly left behind on busier routes in the peaks.

    To my mind this is obviously a desperate attempt by First to protect what is its most profitable corridor in the city (student dorms -> both universities -> city centre), but it goes to show that the NBfL does appear to have an appeal outside of London.

  187. Boriswatch says:

    “Also wasn’t there a connection between Heatherwick and Moylan from at least 2005 in RBK&C?”

    Yes, Heatherwick got a no-tender contract for some newspaper kiosks. The waiver of the need to have a tendering contest was signed off by Moylan (I’ve got a PDF of it somewhere). This practice has continued with the NRM and now the Garden Bridge.

  188. Benedict says:

    Well thats the catch though isn’t it. The big risk with a trolley network is after spending millions installing overhead wires someone creates a battery that can contain a massive charge in next to no weight, rendering the infrastructure worthless.

    Perhaps I’m being cynical, but this point must surely be a fair distance off when taking into consideration the ever increasing weight and power demands. 30 years time, and maybe the technology will be robust, cheap and plentiful enough to enable stationary charging only to occur at terminals. In the meantime, is it really wise to increase stand time at extra stops over induction pads?

  189. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham F – I fear you are ever so slightly putting words in my mouth. I *conceded* the point that some standard buses had reliability issues. However you seem to be suggesting it is all down to the quality of manufacture and that LT had no issues with

    (a) its policies
    (b) its decision making
    (c) its procurement processes
    (d) its management
    (e) its operations
    (f) its engineering practices
    (g) its industrial relations

    Clearly you have insight I do not but there is plenty of written evidence and comments on TV programmes to show that LT was not a paragon of efficiency. Its history is littered with poorly specified “experiments” and then decisions to dispose of whatever they’ve just bought and been unable / unwilling to operate. Are you seriously saying that the *only* problem LT faced was poor vehicle quality? Are you also saying that Leyland (and Daimler) vehicles didn’t run effectively in Hong Kong. If so, I clearly imagined travelling in a DMS “over the top” from Stanley to Central and umpteen journeys on Olympians on route 10. 😉 Oh and don’t suggest I have “subtly changed my story”. I know what I’ve seen and experienced and please do the decent thing and accept what I say. I don’t write lies or half truths and I’ll decide what comments I’ll make rather than fitting in with your “preferences”.

  190. Benedict says:


    “To my mind this is obviously a desperate attempt by First to protect what is its most profitable corridor in the city (student dorms -> both universities -> city centre), but it goes to show that the NBfL does appear to have an appeal outside of London.”

    I’m skeptical as its likely just to be further manifestation of Firsts protectioneering attempt. I think its being touted by marketing people as a ‘fancy’ bus, the assumption being that it should have an appeal outside of London.

    Its almost insulting how lazy such a suggestion is. That this whole issue has come to a national audience really indicates that the transport companies are too big and have too much power. It’s Leeds’ city for people to get around in as best they can, not First’s to simply bean count and preserve their market share.

  191. Bill Matters says:

    @Greg Tingey 16/04/2014
    I think RMs had semi-automatic gearboxes, i.e. they could run as automatics or the driver could manually select the required gear. The RT family were the last(?) to have pre-selective gearboxes.

  192. I too have travelled in a DMS in Hong Kong and can only say it was every bit as unpleasant and bone-shaking as it was in London. When I saw the notice on the bus inviting one to complain if not satisfied I was tempted to do so. The address to which you should write in the event of a complaint? London Transport, 55 Broadway, LONDON SW1H 0BD. I believe that DMSs in Hong Kong were all second-hand from London and they only bought them because they were cheap.

    Having said that, I wouldn’t have disputed that the bus was up to the job. It is just that at that time (early 1990s I think) what was an acceptable standard of travel in Hong Kong (such as nearly 100 year-old trams) was not accepted in London – even then. Of course, things have changed and, whilst in Hong Kong they accept to some extent that they have to be packed tightly in, I suspect their expectations are now just as high as ours if not higher. I don’t think you will see London’s hand-me-downs there nowadays. However I do wonder why they didn’t jump at the opportunity of buying some right hand drive bendy buses – one fairly careful owner, only slightly used – but stuck instead to their policy of new high capacity double deckers such as the Enviro 500. I also wonder why in this day and age in a crowded and densely populated city such as Hong Kong one of the main double-deckers of choice is not a hybrid when clearly it could be.

  193. Q199 says:

    Don’t get me started on First or Worst as they are known by alot of people in Sheffield.
    Alot also think that they ruined SYT (South Yorkshire Transport) when Buses were at there best in the early 90’s.

    If it wasn’t for the Tram and Stagecoach which bought up alot of the smaller bus companies and now a significant threat to First then First would have just carried on doing what they want in Sheffield. At one point First were charging £18 for a weekly sheffield ticket and Stagecoach were charging £11 I think and so there was a mass exodus from First to Stagecoach and for quite some time the Tram was always cheaper than the Bus and its only in last couple of years that the Tram has become slightly more expensive (£14/12) but the Tram ticket enables you to use Bus&Tram so only £2 extra to add tram travel on. When First were charging £18 then the Tram was £11 for a weekly.

    Unfortunately for Leeds and Bradford,First are generally the largest if only operator in the area and so this enables them to do what they want(The Bus ways are a good idea on the outskirts which run down the middle of dual carriageways and away from other traffic but doubtful it was 1st that did it) so nobody like Stage coach to keep them in check and offer competition.

    First have pulled out of London altogether and all the West London routes got transferred to Metroline and hopefully Leeds will think twice(not that I ever travel on a bus in Leeds anyway,but they might then think Sheffield is a go idea as well).

    Londoners are so lucky to not have had First running their Bus service and instead they ran under contract to TFL as the cost would be much higher. As a comparision a weekly in Sheffield for FIRST ONLY within Sheffield Area only was £18 where as LT Buses for every bus across the whole of London was £11.People couldnt believe it when I told them.It only dropped when stagecoach started being a real threat to First.

    Also the local Service on SYT days was 0505 and last bus 2330 and now the last bus is 2023 and no Sunday service but they will still sell you a 7 day ticket though 🙂


    Id like to see the facts that the NBFL has been well received?

  194. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – I didn’t say my DMS ride was particularly pleasant. It was possibly one of the most terrifying bus journeys ever down to the driving style which was very fast for the road conditions – mountainous, sheer drop twisty roads and then a 50 mph hurtle into Wan Chai. It is seared into my memory! Yes the DMSs were second hand but the point is that they were made to work but then HK operators are required to fully refurbish their vehicles every 10(?) years or so. There’s also a long heritage of running ex UK vehicles there although that trend has actually reversed with their big deckers coming to the UK in recent years.

    I agree with you that in the dying days of China Motor Bus (not the best of operators then) that expectations were rising with the advent of air conditioned big deckers. I think I would say some aspects of HK’s service is ahead of the UK (London included). Part of that, though, is down to the density of population and scale of demand – frequencies are typically high and there is an overt service hierarchy which gives choice (which you have to pay for) as to journey speed and comfort. One of the things that is not overtly advertised (to the unfamiliar) are the vastly different fare levels and types of fare (flat, express, tapered) and the need to avoid jumping on an express bus when you really need a local service although depending on where the express bus is in relation to its terminal it may well offer local fares! London is extremely simple in comparison. It’s very hard to find bus maps in Hong Kong but the local A-Z shows all bus routes, including public light buses, so you can fathom your way round although a proper co-ordinated network transport map would be a huge step forward. Also little idea about maps at bus stops and each operator puts up their own bus stop flag leading to some amazing forests of stops in some places. TfL is streets ahead on those sorts of things. Still I’ve gone all over the place in HK without incident or undue delay so the buses (and MTR) work.

  195. Mikey C says:

    Concerning the lack of bendies on the 521 and other red arrow routes, where from a passenger point of view they would seem to be ideal, wasn’t the other reason for getting rid of them their affect on other road users, as they were perceived to be dangerous for cyclists and clogged up road junctions?

  196. superlambanana says:

    @AlisonW: whilst driving constantly at 20mph is more emissive than driving constantly at 30, in reality the 20mph smooths traffic flow to the extent that in a 20mph road the traffic actually moves at 20 or thereabouts and accelerates more gently, whereas on a 30mph road it is more accordion-like, switching more frequently between 30 and 0. So the average emissions in a 20mph zone can actually be lower.

    @Jonathan Roberts: In Barcelona you can see 24m articulated buses. But they run on a totally straight route, which we have none of in London.

    @scd: fuel economy doesn’t equate to NOx/PM emissions for two reasons.
    Firstly, because emissions depend on the acceleration/braking pattern, specifically how much of its drive time the bus spends in the optimum gear for the speed (i.e. emissions are generally lower when cruising than when accelerating).
    Secondly because it depends on the engine’s catalytic technology. Euro 6 engines for example use additional fuel as an ‘after-burner’ to re-burn PM particles and get rid of them. So they reduce the emissions but at the cost of slightly increasing the fuel consumption.

    @timbeau/Anon2250: re wheelchair vs buggy, the deciding concern here is surely that whilst taking a sleeping infant out of a buggy and folding it is undoubtedly difficult, highly inconvenient, and undesirable, it is at least possible, whereas a wheelchair user has no other option.

  197. ngh says:

    Re PoP

    HK, because bendy buses would block many of the junctions leading to more grid lock like they did at certain London junctions?

    Why no 500h or equivalent etc.? The third axle and more weight means more / larger electrical equipment (inc batteries) and hence lots more cost all round so it won’t work for cost reasons to contemplate developing it at the moment?

  198. 0775John says:

    I thought that the articles on LR covering rail transport generated more heat than light sometimes but clearly buses and their procurement and suitability seem to be even more an issue that raises the temperature!

    Perhaps, after all, it would be unwise to cover the topic of cycling if this thread is anything to go by…

  199. Southern Heights says:

    @Mikey C: I think that was political posturing, as far I recall only one person died in an accident with a Bendy and I believe that was out Hackney way on a 38. Although Boriswatch says none!

    Yes they can block junctions, so can (and do) double deckers and the NBfB. To prevent that is simple: manage the traffic flow better so that buses can get through. This can be helped for example by having dedicated traffic lights for public transport (i.e. tram and bus) and even using systems such as bus route sensing, so the lights know where the bus (or tram) wants to go and can give them priority.

    However doing that would annoy a lot of people: cabbies, road hauliers and those silly people who decide to drive into the centre of London (i.e. Wealthy donors to political parties), and so it will (probably) not happen….

    Boris just seemed to have a bee in his bonnet about Bendies. His whole election campaign went a bit like this: blah, blah, blah, bendy bus! Blah, blah, blah, bendy bus! ….. At least those are the bits I remember, he just wasn’t Ken, which was needed at the time.

  200. superlambanana says:

    Regarding the ‘what was the first series hybrid bus’ debate, according to wikipedia it was made by Toyota and released in Japan in 1997. However it was 2.5 times the price of the equivalent parallel hybrid model, so not sure how good takeup would have been.

  201. Castlebar 1 says:

    As the vast majority of London trolleybuses had 3 x axles, I wonder what the comparative weight was between all the trolleybus batteries + motor, compared to the weight of contemporary motor bus engines of that time?

  202. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Southern Heights – I believe one person died as a result of a “dragging” incident with a bendy on route 25. That’s the only incident I can recall where someone died. Of course other people die as a result of similar incidents with other types of bus so this is not a type specific risk. The same applies in respect of engine fires – all sorts of buses have fires in their engine compartments. If anyone wants to “make an issue” of some attribute of a vehicle then they should do it objectively but clearly that’s far too much to expect from our politicians (unfortunately).

  203. David says:

    I must say I’m puzzled by people’s positive view of bus transport outside London, having recently moved to London after living in Manchester for many years (until around 2009).

    My views are formed by my experiences in Manchester as opposed to any other city, so there may be differences. But using buses every day in Manchester I found:

    * Painfully slow loading and unloading times due to single door entry and prevalence of cash fares. Every stop would seemingly involve somebody questioning the fare then scrabbling around for change, making journeys slow progress. In comparison, the success of Oyster combined with two sets if doors means stops in London are swift.

    * Filthy buses, in terms of internal cleanliness and environmentally friendlies. Many buses would be belching out black smoke on a permanent basis. I’ve never seen this happen in London.

    * Zero real time travel information on the routes I travelled on. I did once find myself on a route with a digital next bus display, but this was entirely based on the timetable, which was not adhered to on that occasion. I was amazed by the usefulness of Countdown when I first came to London. No more waiting around for a bus that never comes.

    * Lack of any forced ventilation on any bus, meaning window condensation on damp days and horribly sticky buses on hot days. This still happens to some extent in London, as the forced ventilation isn’t switched on frequently enough, however it’s a significant improvement over no forced ventilation, and the air cooling is great in summer. In contrast many of the buses in Manchester couldn’t have heating turned off in the summer, and a few had this problem combined with windows that weren’t openable!

    There were even more problems with using buses in Manchester that related to the deregulated system as opposed to the actual busses used. This included zero customer service and no recourse if anything went wrong (buses regularly didn’t turn up or didn’t bother stopping for passengers), very high single fares, and the annoyance being limited to one bus company with a weekly ticket in spite of several companies serving one route.

    In conclusion, both the physical buses and the deregulated system made one feel like a second class citizen on Manchester, meaning that people aspired to a life without bus travel. This probably explains bus usage slump outside London. However, in London I’ve found buses to be comfortable, clean, and efficient.

  204. straphan says:

    @superlambanana: Aachen and Hamburg in Germany have operated 25m artics for a good few years now (Aachen first introduced them in 2005, Hamburg not too long after). In Hamburg they operate what is arguably the second-busiest bus route in Europe (Istanbul’s Metrobus 34 being the busiest) – Metrobus route 5. This goes through the heart of the old town through some narrow streets and sharp-ish corners and the 25m buses apparently cope pretty well.

    The problem with double-artics is not the space they use – their turning circle is virtually the same as a single-artic. The problem is that double-artics can’t reverse – they would ‘fold’ like a harmonica. I think the Van-Hool double-artics used in Hamburg actually do not have a reverse gear. This means you need a pretty big depot with plenty of space for manoeuvres.

  205. Ed says:

    As someone who worked in London Bridge and used the 521 almost every day the arctic bendy buses on that route were rubbish. They always blocked the junction leaving London Bridge bus station when turning right to cross the bridge. Pedestrians then couldn’t cross, and this included quite a few people with physical problems due to it being near guys hospital. Buses coming the other way (and it was mainly buses around there) were then blocked, along with other buses exiting the station behind.

    Then London Bridge rebuilding begun, along with the Shard etc. They were too big to navigate around construction work and vehicles. Even if they could negotiate junctions without blocking other buses and pedestrians they couldn’t cope with any changes to roads caused by construction, which in central London will happen almost constantly.

    As a daily user and a pedestrian there I am very glad they went.

  206. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ David – to be fair to Manchester there has been substantial investment by Stagecoach in recent years. This has resulted in a lot of new hybrid double deck buses being introduced. First are beginning to catch up despite their corporate woes. The worst excesses of UK North and their ilk seem to have been stopped. The level of competition has also reduced meaning less risk of “one operator tickets” but there was always the option of “System One” all operator tickets but you pay a premium for those. Up to the individual to decide what to do but that’s choice for you. You can use a Tesco loyalty card in Sainsburys or a Nectar Card at Waitrose. It’s the same sort of situation but people seem to tolerate the supermarket situation as they get a reward.

    One of the biggest problems outside London is stop dwell time and the prevalence of cash fares. That’s never going to change as operators have to charge graduated fares or else sell day tickets on board (as a loyalty tool). There is investment in smart tickets but it is slow to roll out. PTEs cannot force operators to join any smart scheme they may invent but every PTE has *really* struggled to get their schemes up and working properly. Even if they were in service you would still have a conversation with the driver in order to deduct the right fare from your card or else say where you’re going with a season.

    There is no fare subsidy for non concessionary passengers outside London whereas fares in London are subsidised to some extent. It’s not terribly clear where the subsidy goes – fares, network coverage or frequency / hours of operation – but it is vastly more than is spent elsewhere. You get what you pay for and there is no sign at all that any mainstream political party will scrap bus deregulation nor will the coalition fund local government properly.

    Note I am not saying that deregulation is better or worse than London. I am a bit torn because I’ve seen integrated transport networks work well, some deregulated operations are very good if a bit pricey while London can be good but it can also be dire with long waits, roadworks and chronic overcrowding. Fares and network coverage are very good though – Londoners don’t know they’re born with fares as low as £1.45. As the TfL network relies on subsidy it is massively constrained in times of financial pressure as to how or even if it can respond to growing demand. Looking at the 12 financial periods for 2012/13 and 2013/14 there is growth in bus usage of 2% – over 43m extra journeys. It may well go up further when we get the full year numbers in a few weeks time. That’s the crisis that London has with no solution in sight.

  207. Graham H says:

    @Q199 – First have form when it comes to spoiling tactics – remember the ftr “concept” bus on which York and Swansea were persuaded to spend sums that could otherwise have been used to improve services generally, on special infrastructure for ftr vehicles -“just like a tram” (not). And have First supported the concept and rolled it out elsewhere? – No. As far as I can see, First are rapidly abandoning the UK bus market, having pulled out of London and the West Country and a number of eastern areas, so Manchester and Sheffield may get their eventual salvation by a slightly non-obvious method.

  208. straphan says:

    @Graham H: I’d not be so pessimistic (optimistic?) about how First are doing… Have a read of April’s issue of ‘Buses’ where there is an interview with Giles Fearnley. He does accept First have had to retrench their operations in the UK somewhat over the past few years, however, there are still areas where Giles claims that they are reasonably profitable. He also claims that Firsts’ policy of cutting frequencies and raising fares is no longer to be. It remains to be seen whether he will keep his word.

  209. Long Branch Mike (Long Bus Maps) says:

    For our other non-UK readers I found the FTR (bus) page from Mr Wiki, which I paraphrase:

    FTR is a British rapid-transit bus system, currently in operation in Leeds, Luton and Swansea, using Wright “StreetCar” articulated buses in conjunction with infrastructure upgrades (like express portions of routes, WiFi aboard buses, and most notably off vehicle fare payment) by local authorities. The operators claim ftr is textspeak for ‘future’.

    First Group introduced the buses & system in Leeds/Bradford, Swansea (South Wales), & Luton Airport, whilst the FCC FTR service in York was withdrawn in March 2012.

    The FTR concept is similar to Los Angeles’ Metro Rapid bus concept of off-vehicle fare collexion, bus signal priority, and fewer stops, with passenger travel times were reduced by as much as 29 percent. Initial ridership increased 40%, with one third of the ridership increase from new riders who had never used public transit. An expansion program identifying over 20 additional corridors was developed.

    Key Metro Rapid Attributes (from

    – Simple route layout: Makes the system easier to use and remember routes
    – Frequent service: every 3-10 minutes during peak times
    – Fewer stops: Stops are spaced about ¾ mile apart at major transfer points
    – Level boarding/alighting: Speeds-up dwell times
    – Priority at traffic signals: Reduces traffic delay
    – Color-coded buses and stops: Metro Rapid’s distinctive red color scheme makes it easy to identify the stops and buses
    – Enhanced stations: Provide transit info, lighting, canopies, and “Next Bus” displays

  210. Melvyn says:

    The difference between London and the rest of the country will grow even more from July when London buses are due to go completely cashless meaning if you don’t have a valid ticket to travel or a contactless payment card you won’t be allowed to use the bus and will be asked to leave the bus !

    And, in typical Boris fashion he consulted on removal of road side ticket machines and has nearly removed them all with no mention of going cashless when common sense would have been a combined. consultation but ” Boris don’t do detail !”.

    As for all the talk of trolley buses well modern technology and batteries mean that there need not be massive wiring needed for electric buses in the future given better batteries, ability to charge at termini and on the continent a tram system now operates by picking up power from underneath the road which only become live when a tram in present and maybe this technology might also be used for buses?

    Routes 505 and 521 worked at the best and more importantly VFM when the operated with Artic buses which replaced small single deckers which could not cope and now the same problem arise with smaller buses of which twice as many are needed and with news today of 5 days of tube strikes then Kens ” Tube Strike Busters !” will once again be sorely missed. The fact Boris removed Artics from these routes which fill holes in the tube network and worked perfectly well with Artics long before Artics spread to normal routes showed withdrawal was all about dogma and nothing to do with best bus for the job of shifting large numbers at least cost over short distances !

    As for cycle lanes well as Camden has shown in Bloomsbury segregated cycle lanes in side streets work better and safer and being separate means they don’t end up as free parking like lanes that are just paint on the road as most of Boris lanes are. On main roads bus lanes which cyclists can share with road hot redded is best solution but Boris puts one in car before 50 on a bus !

    Light Rail and Trams still remain the best long term option and when you see how little ground space a DLR twin track line takes up then expansion of these forms of transport makes greatest sense with the freedom to run at, above and below street level .

    As for those who talk about open platforms well its worth remembering that when London Transport decided to withdraw trolley buses and design a New Bus For London they built several prototypes with one having no rear open platform and a front seen trance instead so had they chosen that version then RMs would never have had open platforms and London would thus not be lumbered with NB4L (Novelty Bus 4 Lardbutts !)..

    In addition Trolleybus had capacity of 70 while RM was 64 in an era of declining bus use but we now have boom in passengers and so need buses with larger capacity and I still wonder why a Enviro 500 has never been trialled in London given the size of many coaches that operate well every day in the centre of London .

  211. Graham H says:

    @Melvyn – perhaps you meant the 507; the 505’s LDO was 11 March 1976. BTW I do agree with you that the artics were far far superior to their successors; I am not a large person, yet I find that all the (few) seats on the non-artic Citaros are cramped in the extreme and require a limbo dance to enter/ leave. The general impression is that the designers started with a cleared floor area and then thought (but not for very long) as to where they might put a seat.

  212. Chris L says:

    Countdown information is available at all stops in London.

    You can use a smart phone and enter Countdown in your browser or an old fashioned mobile and text the number shown on the stop. Seconds later you will receive details of the next 3 buses at the stop.

  213. John U.K. says:

    @ Chris L – 17 April 2014 at 21:45

    Countdown information is available at all stops in London.

    This was the claim I reported TfL making in their Metro page. But we have already established that it is only true for those who have mobile ‘phones. Those of us without rely on the display boxes for Countdown information, and very useful they are too. But there seems to be a policy of reducing their number: around here, replacement/new ‘bus stops/shelters have the panels blanked off – and for the replacements, the wiring was present before!

  214. Castlebar 1 says:

    Do these display boxes at bus stops ever get nicked? Is that the reason they are disappearing??

  215. Rational Plan says:

    @Castlebar. I believe they are being ‘upgraded’, but different criteria are being used about their location. There has been a bit of grumbling about it all.

  216. timbeau says:

    “re wheelchair vs buggy, the deciding concern here is surely that whilst taking a sleeping infant out of a buggy and folding it is undoubtedly difficult, highly inconvenient, and undesirable, it is at least possible, whereas a wheelchair user has no other option.”
    Indeed – but to actually require a parent with infant (or anyone else) to actually leave the bus to allow a wheelchair user on board is going too far. Having pushed both buggies and wheelchairs in my time, I’m all for equality on this issue!

    Interesting comments on the 521 at London Bridge. We didn’t encounter such problems at Waterloo, when both surviving “Red Arrow” routes were bendies.

    @straphan 0954 (on proposals for NBfls in Leeds)
    Perhaps Leeds expects a pattern developing – new mayor in London expected soon, thus London will be chucking out lots of nearly-new buses for some new project.

    “(The Bus ways [in Leeds] are a good idea on the outskirts which run down the middle of dual carriageways and away from other traffic but doubtful it was 1st that did it) ”
    I understand many of them are former reserved formations for the corporation trams.

  217. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Melvyn – the issue with the Enviro 500 (or similar) would be dwell times at stops. From what I have read on other forums, from people who would definitely know what went on, the potential of 12m double deckers has been looked at quite seriously. The big problem was buses of that size needing to stand still for minutes at busy stops while people alighted and boarded. At certain stops with high numbers of alighting passengers it could take minutes to get people off and you’d then have a queue of people wanting to board. We’ve all seen the scenario in London of the “never ending bus queue”. Just as you think the last person has got on another arrives and then another etc etc. Drivers have to be borderline rude and just get the doors shut and drive away. On the busiest corridors another bus is probably within 2-3 minutes anyway.

    I am not sure people would necessarily be very happy with bus services where their bus stood still for as long as it moved! Some routes are already very slow and overloaded. The dwell time issue is why TfL went for three door artics with open boarding and also why the NB4L has broadly the same concept. As I have heard said “we took the bendy bit and put it on the roof” when designing the NB4L. Dwell time is absolutely crucial to the economics of London bus operation. That’s why TfL has spent so much money on trying to get it as low as possible. It is also why I doubt we will ever see 12m tri axle deckers on TfL services.

    Hong Kong has a different operating practice to London and as already said the very tight road layout in some places precludes the use of bendy buses. HK therefore uses double deckers on all but a few routes where some single decks are deployed. There is also the ever scuttling mass of Toyota Coaster minibuses on the Public Light Bus services. I’ve never used one of those as I’ve never been confident enough in my ability to yell in Cantonese to get the bus to stop!

  218. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ John UK – I am not aware of any policy of reducing Countdown displays at stops. Works at stops in E17 have led to some being removed temporarily but I’m told they will be reinstalled. I am pretty certain I’ve heard Leon Daniels say there is no intention to reduce the numbers of displays but neither is there money to add more. The other significant issue is that the I-Bus contract with Siemens ends shortly and I think TfL want to take the work “in house” with the Technical Services team. This may open up opportunities to do different things like the “interactive bus stop” at Picc Circus which has bus arrivals info but on a flat screen incorporated into the bus shelter. Getting interactive stops provided on a commercial basis is one way to release Countdown displays from the West End to allow deployment elsewhere. Technological developments may also make supplying info at stops cheaper to do in future. We’ll see what happens – I’m just speculating.

    @ Timbeau – the example quoted where a mum and buggy were evicted from a bus to allow a wheelchair on board is a breach of policy and procedure. I’ve twice heard Leon Daniels say that no user has priority over another in terms of access to the wheelchair space. Drivers can *ask* parents to fold a buggy to allow a wheelchair on board but cannot force them to do so. Neither can a driver throw someone off in preference to another. The law affords no one priority and TfL don’t want enforced priority because of the invidious position it puts the driver in. I’ve written about that on LR before.

    I’ve also never heard anyone from a disability group demand priority – just working equipment, a properly sized space and proper driver training. I think there is an understanding that there are conflicting demands for accessible space on buses and no easy answers.

  219. As I have heard said “we took the bendy bit and put it on the roof” when designing the NB4L.

    I think that is probably on the same occasion when it was said that in-house critics complain that NB4L had “one deck too many and one door too few”.

  220. Fandroid says:

    This is just a thank you to PoP for being brave enough to write the article, and to all the knowledgeable commentariat who have also contributed. Despite the risk of more heat than light, I have learnt a massive amount about London buses in particular and buses in general. Brilliant! London Reconnections at its best.

  221. Ric P says:

    It is amusing to see how quickly this discussion on the Borismaster, I refuse to associate this somewhat bizarre vehicle with the superb Routemaster, has grown over just 5 days.
    I don’t claim to be the greatest expert on London buses, but it does concern me at the lack of knowledge of some of our contributors even the regulars! But free speech and all that, it’s all good stuff.
    Going back to the 60s, London was blessed with 2755 operational Routemasters, and superb vehicles they were too!
    But bus economics were changing, OPO had become accepted, at a price on Driver’s wages. The flat fare was coming in, the 500 Red Arrow service deemed a success, and the expansion of this principle was inevitable.
    Hail the Merlins. AEC’s new rear-engined single decker arrived on Central London and suburban routes, and even county routes, like Stevenage Superbus, and network remnants survive to this day. My route, the W7 changed from RT/RM operation, through a second route the W2, to full Merlin operation by 1968. But, there were mechanical problems, gearboxes and automatic transmissions, and structural integrity of the bodywork. Design or manufacturer’s fault, a bit of both! Every Merlin went back to Birmingham based builder Metro-Cammell to have the carlins and purlins in the roof strengthened. I recall a long-standing friend telling me “We’ve got your Muswell Hill Merlins in … ” And they still rattled! But complaints in the suburbs about ‘cattle trucks’ meant these buses had half a life, before giving way to the next problem DMSs!
    An urgent need for a new double decker meant London buses experimented with Atlanteans and Fleetlines, successfully used in provincial cities as the only option. The government had moved the goalposts and introduced the Bus Grant (I’m a bit rusty on dates) but only for vehicles that could operate OPO. The DMS, was the result, with its distinctive squared roofline, from two bodywork suppliers, London based Park Royal and Birmingham based Metro Cammell, who had supplied all bodies for the Merlins and the improved shorter Swifts. Again not a success, already noted, gearbox and transmission problems, they were not up to the central London stop-start routes, whereas they were fine in my home town Birmingham.
    Another 2600 odd buses, with variations DMSs with turnstiles, DMs without, including the more successful B20 variant, led to London Buses trying to develop a more robust vehicle with suppliers, so the Metrobus and Titan arrived. MetCam got in on the act first, and 1400 appeared on the streets, but only after a decision which I heard at a lecture from David Quarmby in 1978, as “We are putting the Routemasters through Aldenham again”. Single deckers had moved on from the revered RFs to Nationals, replacing some Merlins and Swifts,which eventually settled down and worked quite well despite comments above.
    Come the Mid 80s, and I make no apology for describing Lord Nicholas Ridley as a loonie, the onset of bus deregulation and cost cutting put DMS’s on the second hand market, and the destabilistion of the bus industry for a decade, both operators and manufacturers suffered, but some profiteering going on too, viz Stagecoach.
    London had no money to develop its own specialist requirements, tendering brought in a myriad of bus types, the rest is history.
    Jumping forward 20 odd years, a futher revamp of RMLs, and Hendy’s very wrong decision, endorsed surprisingly by Ken, to abandon the classic RML even on small selection of central routes spelt inevitable problems.
    Bendies were put on unsuitable routes, yes the 38 and 73, Boris was convinced, wrongly, they were the cause of injuries to cyclists. On some routes, the 149, 207 and the 507/521, they were excellent. And so we are here with the Borismaster and all its faults, spreading its tentacles, when there are serious problems relating to costs, the second person disappearing already on the 148.
    ‘Nuff said! I will comment again on where I see the Borismaster going!

  222. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ric P – to be fair I certainly alluded to the problems of the 1960s and 1970s but I just don’t think there is a single cause called “vehicles”. They are just the culmination of a range of issues. I am sorry but I also don’t believe that Routemasters could continue forever. This is where I feel that romanticism about London’s buses gets in the way of rational thought and progress. I know I am probably in a minority in holding that view but there you go. TfL has to hold a fleet size of twice the peak vehicle requirement (PVR) in order to run the Heritage Routemaster routes. That reflects the difficulty / risk of keeping the RMs running. Are we seriously saying that anyone could justify 100% fleet spare cover on a wider basis when operators typically use 10-13% cover (depending on the PVR)? Even the Borismaster started off with a disproportionately high cover percentage for route 24 but that seems to have been reduced for later conversions.

  223. Graham H says:

    @Ric P – that’s a curious and partial recap of history. The Bus Reshaping Plan (yes, I know they are all rectangular boxes…), growing congestion, government procurement policy, and so on have had as much if not more influence on London bus design in the past than the technology, but so has longstanding LT prejudice. The topic of the interplay between bus design and wider policy really needs a book. I don’t think the evolution of buses in London had the linear quality you imply – random walk, more likely. Successes and failures amongst the designs gave the distinct impression of happenstance rather than the application of analysis. (That’s not a specific criticism of LT management; my point is that the number of competing influences bearing on it were huge and usually conflicting).

    A propos Master Ridley, arrogant, yes, prejudiced, yes, naive, yes, but an idiot, no. Those of us who had to work closely with him on a daily, if not hourly basis, would have made a serious error of judgement if we had treated him as such. Of course, he had to be managed carefully. He even had a sense of humour if you worked hard enough to look. (I recall going with him in the limo once to a lunch with the CTCC – a body generally held in contempt throughout Whitehall – Ridley: “What will be on the menu?” Self (thinking of the low level of imagination exercised by CTCC members): “Prawn cocktail, rubber chicken, Black Forest Gateau” – Ridley: “Oh God, really?” Both of us had the greatest difficulty not laughing as the courses appeared as predicted and avoided each other’s gaze…]

  224. Castlebar 1 says:

    @ Ric P

    You mention the 2755 operational Routemasters, but don’t forget that in the early ’60s, as far as London Transport were concerned, the London bus area included “green ones” because it extended to Luton in the north, Crawley and Horsham in the south, West Wycombe in the west, Aylesbury in the north-west. A very much larger territory than today, and some Routemasters were painted green pre-delivery

  225. Jack says:

    I find the new buses unpleasant at best. Sitting upstairs on a hot day, unable to open the windows, the well known problems with the air cooling still apparently unfixed, a real feeling of claustrophobia sets it. I don’t suffer from it in any other scenario. Due to the low ceiling and lack of window height, I start to feel sick pretty quickly. I cannot understand how this appeals to tourists who presumably want to be able to see London as they travel.

  226. Jack says:

    Forgot to mention: the horribly loud ‘doors closing’ buzzer, even when in one person operation mode. Hardly contributes to a relaxing journey.

  227. Southern Heights says:

    @Ed: the buses still block the junction, I see it virtually every day… Traffic light phasing should be altered so the the buses can get on to London Bridge and not have to stop straight away!

    That is nothing to do with a bendy bus, it’s bad traffic management.

    @Walthamstow Writer: It’s come back to me now! I remember the incident now, very sad, but again it could have happened with any type of bus.

  228. Ed says:

    Melvyn & Southern Heights – yes buses still block the junction but it is no where near as bad as it was when it was bendy 521’s. It is very hard to change the traffic lights – there’s 3 sets that the 521 has to pass through in about 20 -30 metres, and there are many people needing to cross in a very confined space underneath the rail arches.

    I would advise anyone to look at google street view of London Bridge bus station and try imagine bendy’s leaving. The street view actually shows half the exit road closed due to construction, but on that day there were no lorries bringing supplies and concrete mixers etc, which were very frequent and buses had to navigate through. So many times I was stuck in a bendy which couldn’t do it holding up buses behind. Widespread construction started there in what, 2009? And will continue for many years.

    After the exit road there is a very tight right turn under the rail arches, with very narrow pavements before a set of lights (essential for pedestrians) 10-20 metres away. This meant there was hardly ever space for the bendy to slot into, and it had to pull out or would never move, so it pulled out blocking the whole junction. Then the other lights would go green and it could pull fully into the flow before another light 10 metres further, again accommodating very large pedestrian flows. It would often stop for that other light blocking pedestrians on the crossing just behind.

    The whole place is a very tight, congested space for buses and pedestrians with little that can be done. Traffic light changes and more green lights to allow buses to fully pull out and into lanes would have limited impact and inconvenience many pedestrians at the crossing nearest the bridge. It’s a horrible place for crossing under the arches as it is without bendies blocking the crossings.

    Here‘s the google street view. Bendies headed straight to the end of this road and turned right.

  229. timbeau says:

    @Ric P
    The DMSs did not oust the Routemasters – indeed by 1980 London Transport had more of the Routemaster family than it did in 1970, thanks to the sale of London Country’s and British Airways’ examples to LT.

    The W7 did not operate Routemasters (I don’t think any “letter” route did, and indeed a double decker of any description sporting a letter prefix number looks wrong to me: just as Darts on the No 7 used to look incongruous). The W2 was a new route in 1968, W7 was a new number for the old 212 route when it was converted from Routemaster to single deck opo in 1969. (the 2xx number giving away that it had originally been a single deck route – the number has subsequently been re-used twice)

    The experimental XA Atlantean (fifty buses)and eight XF Fleetlines had 1965 “C” registrations: the last Routemasters had 1968 “F” registrations. The bus grant came in in 1968, and as OMO was only allowed on single deckers all new purchases were Merlins and Swifts until 1970 when the first DMSs started to appear, based on the more successful of the two experimental types

  230. Southern Heights says:

    @timbeau: the R9 (Orpington Station -> Ramsden Estate) uses double deckers regularly, I saw one today, on Good Friday! Normally they do the rush hour…

    @Ed: I’m sorry I disagree, the timings of the lights around the Borough High Street bidge look like they were put together by someone who was more concerned about getting back to the pub on a Friday afternoon after a boozy lunch, than by someone who has actaullay seen the traffic pattern, especially now the re-construction of London Bridge has moved on.

    Nobody seems to have taken into account the road closures in force at present and the consequent diversions of buses as well as other traffic. So you often see lights on green, when any potential source traffic is on red…

    Laslty as most of the pedestrian traffic originates North of the river, most have already moved to the Eastern side of London Bridge before they reach the station and so use the walkway into the station. I admit the Blue Fin building behind the Tate modern may have altered pedestrian flows, but a large number use Waterloo East instead (foolishly in my opinion)…

  231. timbeau says:

    @Southern Heights
    “but a large number use Waterloo East instead (foolishly in my opinion)…”
    Why foolish? More likely to get a seat in the evening rush, as well as avoid the seventh circle of hell that you describe at London Bridge.

  232. Ollyver says:

    I have to agree with @David – any time I start grumbling about high fares, long journey times or enforced transfers in London, I just have to visit rural Cheshire to remind myself that the London bus system, whatever its faults, is a functioning means of transport.

    A single from a neighbouring village to Chester city centre is at last count over £4; the two operators on the route do not accept each other’s tickets, so buying a day ticket is always a gamble; buses sometimes just skip the village altogether if they are running late, despite a 30 min gap till the next one; the last bus on a route with a (1000 pupil) 6th form college left around 4:30 until recently, and it shifting an hour later is considered a great victory; and so on and so forth. This is not a system you want to use unless you don’t have a choice.

    (A side note on which: London’s very efficient public transport system probably prevents hundreds of teenage deaths every year – I don’t know the average figures outside London. But the paucity of the bus provision – or safe cycle provision! – in rural Cheshire means that almost everyone learns to drive as young as they possibly can. Whereas many Londoners in their twenties have never driven a car, and don’t intend to any time soon. [Exact figures again welcome!])

  233. Greg Tingey says:

    Meanwhile … A new PROPER BUS service has been announced ……
    Just outside the GLA area – it will be interesting to see how many “Normal” people use it.

    Southern Heights
    If you think it’s bad now, how ghastly is it going to be when the current (visually-awful but very useful) bridge from the actual London Bridge to the station goes, without replacement?
    [ I know I keep banging on about this, but SH’s description of the light-phasing & non-layout there is so true …. ]

    Of course, now the 212 is a Walthamstow – Chingford service, replacing the W21.
    Very confusing.

  234. Fandroid says:

    I think we all agree that bendies should never have been used on routes like those that serve London Bridge. Rather than the traffic-light chaos that has been described here. Perhaps the 521 route should have been modified to still serve London Bridge station, just not being squeezed into the nightmare of the bus station. To some extent, it’s what @WW has been saying, that some serious work is needed on the whole future of London’s bus network, with appropriate routes, vehicles, fares strategy, everything considered. The Borismaster is an attempt to bolt an emissions reduction experiment onto a politically inspired piece on nonsense. A contribution (of sorts) but not a substitute for really looking for the right answers.

  235. Ben Phillips says:

    What is the future of the East London Transit? To Stratford? And why are you removing my comment? Is it causing anyone harm or trouble?

    [Because we have a rule that people must not have multiple identities because that misleads people. So far I am aware of you posting under four different names as well as Anonymous. If you stick to Ben Philips in future we may reconsider. But even then you seem to love posting comments that are really just requests for information and that is not really what London Connections is about. And as if to prove my point you responded to your own question as Anonymous just four minutes after posting. I really do wonder if you think we are stupid and don’t notice. By the way your response four minutes later has been deleted. PoP]

  236. Jonathan Roberts says:

    May I refer readers to analytical articles in London Passenger Transport issue no.3 (September 1977), about the disaster that was LT bus ordering and bus maintenance during 1966 to 1976, and LPT no.8 (July 1981) which analysed the history of the XRM project from conception to abandonment. (I contributed to the first, and authored the second). There is a lot in both articles which is germane to the present discussion, though I doubt that copies are easily available now.

    Just a few points to be going on with:

    (1) At the GLC Planning & Communications Policy Committee meeting on 11 February 1981 which I attended, a GLC officer (David Bayliss) replied to a councillor question about which bus has been modified the most: “Strangely enough the bus holding the record for the most modifications is the Routemaster; yet this is the most successful bus. Titans and Metrobuses have had relatively few modifications.”

    (2) London Transport had set the rules for operation in Central London for new high-capacity buses as long ago as 1979 (LPT 8, XRM article, p.463):
    “Since the economics of one-man versus crew operation are so seriously affected by the change of bus type from Routemaster to any first or second-generation front-entrance bus, the vital pre-conditions would appear to be:
    – a front-entrance bus with much lower maintenance cost, greater reliability and better manoeuvrability than the ‘first generation’ (DM/S) or even the ‘second generation’ (Metrobus and Titan) buses;
    – a fare structure, ticketing system and fraud prevention arrangement which will minimise driver involvement in ticket issuing/checking and speed up boarding sufficiently to make OMO (one-man operation) operationally practical in central London – and still raise enough revenue.”

    Design criteria were important, to define fitness for use. LT’s Deputy Engineering Director Buses in 1980 (Mr T J Lowe) said in a Design & Industries’ Association talk on 11 November 1980 that this was not just a matter of engineering excellence; but of marrying together technological and political factors, making the new bus acceptable for its environment, and meeting both economic and social constraints. These are still good tests to apply, in the 2010s.

    In 1980 the specific parameters for an XRM to be measured as fit for use were:

    – Improve ride quality
    – Ease boarding and alighting
    – Reduce step heights
    – Reduce noise levels internally and externally.

    – Reduce operating costs
    – Get better fuel utilisation
    – Cut fuel consumption (eg by reducing vehicle weight)
    – Improve the effective life of vehicles
    – Improve engine/transmission systems.

    – Ease of routine maintenance
    – Durable units and components
    – Simple design
    – Easy body repairs

    System requirements for a new bus to fit in with:
    – Future crewing policy in Central London
    – Ticketing systems
    – Speedy boarding and alighting
    – Speedy door operations (if doors fitted)
    – Lower step heights
    – Better manoeuvrability (to assist garage layouts as well as London streets)
    – Flexibility of internal layout.

    Are the same parameters relevant in the 2010s? If not, what would you add or
    subtract from that list?

    Eventually the XRM failed to be adopted, because:

    (A) There were motive power problems – the intended hydrostatic drive plus energy storage didn’t work with anything like adequate efficiency, and that caused the bus design to revert from low floor to high floor so it started to be more like a conventional double-decker.

    (B) Adoption of a second staircase (proposed for the XRM) to speed alighting and boarding was considered poor value for money because of the passenger disbenefits of lost seating and overall capacity.

    (C) The initial attempt at simplifying bus ticketing – to speed up boarding for one-person-operated buses in Central London – failed in suburban Havering (remember the Universal Bus Ticketing scheme?), and XRM in crew-mode was less viable than keeping the Routemasters to soldier on.

    (3) Reduced to a suburban OPO option, XRM didn’t stack up financially. Funding constraints meant that seeking modifications to the second-generation double-decker designs (themselves improving in reliability) could get some of the desired passenger benefits for lower absolute cost than a specially-designed bus for London Transport, and more economically than the marginal gains of an XRM when measured as passenger miles gained per £ spent.

    It would be interesting to see how the arguments and analyses of the late 1970s/early 1980s, which were largely public-domain information set out in the relevant GLC reports of the day, might translate into today’s debate about the relative value for money of the NBfL vs updated conventional double-deckers. Are such figures available?

  237. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ J Roberts – well I will probably sound terribly immodest but it’s nice to see I got some things right in my previous comments. Those factors from the 70s and 80s are important and many remain so – things like light vehicle weight and ease of maintenance are all about getting the whole life cost of the vehicle down. The big operating groups are slowly pushing the manufacturers in this direction although regulations have the effect of pushing in the opposite direction (emissions vs fuel consumption). I’m not sure anyone has cracked the ease of repair or simple design points. Today’s buses are complex things and TfL’s spec makes them more so. I would discount things like “low floors” as they’re now pretty much universal as a result of legislation. I’d also say that the fare collection aspects are about as optimised as they can be in London but we have the hurdle of cashless buses to get through in a few months time.

    It is quite interesting to note that passenger comfort (other than ride quality) is not mentioned nor is the need to ensure appropriate carrying capacity. There is also no mention of customer facilities like Countdown, air cooling or tinted windows. Perhaps a sign of the times when passengers were not viewed as customers and I’m not sure London has changed much in that regard.

    Looking at the list and subsequent comments about the XRM concept it’s interesting to see the ones that the NB4L has breached with all the requisite concerns today. In terms of costs then the NB4L contract (partly redacted) was on the TfL website. I’ve no idea where it is on the redesigned site but I’d guess under Transparency. Purchase costs are in the contract but what is less clear are things like fuel consumption across a range of routes plus confirmed salary costs for “conductors”.

    It is also early days for things like reliability to be well understood plus we have the introduction of euro6 spec engines more generally which could affect the reliability of all bus models in the short term. This will make objective comparison difficult for a while. Only the ADL Enviro 400 has had reasonable time in service with a euro6 engine while the hybrid form is just entering service with Stagecoach on the 47. Volvo’s euro6 double decker has only had 1 bus in London service and even that’s disappeared. Two others have been delivered but aren’t in service yet. The first batch of euro6 Volvo hybrids are being delivered to Stagecoach but are not in service either. The first euro6 NB4Ls are imminent but not in service either. It will be many months before a clearer picture emerges just with hybrids and diesel engines. I assume PoP will cover other engine technologies in Part 2 so I won’t remark on those.

    Thanks for sharing the info from GLC days – interesting stuff which shows the fundamentals of bus engineering / operation haven’t changed too much over the years.

  238. Graham H says:

    @Jonathan Roberts – it was very interesting to see the background to the XRM. Alas, LPT isn’t generally available (I used to subscribe but the copies went the way of all paper about 36 office moves ago). WW has indicated that the original publishers might be prepared to scan/ reprint/digitise but one hardly likes to ask. It would be good if a set could be archived somewhere – but where. (Not the LT Museum for such a subversive publication).

  239. James Bunting says:

    @ Graham H 1941

    I have copies of LPTs 1 to 13, including 5A. As far as I am aware LPT13 was the last one published before the London Passenger Transport Research Group disappeared. There is much material that would be useful for comparison studies today.

    I suspect that copies have been archived somewhere, possibly the British Library, as they bear ISSN numbers. There appear to be some LPTRG documents in the National Archive, but the immediate online index does not make it clear which.
    Whilst most definitely not volunteering to scan the 672 pages of closely typed text I might be persuaded to prepare an index of the contents if there is interest. Because of the detailed nature of the articles it would have to be fairly brief but may help to indicate the broad range of subjects covered, andwould inevitably take sometime to produce.

  240. Graham Feakins says:

    Many thanks Jonathan R for reminding me of one of the pertinent publications of the era, which was discussed openly beyond the bounds of 55 Broadway. James Bunting has usefully suggested some sources and perhaps the London Metropolitan Archive is another place:

    Meanwhile, forwards to about three hours ago, I witnessed an NB4L in Walworth Road on route 148 jacked up and just about to be towed northwards! Hmm.

  241. MikeP says:

    @Graham H – Ah, more wonderful reminiscences – but please enlighten me as to what the CTCC is. Google tried to help with some absolutely fascinating organisations, such as The Campaign for the Traditional Church Choir, or the Canadian Tamil Chamber of Commerce, but they didn’t seem to have much to do with Nick Ridley’s portfolio. The Cape Town Cricket Club seemed a possibility, but then we got to the Colville Tribal Convalescent Centre and the Conder Token Collectors’ Club and I gave up. Adding “London” to the search term didn’t help.

  242. Castlebar (Continuity Contra Crayonista) says:

    @ Mike P

    Castlebar Tourism Consultative Committee

  243. timbeau says:

    From Wikipedia
    The Central Transport Consultative Committee was a consumer body to represent users of the railway. In addition, Area Transport Users Consultative Committees were established to cover individual areas of the country.

    The role of the Committees was to make recommendations relating to the services provided by the four Boards, although their remit did not include the charges and fares set by the Boards. The Minister was not bound to follow any recommendations.

    Rail users affected by a proposed closure could also send their objections to the Area Committee who would then report to the Minister of Transport. The Area Committee would consider the “hardship” which it considered would be caused as a result of the closure, and recommend measures to ease that hardship. The closure would not then be proceeded with until the Committee had reported to the Minister and he had given his consent to the closure. Based on the report, the Minister could subject his consent to closure to certain conditions, such as the provision of alternative transport services.

  244. Graham H says:

    @MikeP – timbeau is correct although the alternatives you have found sound a lot more exciting. (I had a lot to do with the CTCC and its subordinates because railway closures, including Settle-Carlisle, of course, were handled from my desk in the department). The problem with the TUCs and CTCC was that they were – until a late ’80s coup, when DTp took over – appointed by DTI, who selected professional consumerists with no knowledge of transport issues. [The LRPC – for LBM’s benefit, that’s the London Regional Passengers Committee – was a lot more professional and their secretary had considerable experience in the field, having been appointed in GLC days]. Mr Ridley hated consumer bodies as a matter of principle believing quite publicly that consumer interests should be left entirely to the marketplace.

  245. Greg Tingey says:

    One almost-unmentioned strand running through this discussion-thread is the continuing influence (?) of separate factions within what is now TfL. I remember seeing previous reference in other threads, too.
    IIRC one faction might be (was?) called “the London General” mind-set or group, depending back to the pre-1933/LPTB days of the largest omnibus company in London, & their continuing influence & prejudices [ Anti-Tram, largely anti-trolleybus too. ]
    How much sway do the grandchildren of that grouping now hold within TfL’s policy corridors, especially where the contentious subject is one like the nominal header for this particular discussion?

  246. Southern Heights says:

    @timbeau: From Southern Towers, complete with plastic duck pond, I can catch a train from my private halt every ten minutes (á peux prés) towards the big slum/shard/…. Every other train goes to Cannon Street, normally if i catch a Cannon Street train my journey will take me two minutes longer, including the walk at the end.

    However in the evening there’s all to play for! If I go London Bridge there’s a train every ten minutes (or so), if I go to Waterloo East, it’s every twenty… When shit’s happened again LBG is a better bet… Sod the seats… Anyway, if you catch a Cannon Street to Southern Towers train the chances of getting a seat are normally better (near 100%)…

  247. Southern Heights says:

    @timbeau: Sorry missed your second point, LBG isn’t nearly as bad as I made it seem, perhaps a tad of an over-reaction to Ed’s earlier comments…

    While it’s a mess (due to the works) and can work much better, pedestrians just get on with it and cross when it’s safe. Most bus drivers leave enough room to cross as well…

    As for Bendies having issues at LBG, I have one question: why would they? Their rear axles, almost nearly trail the middle set…

  248. timbeau says:

    I understand the problem with bendies at LBG is not the turning circle (which is not bad: unlike an articulated lorry, the rear section is pushing the front section so the steering characteristics are different) but the sheer length: the point that I think was being made is that the various sets of traffic lights and pedestrian crossings are so close together that if a bendy was stopped at one set it would block the previous junction.

    I certainly noticed that one selfish taxi driver deciding that the “no vehicles except buses” sign on Mepham Street wasn’t enough to stop him dropping off a fare at the bottom of the Victory Arch instead of using the cab road (and then spending ages getting paid and writing a receipt) would prevent a bendy with over 100 passengers getting to the stop, and with its rear sticking out into York Road causing traffic to tail back to the IMAX roundabout. (It still happens if two rigid Citaros arrive close together).

    Observing this phenomenon to a BTP officer who happened to be there, she told me that they can only report cabbies to the Carriage Office, not issue a fixed penalty. Is this true? And does this mean cabbies are immune from prosecution? (If every infraction of advanced stop lines by taxis got their drivers the statutory three point penalty, I’m convinced that half London’s taxi drivers would get banned (i.e. twelve points) in a matter of hours)

  249. Q199 says:

    With regard to the 521 Bendi at LB then you could have got LB out completely and made it a circular as such.

    Over LB,left onto Tooley St,left onto Tower Brdg Rd,over Twr Brdg,left at Minories Corner past Tower Hill St,right at Bus gate and along to Monument/North side of London Bridge and pick up original route to Waterloo with Waterloo being termination point.

    Alternatively if LB BS is big enough then extend entry point to be in and out and turn around in LB BS but I think the Tooley St option is easier and cheaper.

  250. Anonymous says:

    Although the Routemaster is seen to be the last bus built for London, that’s not entirely true as in many cases they used their massive buying power to force bus builders to make changes to models which only applied to London. The Leyland Titan was built with London in mind as the request of LT, and LT worked along side Leyland helping develop it. Very few other bus companies bought them, most opting for the less complex Olympian. Recently , it seems that buses are bought much more off the peg, though TfL still make quite a number of requirements as regards minor specs but this has to be balanced against big companies more keen than ever to send them to the provinces once they are a few years old.

  251. John U.K. says:

    @ Anonymous – 21 April 2014 at 21:19

    Although the Routemaster is seen to be the last bus built for London, that’s not entirely true as in many cases they used their massive buying power to force bus builders to make changes to models which only applied to London. The Leyland Titan was built with London in mind as the request of LT, and LT worked along side Leyland helping develop it. Very few other bus companies bought them, most opting for the less complex Olympian. Recently , it seems that buses are bought much more off the peg, though TfL still make quite a number of requirements as regards minor specs

    Withe regard to specific requirements for London ‘buses, I seem to remember that at one time the Metropolitan police were behind these, tho’ I suspect that this has long since gone?

  252. Greg Tingey says:

    Yes & MetPlod’s requirements were, very often, entirely reactionary & counter-productive.
    Narrow buses, driver had to be out in the weather, had to be short, restrictions on axle numbers, etc ….
    IIRC. MetPlod were also pressuring the LPTB, almost within minutes of their formation (1933?) to get rid of the trams, as “nothing could be done about road congestion” until the trams were removed …..

  253. Graham H says:

    @John UK – indeed, the Met exercised a baleful and unnecessary veto over London bus design for the best part of 60 years; amongst the things they vetoed long after the rest of the country adopted them were: top covers, pneumatic tyres, enclosed driver’s cabs, 8 foot wide vehicles…

  254. Pedantic of Purley says:

    To which I would add:

    – Specifying a ridiculously short stand time in the timetable at critical places. It was one minute outside John Lewis in Holles Street off Oxford St.

    – Designating various stops compulsory simply so that the driver checked his brakes still worked prior to a steep descent. Possibly fair enough 100 years ago but not with routes served by Routemasters. You might as well get have a guard on the train to check that the platform is still present. An example would be Horniman’s Museum westbound.

    – Prosecute for displaying an incorrect destination blind. A driver once got prosecuted for displaying Eltham Well Hall Station instead of Well Hall Station via Blackfen. Admittedly the driver was being lazy and didn’t want to have to turn the handle to get to the Ws. Apparently the fare was more via Blackfen so the issue was considered serious as the passenger would be subject to a higher fare for the longer route.

    I also believe that it is (still) actually an offence for a public service vehicle to enter service in a dirty external condition and the police in London actually forced vehicles off the road for this. To make it worse this was done during a period of snow when there was chaos anyway and the bus wash wasn’t working because it was iced up. On this occasion the Met can’t be blamed. It was the City of London Police who totally and utterly failed to take a pragmatic approach and use discretion – as they are quite entitled to do.

  255. Graham Feakins says:

    The Met also assumed similar powers for the tramway operations within its boundaries and e.g. the provision of vestibule screens (windscreens) for drivers, just like the buses, was banned until 1930 (upon the introduction of safety glass) and tramcar crews were never entirely freed from the threat of “obstruction”! On the other hand, there was a police strike for two days in 1918 and it was reported that then, “Almost without exception, it was found that Traffic Regulation was quite good, and in some instances better than when the Police had control…and in my opinion we got on better without them”. For a long time, the Met Police also insisted that the trams had to be repainted once a year, later relaxed to every other year. There are many other Police restrictions which have been recorded which went against public service vehicles on the London roads, or at least were not essential to public safety and wellbeing. The Provinces tended to have few similar restrictive practices by their police forces during the same period.

  256. Greg Tingey says:

    Is there a thought for an historical article here on the malign influence of MetPlod on London’s Transport?

  257. Graham H says:

    @GT – not forgetting the absurd impact of Bassom on bus route numbers!

  258. @Greg,

    Definitely if someone was prepared to write it. Quite where you would look for material beats me. There was clearly a lot of influence about which in retrospect seems entirely wrong. This seems to a classic case of low-level and even not so low-level decisions which effectively amount to public policy implement by an unelected body. Why they were ever given these powers in the first place absolutely beats me. Maybe the railways were to blame for being the first to introduce policemen to regulate the traffic but at least in that case they were only implementing the rules.

  259. Jeremy says:

    It’d be lovely if the local constabulary at home could remind Stagecoach of the law, if it’s true!

  260. Pedantic of Purley says:

    To say something positive about the Met. One day as a bus conductor some passenger without any money managed to get hold of my wallet that had a fiver (and, more important, my staff pass inside) and make off. He had done this after giving me his hostel address. I reported the incident to the local Met police and wrote out an incident report for the garage manager. Three months later two BTP officers (they covered buses then) got around to meeting me after my shift to take a statement. After doing so they asked if I heard from Met after reporting it to them.

    Oh yes, I replied. They have arrested him and charged him. They had enough evidence as he rather foolishly he had kept the wallet and unknown to him it still had the staff pass in a hidden compartment. I then gave the BTP the Met officer’s name in charge of the case and the date of the trial.

  261. Graham H says:

    @PoP – my own dealings with the Met have always been positive but I suspect they are hampered with poor technology and an overdose of beancounting. (I was the prime witness to a horrific accident in the Euston Road a couple of years ago, and the Met went to great lengths to reconstruct the incident, including stopping the traffic for a few minutes to take measurements of my sightlines, but all the evidence and statements were taken down longhand on lined notepaper, which hardly permitted any amendments – apparently personal laptops were not issued even to detectives; it also emerged that the cost of a basic forensic test on material evidence was a recharge of £400 – twice that if wanted next day.)

  262. Castlebar (Continuity Contra Crayonista) says:

    Many years ago, in the 1950s, when RTs operated Route 92 from Wembley Stadium, a bus conductor lost his job because being the last bus leaving the stadium that night, he had allowed SIX standing passengers. For some reason, the legal maximum was five.

    With some apparent glee, the Police stopped the bus after it had moved away from the stand and made the arrest. LT could not support the conductor, because he had broken a rule.

    My respect for the police has not improved much since then. Never worry about wasting police time when over the years, they have found so many ways of wasting their own.

  263. @Castlebar,

    I have heard stories like that and I can make no sense of them. The number of legally permitted standing passengers was determined by Public Service Vehicle regulations and was dependant on the number of seats. One standing passenger was permitted for every three seats downstairs. Why on earth that was the rule I have no idea. So an RT bus (26 seats downstairs) could legally have eight standing passengers. The restriction down to five was purely a union agreement with London Transport. I have my doubts and without a verifiable source I do wonder if stories like these are urban myths.

  264. Castlebar (Continuity Contra Crayonista) says:

    @ PoP

    That is a story I remember reading in a newspaper as a child, and is one I’ve never forgotten from 50+ years ago.

  265. Castlebar (Continuity Contra Crayonista) says:

    @ PoP

    But your explanation does explain why the “5 standing passenger limit” applied to RTWs as well as RTs, because the RTWs’ extra aisle width made them so much easier to move about in, and could have accommodated an extra couple of standees quite easily. I’ve often wondered why the ‘5’ limit applied to RTWs too.

  266. @Castlebar,

    I don’t doubt you did but, in my experience, newspapers at not particularly good at getting facts correct. And that is before we start reading in the Sunday Sport that a London double-decker bus was found on the moon.

    Was the conductor actually convicted of any offence and what specific offence was it? As for losing his job you have to put it in the context of the attitudes of the day. Was this as a result of a court conviction or rather something else (e.g. expelled from union for breaching rules, closed shop in operation so no job).

    The fact that you read it in a newspaper as a child does nothing to convince me the story, whilst probably based on fact, hasn’t somehow got distorted. I could be wrong but I try to be evenhandedly sceptical and on this I remain so.

  267. Castlebar (Continuity Contra Crayonista) says:


    It was more in the days of the Sunday Graphic or the Sunday Dispatch, (we had them both), than the Sunday Sport.

  268. timbeau says:

    I recall back in the 1970s the special regulations covering London buses meant that they were still permitted to run wth only one headlight lit, and new ones did not need to be fitted with either windscreen washers or reflective numberplates – white on black was still used at least until 1983, a good ten years after they ceased to be legal on other new vehicles.

  269. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Are you sure it was a headlight and not a front foglight? Of course it may have been both but for many years London buses were filled with a single kerbside foglight.
    The single light kerbside light is clearly visible on many pictures of Routemasters taken during that period and was generally tilted towards the kerb.

    For many years cars did not have to have their headlights working in built up areas. Eventually I believe that regulations required that if headlights or foglights were used then both must be working. I was unaware that buses were a special case but may well have been so.

  270. Chris L says:


    I’m with PoP on the number of standing passengers.

    The figure of 5 was definitely a Union agreement. Know this from my days in the Traffic Office at Camberwell Garage. Worked with a number of former garage managers who knew the rules inside out.

  271. @Greg Tingey,

    And your point was?

    I really wanted to get across the point that the New Routemaster is so much more than having a platform with a third door that can be kept open when attended. In the long term arguments over conductors are probably not what what it will be about. I suspect most of us believe conductors will only ever be a Monday-Friday daytime (excluding Bank Holidays) token presence on some routes only. If the mayor wants to do that then fine. That is what he was elected on and we may or may not like it. But don’t confuse that issue with whether or not the New Routemaster is a good bus or a bad bus.

    To quote from that article: This negates the purpose of the design of the bus which was to create a back platform that would allow passengers to ‘hop on, hop off’ between stops. It might be what Boris used to sell it to the electorate and you or Christian Wolmar might still really believe this (and I suspect that Christian Wolmar doesn’t) but personally I think that was one fraction of what this bus was ever really about and it succeeds or fails regardless of the conductor issue.

    What I find so puzzling is that Christian Wolmar wrote an in-depth chapter entitled “The Design Competition” for the book I mentioned at the end of the article so he must be aware of other purposes fundamental to the design of the bus. In any case it has been argued that there is a big benefit in having three doors regardless of whether a not a conductor is present and I cannot believe he does not know that.

  272. timbeau says:

    “the New Routemaster is so much more than having a platform with a third door that can be kept open when attended. In the long term arguments over conductors are probably not what it will be about.”

    What is it about then?

    All style and no substance – makes a lot of noise without achieving very much – can get rather hot under the collar – needs someone to help cover the rear – not much empty space up top – rather overweight – makes irrelevant references back to the classics – not as green as supporters would have us believe:

    ………………………and his buses are much the same.

  273. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg / PoP – clearly Mr Wolmar is being selective in his denounciations to suit his current political narrative. Naturally enough he has not said what he would do about the bus network or the NB4L. I’ve tried to ask him via his Twitter sessions without any success. This says to me that the future of the NB4L is potentially “toxic” in the context of the 2016 Mayoral Election campaign / Labour nomination for said campaign. Lord Adonis has been similarly devoid of policy despite his “on the bus to Stratford / Bromley / Heathrow Airport” conversion about the value of London buses. It’s all a bit pathetic really given that bus policy in London is not actually very difficult given the control exercised by and through TfL. It’s vastly more difficult for politicians outside London to make buses work better as there’s so little control.

    The real problem is funding from central Government and again there is little comment from the politicos about how they’d extract the required money from the Treasury *or* secure appropriate devolution and control of funding sources. I am not confident that Mayoral candidates (of any hue) will see the value of bus service investment because they’re all too easily distracted by “we want a tube line, we want a tube line” or “we want Crossrail 2/3/4” cries from all over London. The relevance or otherwise of the NB4L is a side show really. TfL have been clever enough to design a vehicle that Boris can get excited about and which fits the current “invest in UK jobs” narrative but which should also survive a change of Mayoral regime because conductors can be removed if a future Mayor requires it. Any Mayoral candidate in possession of more than 10 brain cells should be able to see the design has an inherent flexibility. None of this changes my opinion of it or the damage done to bus funding *now* and I can now add route 10 to my list of “can’t use anymore” routes with the 8/N8 and 38/N38 to be added over the next 8 weeks.

    @ Timbeau 1240 – “chortle”. Nicely done.

  274. Castlebar (Continuity Contra Crayonista) says:

    Chris L
    25 April 2014 at 15:20
    said “I’m with PoP on the number of standing passengers.”
    I am pleased to be corrected

    I remember so vividly reading this, but must have got some of it wrong because of the passage of time. I DO remember the route specifically was the 92 because as a kid I lived near Greenford where the 92 ran, and that is why it has stuck in my mind from around 60 years ago. But obviously, it cannot have been the police if it was only a Union agreement.

    Memories and age are obviously not good bedfellows.

  275. James Bunting says:

    @Castlebar 1859
    Although I can’ t now find the details of when it changed I recall that the “five standing passengers at all times” (which I think was a union agreement) was preceded by a more complicated statutory arrangement for eight passengers at certain times of the day and none at others. The details used to be posted on the turn of the staircase on RT and RM family buses in small white writing over the brown rexine. When the new agreement came in the much simpler details were stuck over the top.

  276. Castlebar (Continuity Contra Crayonista) says:


    You are correct. I remember something of the sort, but it is obvious that I can no longer trust my memory as I once did.

  277. Graham Feakins says:

    I believe that the issue of standing passengers can be said to start with the Metropolitan Public Carriage Act of 1869:

    This is what gave the Metropolitan Police (MP) their powers for licensing hackney carriages and stage carriages (trams and buses).
    It was the MP, as licensing authority, who ruled on the number of standing passengers and indeed the body dimensions of the vehicles. It follows that the Public Service Vehicle regulations (for London?) would have had to incorporate the MP ruling. Of course, the unions might have over-ridden the specified maximum number of standing passengers, to reduce that number. That on trolleybuses mostly remained at eight (some trams accommodated more) but they and their tram predecessors had a different union to the bus side.

  278. JM says:

    Re buses buit for London, hasn’t the Metro City for Optare been built specifically for London market?

    Personally, as someone who was forced to use bendies on the 25, I would hate them to be brought back for that purpose. Lots of people use trunk services for commuting and can spent anything from 30-45 minutes travelling which is awful if doing it standing on a Citaro. I actually thought they were fine on the Red Arrow network where the purpose is to connect work centres poorly served by the Tube with mainline stations. Arguably there is as great a need for this now as there was in the 60s, not just in Zone 1 but to connect mainline stations to areas where tubes are used for 1/2 stop journeys onwards greatly impacting capacity available. Waterloo or Euston to the west end or Canary Wharf to London Bridge/Waterloo.

    Don’t mind the NB4L so much although do struggle with the concept of what passes for the conductor. I’m particularly interested in the effect they have on jounrey time( if the doors on the 38 remain closed to synchronise with the rest of the current fleet, there must be a significant saving – otherwise whats the point). This is arguably the best strength of having them.

    In the much longer term future, if lots of road traffic is likely to end up driverless, clippies (or bus managers) might actually outlast drivers and we end up with buses powered (won’t even try and guess how) from the front again, going the full 360 over a century.

  279. timbeau says:

    “I actually thought they were fine on the Red Arrow network where the purpose is to connect work centres poorly served by the Tube with mainline stations. Arguably there is as great a need for this now ……… connect mainline stations to areas where tubes are used for 1/2 stop journeys onwards greatly impacting capacity available, [for example] . …………Canary Wharf to London Bridge/Waterloo.”
    Canary Wharf to London Bridge/Waterloo is a long way and well-served by Tube. Difficult to see how a bus could beat it, even if it took the Rotherhithe Tunnel (which would have to be made one-way to fit anything as big as a Citaro).

  280. JM says:

    I was thinking more of the old Docklands Clipper type service which I think ran along The Highway. Believe Red Arrow type service could be an alternative for short tube journeys for those travelling into mainline stations/large work areas like Docklands. Euston/Waterloo Euston/London Bridge. Particularly if (as I suspect it will be) Oxford Street is pedestrianised in the next 10/15 years too.

  281. Anonymous says:

    This is an extremely long thread so apologies if this has already been mentioned, but I think the convenience of the ‘Boris bus’ has been entirely negated by the route 148 having no ‘conductor’ and consequently a closed platform. I suspect this is to do with fare-dodging paranoia than a saving on staffing costs. Yet again we have a bus company running a service for its convenience rather than that of the much abused travelling public.

  282. Graham Feakins says:

    @ Anonymous 17:52 – But on the few 148’s I have used so far, all three sets of doors are opened at stops, even late at night, as far as Camberwell. Is that the choice of the driver if you have witnessed otherwise? All doors have card readers nearby.

  283. timbeau says:

    @Graham F/Anon
    So the platform is closed except at stops. So much for the hop-on/hop-off facility which was supposed to be the raison d’etre of these vehicles.
    Three-door entrance is hardly necessary except at a few very busy locations – watching a bendy swallow the triple queues on the 521 at Waterloo was a sight to behold – especially after the old Greenways – and even then they could only just keep up – but even on that route there was no other location with such enormous queues on a regular basis.

  284. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon 1752 – I really don’t understand your criticism of the route 148 operation. Firstly TfL specified the vehicles and the mode of operation. They decided, presumably on cost grounds, not to have a second person or open platform. This is hardly a surprise given TfL don’t have the operational budget to fund “conductors” on all NB4L converted routes. The upcoming conversion of route 38 will only see the rear platform and second person facility between Balls Pond Rd and Victoria. Buses will be one person and all closed doors from Balls Pond Rd to Clapton Pond. That’s TfL specification. The bus company in any of these examples is doing what TfL *tell* them to do in the contract variation that will have been agreed between the parties. Nothing more, nothing less.

    Whenever I’ve used NB4Ls (not often) in OPO mode all the doors open anyway. In “open platform” mode the passenger’s obligation to pay the driver or visually present a paper ticket to him or else validate their Oyster Card on a reader *at any door* does not change. The revenue risk is with TfL and is nothing to do with the operator (other than them collecting whatever cash fares are due and banking them in accordance with their contract with TfL). Even this latter aspect disappears in July 2014.

    The point is that TfL have to find routes to shove 600 of these vehicles on to by 30 April 2016 (that’s the project deadline TfL have published and I assume set down by City Hall because of the Mayoral term). I personally find the 148 an odd choice of route but it is pretty straight with gentle bends so the huge NB4Ls can get round the route whereas there are other candidate routes where they cannot. Expect to see some more unusual deployments of NB4Ls in the future.

  285. timbeau says:


    Anon 1752’s criticism is valid, but directed at the wrong target: as you say the operator had the bus type imposed on it and it is TfL, or its political masters, who are responsible for the decision to run vehicles over-specified for the job.

    City Hall instructed TfL to buy 600 buses. No doubt it could, if it chose, also order TfL to operate them all with conductors, but it seems have been left to TfL to decide how, and where, to use them.

  286. Chris L says:

    The big advantage is the twin staircase.

    You only have to witness drivers pulling up to a busy stop in a normal vehicle and keeping the front doors closed until the upper deck passengers have alighted through the centre doors.

  287. Anonymous says:

    Re. the 148.

    I was very anti the NB4L, on the grounds that they were a political project designed for the visual pleasure of people in cars, rather than for the needs of the bus travelling public.

    However, since the 148 began operation with them, in OPO mode, I’ve changed my mind completely: they are brilliant.

    Previously, the 148 was a dead route between Walworth Road and Lambeth North, the lower deck packed with kids on zip cards making a three stop trip between the aylesbury estate and the schools in Lambeth, often with unreachable seats empty upstairs as drivers refused to open the front door. With the NB4L, it’s the golden age of the bendy’s again, you can always force yourself on one of the doors, and then scrabble your way upstairs. They make their stops significantly quicker thanks to three door boarding (at Victoria we end up ahead of buses we were behind at Elephant). With three doors there’s no more futile shouts of “can you move down”, as the interior standing space get’s far better used.

    I’m converted. NB4L is a triumph (on this route at least). Now get rid of all the conductors, and embrace three door two staircase buses for all the busy central routes- they may have less seats, but they make far better use of their interior space.

  288. timbeau says:

    @Chris L
    Agreed two staircases can assist in dwell times at very busy stops, but they incur a penalty in both weight and seating/standing space (on both decks), and are a major reason why the Borismaster, although heavier and longer than a standard bus, is actually not permitted to carry as many people.
    Generally a driver will open the doors as soon as he is sure how many people are getting off – even if the area between the front doors and the (centre) stairs is still full becuase people are still coming down.

  289. straphan says:

    Berlin has been running double-deckers with two staircases for a good few years now. There, the rule is to use the front (centre) staircase for walking upstairs, and the rear staircase for walking downstairs. This isn’t policed or enforced by anything else than a few notices with arrows or standard ‘No Entry’ road signs inside the buses.

    Given we now have a large fleet of dual-staircase buses, could something similar not be enforced? I was thinking of the following for the NBfL:
    – Front-door boarding only, rear-platform exit only;
    – Ticket checks by driver as on conventional double-deckers to avoid fraud;
    – Centre-door to be used for buggies and wheelchairs only (alerting the driver by pushing the blue wheelchair symbol);
    – Centre staircase to be used going up only, rear staircase to be used going down only.

  290. Q199 says:

    The problem with no one checking tickets is that the buses are constantly loosing money and TFL will attempt to fill that black hole by increasing fares(that the fare dodgers) dont pay anyway and before long get rid of the ‘conductors’ to save more money and we have a shorter double decker bendi! Doesnt it bother people that you have payed your fare but others havent and you are funding the service? The fact that TFL are expecting people to be honest is laughable! A certain % of people will always pay their fare and a certain percentage will always try and get away with what they can get away with!

    Passengers on the Underground (at least some of them) ignore no exit signs and cant be arsed to use one way systems on the tube so the fact that you think people will use it,then I think you have more faith in the travelling public than me.Dont forget this is the same people that open the windows with A/C and then moan its warm!

  291. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon 1115 – I haven’t witnessed the Walworth Rd miracle on route 148 so I’ll have to take your word for it. I have seen some photos of immensely packed 148s with people crushed against the rear platform door suggesting the driver is unable to control what happens there. Given the way the rear platform door opens and the weight / capacity restrictions on NB4Ls you have to ponder whether buses are operating safely / legally.

    I’m a tad bemused about your reference to overtaking buses at Victoria as I think the 148 is the only route between Victoria and Walworth Rd. Do you mean the 12 being overtaken by Westminster? I’m just being a bit picky. 😉

  292. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Q199 – well I guess it all depends on how you view things. I understand why people get annoyed at people defrauding the system. I’m rather more annoyed at the antics of HMRC and their inability to get the billions due from corporations or rich individuals than I am about a revenue system on a bus.

    The whole point of open boarding through multiple doors on buses (or trams) is to minimise stop dwell time. This should reduce overall journey times and potentially reduce the level of resource needed to run the route when compared to more conventionally operated vehicles. This should translate into journey time savings and also financial benefits. These can be “traded” against an increase in revenue loss under the TfL business case methodology. I am pretty sure this is how the Bendy Bus conversions were justified and it’s a perfectly legitimate thing to do.

    While it may be unpalatable we all pay for fraud, evasion and theft in almost everything we buy. All retailers suffer such losses and their prices reflect such “leakage”. Ditto for insurance, taxes, fares whatever. Having been involved in revenue collection for a lot of years I’ve never subscribed to a zero fraud level because it’s unachieveable and you’d spend far more than you’d gain. That realism has to be tempered (IMO) against a desire to see no-one dodging their fare.

    It remains to be seen how the NB4L performs in terms of fare evasion given it’s ticketing regime is very close to that of Bendy Buses (as you say). I have not seen nor heard of “mass ticket checks” on any NB4L routes as happened in Bendy Bus days which must create a level of risk that evasion levels will rise when compared to previous double deck operation with boarding past the driver. The 148 is the first route that has NB4Ls that has partly replicated a former bendy route (12) so I’m not surprised that loadings may have increased on the 148 on Walworth Rd (as per an earlier post from Anon). I wonder if TfL will voluntarily publish evasion numbers for NB4K routes or whether the info will have to be dragged into the light of day via FOI or Mayor’s Questions? If the numbers were released then at least people could look at them and make an objective comparison rather than speculate.

  293. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Shock horror – a relevant post.

    Alexander Dennis have launched their New Enviro 400 double decker today. Picks up on the lighter, more capacity, easier to maintain theme. No explicit mention of an all electric version but I’d be astonished if ADL don’t bid for the TfL trial.

  294. 0775John says:

    Walthamstow Writer 20.12
    Off-topic alert – and a claimed right of reply responding to sweeping statement….!
    As until recently I was one of those in HMRC whose “antics” you are worried about let me re-assure you that the vast majority of the staff who actually do the technical and casework are very anxious to collect all tax that is due and dislike tax avoidance (a legal industry) nearly as much as tax evasion. It is, however, as is no doubt the case with fare evasion on any means of public transport, a directive from the top (and thus ultimately, a political decision in HMRC) that prioritises where staff and effort will be placed.
    I recall very well a meeting with Dave Hartnett, of blessed memory, who baldy stated (at around the time of the Vodafone debacle) that he disliked the problems that VAT gave him since, as a European beast, deals could not be done as they could with the good old vague and well worn UK tax laws.
    The HMRC top legal person was in the room and seemed to blanch at this somewhat injudicious comment.
    This is why the tax is not collected, not as a result of any antics amongst the under-resourced technical tax avoidance experts. Ever considered where many of the HMRC board have spent much of their careers? Working alongside and building relationships with those who thought up the avoidance schemes they now have a legal duty to counter…..!
    Frustration of staff was widespread.

  295. timbeau says:

    “The 148 is the first route that has NB4Ls that has partly replicated a former bendy route ”

    The 24 (NB4L) shares a long stretch with the 29 (former bendy)

    And bendies also used to work the 38

  296. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ John0775 – well I take your point about high level priorities but some of your other remarks rather reinforce my cynicism about our “good old lax tax laws”. Lax for those with the resources to “play games”, unyielding for the rest of us. Still it’s off topic so let’s stop the debate here.

    @ Timbeau – fair comment about the 24 and 38 although the 38 hasn’t fully converted yet. I also tend to view the 29’s more “difficult territory” as east of Camden Town but I may be indulging a prejudice.

  297. straphan says:

    @Q199: Many Continental European cities operate their bus and tram/metro networks without gates and using a proof-of-payment system, with all-door boarding and roving ticket inspections. Those cities – as far as I am aware – do not experience fare-dodging levels which are significantly higher than London’s. The reason for this is that the roving inspections by plainclothes or uniformed inspectors (often with police assistance) are more frequent, thus making fare evasion all the more risky. In the 6.5 years that I have lived in London I have gone through perhaps six or seven inspections on buses, even though I use the network extensively. To me, that is an insufficient deterrent – any system that operates on a proof-of-payment basis must have more frequent and more efficient checks.

  298. Paying Guest says:

    @ Straphan – I well remember the first time I went to Munich, some 35 years ago, thinking we had a flasher on the tram as a chap in a dirty mac made his way through. Then when he was standing in front of me I realised it was his badge he was flashing. System seemed to work perfectly well.

  299. 0775John says:

    WW 09.10
    Quite agree about off-topic debate but in relation to fare evasion it is a serious issue that could be tackled on both train and bus if the system was not so reliant now on the touch-in/touch-out trust. The dwell time seems to be more important than the fare collection and I can well understand why if London is not to become gridlocked. I presume TfL have a figure of loss through fare evasion which is “tolerable” on both bus and train. That level must be(?) set at a political level and that decision takes into account the potential for growing disgruntlement in those paying up who witness those who plainly don’t!
    There is a tipping point in some people who are routinely honest when they are tempted to hop on and hop off a couple of stops later…..but clearly hedge fund managers have more creative ways of keeping hold of their pennies.

  300. straphan says:

    And before people start saying that fare collection is lightning-quick due to contactless technology: it is not. If for whatever reason the red light flashes at the Oyster reader, it usually takes forever to resolve this – either the person fumbles around to take the card out of the wallet, or they start arguing that they still have credit, or they ask the driver to let them past as a favour, or or or… The speed of boarding also depends on whether people actually have the card ready before they get on. I have all too often seen situations where e.g. there is a woman with two shopping bags and handbag talking on the phone at a bus stop. The moment the bus pulls up, she gets on, stands in front of the driver. A few seconds of confusion before the penny drops, and she starts fumbling around in her handbag (the phone wedged between head and shoulder to make things more complicated) before she finally locates the Oyster card at the bottom of the handbag and touches in. What is the boarding time for this and similar situations?

  301. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ 0775 John – It’s been a long while since I was involved but I can’t think of any political decision being taken about fare evasion levels and their “acceptability”. It’s a business decision for TfL and its business units to determine how this is managed with the resources available to them. It isn’t all about squads of people stomping round the system checking tickets. It’s about a wide mix of strategies which get fine tuned in response to data analysis and “on the ground” checks. IME LU knew where the “hot spots” were for fare evasion and also understood how things changed spatially and over time. I’m sure the same applied for the buses. I can’t imagine those fundamentals have changed since I was last involved. Things like the product range also help – flat fares on the bus automatically remove overriding fraud. No child fares on buses removes child impersonation fraud. Moving to smarter technology allows more effective detailing checking of validity than any human can manage. It’s not perfect but it’s better – I’ve done visual ticket checks with people streaming past you. It’s nigh on impossible to check every ticket consistently. I agree there is always a “tipping point” about opportunistic fraud and that’s why the challenges of effective evasion management are never over. I expect we will soon see people trying to “break” the contactless bank card system on TfL’s rail modes. Every new system or facility is always prone to people trying to evade it. The other interesting challenge will be when LU’s new “modus operandi” for stations comes in and whether the ability to spot fraud improves or worsens. Machines are prone to tampering while clerks in ticket offices can and do spot forged documents, tickets, money, cheques. Will roving staff in ticket halls perform as effectively?

    @ Straphan – we can all play the “exception” game. Yes some people do fumble to find their card but that’s no different to finding a paper ticket or money as happened in the past. I’d agree with you if everybody did that but that is not (IME) the case. Nor is it the case that gates reject a massive proportion of people trying to get through. If they did it’d be chaos and it clearly isn’t or else it’d be all over social and official media in seconds. I believe it is the case that dwell times on buses remain low and that reliability / excess wait time stats are also at good levels despite the challenges of coping with the problems on the road network.

  302. Q199 says:

    The NBFL is effectively double manned on the routes that do it that way and have a possibility of lower income. Never mind the American Tourists it confuses that think you can board any door on any bus(Ive seen it) and then get called to the front by the driver. I get the feeling TFL go for the easy option of ‘Enough people pay’ and it would cost too much to try to recover more than what they loose. and apart from the odd blitz looks more like a token effort.Its easier to put the fares up than catch fare evaders as such.Ive seen RCI/RPI abit more often but maybe thats because of one bus I catch alot? If it gets out to the general public that you can do pretty much what you like on a NBFL then expect the rate to go up.

  303. straphan says:

    @Q199: I think that’s precisely what WW is trying to highlight: fare evasion is a commercial issue for TfL and it is for TfL to decide whether there is merit in committing more resources towards combatting it. What I am trying to point out is that you need fewer fare inspections in a system where drivers check tickets on every bus compared to one, where you can board through any door. To the best of my knowledge, TfL did not really change ticket inspection habits during the era of the bendy bus and they do not appear to be doing so despite introducing the NBfL in larger and larger numbers.

    @WW: I agree with you that EWT stats aren’t looking too bad currently. However to me that means that timetables have been constructed properly, such that they reflect traffic conditions and dwell times. Loading people onto a bus outside a supermarket (I am somewhat biased as shopping trips is primarily what I use the bus for…) takes forever in my experience, and at least at every terminus there is always one person who gets ‘red-lighted’ – usually because they have exhausted their PAYG credit on the previous tube trip. People have gotten used to these occurrences, and do not complain. What I wonder though is whether this state of affairs could be improved upon somehow…

  304. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Q199 – if you consider the strategic direction that TfL have adopted with cashless buses and bank card acceptance then there’s no point in having traditional conductors on NB4Ls. It’s not clear what will happen with the Heritage RM routes either. These can’t accept bank cards as the conductor ticket machines are too old to be modified and I can’t see TfL buying new ones. Drivers in the future will have limited revenue responsibilities as their responsibility for cash disappears. At least at the moment people have the option to pay cash on a NB4L but once that’s gone then I’d expect more people to evade their fare altogether on open boarding routes. I also expect that those who want to dodge their fares on NB4Ls know exactly how to do it. I recall riding on a NB4L on the 38 in the second week of their use and some youths got on in Dalston and asked the “conductor” (in reality an Arriva driver instructor) some questions. They knew already that they could dodge their fares! The Arriva Route Manager for the 38 was on the bus and was scowling at the “conductor” to not say anything so the youths were not further enlightened. People aren’t stupid and quickly suss out how things work. With the upcoming mixed mode of operation on the 38 (single manned Clapton to Mildmay Park, double manned Mildmay Park to Victoria) then the fare dodgers of Hackney and Dalston will be delighted as there’ll be no one to even observe if they’re validating an Oyster Card.

  305. timbeau says:

    @WW 0910
    I hear tell that the former bendy 453 will be Borissed in September – yet another one through Parliament Square, and a second one south of the river!

    I can forsee prolems with the plit operation of the 38 – what happens if there are delays northbound so that when a southbound bus arrives at Midmay Park there is no conductor waiting to take it further?

    There is a balance with “revenue protection” – how many people who have made a genuine mistake – boarded the wrong train, or been forced to pay again because the machine didn’t issue a pre-booked ticket, etc have been put off ever travelling by train again by over-officious inspectors sticking to the Conditions of Carriage instead of using common sense, humanity, or an understanding of the law of contract?
    And yes, you could spend £100 more on revenue protection to ensure that the very last penny of revenue is collected, but it is clearly not worth it.
    Everyone who uses the buses should pay, of course, but there are some who will walk instead unless they think they can get away without paying – so spending huge amounts to stop them will not actually raise any more revenue – although it will make more room for the rest of us.

  306. AlisonW says:

    Staphan asks “What is the boarding time for this and similar situations?” to the problem of people not having their Oyster or wave-card ready.

    A possibly solution (eventually, maybe) might be what a friend of mine has just done: He’s had a (glass-encased) full-function RFID chip implanted in his hand. “Wave” indeed ;-P

  307. Greg Tingey says:

    Q199 et al
    Fare-evasion is NOT lowered, however, when you get plain-clothes “inspectors” (Who, in my opinion could be anybody – I mean: “Made that pass up yourself with a good photoshop program did you?” ) who are then faced with a passenger who not only says the above, but also comments: “You were standing right behind me in the bus queue, you SAW me show my pass/validate my Oyster at the driver’s check-point – and now you want to see my ticket AGAIN? Excuse me, but WHY?”
    Or – happened to me at Walthamstow, about 10 years back … I bought a ticket from a machine .. & was stopped about 2 seconds later by a gripper, who demanded to see it. I pointed out: “You just watched me buy that ticket, not 5 seconds ago, so you know I’ve got a valid ….” Needless to say I got the usual jobsworth excuses.

    Contrariwise, I’ve spoken to rail inspectors who tell me that “incorrect”/wrong/invalid fares are about 1-2% of the public, of whom over half are simple errors, with the remainder being deliberate fraud.
    Assuming those numbers are approx. correct, thus let’s assume that somewhere between 0.75 & 1% of travel is fraudulent, but that correcting mistakes (forgot to “touch” properly for example) don’t matter, then …
    How much money / time / people do you need to ensure that you clean up as much as possible of the last class, without wasting time / money etc annoying the hell out of the 98+% who are travelling validly & get a reasonable return on your “outlay”?

    It’s also a delicate balancing-act, between allowing the 1% getting away with fraud at our expense & ridiculously over-zealous ticket inspectors who only too frequently make national news headlines, pursuing innocent people for “tuppence”

  308. AlisonW says:

    Greg: I was on a bus a couple of weeks back when a ticket check was done with a card-reading ‘wand’. I just pointed to the part of my bag and the wand’s response was fine and the inspector went on to other people.

    Thing was, the card (actually, in my case, a freedom pass) wasn’t inspected physically at all. As I understand it, one common sort of fraud is the use of cards and passes which actually belong to someone else, so I’d rather expected the photo would be inspected in normal practice.

  309. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – yes I’ve read that the 453 will go NB4L come September. Clearly Boris has issued an edict that every NB4L route in existence must pass within a 1 mile radius of number 10 Downing St 🙂 and I thought it was “had to pass the front door of Windsor House”! And I have measured the radius to ensure routes 9, 10 and 390 are caught.

    I agree about the possible risks with route 38. I imagine if a relief conductor is not there the bus will continue in closed door mode.

    I also agree on the revenue protection point. A classic case of potential diminishing returns. It’s the big things like flat fares and convenient ticketing options that reduce evasion.

  310. straphan says:

    @WW: The no. 8 bus does not pass within 1 mile (straight line) of either Downing Street or Windsor House… Although the junction of Regent Street and Hanover Street (where the 8 normally turns towards its usual terminus in Holles Street) is very close to the 1 mile mark from Downing Street…

    @AlisonW: Is it really that common? Normal Oystercards do not have any visible means of identification of their owners. Concessionary fare cards give out a different beep than the full-fare ones, so can really only be used by other people who have a concession. Stolen/lost cards can be hotlisted (assuming they are registered online) within 24 hours so that they are no longer valid.

  311. AlisonW says:

    Straphan: but that was my point. I have a Disabled person’s Freedom pass – with photo – hence I’d expected it to be directly inspected.

  312. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alison W – the Freedom Pass should really have been visually inspected for exactly the reason you cite. The “wand” will show if there is any form of ID linked concession or discount on the card. As I have such a discount of my card I always fold out my pass so the ID card is visible while the Oyster is read. I think I once forgot to do this and a bus inspector, rightly, asked to see the photocard. I then had the opposite where I showed the ID and Oyster on the Overground and was told the ID didn’t match the Oyster and I had an ID but no discount. It took a few minutes persuasion that yes there was a discount and yes I was entitled to it. I think the inspectors got a tad confused as I’ve never had that issue before or since and I know I get discounted extension fares.

  313. JM says:

    Is there any data available for the 24 or other early conversions showing if running time has significantly decreased (or not)?

  314. Chris L says:

    The platform attendants are there for safety and not fare collection.

  315. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ JM – I’ve not seen any such data and to be frank I don’t expect there to be any. There are several reasons – there is an inevitable “learning curve” when routes convert so the initial few weeks of data are not worth considering. My limited use of NB4Ls is that they’re quite slow in those initial weeks. Many of the converted routes are affected by road works meaning more and more buses are needed to maintain frequencies. The LU and Crossrail works at Victoria and TCR affect almost all NB4L run routes and will sometimes cause bunching meaning stop dwell times will be all over the place.

    The only data that has emerged is the regular route performance data (up to Period 10 last year) and that shows a steep increase in lost mileage data when route 24 converted. This reflects the poor reliability of the initial batch of buses. Similar drops occurred on the 11 and 390 but strangely not on route 9. However I should be fair and say I am guessing as to what caused the lost mileage – I can’t know because I don’t have a breakdown of the incident data with cause codes. The dips do coincide with the dates when routes converted to NB4Ls. Strangely there are no great dips in the excess wait time measure on the NB4L converted routes. Note the data is only updated quarterly so we’ve got to wait a while before we see what happened in the first 3 months of 2014.

  316. JM says:


    I’m curious particularly in relation to the closure of the doors on the 38 which was reported as a way of regulating the service- implication the NB4Ls were running the route faster.

    If this is true, it is a big plus for these buses given anecdotally I don’t remember bendies having the same effect on the 25. There remains some routes which I believe operationally struggle to justify their length in 2014. The effect of running buses like this or tri axles with 3 doors/2staircases is that it can offer some of the positive effects, faster journeys/less buses larger capacity schemes mentioned in part 2 can but without the dramas of blight or extra cost from infrastructure changes/road closures. Not a pill for every ill obviously but neither is any solution.

  317. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ JM – I think the anecdotal “evidence” on the 38 is much more to do with the fact that initially the NB4Ls were a supplemental schedule which meant they were slotted in between normal 38s meaning you had buses only 1-2 mins apart. It would only need a regular 38 to stop to pick up 4-5 people and the NB4L would whizz past. I am afraid I am deeply sceptical about the NB4L being “faster” than a conventional decker or a bendy bus. The reason is that people can still buy tickets from the driver, people associate a double decker with front boarding and even if people do twig (after the CA has yelled at them) that you can on at the back the CA then forces them to validate their Oyster. This can lead to queues of people waiting to get on the bus because they have to find their card, touch in and then they have to decide whether to stay downstairs or go upstairs. Boarding via the front door people only have direction to go and that’s into the bus. The decision point about up or down is a few metres futher by which time people will have taken a look as to whether there is space or not. On a bendy bus there was no decision about what deck to choose and there were large vestibules by the second and third doors allowing people to simply get inside the bus and then decide where to look for a seat. There was also no need for interaction with the driver other than handing over half a Bus Saver ticket. That’s not true on the NB4L where the driver can still sell tickets and is tasked with visually checking all paper tickets and non Freedom Pass concessionary passes.

    I don’t think the 25 is not a fair comparison with the 38. The 25 is vastly busier (10m more pax pa) than the 38 and has a different pattern of demand. The 38 has more local journeys as well as Zone 2 into Zone 1 trips. The 25 has local, long radial trips *and* local centre to local centre trips (e.g. Ilford to Stratford or Stratford to Aldgate). I know it’s an old and oft repeated idea but the 25 probably would warrant the same treatment as the Uxbridge Rd in having an overlaid Express route. No money for such an extravagance though.

    My observation, subjective as it is, is that bendies were quick on a number of routes but typically only when you had a really good driver who paid real attention to getting the doors shut quickly and then drove confidently. I can recall a morning commute ride in on a 29 which was fantastic – smooth, fast and possibly the fastest 29 trip I’ve ever had. Ditto for a couple of route 73 drivers who could get the Citaros through the twists of Stoke Newington as if they weren’t there.

    Much as I would like to see tri-axle deckers I don’t think they’d work on some routes because dwell times would be enormously long. Long dwell times means more and more buses to run a service. Route 25 is an example because if a bus pauses for more than a few seconds at a stop you just end up with a non stop stream of people wanting to board. TfL did look at tri-axles for the 25 and decided against them on dwell times grounds (that info from an informed source who was closely involved with running route 25). You see the same on Tottenham High Rd with just a never ending queue of people. No wonder drivers shut doors and drive off even if someone is heading for a stop. I’ve used tri-axles extensively in HK and they can certainly swallow the crowds but they also stand at stops for minutes at a time and you end up with queues of buses waiting to get on to stops. Routes are operated differently in HK and operators have “reserve” buses parked at strategic points that can be called into service if a gap develops. This more generous way of running things and the greater level of resource means there is a tolerance of the longer dwell times. London really does not work in that way at all. A valid question would be whether London needs to change its approach and move closer to the HK model in order to have capacity “on call” where it’s needed but we’re back to the vexed money question again.

  318. Greg Tingey says:

    ANY route that has a “reserve” or “Express” service overlaid on top of a standard all-shacks one must surely be an immediate prospect for trams?

  319. JM says:


    Thanks. I wasn’t claiming any of my experiences from the 25 were scientific. I agree on the Express routes idea not just to supplement what exists already but to help plug other gaps (places like Blendon/Blackfen with major A roads into London but no Rail). Plus the 7– series of numbers would be available and are already associated by many in the SE with Green Line. I noticed whilst out in HK they do this with standard buses.

    The tri axle trial – presumably for Enviro 500s or previous incarnations? I just wonder if an extra door/double staircase might have an incremental effect on high volume routes in terms of dwell time.

  320. straphan says:

    @JM: We already have a double-decker with two staircases operating in large numbers across London. I think the NBfL would work better in operational terms if the front staircase was designated the ‘up’ staircase, and the rear was the ‘down’.

  321. Graham H says:

    @WW/JM – it’s noticeable that the introduction of NB4L has not led to new timetables with additional running time – and LBL are not slow in revising run times if need be.

  322. timbeau says:

    Surely if the premise that dual staircases speed up dwell times you would be looking for new timetales with less (faster) end to end running time? Not that we’ve seen any of that either.

  323. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @Timbeau and others – as already said the problem is that there is no evidence whatsoever of reduced journey times. Secondly almost every NB4L routes passes a major construction site where the traffic is borked so extra buses have had to run on the routes. Yesterday (13/5) there were 4 non NB4L vehicles on route 11 and the 390 has seen non NB4L workings recently as a result of PVR increases and non delivery of extra NB4Ls to Metroline to supplement the fleet.

  324. Long Branch Mike (Long Barrier Manipulation) says:


    Given the large amount of (mostly) successful one way directional flow imposed in Underground spaces, one would think that one way flow into, through, and out of NB4Ls would be relatively easy to implement in the psyche of bus passengers. Perhaps with large arrows on the floors and steps. Obviously wheelchairs, mobility impaired, and seniors would have counter-flow ability.

    There are recorded messages on Toronto buses and streetcars to “exit from the rear doors”, as well as driver requests for same, which are usually effective at imposing such a flow on crowded vehicles & reducing dwell times.

  325. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – indeed, the advent of the NB4L has not usually been reflected at all in the issue of revised timetables.

  326. straphan says:

    @LBM: Londoners are already used to entering double-deck buses at the front and leaving through the middle doors. Trouble with the NBfL is that you can enter and exit through any door. That does not contribute to reducing fare-dodging, but more importantly, does not reduce dwell times on a double-decker bus!

  327. AlisonW says:

    I was on a 24 yesterday and the told one women not to get on at the back but to walk to the front. (He also chatted me up and asked for my phone number…)

  328. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alison W – are you referring to the “customer assistant”? So nice to see they are so occupied that they can lavish personal attention on you!

  329. AlisonW says:

    ah? Oh, part of my comment disappeared. Yes, I was. He seemed quite bored really, just standing there doing very little.

  330. Q199 says:

    Expecting people to follow signs and only enter or go up the front stairs and exit on the rear stairs is too much for some ‘Londoners’ or Tourists. Some of them havent figured out how to stop a bus yet and expect the bus to stop when there is 10 bus stops stop there,make no indication to get the bus to stop and then expect the bus driver to be a mind reader and know it is his bus they want to get on and expect all buses to stop no matter what!

    People frequently ignore one way systems on the tube whether its peak or really quiet.Whether its through ignorance,stupidity or just plain lazy so it lines them up on the platform where they want to be then they do it! One way system on the RM(Roast Master) would just it down more than normal.

  331. Greg Tingey says:

    A lot of people (including me) often ignore supposed One-way systems on the tube because they know, quite well, that following the signs will lead you all round the houses for 5 minutes, instead of a direct route taking, perhaps 1 or 2 ….
    The classic current example is in the King’s Cross tunnels.
    They tried making people @ Oxford Circus go up-&over-&-down to get from the Victoria/Bakerloo to the Central, but gave up, after some months of shouting matches, I’m glad to say.

  332. Q199 says:

    If there is a large group of people walking towards you and you are walking against them,dont expect them to move because you cant be arsed to follow the signs and go with the tidal flow. If its 6am or midnight and quiet then fair enough but not on an AM or PM peak. Green Park on the Picc and the Jub-Picc walkway are classic examples.

  333. Melvyn says:

    From what I see from the big , wide windows of proper modern buses is the frustration of their drivers at the lard butt NB4L which block bus stops and streets taking several times as long to serve bus stops with tourists jumping on and off rear platform uncontrolled . A problem that will like in the olden days lead to serious injuries and even deaths from their dangerous open platforms that will now not have a person on board and by rights should be locked when this is the case !

    As for the subject of tube stations there are some where if you try to exit from an entrance you will find you will need to go back down to platform level as ticket barriers only allow entrance and not exit .

    at kings cross I prefer to use the old up and down route in preference to the over long subways which should have included travelators like at Waterloo .

  334. Graham H says:

    @Melvyn – at those tube stations, following the exit signs might help.

  335. Fandroid says:

    There are some sneaky exits, like the one from near the front of southbound Northern line trains at Waterloo. No Way Out signs on the platform, but they appear as soon as you leave it. Easily the shortest route to the mainline station.

  336. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Melvyn – I am no great fan of the NB4L but can we please try to keep a sense of perspective. I have yet to read of or hear about tourists leaping off NB4Ls in an uncontrolled fashion. All the moans are about excessive control of the rear platform where buses are in crew mode. Further I have not read about, heard of or witnessed a single instance of a NB4L that should be in one person mode running with the rear platform open. You may well be against the NB4L for a lot of valid reasons but it does not help your argument by heading towards the realms of fantasy and imagination as to what is *actually* going on. I have also not read about the NB4L accident rate being worse for tourists than anyone else. Can you please point us to some objective evidence to support your statements as it would be helpful to read it?

  337. Anon5 says:

    When the NB4L is in open platform mode does the curved corner of the third door at the rear of the bus open fully? I seem to recall it does. When the NB4L is in driver operated mode this curved corner remains shut, resulting in a rather narrow doorway for boarding and alighting. Why is this? (Apologies if I’ve got the wrong idea and the curved part never opens.)

  338. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Anon5 – As I understand it the short curved section does not move of its own accord i.e. it’s not motorised. In open platform mode the “conductor” moves it when starting their duty and fixes it in the recessed position. When dual crewing finishes (or never applies e.g. route 148) then the curved section is moved into position to give a straight edge against which the opening door flap closes. It also means the pole in the middle of the rear platform aligns with the edge of the fixed curved section.

    This photo I took shows the rear platform when closed but from inside the bus. You can see how things “fit” together.

    I have not read an explanation as to why TfL have opted for this design but it does actually make the rear platform a narrow way on and off the bus when the bus is in OPO mode.

  339. Anon5 says:

    Thank you. I didn’t think I was imagining things. Congestion is made worse by the pole just inside the doorway. It slows down alighting passengers with those from the downstairs seating area and those from the rear staircase having to dance around each other – and that’s without factoring in anyone impatient trying to board through this narrow gap before people have got off.

  340. CdBrux says:

    I am not familiar with the rear exit and pole Anon5 mentions but I do know that the flow of people through an opening is actually speeded up by placing a small barrier in the middle, effectively dividing the opening into two. Perhaps that is at least a part of the thinking in the design?

  341. Rich Thomas says:

    There’s not enough room to squeeze past the pole to its rear – as can be seen from WW’s photo, it’s centred on the *platform* (ie. when both portions are open) but off-centre in relation to the OPO door section. You can only pass to the front of the pole when in OPO mode.

  342. Anon5 says:

    Yeah it’s a pain in OPO mode. I did have a childhood flashback to stepping off an old (British Leyland) single decker in south East London. I think these used to have poles to help people alight the steps. But it could be my memory playing up.

  343. Anonymous says:

    Route 94 I heard on saturday from two different drivers on 148 and a 94 that the new routemasters are coming in september..not released officially as yet

  344. timbeau says:

    Ceratinly not as soon as that – the 453 is up for Sept 20th, the 55 in February and the 189 at an unspecified date after that.

    It remains to be seen whether whoever is the mayor this time next year will dispose of them as quickly as the present incumbent got rid of the bendies.

  345. timbeau says:

    Update – (info from LOTS)
    apparently the 453s Borisisation has been postponed (twice) and is now expected to be October 18th
    next up is 137 (November – not only the first in SW London Chelsea Bridge – Battersea, Clapham, Streatham – but the first to cross the Thames with conductors!) followed by 55 and 189.

    What will happen to them after the new mayor takes over in 2016?

  346. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – I have read endless rumours about the 189 being converted but have not seen any confirmation. Have you seen something official that confirms the 189 is being converted?

    There have been some recent FOI requests which have confirmed the routes that have been tested for potential NB4L use. They also list those which have passed, those which have failed and the reasons for failure. The 189 is on none of those lists.

  347. timbeau says:

    This source seems accurate in other respects (see final entry) but I know of no more official information

  348. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – I am not sure how accurate *some* of that info is as it appears to be plagiarised from LOTS and the London Bus Routes websites / publications with added speculation on the top. There are vehicle types quote for the later 2 of 3 tender wins by Tower Transit and yet there has been no official confirmation of what has been ordered by Tower Transit for the 488, 212 and 444. It’s odd that no vehicle type is cited for the 488 despite it being the first route that TT take up. It is also possible that TT will have a new garage near Picketts Lock – if Enfield Council grant planning permission (the application has yet to be considered despite it being submitted in April this year).

  349. Greg Tingey says:

    I made a very sarcastic response to It remains to be seen whether whoever is the mayor this time next year will dispose of them as quickly as the present incumbent got rid of the bendies.
    Suffice it to say, the response was the latter they will probably go, very quickly.
    After all, with hybrids improving in efficiency all the time, there’s a perfect excuse, isn’t there?

  350. LadyBracknell says:

    @timbeau: someone might FINALLY have woken up to the fact that the 453 is possibly the worst route for conversion to the ‘new bus for London’. I thought the 38 was bad, passing as it does through large areas of the relatively poor London Borough of Hackney, but the deprivation is as nothing compared with the Old Kent Road/New Cross/Deptford. May the 453 never be converted.

  351. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Lady Bracknell – it will be converted. The buses have been built – there is photographic evidence of their existence. One even visited Edinburgh for the annual open day at Lothian Buses’ main garage as part of the equivalent “open house” event.

  352. timbeau says:

    @Lady B/WW

    It probably will be converted, but the existence of, apparently, about sixty NBFLs in co Amtrim (with new shiny Euro 6 engines making them almost as “green” as a standard Enviro) is no guarantee they will appear on any particular route.

    Does anyone know what the real cause of the delay is?

  353. LadyBracknell says:

    @Walthamstow Writer: photograph evidence of a new bus for London with a 453 route number and destination board. I would have to see this.

  354. timbeau says:

    A Routemaster with the number 453 on the front, and a rear platform with a door at the back.
    Not quite what you had in mind, but much nicer!

  355. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Lady Bracknell – from Twitter.

    Photo taken in Edinburgh – see the Lothian Bus in the background. The NB4L clearly shows 453 and “Baker St Station” and white “Go Ahead London” company name.

  356. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Lady Bracknell – sorry for a second post but here is a better photo from Lothian Buses.

    { mods – if you wish to merge the two posts into one please feel free }

  357. Ed says:

    Were figures ever released of what happened when the 453 changed from bendy to normal double deckers? I remember reading howls of complaint that the route was too busy and the double deckers couldn’t cope. All seemed to go quiet after.

    Was that because many were not paying as suspected and thus no problems ensued? Were figures ever released of revenue on the route and whether it went up after conversion as some non-payers had to pay?

  358. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ed – TfL do not release revenue data at route level. They have released patronage data. When the 453 started patronage was over 10m pas jnys in 2004/5. It then fell 15% in 2005/6 to just over 9m and then increased slowly over the following years to peak at approx 9.5m in 2010/11. Conversion to double decks happened in late 2011. Patronage numbers that followed are :-

    2011/12 – 9,274,867
    2012/13 – 8,728,518
    2013/14 – 9,064,511

    It is worth noting that many routes saw a fall in patronage in 2012/13. It is impossible to draw conclusions from this level of aggregated data as to why patronage went up or down. Nothing fundamental changed in terms of service levels or the route itself (other than the vehicle type) on the 453 over these more recent years. Many routes that converted from bendy bus to double deck saw fairly steep drops in patronage but TfL have always been cautious about the patronage numbers on bendy routes because there was no way to enforce everyone touching a pass on a reader unlike when boarding a conventional bus at the front door. It remains to be seen if TfL are cautious about patronage data on NB4L operated routes. We won’t get any reliable patronage data on those routes until TfL next release annual patronage info which is not for a long while yet.

  359. Vince says:

    Don’t know if this is relevant but I spotted a NB4L going down the Old Kent Road last week with half a dozen people in high visibility jackets on board.

  360. timbeau says:

    Tell you what – can we swap? Lothian can keep the NBFL and we can have their trams.

  361. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – I believe we had a chance to get our hands on some of Lothian’s trams but we bought the Stadlers instead. I can’t see Lothian Buses moving away from their long trusted Volvo / Wright combo – they’ve ordered a number of B5TLs with the glass side panel staircase design as trialled on the prototype they ran / are running. They also seem keen on the Volvo 7900 hybrid single deckers (as also used by First in Slough and Chelmsford).

  362. AlisonW says:

    WW: “no way to enforce everyone touching a pass on a reader unlike when boarding a conventional bus at the front door”

    The driver (OPO) of the 24 (NB4L) I was on heading into town on Saturday morning shouted over his tannoy at a few people who got on at different stops and headed straight upstairs to come back down and touch in. In one case a semi-argument ensued with the driver apologising to everyone “while the police attend”. Moments later the offending non-toucher-in alighted and the doors were rapidly closed so we could pull away.

    But yes, the NB4L is more annoying that it should be.

  363. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alison W – I understand drivers retain responsibility for revenue on the bus even though they don’t issue tickets or handle cash. This may well explain what you saw but it must be a tremendous stress on drivers having to somehow watch 3 doors at once while still being aware of vehicles and people in and around the vehicle even while stationary. Drivers having to yell after people and waiting while they behave or not does nothing for journey times although it can, of course, happen with other buses with people sneaking on through the centre door.

  364. LadyBracknell says:

    @Walthamstow Writer: thanks for the photographic evidence.
    @Vince: that would be the trial bus testing the route. Ideal in the sterile conditions of no stopping or passengers.
    @timbeau: this would, indeed, be lovely,

  365. Pedantic of Purley says:

    If only because it will wind others up …

    First starts consultation on radical bus improvement.

  366. timbeau says:


    Perhaps WYorks are looking ahead to 2016, when 600 of the things are ousted by the next mayor’s own pet project.
    (Where did all the bendybuses go?)

  367. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – one interesting aspect of the WY “consultation” is that First are asking if people would like opening windows in the NB4Ls that they say they will order for their initiative. I’ll believe it when I see it but the outcome in Leeds could prove to be decisive in terms of public vs private sector investment for buses (outside of London).

  368. Graham H says:

    @PoP – First have form in this sort of thing – remember the ftr? (This time,though,it may just be more attractive to local authorities insofar as it doesn’t require extra infrastructure/expense tying them in to a particular type of vehicle/supplier.)

  369. timbeau says:

    I sincerely hope the next London mayor will not think ftr’s are a brilliant idea and suggest a swap!

  370. FTR A British rapid-transit bus system currently in operation in Leeds, Luton and Swansea, using Wright “StreetCar” articulated buses and infrastructure upgrades (like express portions of routes, WiFi aboard buses, and most notably off vehicle fare payment). The operators claim ‘ftr’ is textspeak for ‘future’. First Group introduced the buses & system in Leeds/Bradford, Swansea (South Wales), & Luton Airport, whilst the FCC FTR service in York was withdrawn in March 2012.

  371. Graham H says:

    @LBM – thanks – I wondered what happened to the York installation – presumably, all the “pilots” became ordinary drivers again…?

  372. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham H – route 4 in York reverted to standard single deckers in the evening and Sundays initially. First then pulled out the FTR vehicles in their entirety. I believe they all went to Leeds for the “hyperlink” route to Bradford (the old 72). I assume the former drivers in York just swapped to the normal buses. FTR was badly thought out and poorly implemented with the possible exception of Swansea where there is massive bus priority for the FTR route. The irony is that First run articulated buses in several places in a perfectly decent way including on the York Park and Ride. All people really want is a decent service performance (punctuality / reliability), to pay a fare they think is value for money and to travel in clean and comfortable vehicles with decent information. I’ve never quite understood why so many bus operators forget these reasonably simple things and faff about with all sorts of nonsense instead. It’s taken First Group years to start relearning this stuff.

  373. AlisonW says:

    At the TfL access exhibition today I was ‘quite voluble’ in my arguments that they made a big mistake getting rid of the Bendies and replacing them with NB4Ls. Many others agreed with me ;-P

  374. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alison W – and what did TfL say by way of reply to your “voluble” statements?

  375. AlisonW says:

    Listening attentively and making copious notes! Actually, I was surprised how interested they were in the feedback they were getting from attendees but saddened that they hadn’t done some of the simple options themselves to find out access issues (like borrow a wheelchair for a day and just go out and try to use it)

  376. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Yes a bit sad if they hadn’t done some of the simple options themselves. There is one TfL board member who has no need to borrow a wheelchair in order to be aware of these issues.

  377. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alison W – cynicism alert! Well yes they will take copious notes but I would be genuinely surprised if Leon Daniels and others haven’t heard it all before. All the public sessions from the Bus Report process involved reps from Transport for All plus other groups. The problem is that the complaints are always the same – every form of wheelchair to be allowed on buses, 2 wheelchairs to be allowed on every bus, ramps not working, rude drivers, arrogant people with buggies, the rail system not being perfectly accessible everywhere at all times. TfL have tried to sort out the ramps issue and have repeatedly done work with drivers but it’s hard to change behaviours of thousands and thousands of staff working for contractors.

    I will probably seem unsympathetic but some of those demands cannot be met without excessive cost or inconvenience to everyone else on the network. Even bendy buses don’t take 2 wheelchairs so what do you on that issue? Disabled travellers in London do have more options than many other places given the vast bus network which is fully accessible plus the DLR and Tramlink. The Tube and main line rail has a long way to come but TfL are, at least, trying to improve matters. While trying to experience what it is like for a disabled person to get around might help I don’t think these things really deliver major change. It gives momentary appreciation and will probably be forgotten – just like “motivational” events or initiatives in the workplace. I’ve had to use the tube with legs and arms not in the best of shape (post accident) and while I can remember what it felt like I don’t think it has changed my expectations / views about accessibility. It’s only when it is an everyday unchanging experience that your views really change.

  378. Melvyn says:

    @ Alison W I virtually never touch in as I along with millions of others use paper Travelcard issued by rail companies for passengers outside London !

    This was ever the case when Artics were in operation !

    The real problem of fare evasion and Artics was more to do with their use on long routes like the 25 from Ilford to Oxford Circus instead of a network of high capacity routes largely in zone 1 . The fact BORIS removed ARTICS from both red arrow routes showed it was more about dogma than common sense vfm transport !

  379. Kit Green says:

    Pedantic of Purley 2 October 2014 at 21:34

    Oh God!

    Below TGT was the professional spin merchant well known to Radio 4 listeners as a long time defender of the indefensible. I hope she brings something other than obfuscation to the board.

  380. AlisonW says:

    Walthamstow Writer – welcome to the cynics club (though I suspect you were already here really). There will always be limits – usually financial but nearly as often technical – why some things can be done and some cannot. As it happens, the point I made about a recent experience with someone refusing to move from the wheelchair space because she didn’t speak / read English and the sign only being in English – and therefore being more appropriate as a pictogram – seemed to be taken on board. TfL need to remember that English is sometimes a minority language in London!

  381. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alison W – I am shocked that you could say such a thing about me! 😉

    Despite London trading on its “World City” status TfL are not especially good at catering for multiple languages on vehicles or in stations. I’m not for a second saying it is easy but foreign languages seem confined to a small part of the website, touch screen ticket machines and translated versions of some leaflets.

  382. Malcolm says:

    You can generally recognise websites or other publicity from places aspiring to be “World Cities”. They can be expected to cater for the official language of the country where they are situated, and also for a “World Language” (typically English). TfL scores full marks on this criterion.

  383. Fandroid says:

    Do TfL consistently speak English? Or is it their own special dialect honed to obscurity over many years?

  384. Stationless says:

    @WW: I remember when Central London bus stops used to have those multi-language “Please from a queue” notices.

  385. Greg Tingey says:

    Kit Green
    That’s why she’s there, or hadn’t you realised that?
    [Usual deletion for total inappropriateness. PoP]

  386. Ken Westmoreland says:

    I came across this by googling ‘left hand drive Routemaster’ as I always wondered if there’d been any – with two thirds of the world driving on the unnatural, sorry, right hand side of the road it seems short sighted.

    Hong Kong still drives on the left, despite being returned to China, but Gibraltar, avowedly British, drives on the right – there is a red double-decker bus, but it’s a German model!

  387. timbeau says:

    @Ken W
    Even in the UK London Transport only found one other buyer for the Routemaster: Northern General in Newcastle. By the time the RM was on the scene, the tide was already turning: the prototype Leyland Atlantean appeared at the London Motor Show in 1956- the same year RM1 entered service – with the now familar front entrance layout. Indeed London Transport’s own pre-war Q-type was a front entrance double decker.
    In any case, double-deckers are rare in other markets: often because of more restrictive height limits, so export opportunities were always unlikely.

    But then again –

  388. Greg Tingey says:

    Surely you shouold have used the word “fashion” rather than “tide”.
    Atalanteans were IMHO vile pieces of rust with (octagonal) wheels on.
    As for “other markets”, well, Berlin has double-deckers too!

  389. Anomnibus says:

    @Ken Westmoreland:

    It probably wouldn’t be that difficult to build one, but I can’t imagine many cities being interested in such a beast.

    The potential market for double-decker buses is mostly limited to places that already have them. Those that don’t may find that providing the necessary clearance, pruning entire avenues of trees, moving overhead clutter, raising bridges / lowering roads, and so on proves prohibitively expensive.

    The NBfL is only ever going to be a very niche player in an already small market. It was designed “for London”. The many narrow roads mean buses there tend to hug the kerb almost all the time, so there is some logic in that open platform, but many cities have far more wide roads and their buses are therefore more likely to be in a lane other than the one next to the pavement.

    Without that open platform gimmick, the NBfL is just another double-decker hybrid bus, and it’s an expensive one at that. There are competing models that can carry more people for less money. Why would you buy the more expensive, less efficient, model?

  390. Rational Plan says:

    As for Double Deckers in general their is a small but growing market in the US. But there they are seen as ideal for long commuter services and express routes where you want to have maximum seats. Many commentators on US pro transit sites dismiss them as unsuitable for city streets due to slow boarding compared to single deckers.

  391. @Rational Plan et al

    Toronto’s regional transit authority GO Transit runs 47 double decker buses made by Alexander Dennis of Scotland on regional highway express routes, where the bridge clearances are higher for 18 wheeler trucks. They are very popular.

  392. Walthamstow Writer says:

    As we have drifted into export sales of UK bus designs it is worth noting that Alexander Dennis have updated their Enviro 500 model and produced a “go anywhere” lower height version that can cope with the height restrictions in export markets. A version of this model has been trialled in Seoul in South Korea and I’m sure one or more will end up in the US in due course.

  393. @WW

    Indeed 25 of Toronto’s new Enviro 500 double-deckers are 10 cm lower than the original double-deckers introduced in 2008. The new double-deckers will be suitable for 45 routes, 34 more than the older version.

  394. Anonymous says:

    1. I have a suspicion that there would be a very restricted market for “lower height” double deckers in other parts of the world including, for example, Northern Europe. On the other hand, a petite young lady I know has recently returned from a trip to Japan, enthusing about Tokyo’s public transport. She said that the grab rails were all at the right height.

    [As was quickly and politely pointed out to me here on LR a while back when I jokingly remarked on a commentator’s grammar, “The convention here is not to criticise grammar and spelling too much in comments… for many things in the English language there are no hard and fast rules and some things that we would immediately think are *wrong* are considered acceptable by many and positively archaic by others.” We strive to focus on the message conveyed, not the correctness thereof. LBM]

    Your description of Leyland Atlanteans – blech! – borders on praise. They were, in no particular order, ugly, polluting, noisy, unreliable, slow and bone-crunchingly uncomfortable.

  395. Walthamstow Writer says:

    As someone who grew up away from LT standardisation I have no problems with Atlanteans or Fleetlines or various eras of Bristol vehicles. 🙂

  396. Graham H says:

    @WW = the vile shock was for those who had lived in trolleybus territory and saw(and felt) them replaced by Atlanteans – at least in London, the transition to diesel was more gentle.

  397. timbeau says:

    As I said – pioneered by the Atlantean – Daimler’s Fleetline and Bristol’s VR followed fairly quickly, and Scania Metropolitans, MCW Metrobuses, Leyland Titans, Volvo Citibuses and E400s, Dennis Dominators and Tridents, and even Boris’s behemoths all have the same basic internal layout, with a front platform next to the driver and ahead of the front wheels – although some relocated the engine under the stairs like London Transport’s pre-war Q type.

  398. Greg Tingey says:

    It wasn’t the front-entrance rear engine as such that failed to enamour me of the Atalantean it was the appallingly shoddy build & lack of quality generally.
    Losing the open platforms was another minus, of course.

    I remember the shock of going to Manchester in 1964 – buses in at least 9 liveries & the appearance of Crossley buses, which though often newer than London’s older RT’s felt distinctly pre-war in use ….
    Of course at that point there were at least three different colours of Trolleybus too ….

  399. Anonymous says:

    @WW @ timbeau
    I have no significant criticism of Metrobuses, E400’s, B7M’s and Tridents. However, Atlanteans and Fleetlines were dreadful. The Bristol VR was much superior to the latter.

    @LBM I was not commenting on grammar or spelling, just one particular word containing three superfluous letters.

  400. Mod note: Can we make sure this doesn’t descend into a list of buses that are liked or are not liked? By all means state a preference but give reasons for your opinion otherwise we put ourselves slightly below the standard of discussion of a primary school playground.

  401. Graham H says:

    @PoP -to pick up your point, I suspect the reason why front entrance buses seem (ed) so unattractive is that they marked the change to one man operation for urban routes, which required greater acceleration away from stops if journey times were not to be even further extended. That implied jerkier ride quality. Drivers also reported that,with rear engines, they could no longer drive on the basis of engine sound with a consequent tendency to over- rev and change gear at a less than optimum point. How true this was is difficult to say.

  402. @Graham H,

    Probably very true. In the past I got very frustrated by the fact that people did not like the buses because they did not have a conductor. To me that was a separate argument and it was perfectly feasible to have a front entrance bus with a conductor even if you couldn’t have an open platform bus without one. If they didn’t like the buses they should explain why. If they didn’t like losing the conductor or open platform they should have openly stated that was their reason for disliking them rather than confuse the issue and blame the buses themselves.

    It is the same with closing ticket offices and having stations unstaffed. Completely separate arguments although obviously if you have the station unstaffed that means closure of the ticket office – but the converse isn’t necessarily true. Some people seem unable to understand are the issues different and others, for their own purposes, deliberately confuse the two issues.

  403. Malcolm says:

    Pedantic refers to drivers’ reports of rear engines being too far away for smooth gear changes to be made.

    Trouble is that once again we have obfuscation by another factor. Upward changes on semi-automatic gear boxes like the Atlantean (two pedal) can be made either smoothly (by waiting for engine revs to die away before pressing on the loud pedal) or roughly, but the rough changes, even if they make passengers fall over, do result in (slightly) faster travel, so there is some temptation. Whereas on preselectors (like the RT), and even more on proper gearboxes (like outside London), the smoothest drive is also the fastest.

  404. timbeau says:

    The Fleetline was hardly a resounding success in London use, and the fact it was selected over the Atlantean after an extensive trial doesn’t say much for Leyland’s alternative – maybe a good idea badly implemented, and much improved on by others. My own local operator, although loyal to Leyland, actually went back from Atlanteans to half-cabs (albeit forward entrance) in the 1960s, until Bristol’s VR became available to operators other than nationalised industries (Tilling Group)

  405. timbeau says:

    When the heritage buses were removed from route No 9 the reason given was that passengers would get confused by them because unlike on the NBFL the conductor collects the fares and works the Oyster reader – but the heritage Routemasters would remain on Route 15.

    So guess which route is reported by LOTS to be next in line for NBFLs?

  406. There is a world of difference between the reason given … (not true) and a reason given … (may have been true but I don’t remember it).

    To establish the facts and not suppositions please read

  407. timbeau says:

    Sorry I misremembered the actual excuse, but it was NBfL related: we are told that tourists prefer them. (measured how?)

    “Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport for Tfl, ……Routemasters on route 9 have not been quite so popular and the service has recently been operated by the ‘New Routemasters’ in the shape of the New Bus for London. Nowadays, those travelling for leisure purposes tend to choose the new buses.”

    The “confusion” issue was when the six pilot NBfLs on the 38, working alongside ordinary buses, were switched to OPO (i.e with the rear platform closed off). I fail to understand why it is deemed more confusing for different buses on the same route to be operated in different ways than it is for identical buses on different routes (e.g the 11 and 148) – or even the same route on different days of the week! – to be operated in different ways.

  408. Pedantic of Purley says:


    Sorry I misremembered the actual excuse, but it was NBfL related: we are told that tourists prefer them. (measured how?)

    Not an entirely satisfactory answer but I have been quite surprised on occasions when a “normal” bus and a nearly empty routemaster turned up simultaneously on route 15 and neither the locals nor the tourists have not chosen the routemaster. Whether that is because they didn’t realise they could board it at the same fare, were scared of the open entrance or what I just don’t know.

  409. Melvyn says:

    News on bbc site that first Borismasters need to have their batteries replaced !

    See –

    Price you pay when dogma overrides proper testing like the REAL ROUTEMASTER went through first shown in 1954 but not into main service until 1960 …!

  410. Melvyn,

    Given that they are being replaced under warranty, actually a better comparison would probably be with the early days of the electric tube. The early tube electrical systems were pretty hopeless as they were really pushing the technology of the day and often didn’t come up the agreed specification. There was a lot of replacement of electrical equipment that had only been installed a few years previously – most famously was the “camel back” locomotives of the Central London Railway but there were numerous other examples. It all worked out well in the end because the cost of replacing the equipment (not always borne by the railway company) quickly more than paid for itself in more efficient working due to the major advances in technology over the space of a few years.

    I know lot of other people have a different opinion but for me the thing that swings it for the Borisbus is the fact it succeeds in going long distances without the engine running. In contrast, my experience of the off the shelf hybrids it that they are doing well if they can make it to the next set of traffic lights – then the engine kicks in when it is stationary!

  411. Graham Feakins says:

    But PoP, how many of the ‘400 buses’ so far supplied are equipped with batteries that are or are likely to fail soon, no matter how well they perform when functioning? Those batteries are not cheap and somebody has to pay, whether it be the bus supplier or up the chain to the supplier of the batteries – and presumably eventually the next end customer. There’s another 400 buses to be added to fleet, too.

    Supposing that the battery manufacturer cannot improve the product in the short term and nobody else can, then, once the warranty expires, if not before, is it not likely that TfL will have to follow past history and revert to something more traditional before too much expense is incurred and until something better proven is available?

    There’s a similarity with the Metadyne regenerative equipment on e.g. the Underground’s R-Stock, which had to be isolated because the substations could not cope.

  412. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Graham Feakins,

    Don’t get me wrong. This could turn out to be very serious. The buses (and more particularly the batteries) are probably only guaranteed for so many years (five, seven, ten ?) and it could be that at the end of it the cost is just not worth the effort.

    I don’t know who supplies the batteries but I suspect it is a big technology company and the cost of replacing 400 or even 800 batteries, even twice over, is a drop in the ocean compared to the potential future market so, as long as they can identify the problem and resolve it, they will just put it down to the learning curve. They are supposed to last a lot longer than this.

    Battery technology is advancing at a remarkably fast rate so I suspect in five years time the batteries will be cheaper and more reliable.

    Perhaps a better comparison would be with the Dreamliner Aircraft and the problems Boeing had with Lithium-Ion batteries – far more serious than this. Yet, the aircraft are still in the air using the batteries although admittedly modifications have been made to the aircraft to contain battery fires. As far as I am aware the batteries haven’t given any problems over the past 12 months.

    If I were in charge of London Buses I would be slightly concerned but I wouldn’t be losing any sleep on this – yet. Slightly worrying is that that London’s Clean Air policy relies on all double deck buses in Central London being hybrid by 2020 and single deck being 100% electric (or other non-polluting source at point of use). I know other makes of hybrid are available but, as I have said, I have been singularly unimpressed by these so far.

  413. Graham Feakins says:

    @PoP – According to the Wrightbus website, “Latest generation Valence Lithium-ion battery technology” is used on these buses. Home page here:

    Based in Houston, Texas but also with manufacturing capability in China….

  414. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ PoP – I’m sure you know that ADL and Volvo hybrids are to a different design to the NB4L which is why the engine works alongside the hybrid drive. I’m not aware of any battery issues with the ADL E40H or Volvo B5L but perhaps they’ve just not been publicised? The emergence of this battery issue with the NB4L has explained one thing for me – why so many NB4Ls that I see, or more pertinently hear, are chugging along like tractors most of the time. I expect the next couple of Mayor’s Question Times will be full of questions from the usual suspects about this issue. I look forward to reading the responses.

  415. Greg Tingey says:

    The nearest route to my house, the 212, has just gone over to Volvo-chassis hybrids, as has the 34. [ B5LH? ]
    These are vastly preferable to the “Boribus” from (my) passenger’s p-o-v, if only because you can see out of the upstairs windows …..
    But I see that some hybrid-enthusiasts are not so keen, claiming that they are not “true hybrids” & that the technology is already out of date.
    Confused? I certainly am.

  416. Walthamstow Writer,

    I’m sure you know that ADL and Volvo hybrids are to a different design to the NB4L which is why the engine works alongside the hybrid drive

    Yes, and they are fine buses in their own way. But, to me, a properly functioning new Routemaster gives a vastly superior ride. I totally accept that others may have different reasons for preferring one against the other – as evidenced by Greg’s priority of having a better view out (or any view in the case of the rear [non] window) of the upstairs windows.

    What slightly disappoints me with ADL or Volvo is that we do not appear to be moving to a zero-emissions capable mode whereby they can function without the engine running when going along Oxford Street – or any other location where it is deemed that air quality should be a good as possible due to the number of pedestrians. Planning for all central London buses to be hybrid or better is all very good but we should be able to manage a bit better than that and, as yet, ADL or Volvo do not seem to have a hybrid suited to this.

    Just to be clear, I do not have an unfettered love of the new routemaster but I do like the technology it uses and would hope that it could be got to reliably and sustainably work in that and other makes of bus.

  417. ngh says:

    The NBfL batteries are lithium iron magnesium phosphate cathode technology rather than lithium cobalt(III) oxide (used in most laptops and mobiles). Lithium iron phosphate is meant to be more robust (stable) for high power application (power tools and electric vehicle).
    The issues with Boeing and other big Lithium battery so far have usually been 2 fold: The electrical system in general not behaving as modeled (higher short term loads) and battery cooling not being modeled or designed properly (especially the need to take account of adjacent battery thermal behavior.)

    High end Li battery hand held power tools now tend to have forced air cooling built into the chargers with cooling channels in the batteries between cells to prevent cell degradation due to the cells getting too warm during charging. The Boeing mods included similar improvements.

  418. Moosealot says:

    The NB4L is a series hybrid. There is no physical connection between the engine and the wheels at any time, so all the work of pushing the bus along is done by the electric motor. The engine is tuned to provide a given amount of power very efficiently, so if the demanded power is less than that then the battery will be topped up (or the engine shut down and all the power drawn from the battery) and if the power demanded is more than the engine’s output then power will be supplemented by the battery.

    The Volvo B5LH is a parallel hybrid, i.e. both the engine and the electric motor are mechanically connected to the back wheels. There’s a 12-speed automatic box to keep the engine in its optimal rev band most of the time and it will pull away up to around 5km/h on battery in order to avoid using the inefficient torque converter before it can match 1st gear to the bottom end of the engine’s optimal band. The engine is not optimised as well as that in the BN4L but as a result it is more flexible in its range of outputs. The amount of use that the battery gets in the Volvo is significantly less than in the NB4L because the engine power and demand can be more closely matched.

    The NB4L is quite possibly the most demanding application for automotive batteries on a mass-produced vehicle in the world. If I were the battery manufacturer, I would be very happy to supply replacement batteries in exchange for the performance data that I’m getting.

  419. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – oh the irony about the 212 buses! They have squashed upper deck windows in the Gemini 3 bodywork just like the NB4L does although I’ll grant you that you can see out the back! The smaller windows are a weight saving measure.

    @ PoP – I am sure that ADL and Volvo (and other manufacturers) are all working on virtual electric vehicles that can run without an engine for longer periods of time. ADL will be providing such buses for route 69 in London with charging technology at the termini. I’m now confused about timescales for that as I’m sure I recently read about December being the trial launch date whereas all previous reports were at least two seasons ahead of that (late Spring / Summer). I would expect TfL to be very interested in trialling different forms of all electric / virtual electric vehicles to encourage innovation and to grow the supply base. This is a repeat of what they have done with low floor buses and then hybrid buses over recent decades. There is also a tie in with various EU initiatives as well.

    BYD of China are apparently working on a double deck version of the bus that runs on the 507/521 routes. I can’t see Volvo / Scania / Mercedes Benz / Van Hool wanting to be left behind given the world wide trend will be for much cleaner vehicles and Western funding will almost certainly require emerging economies, seeking to modernise their transit systems, to adopt such technologies / undertake technology transfer. Van Hool hydrogen buses have just gone into service in Aberdeen. London is getting two more hydrogen buses for the RV1 and that route has been removed, for the foreseeable future, from the tendering programme because of the unique fixed infrastructure needed to fuel the buses. Route 312 in Croydon goes fully electric later this year when a fleet of new, as yet unconfirmed, all electric single decks join the two Optare Metrocities on the route. Go Ahead London also have two all electric Optare Metrocities on order – don’t know the route they’ll work on yet. I’d guess the 360 (to compare against the Wright Electrocities) but I’m probably wrong!

  420. Pedantic of Purley says:

    Walthamstow Writer,

    Very interesting and reassuring. Thank you.

  421. timbeau says:

    They may be being replaced under warranty, but the cost of that warranty will be reflected in the original contract price.

    @Melvyn – “REAL ROUTEMASTER not into main service until 1960 ”
    Routemasters actually entered squadron service on Remembrance Day 1959 (Routes 5, 5a, and 48)
    Replacing trolleybuses of course

    @Grham F
    “There’s a similarity with the Metadyne regenerative equipment on e.g. the Underground’s R-Stock”
    Metadynes were fitted to the O and P stock, (which were converted to pneumatic camshaft control in the 1950s) but not the R stock, which had PCM control from new (or conversion from Q stock)

  422. Graham Feakins says:

    @timbeau – “Metadynes were fitted to the O and P stock …. but not the R stock” – Apologies – my error; I blame the spectacles of my memory, since cleaned following the monthly LR visit to the Blue Posts.

  423. Walthamstow Writer says:

    The London Assembly Budget and Performance Committee is getting its teeth into all things “new bus for London” this coming week. They are looking at the development of the bus, its use and the prospects for future orders. Mr Leon Daniels and Mr Mike Weston from TfL will be attending the meeting. The Committee has secured the release of a lot of background information on the NB4L including the business case numbers and costs and various bits of commercial info. The Commitee agenda papers are accessible via

    and key documents submitted as Appendices are accessible via

    It is noteworthy that the business case is not at all good for the bus and yet it was approved demonstrating the essential political nature of the project. In short TfL had to do it because the Mayor said so. Other interesting snippets are that only 250 buses were ever assumed to be crew operated not all 600 in the original order. The business case is also largely predicated on fuel savings, reduced dwell times at stops (from open boarding) and a better ambience on board through better air cooling and reduced noise. There was also a distinct safety disbenefit included related to the safety risk of the open platform. The papers released date back a couple of years and there’s no evaluation of how buses running now relate back to the anticipated delivery of costs and benefits. In their letter to the Commitee TfL are positive about the bus as you would expect and have tried to deflect the criticism of the internal temperature / comfort issues of the NB4L by trying to turn internal temperatures into a network wide issue. Quite how making a problem on up to 800 buses into one covering 8,000+ vehicles makes any sense I leave to others to consider. I can’t get my head round that bit of thinking. I expect the Committee meeting will be extremely interesting if, as I expect, the members are robust in their questioning of TfL.

  424. Greg Tingey says:

    Borismasters to be retro-fitted with opening windows (!)
    See: HERE
    How many times has Boris said that there’s nothing wrong with the supposed “air-con” in these?
    Oh dearie me.

  425. timbeau says:

    It takes courage to admit you’ve made a mistake – especially when you’ve repeated it 500 times – so good for them.

    Assuming the remaining 300 on order will have them fitted from new, £2m for 500 buses is £4,000 per bus, or about £500 per window if two are replaced each side on each deck.

    The original production order for six hundred buses cost £212m (or £220m if you include the five protoypes), or about £350k per bus, so this retrofit will cost about 1% of the total (or about six buses).

  426. Reynolds 953 says:

    Does the opening windows upgrade mean that air conditioning won’t be used? Or is air conditioning still of some use even when the windows are open?

  427. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Reynolds 953 – Arrrrrrrrgghhhhhhh! Sorry about that. The NB4L does NOT and NEVER HAS HAD air conditioning. It has an air cooling system only. It is a common error that the Mayor has never bothered to publicly correct that the buses only have air cooling and even then a system that really really struggles to cope with the enormous heat generated by the engine and batteries plus the consequences of 80+ bodies on board. TfL are hedging their bets and are not saying the windows will work, what effect they’ll have on the air cooling and fuel consumption. TfL explicity ruled out fitting air con because of the axle weight, carrying capacity and fuel consumption consequences. That was all set out in a Board Paper in late 2014.

    No one knows yet what the 6 opening windows upstairs and 2 downstairs will do in terms of improving travelling conditions. There is a suspicion that the replacement windows will be heavier than current ones and that will have consequences for the carrying capacity (total weight of the bus plus passengers). The NB4L already falls badly short in this respect when set against standard bus designs like the new Enviro 400MMC, Wright Streetdeck and Volvo’s new chassis with Wright or ALD bodywork. They are all designed to be lighter and more fuel efficient and can legally carry nearly 100 people which is 25% more than a NB4L in a shorter vehicle length. Why on earth we are persisting with such a poor vehicle design when the market provides something vastly better and cheaper I do not understand.

  428. Henning Makholm says:

    @WW, isn’t that what “air conditioning” means: a system that cools the air? How do you distinguish between “conditioning” and “cooling”?

  429. Pedantic of Purley says:

    As I understand it …

    “Air Cooling”, which I think of as little more than a marketing term, essentially means blowing air around which has a cooling effect on the body. It also helps exchange the air inside the bus with air outside that is hopefully cooler. Think of a simple fan and in marketing speak that is an air-cooling system. “Forced Air Ventilation” would be a more honest term.

    “Air Conditioning” conditions the air by cooling it in the same way a fridge cools the air inside it. It requires a lot of energy (so increased fuel usage) when it is functioning in a bus. Coach drivers quickly learn that they can’t run the air-conditioning for long without having the engine running otherwise they will have a flat battery.

  430. Anomnibus says:

    Air conditioners use a heat exchanger to move heat from one space (i.e. inside a bus) to another (i.e. outside). This is exactly the same technology used by a fridge or freezer.

    Air coolers use a number of methods based around evaporation of moisture into the air. The evaporation process cools the air, but raises its humidity level.

    Free-standing office units normally have a tank of water (or ice) that has to be refilled regularly. The system used on the NBfL most likely uses the moisture from the air inside the bus rather than requiring a tank of water be filled up at the garage before each trip. It will cool the air down, but not as much as an air conditioner would.

    The key difference is that air conditioners dry the air as moisture condenses inside the unit and the resulting water is usually drained away through a pipe. In free-standing / portable units, the condensed water is drained into a tank that has to be emptied regularly.

    A “forced air” system really is just a fan. It really is just an air intake hole, a fan, some plastic tubing, and some nozzles. There is no cooling of the air at all and it’s the same system every car – and the Networker trains use this system.

    The NBfL uses the “air cooling” method. Although it’s very much a compromise, I can understand the logic of choosing it: it uses much less energy to run, and the equipment weighs less too. The problem is that it’s a double-decker bus, which means there’s a limit to how much equipment you can stick on the roof (the ideal location for any air cooling or conditioning system given that cold air falls). The three entrances don’t help either; most London buses have just the two.

    Single-decker buses don’t have to worry quite so much about scraping under low bridges or overhanging branches, and they have a smaller volume of air to keep cool, so full air conditioning is an option for those. (There’s something to be said for reinstating trolley-wires when you consider this aspect of modern bus design. Trams benefit from not having to generate their own power too; the weight added by air conditioning systems is still substantially less than the weight of a diesel engine.)

    This has been a Public Information Announcement on behalf of the Ministry of Too Much Information. Sleep well!

  431. We have exhausted (sorry!) the NB4L air conditioning/air cooling topic.

    For those who had a air conditioning/air cooling comment deleted recently, basically nothing wrong with the comment itself but we were getting a lot of repetition or at least very slight variations on a theme.

    Unless substantially new air conditioning/cooling information is presented, we will cull all such subsequent comments.

  432. Anonymous says:

    There is now (or soon will be) a potential ‘new new bus for London’ (NNBfL?). Interestingly, although an ADL design, it borrows design influences from the NBfL and seems to have been sponsored in some way by TfL. The first will be in London service in November. See:

  433. Graham Feakins says:

    And, timbeau, if one goes to the next photo along in that series:

    https:[email protected]/8342440207/in/photostream/

    I wonder just where they are going to accommodate those opening windows on the present NBfL fleet because the existing windows are far less high than traditional bus windows. If ‘they’ try to install them by simple retrofitting, then surely the opening portions are going to be just about level with the faces, wigs and hats of passengers, which I am sure will produce a measure of complaint just as great as any we have seen so far because of the lack of windows! So they’ll get shut..

  434. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ G Feakins – TfL could, of course, take the revolutionary step of having sliding windows that buses had for decades or, even bigger shock horror, have a little handle you can turn to make the glass move vertically. Now what bus, rumoured to be a London icon, had that type of window? And before anyone says it yes I know that sliding / vertical windows fell out of favour because people apparently threw things out of the windows. If TfL adopt hopper windows on the NB4L then I agree with you that it will be a real struggle to see how they can work in any meaningful way without bashing people’s heads or opening so slightly as to be utterly pointless.

  435. Graham Feakins says:

    @WW – Yes indeed but add to that what first came to my mind – the fact that nearby passengers will receive direct air flows (call them “draughts”) straight in their faces. Now then, that didn’t happen on that icon of a London bus (apart from maybe the front windows on the upper deck) and neither does it happen on other ‘normal’ buses.

  436. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham F – I beg to differ on the draught issue. Some hopper windows on “normal” buses have side supports and others don’t. The ones that don’t tend to create a draught or mini rain shower for the people sitting behind the window. This is why you end up with arguments between the person *beside* the window wanting it open and the person *behind* wanting it shut because they’ve got a blast of freezing air or water in their face. Of course each person has a different tolerance for warmth and cold and that also causes problems too. I recall one clip from the “Route Masters Moving London” TV series – it’s of a black gentleman complaining about how cold the buses on route 38 are. I reckon the shot was done in Spring when it’s rarely that cold and when we are past the point when you need the heating on – if your temperature tolerance is set to normal UK levels. However if, as I expect was the case for the gent in question, you have a much higher tolerance for warmth then you’re still going to feel that a UK spring is like Winter in your home country. In short the “powers that be” can’t win no matter what temperature they set the controls at.

  437. Westville13 says:

    @ Graham F – But when the front windows on the RM upper deck were open the wind could take the wigs off people sitting at the staircase end. I particularly remember getting a face full of ash once from a smoker in front (yes I am that old). And it was very hard to read a broadsheet newspaper. Happy days on the 94 – it may even have been the 88 then. Didn’t they eventually put pins through some of the front window openers so you couldn’t open them?

  438. Rich Thomas says:

    ““It builds on the ‘London look’ with ……………………wrap-over rear upper saloon windscreen .”
    Whatever this means, (and I’m not sure), having a rear upper windscreen at all would be a significant improvement on the cave-like environment of the NBfL

    The ‘standard’ new Enviro 400 looks like this, this and this – at the back, there’s a black glass section that rolls up from the glazing to the back of the roof. It looks quite pretty. The upper section isn’t actually a window, though, but more of a decor panel—as seen from inside.

  439. timbeau says:

    The lower section IS a window though, and that is a definite improvement on the cavelike NBfL

    Absence of a rear window on a lower deck is far more common – here is an Optare Solo (single decker), and even on those designs which do have lower-deck rear windows, they are either tiny or obscured by seat backs so you wonder why they bothered. London’s first low-floor double-deckers were some of the worst offenders – no rear window and high backed longitudinal seats obscuring the rearmost side windows les to an environment not unlike the original “padded cell” CSLR tube cars (not that I have had personal experience of riding in the latter, you understand!)

  440. Rich Thomas says:

    Agreed—I always find the back of a double-decker horribly oppressive, with the combination of low ceilings, high floors, obstructions from wheelarches and the lack of visibility. Scania OmniCitys always feel much more spacious at the back thanks to the stepless gangway and expansive glazing, but then the otherwise-fun rearmost double seat (which is offset towards the centre of the vehicle, there not being quite enough width for three seats across the back wall) suffers from being little more than a moquetted bench on top of a warm, thrummy engine compartment. Swings and roundabouts.

  441. Jim Jordan says:

    Westville13 – 22 September 2015 at 22:26
    At first the front windows were pinned during the winter only but may have been permanently pinned at a later period.

  442. Walthamstow Writer says:

    TfL have published a paper showing the potential case, or not, for the operation of Christmas Day bus services. The paper goes to the Surface Transport Panel in late October. The preliminary view is that there is not a business case for Christmas Day bus services (across a range of options) but there is an acknowledgement that more detailed work is required. The view on costs is in the “excluded” part of the paper and not for public disclosure. The decision whether to do more work on this topic would seem to rest with the Panel members. Unfortunately we will need to wait until 2016 to see the minutes of the Panel meeting and understand what decision was reached.

  443. Anonymous says:

    Re: Anonymous 20 September 2015 at 21:25 . LOTS reports that the new Enviro 400 City comes in at 10.4m long with an unladen weight of 11549kg and accommodates 90 passengers. By comparison, the NRM (nee NB4L) is 11.3m with a ULW of 12400kg and manages 81 passengers.

  444. AlisonW says:

    I was about to say that it wasn’t _that_ many years ago when there was a (very much reduced, central area only) Xmas day bus service, but then I realised it was probably a while further back than I’d been thinking it was. Ninetys?

  445. timbeau says:

    ULW and carrying capacity are directly related. the maximum gross vehicle weight for a bus is 18 tonnes. The standard passenger (or CSA!) is assumed to weigh 68kg. Thus the carrying capacity should be (18000-ULW)/68 .

  446. Graham H says:

    @Alison W – there was certainly a central area Christmas day service up until the late sixties/ early seventies, but only between 10.00 and 16.00. In the days of trolleybuses, it was even quite frequent – every 4 minutes in some cases. I am less clear about country Christmas Day services – I seem to recall just a handful of routes serving hospitals.

  447. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Alison W – I think Mr H is correct about a more general level of Christmas Day service. What did happen in the 90s (I think) was that several London operators (bits of London Buses) did run “commercial” Christmas Day services which were concentrated in Central London and numbered in the 7xx series. These charged higher fares than normal and tended to link the main tourist corridors (Tower Hill, T Square, South Ken, Russell Square) and into the inner suburbs. I also understand that when the Sightseeing Buses ran on Christmas Day they did a handsome trade in terms of local fares – several routes (largely feeders) do charge a cash fare for local journeys but this is something of a “state secret” unless you know where to look.

  448. Greg Tingey says:

    The standard passenger (or CSA!) is assumed to weigh 68kg.
    Well, THAT assumption needs revising, damned quickly.
    I’m of approx average height ( 1.78 metres ) & mass 70-71 kg – even without wearing 2-4 kg of clothing & things-in-pockets.

    WW/Graham H/Alison
    The railways certainly used to run Xmas day services in limited numbers (local services only) in London in the 1950’s – & started up again, with restricted services about 09.00 (?) on Dec 26th

  449. Greg,

    And male – unlike more than half the population.

  450. timbeau says:

    Perhaps they assume the average passenger is a little old lady, or a school kid. The seats certainly seem to be designed accordingly!

  451. Graham H says:

    For non-LOTS members, readers here may be interested in the following analysis from their September 2015 TLB:

    31/12/2013 M-F PVR 7679
    31/12/2014 M-F PVR 7835
    5/09/2015 M-F PVR 7953

    and these increases at a time when no new routes had been opened and there have been very few frequency increases (and a number of decreases in fact).

    Not a happy story…

  452. timbeau says:

    @Graham H
    This suggests that more buses are needed to maintain the service. But is this because congestion is getting worse (3.6% over 21 months), or recognition that the previous schedules were unrealistic, so more buses were required to maintain the scheduled frequency?

    (Or possibly because some of the newest buses – no names, no pack drill, (no sweat!) have a smaller capacity than the buses they replace?)

  453. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – I think that’s the point. Whether you can actually draw a distinction between congestion problems and unrealistic timetables is a moot point. Given the relative stability of the network, it seems likely that run times which were once “realistic” have become less so with the passage of time. The disruption caused by Crossrail works can’t have helped either. [Others may have views on the capacity point, although introduction of the LTs doesn’t seem to have caused, in itself, changes to the PVR or schedules on the routes affected; I also detect a certain cavalier attitude to the vehicles actually turned out particularly in the suburbs.]

  454. Walthamstow Writer says:

    Timbeau / Graham H – let’s do NB4L first. The basic point about PVRs not changing at the time of conversion holds true except for route 55 which gained a more frequent service. Depending on how heavy each batch of NB4Ls is then the capacity reduction varies between 3% and 6%. I have been keeping a spreadsheet of all of this – I’m tedious like that. It’s not yet clear whether NB4L conversion in and of itself causes patronage rises or falls. Last year’s data wasn’t clear at all and there may be a myriad of factors affecting route patronage.

    On the wider point about rising PVRs then TfL themselves cite three main causes – more road traffic because of a rising population / lower fuel prices, more delays because of major projects (some are TfL ones) and the final cause is TfL’s own Road Modernisation Programme. The creation of segregated cycling infrastructure is also a major factor. I understand that TfL have been boosting PVRs in an attempt to maintain reliability which suggests that operational efficiency is declining. Belatedly some effort is being put into bus priority but the old team was disbanded years ago to save money as part of Boris’s “efficiencies” so now we have an increasingly inefficient bus network and TfL have to somehow patch together what they axed. Ludicrous. The latest Surface Transport MD’s report shows that patronage is below last year’s levels and below target and network performance is not good.

    The picture will become a bit more complicated now because TfL is beginning to slowly bolster some suburban services – the C10 got a big frequency increase last weekend, the 173 gets one tomorrow and other routes have gained double deckers in place of single decks (285, 90, 173, 202 are some examples). Recent tender awards in East London will see more double deck conversions and frequency increases – most likely in advance of Crossrail although overcrowding is chronic now. The counterbalance is that route 16 has just been converted to NB4L operation but also had a significant frequency *reduction* from 10 bph to 8 bph. Although the current business plan has funding to increase bus service provision over a number of years that may all get flushed down the toilet by the Chancellor and / or the next Mayor. As has happened before some people will be lucky and get better services during a time of “plenty” while others may lose if the budget is cut back in future.

  455. As a reminder, PVR is the Peak Vehicle Requirement for a route, as vehicles on the road, whereas the allocation includes spares / breakdown cover.

  456. Greg Tingey says:

    All true.
    What scares me is the p.o.v. shown by many persons – e.g. in a public meeting I was in on Tuesday ( about LBWF’s roads, what a surprise!) where there was a sudden irrelevant-to-the-meeting outcry about bus & train fares & demanding steep reductions – I tried to point out to them, that if they wanted cheaper bus-fares, they could have them, provided they also put up with one bus every 20 minutes, or maybe half-hourly…..
    I don’t think they “got it” at all.

    In these discussion boards, we are all relatively well-informed, but large numbers of the populace, not so much.

  457. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Greg – I think there is still a bizarre notion that somehow public transport is just one of those things that is magically provided at seemingly little cost and should therefore be cheap to use. It partly explains this odd attitude to fare dodging – not paying on the tube or trains is somehow “acceptable” because it’s a “public service” whereas nicking a chocolate bar from Tescos would never cross their mind. It is perfectly possible to have cheap public transport but someone picks up the bill somewhere else – council tax, income tax, whatever. There are also other consequences that flow from a cheap fares policy and those may be very unpalatable. If you charge relatively high fares and the system is bursting at the seams why encourage more people if you can’t handle them? Makes no sense.

    I completely understand why people are fed up with high fares but those same people keep voting in politicians who have policies of putting up fares!! Are they really so shocked that politicians do what they said they would do? If people want to cut the fares then fine but can we please have an honest debate about what stops getting done or what else costs more in order to find the funding? Mr Khan has allegedly found “efficiencies” in TfL’s budget that can fund a fare cut but seemingly can’t or won’t say what those efficiencies are and how sustainable those savings are to fund the long term ongoing reduction in revenue.

    As is to be expected we are back at the annual round of Mayor’s Questions where lots of questions about the impact of fares cuts or specific products (one hour bus ticket – yawn yawn) are being asked so TfL are forced, via an indirect route, to release data to potential Mayoral candidates or opposition politicians.

  458. Malcolm says:

    WW says “… a bizarre notion that somehow public transport is just one of those things that is magically provided at seemingly little cost …“.

    Maybe not so bizarre if you think along the lines (perhaps subconsciously) of “the bus will run anyway, whether I get on it or not”. So the bus company (it seems) is no worse off with a fare-dodging passenger than if he walked, whereas Tesco have to replace their nicked chocolate bar.

    Of course this is fallacious, but many people may not see the fallacy.

  459. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Malcolm – well yes I see the point you’re making and it may well be true in London at the moment. It isn’t so true elsewhere in the UK with a deregulated regime. Too much of “it runs anyway but it’s not being used” and the bus simply disappears. The discretionary funding for socially necessary routes / journeys is vanishing by the month and we must wait to see whether the Chancellor carries out his forecast (by others) threat to make all of London’s transport network pay its own way by cancelling revenue grant. I can’t see any way in which London’s bus network will remain in “it runs anyway” mode right across Greater London if George turns off the money tap. The next Mayor will certainly have been handed a poisoned chalice if that happens.

    In the last week or so I’ve used two of London’s least frequent services out in Havering. One runs 4 return trips M-S but still had a reasonable number using it for shopping, socialising and education journeys. No way does it make a profit but it clearly provides a lifeline given the way the regulars all knew the driver and addressed him by name. The second route runs every 90 mins and I caught a trip at PM school time. The route loaded well and picked up people at quite unexpected places and dropped people off right out on the Gtr London fringes. I had to take the same bus back as there was no onward bus (other than once a day!) and even then it was picking people up on what I’d assumed would be a quiet run. All this just goes to show that even at low frequencies people will use a service if it is dependable and reliable. Nice to be reminded of the value of the bus when so many of us are used to buses every few mins and barely give them a thought.

  460. timbeau says:

    There is a hidden assumption in calculations involving ticketless travel that increased inspections will result in more revenue enforcement. This assumes that everyone currently travelling without a ticket would still have travelled if they had to pay. If the risk of getting caught has the effect of stopping them travelling (or choosing a different mode of travel), rather than encouraging them to pay, the cost of the ticket checks will not be recovered from increased revenue. (It will of course make more space for the rest of us).
    This is not condoning the freeloaders, just pointing out that stopping them may not be cost effective.
    There will also be people who are actually deterred from travelling again after an encounter with an over-zealous inspector with a zero-tolerance attitude to genuine mistakes or emergencies.

  461. Reynolds 953 says:

    Just to mention that Tom Barry, who ran the Boriswatch website and twitter account, has died at the too-young age of 41.

    He was a trenchant critic of the NB4L, or “lardbus” as he called it, and it seems somewhat apt that his last tweet was:

    Boris Watch [email protected] Oct 28
    Gloomy, cramped plus a weird vibration from the powertrain. #lardbus #triumph

  462. Greg Tingey says:

    A nice little controlled rant about the Boris/Roast-masters from “City Metric”

  463. Greg Tingey says:

    Oh dear, how sad
    As mentioned, more fuel for the many critics.

  464. timbeau says:

    “the precautionary work was completed at no cost to tfL or the taxpayer”

    No EXTRA cost – because we’d already paid for it. Since the whole project was sponsored by TfL, the cost of the risk of such a thing happening was factored into the contract price in the first place.

    There does seem to be some misinformed comment around though – I have seen several commenters suggesting that tfL should have ordered hybrids instead, suggesting that they don’t realise that the NbFL is itself a hybrid. (albeit probably not the most efficient hybrid available)

  465. Stationless says:

    With so many supposed issues with the NBfL/NRM, I do wonder are these down to the Heatherwick design or down to Wright’s engineering?

    Also, now that the SRM is launched, was this an initiative by TfL or Wrights?

  466. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Timbeau – to be fair the cost of vehicle warranties is always in the cost of running a route where new vehicles are concerned. To some degree an element of the design and development cost is also factored into the price of new vehicles and operators pay that. In London’s model it is TfL that then pay up and going back one step that means fare and taxpayers. I understand your point that TfL paid the entire cost of the NB4L but let’s not kid ourselves that London didn’t help fund the development of ADL and Volvo hybrid buses too. Given the massive push London has made to low floor buses, hybrids and all electric vehicles over the last 25 years then a lot of “London” money has flowed to help push those innovations into marketable designs.

    Given the media are most likely reflecting comments from London Assembly members when it comes to hybrid bus costs then you can rest assured that those AMs most certainly *do* understand the difference between the various models and their respective costs. They definitely know the NB4L is also a hybrid.

    @ Stationless – don’t you mean *TfL’s* design given they’ve now ordered 1,000 of the mobile greenhouses? 😛

    Although everyone is denying it publicly I think it is pretty clear that TfL have done some very strong “behind the scenes” arm twisting with the manufacturers to ensure the most tedious aspects of the NB4L design are perpetuated. ADL and Wrightbus have spun it as “oh we just decided that these NB4L-esque features should suddenly turn up in new versions of buses we’ve always planned to build” (ahem!). I find the whole thing utterly, utterly depressing. I am also left wondering when some opening windows are going to appear on these wretched buses. Not long now before we’re at Summer (and possibly warmer (hah!) temperatures) when the “majority” of NB4Ls should have been converted and yet new buses are still being churned out of Northern Ireland with non opening glazing – including the new SRM on Volvo chassis when it should have been perfectly feasible to design it from day one with opening windows.

  467. Ed says:

    With bus ridership and income going down (not seen in 20+ years?) and cuts to operating budgets increasing, when can we expect real cuts to services to begin?

    After the elections?

  468. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Ed – it remains to be seen. The latest numbers are profoundly worrying and TfL have only published one year’s worth of revised budget numbers despite being instructed by the Mayor to produce 5 year’s worth. Of course it is all totally academic now because whoever gains City Hall in May will force through a change in budget and business plan anyway. As none of the candidates (so far) have any strong commitments about the bus network it’s an easy target for reductions. TfL have already effectively changed policy anyway because they’ve said they’re going to keep reducing central area bus services and divert money to the suburban services. One area to keep an eye on is TfL’s reaction to Essex and Herts cutting their funding for cross boundary services which are contracted by TfL. So far nothing has been said and we are very close to the new financial year so something will have to give soon. If TfL decide the routes have to be cut back to fit the available funding then that’s a clue as to how tough things are.

    Regardless of who wins the election Oxford St will be pedestrianised so that will bring seismic changes to the bus network in Central London. It will change beyond recognition compared to today’s network.

  469. timbeau says:

    “you can rest assured that those AMs most certainly *do* understand the difference between the various models and their respective costs. They definitely know the NB4L is also a hybrid.”

    They may do, but I’m not convinced the press do, and even less that people writing in to the press do. I saw a comment a few days ago suggesting that tfL should be buying hybrids instead of “diesel buses like the nbfl” Of course, you know and I know that the NbfL is a hybrid, as well as (like all hybrid buses) a diesel. But clearly some people don’t realise this and assume a bus isn’t a hybrid unless it has pictures of green leaves on the side.

  470. Graham Feakins says:

    If the press get it wrong, then surely a voice of authority in e.g. TfL should contact in a proper manner the publication concerned to inform and correct the reporter’s comments and I do not mean by way of a ‘letter to the editor’ intended to be published as such.

    @WW – “If TfL decide the routes have to be cut back to fit the available funding then that’s a clue as to how tough things are.”

    Interesting, for do you suppose that bus routes out for consultation to extend (I have in mind the 42 at its southern end by example) will be discarded, or were you just thinking of bus frequency? The 42 is an odd one anyway because most of the extended route is already covered by parallel bus and train routes.

    As for the NBfL (NB4L), what is happening to all the perfectly serviceable buses it is replacing? I might add not only perfectly serviceable but more comfortable and better designed in many respects.

  471. timbeau says:

    @Graham F
    “what is happening to all the perfectly serviceable buses it is replacing?”
    The same as happens all the time when new buses are introduced = older buses are taken out of service. These may be the ones that previously operated the route the new buses have appeared on, but more usually there is a “cascade”, and somewhere in Stagecoach’s or Arriva’s or whoever’s empire, some life-expired T-registered relic will go for scrap.

  472. Greg Tingey says:

    <i? …divert money to the suburban services. …
    Which are going to need it if LBWF’s antics with their road “system” are continued or reproduced elsewhere.
    It now takes ridiculous lengths of time to get from Clapton to Walthamstow & the N-S artery through Walthamstow ( Hoe St & Chingford Rd ) & frequently utterly locked up, even on Sundays, because of LBWF’s “cycle-friendly” initiatives, causing lots more pollution of course ….
    This is relevant, because travelling by bus, even in “zones 3-5” (so to speak) is now not worth the effort, most of the time.

  473. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – T-registered? You should be so lucky. Here in Stagecoachland,we’ve only just seen the backs of N-registered kit.

  474. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Graham F – Just over a year ago TfL announced their “500 extra buses” boost to the bus contract budget. The profile of planned total annual mileage was duly increased over several years. Clearly this year and rolling into next there is some extra money hence a massive splurge of consultations and an equally massive surge of conclusions in the last couple of days! Has purdah started? 😉 At long last significant network gaps like Ealing to Hounslow and Ealing to Harrow are being fixed albeit off the back of some controversial changes to other routes. The 42 extension has been long heralded but that’s run into a local controversy at Red Post Hill over trees and traffic calming! We shall see what TfL decide to do. They urgently need to double deck the route but can’t keep it at its existing terminal at Sunray Av if they do (tree issues again!).

    When you look at the new budget TfL have lopped off 1m miles off the bus network mileage target (was 499m, now 498m). The figures beyond next year have not been published. The response I referred to was TfL’s reaction to the planned total withdrawal of funding by Essex and Herts county councils in respect of cross boundary routes in their areas. As I have said before there is great disquiet by people *living outside of Greater London* about the cuts but the disquiet is directly at our City Hall not the relevant County Halls. Obviously there are Londoners who use the routes too and repeated Mayor’s Questions have yet to elicit a clear answer.

    There is a big issue here – if TfL does not cut these routes to reflect the loss of funding they are effectively signalling to other bordering counties that they can cut their funding too and TfL will magically make up the difference. I don’t want to see any routes cut but we are talking about many hundreds of thousands of pounds for Essex and Herts. If Surrey cut off their funding then we’re talking about quite a lot more given the volume of TfL service into Staines, Epsom and south to Dorking. TfL routes in Staines have loadings full to bursting point so any cut to services there would be hugely unpopular but there is a point of principle here. Other authorities can’t be left to “dump” their funding problems on London because where does it end? We’re beyond the point where cuts can be made without them having consequences. Voters outside London need to direct their ire at their politicians. If it was down to me I’d cut all the relevant cross boundary services in order to ram the point home. That’d probably be a bit childish on my part but there is not a bottomless pit of money.

    It wouldn’t be quite so bad if the core TfL bus network funding was in decent shape but it isn’t. Revenue is way down as is patronage. When you compare the updated budgetted bus revenue for next year (2016/17) against the numbers in the last Business Plan there is a reduction of £141m (£1,566m against £1,707m). That’s a very large shift to try to cope with. Bus contract costs are shown to be £99m lower which is partly down to lower fuel prices, keen contract costs but must also party reflect that 1m reduction in planned mileage. I was hoping to see the profile of mileage and costs beyond 2016/17 but I assume TfL have deliberately not published that given the pending Mayoral Election and the need to redo the Budget and Business Plan anyway.

  475. Malcolm says:

    WW: your points about the cuts in support for cross-boundary routes make me wonder whether there might be some more targeted response that TfL could make, rather than just choosing between continuing the services (with the consequences you describe) and dropping them.

    Is there any scope for differential pricing, for instance, so that a journey wholly within London is priced as now, but crossing the boundary requires paying more? (I assume fare differentials based on the passenger’s home address are ruled out by practical considerations, and perhaps legal ones as well, although use of many council tips requires proof of address).

  476. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Malcolm – there are, of course, a range of options open to TfL. The obvious ones are to reduce service levels where this is feasible especially if it reduces the peak vehicle requirement. It may also be possible to axe evening or Sunday services or withdraw sections of route but that’s the more difficult thing to do as sensible turning points rarely align with administrative boundaries.

    I think fare changes are the least likely to be honest. There used to be higher fares for out boundary sections but that was before Oyster and before cash fares were removed from buses. I think it is completely impractical to have graduated fares because it could only work on where you board the bus rather than where you alight. Also do you charge a higher fare for those travelling to or from an out boundary area or also for those travelling through such an area and re-entering Greater London (this applies to route 107)? I can’t see people going from Edgware to Barnet on a 107 being pleased at coughing up more dosh because the bus runs via Borehamwood! There are also implications for daily / weekly caps, Travelcard and Bus & Tram season ticket prices. Do these all need a higher price version for out county bus travel? Sounds like a load of effort to raise a little money when reducing services is the easier answer.

  477. timbeau says:

    “I think it is completely impractical to have graduated fares because it could only work on where you board the bus rather than where you alight.”
    There is a certain rough justice in such an approach, as most journeys are return journeys and therefore the average cost would be intermediate between an in-London and an outside-London journey.

    Of course, the GLA boundary could be adjusted, if the good folk of Epsom & Ewell, etc, want to join the club. But there seems to be some people who would rather the opposite – someone on the radio last night was claiming havering was east of London, not in London, and somehow blaming the existence of the GLA on the EU (despite the fact that the UK did not join the EEC until nine years after Havering joined Greater London!)

  478. Ed says:

    Greg Tingey – 100% correct about roads becoming gridlocked for most of the day, every day. In many areas of London I spend time in, out past zone 2 is just solid traffic. Buses are a complete waste of time. And in a deeply unscientific survey – when looking at people on buses it is increasingly those under 16 or over 60 – ie those who do not pay. Looking at falls in revenue this seems to be backed up.

    Who would use a bus now if you do pay and have ANY sort of alternative? They are beyond slow. Glacial is more like it. A pitiful service.

  479. Malcolm says:

    @timbeau: Yes, the GLA boundary could be adjusted; some alternative or extra authority could also be introduced. But the timescale of such changes is all wrong – any such thing proposed today could only happen in 5 years at the minimum (and more likely 15, 50 or never), whereas the challenge for the bus network is now: decisions have to be taken now to meet any deficit and/or provide the best possible service with the available money.

  480. Graham H says:

    @WW – would it matter (except of course, to the users) if the TfL funding for cross-boundary services was withdrawn? Aren’t they -as here in Surrey – “joint” services for funding purposes and therefore if the outcounty leg is withdrawn, so, too are the costs.

  481. James Bunting says:

    @ Graham H 1800

    It would be understandable if services no longer having contributions from the shire counties only operated within the TfL area, but creates reminders of what happened to trams when they reached a municipal boundary. Let us hope some sort of sensible solution can be arrived at.

    If TfL wanted to keep a cross boundary service for its passengers you could, of course, have the last boarding point at the last stop inside the boundary, with a matching first setting down point in the reverse direction, although the 107 would remain a problem.

  482. timbeau says:

    The 107 is not the only route to dip in and out of the GLA area. The 166 crosses the boundary three times on its way from Croydon to Epsom, and the 331 crosses four times on its way from Uxbridge to Northwood

  483. Graham H says:

    @James Bunting – quite so, but hardly TfL’s problem. Financewise, the issue is a neutral one for them. The problem can, of course, be replicated over the entirety of the country, wherever there is a boundary. Those services like the 107 which dip in and out of different local authorities aren’t in principle, any different. The *only* alternative is to have a Dutch-style centrally laid down standard for providing a bus service, but that ship sailed fifty years ago, alas.

  484. Kate says:

    Schools are to move out from local authority control so why would buses moving into some centrally controlled setup be impossible?

  485. Graham H says:

    Not impossible if the political will was there, but no political party advocates it (nor ever has,indeed). More specifically, whilst the duty to provide education is a legal one, there is no such duty to provide a bus service – and it’s unclear how that duty could be defined. [More generally,and moving perhaps too far away from topic, why would government wish totake direct responsibility for something that is politically a hot potato when the buck can be passed to local government – but then you could have made exactly the samepoint about education…]?

  486. Man of Kent says:

    An alternative approach to the cross-boundary issue is for non-TfL services to run into the GLA area. There are not that many examples of local bus routes functioning under a London Service Permit these days (Google TfL LSP Bulletin for more info) but Arriva Southern Counties’ 402 from Tunbridge Wells still manages to make it to Bromley (and the 477 from Bluewater to Orpington).
    Colleagues in the know reckon that the 310 from Hertford to Enfield was severely damaged as TfL sought to push such routes out of its area, in this case truncating it at Waltham Cross, which is an inadequate substitute as an attractive destination for passengers.
    The disadvantage is that such routes do not have the technology to accept Oyster – though I believe both of the ASC routes offer a cash-equivalent fare – but they do take other passes eg Freedom Pass. However, as operations from outside London tend to have a lower cost base, fewer passengers is not necessarily a financial problem. But it would cost rather more than £1.50 to travel from Dorking to Kingston if the 465 were to be provided this way.

  487. Graham H says:

    @Man of Kent -the issue is not who runs the buses but who pays for them; it really doesn’t make any difference which operator crosses the boundary – one operator’s route (and many do) could easily cross many boundaries,collecting subsidy from the different authorities as it goes.

  488. Man of Kent says:

    @Graham H
    It *does* make a difference who is the operator. On another thread I highlighted what Surrey spends on TfL-spec routes that run into the county, and they absorb more subsidy than the typical SCC-funded route.
    I would say that is because TfL’s bells-and-whistles specification means that the costs are considerably in excess of what generally runs in the rest of the country. If the cross-boundary routes are run from outside in the manner of the 402, it is entirely possible that they could be provided commercially – or certainly at a much lower rate of subsidy. No i-bus (which costs what – £11k a bus?) but real time info is usually available via the ticket machine; perhaps fewer CCTV cameras though on-board wifi is becoming increasingly common. Swings and roundabouts to some extent, but the cloth is cut accordingly beyond the GLA boundary.

  489. Graham H says:

    @Man of Kent – still not so, I fear. My point has nothing to do with the spec of the crossboundary routes but is about who pays for them. Surrey is entirely free to choose which operator runs services within its boundaries and if it chooses to procure crossboundary services to a higher spec than internal routes or prefers to break a route at the boundary for tendering purposes then that’s its decision, not TfL’s. Whatever Surrey’s decision – and I suggest you study very carefully the 2014 SCC Cabinet papers on bus tendering with their associated list of routes for which they pay subsidy – they are paid for by SCC, not TfL, within Surrey’s boundaries.

  490. Walthamstow Writer says:

    @ Man of Kent / others – yes you can get a cheaper service than one provided by TfL. The main issue is that the service level will (almost certainly) be vastly lower. I think one reason why there is so much “noise” from users is that they know that a TfL provided service is cheaper and much higher quality (frequency, hours of operation). They know that if it goes then any alternative will not be as good. For people inside Greater London then there is the issue that if cross boundary routes go their service levels may drop too and any alternative is likely to be less attractive. Thinking about all the routes into Epsom it’s not easy to find practical places to turn them at the boundary. There is the further issue that some cross boundary routes have been brought back from the dead and have seen decent increases in patronage in recent years (406/418 Kingston to Epsom being a good example). If these routes were cancelled then a lot of investment will be written off. I understand Graham H’s point – depending on how “brutal” you wish to be then yes, of course, you can remove these services and leave users and politicians with the fall out. The issue, though, is that TfL’s services are subject to political accountability whereas most others are not.

    I note with interest the remark that TfL forced out the 310 at Enfield. What TfL did, in response to Mayoral policy, was tighten the emissions standards applicable to all service buses running into Greater London. In a number of cases existing operators (Arriva and Thamesway) opted to withdraw the cross boundary routes rather than provide vehicles to a suitable standard. I don’t strictly see this as TfL forcing companies out. There are wider questions about air quality and if exceptions should or should not be made about where the standards apply. The irony is that Arriva now have very decent vehicles on the 310 that would easily meet the requisite standards that are tighter now than they were in the past. I understand the “Oyster equivalent” cash fare on the 402 and 477 in Bromley borough will shortly go as will Travelcard and Bus & Tram Pass acceptance within Greater London.

  491. timbeau says:

    There are commercial routes within Greater London – for example, Abellio’s 458 and 459 (the successors to red routes 218 and 219) These are the only routes along the Portsmouth Road, passing Kingston University’s Seething Wells campus, and are Surrey County Council sponsored services. They do not accept Oyster, but they do accept cash!

  492. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – in fact, the majority of routes from Surrey that go into the GLA area are commercially provided according the schedules of bus tenders let by SCC;to judge by the successive route reorganisations in, for example, the Weybridge and LHR areas, it is the “country” sections of such routes which are on the margins of commercial viability. Some were roads whose services were red (eg the 201 and 215)and some were green in origin, even if they look very different today.

  493. timbeau says:

    @Graham H
    The 201 (and 206) disappeared c1980 when the 215 was diverted from the main Portsmouth Road to cover the local roads they had previously served. The 215 itself survives as a TfL red route in darkest Claygate, albeit masquerading since 1987 as the K3.

  494. Graham H says:

    The Kingston-Guildford road is an interesting but probably off topic of the example of hundredisation, having been served by the 215, 415, 715 and (briefly) the 815. It was nice to see Surrey keep the tradition alive with the 415…

  495. timbeau says:

    @Graham H
    You missed one – the Kingston-Guildford route was originally numbered 115 – renumbered into the single-deck series as 215 in 1934.

  496. Graham H says:

    @timbeau -:-) It’s a pity that the trolleybus service was never extended from Dittons as the 615 -full house.

  497. timbeau says:

    sadly the 615 (Moorgate to Parliament Hill Fields) and the 315, (in deepest Hertfordshire) were not part of the pattern.

  498. timbeau says:

    PS just discovered a short-lived 615 paralleling the 15

    But I think you’re mistaken about Surrey’s 415
    Guess what number the current Kingston-Guildford service has……

  499. Graham H says:

    @timbeau – I sat and watched a 415 leave Guildford for Ripley yesterday whilst waiting for the 71 but maybe that had a poorly set blind (wildly offtopic, but the art of providing a correct display seems to defeat many bus drivers round our way)! You’re right about the 515, tho’.

  500. timbeau says:

    mea culpa – googling failed to find that one. Curiously, at the other end, I also often use the 71 – the London one , in Kingston. (Or one of them anyway, there is another one serving Heathrow!).

    Back on topic, lack of co-ordination of bus numbers between operators can be a real problem – but is hardly new: in my home city the NBC subsidiary and the Corporation, both had number series starting at 1, the correspondingly-numbered routes often leaving the City Centre in diametrically opposite directions but in other cases following each other down the High Street for over two miles before diverging to quite different destinations. In the 1970s they even operated buses of the same make and, just to make it even harder, started dressing some buses in advertising liveries so you couldn’t even rely on recognising which No 7 was yours from the colour (or rather shade, because the two operators’ standard liveries were both green!)

  501. Man of Kent says:

    @WW 00:44

    Currently on the Arriva website: “From 20th March we will no longer accept Oyster Cards in the Transport for London area (between Crouch Farm and Orpington). Instead we will offer a standard £1.50 single fare for journeys in this area which is equivalent to the value of a single journey using an Oyster card.”

  502. Southern Heights (Light Railway) says:

    @MoK: I had always avoided them anyway because of the assumption: Bus not red => no oyster! Judging by the loading levels on the 477 when compared with the partially overlapping R6, I think many other people did the same….

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