Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Cost of converting a route to the New Routemaster operation

In this article I will be concentrating on the cost of the New Routemaster which includes the cost of converting routes to the full New Routemaster operation.

You may already know that the New Routemaster was originally called 'New Bus for London', also abbreviated as NBfL/NB4L and colloquially as the 'Borisbus' or 'Borismaster', a portmanteau of the name of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

In 2010, Londonist worked out that the New Routemasters would cost £1.6 million each. But in late 2011, BBC News reported that the prototypes cost £1.3 million each. There were original plans to have five prototypes in service which cost £7.8 million (from Londonist’s figures.) But instead they brought 8 prototypes which cost a total of £11.3 million which also includes research and development.

Originally TFL planned to have the smaller batches of production buses ordered and bought by private bus operators, but instead they bought it in a block of 600 buses. The first figure was estimated to be £160 million but Londonist estimated that it cost £266,000 each. The second figure is from BBC News where their figure is estimated to be around £180 million.

In 2013, the figure for 600 New Routemasters had increased towards £212 million. But today the buses cost around £326,000, which is more expensive than the standard conventional diesel double decker bus. But the price is competitive to the standard 'off the shelf' hybrid bus because of extra features like the rear door, rear staircase and the design of the bus.

The average price for the New Routemasters over the life of their contract will be £354,500 which includes inflation, technical upgrades, mandatory changes and also the legal requirement to fit Euro 6 engines to new vehicles built in 2014.

Table of routes that converted to New Routemaster

Original bus type
Tendered bid/cost per annum
Date commenced
Total cost of route conversion by PVR
Clapton Pond (CT)
Ash Grove
Wright Gemini 2 VDL DB300
68 DW
7 LT
First LT entered on 27th February 2012, the last 8th prototype entered on 13th July 2012.
8 prototypes cost £11.3 million
The first route where prototype LT’s operate as supplementary to the main 38 route between Victoria to Hackney Central.

Holloway (AE)
Wright Gemini 2 Volvo B9TL (VW)
Wright Gemini 2 Volvo B5L Hybrid (VWH)
5 at night
22nd June 2013
Mid contract conversion.
Stockwell (SW)
Wright Eclipse Gemini Volvo B7TL
21st September 2013
Mid contract conversion. Not available on route N11
Stamford Brook (V)
East Lancs Myllennium Vyking Volvo B7TL (VLE)
26th October 2013
Mid contract conversion. The supplementary 9H operated by Heritage Routemasters was withdrawn on 25th July 2014. Also not available on route N9.
Holloway (AE)
Plaxton President Volvo B7TL (VPL)
3 at night
7th December 2013
Mid contract conversion
Shepherd's Bush (S)
Scania OmniCity (SP)
5 at night
15th February 2014
Mid contract conversion, first route to have LT’s in One person operation.
Stamford Brook (V)
Scania OmniCity (SP)
4 at night
26th April 2014
Mid contract conversion
Clapton Pond (CT)
Ash Grove
Wright Gemini 2 VDL DB300
55 (CT)
5 (AE)
26 at night
10th May 2014
Mid contract, full conversion to production LT’s whilst the remaining prototypes operate from AE Garage.
Bow (BW)
ALX400 Dennis Trident
19 at night
28th June 2014
New contract
Mandela Way (MW)
Alexander Dennis Enviro400 (E)
11 at night
4th October 2014?
Mid contract negotiation 
Leyton (T)
ALX400 Dennis Trident
Alexander Dennis Enviro400
11 at night
28th February 2015
New contract, PVR increase from 30 buses.

The total cost of converting the routes to the New Routemaster as listed on the table is £116,232,000 which also includes prototypes.


The £354,500 figure is estimated per bus for the full contract period, the total cost does not include spares so the actual figure might not be accurate.  This does not include the PVR for night services.

PVR stands for Peak Vehicle Requirement, it means the number of public transport vehicles required to operate the highest frequency service on a route in public transport planning.

There may be future routes yet to be announced, but I've only listed the routes that are currently operating, whilst routes 453 and 55 are not converted to New Routemasters.

When TFL converted Routes 24 and 11 to the New Routemaster, they had been promoting the services by 'door drop mailing' a postcard of the New Routemaster. Then they promoted the services by issuing posters to commercial sites that they had access to.

The full cost of promoting the New Routemaster is as follows:

Media - £97,147
Design, print and production - £62,699
Total: £159,846

If you think it’s a waste of money or even value for money for London, then post a comment below and let me know.

Also don't forget to follow me on Twitter to keep updated with my latest articles from my website.

Related New Routemaster Articles

Comparing the New Double deck bus types
Failed Route tests for New Routemaster conversion
TFL releases fuel consumption figures for the New Routemasters'
TFL Plans to have 200 more New Routemasters


From What Do They Know:

Answers from Mayor’s question time about the New Routemaster:

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