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Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Failed Route tests for New Routemaster conversion

Route 23 is the one affected
Computer generated image of New Routemaster, copyright belongs to TFL.

I recently found a Freedom of Information request referring to the London Bus routes which the New Routemaster failed their route test on. Eddie Cole submitted a request via the 'What Do They Know' website where you can see users submitting information requests to government bodies for information.

The 'What Do They Know' website user sent a Freedom of Information request to Transport for London on 11th September 2014.

Dear Transport for London,


I understand that you have recently released, via an FOI request, a list of routes that were tested for operation by the New Routemaster but which were considered unsuitable without varying degrees of infrastructure work.

I understand these routes to be 7, 14, 19, 22, 23, 74, 94, 139,168, 414 and C2. Firstly, can you please confirm that this list is correct.

Secondly, please would you set out details of:

i) what the required infrastructure work would be for each of these
routes and
ii) any estimate you have made of the cost of these works.

Yours faithfully,
Eddie Cole

Below is the reply from Transport for London to Eddie Cole's FOI request about the failed route test for the New Routemaster.

Dear Mr Cole

TfL Ref: 0953-1415

Thank you for your email received by us on 11 September 2014 asking for information about New Bus for London route testing, details of infrastructure works and the costs involved.

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy.  I can confirm we hold some of the information you require.


I understand that you have recently released, via an FOI request, a list of routes that were tested for operation by the New Routemaster but which were considered unsuitable without varying degrees of infrastructure work.

I understand these routes to be 7, 14, 19, 22, 23, 74, 94, 139, 168, 414 and C2. Firstly, can you please confirm that this list is correct.


I can confirm that details of the bus routes which were tested for possible New Routemaster conversion but were deemed unsuitable without undertaking varying degrees of infrastructure work have been disclosed in response to a previous Freedom of Information request.


Secondly, please would you set out details of:

i)  what the required infrastructure work would be for each of these routes and

ii) any estimate you have made of the cost of these works.

The following table lists these routes and the key reasons why New Routemasters are not suitable without some level of infrastructure change:

Route
Key Issue(s)
7
Multiple residents parking bays on section of route between Westbourne Terrace and North Pole would require shortening or removing.
14 &414
Left turn into Sydney Place is tight between corner and pedestrian centre island.
19
Left turn into Parkgate Road is tight between signal post and curb without sweeping into area between stop and advance stop line.
22
Putney Common Stand would need widening onto Common Land
23
Multiple residents parking bays on section of route between Westbourne Terrace and Ladbroke Grove would require shortening or removing
74
Use of Putney Garage as bus stand would not be suitable throughout the day
94
Junctions around Turnham Green are tight
139
Stand manoeuvre at West Hampstead is tight and stand length may be an issue.
168
Stand length at Hampstead Heath may be an issue
C2
Stand manoeuvre at Parliament Hill is tight without over-sweeping pavement and/or grounding on traffic calming

In terms of the estimated costs involved for the required infrastructure changes, unfortunately we do not hold this information. Although potential mitigations have been identified in most cases, detailed cost evaluations
have not been produced regarding the aforementioned issues. In the majority of cases, alternative routes have been identified and consequently the above routes discounted for conversion to a New
Routemaster vehicle.

 If this is not the information you are looking for, or if you are unable to access it for some reason, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal as well as information on copyright and what to do if you would like to re-use any of the information we have disclosed.

Yours sincerely

Jasmine Howard
FOI Case Officer
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel
Transport for London

For an 11.3 metre long bus, it shows there are still problems manoeuvring the narrow streets of London.  The bendy bus however, which has a length of 18 metres can manoeuvre anywhere where a 12 metre bus is able to operate. This is why there were only 12 London Bus routes served by Mercedes-Benz Citaro Artics that were able to operate. The routes that used to be served by the articulated buses were 12, 18, 25, 29, 38, 73, 149, 207, 436, 453, 507 & 521; so route 38 is the former bendy bus route that is able to take New Routemasters which have been in service since late February 2012. Very shortly, former bendy bus route 453 is due to be converted to New Routemasters but it keeps being postponed due to target dates being missed.

The New Routemaster, which was specifically designed for London is unable to traverse most routes due to the overall length of the buses which have extra features like a rear door/open platform and rear staircase. Hopefully, if the two-door design of the New Routemaster is unveiled, it would be able to manoeuvre around the tighter sections of the route because it would do away with the rear door and staircase making it shorter.
The failed route test list which I quoted from the FOI request from TFL shows that routes 7, 14, 19, 22, 23 and 94 were the former AEC Routemaster routes that got withdrawn from main service from early to mid 2000’s, but the route's that failed the route conversion would possibly not be able to see the replacement New Routemaster on the route. It would however cost TFL money to modify the infrastructure of the route to operate an 11.3 metre bus in order to enable open boarding and/or 2nd crew/open platform service.


Full scale mock up of New Routemaster blinded for route 23
By Magnus D from London, United Kingdom (original file), cropped by User:Ultra7 [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons


Back in 2010, TFL unveiled the design of the New Routemaster (was New Bus for London) in a computer generated design and later a full scale mock up. Both had blinds for Route 23 but now it will not see the light of day operating on route 23 because of an issue with parking bays between Westbourne Terrace and Ladbroke Grove. There are still many routes though which TFL can nominate to Tower Transit to operate the route with New Routemasters. But route 23 is operated by using the Alexander Dennis Enviro400 Hybrid buses

If you think that the New Routemaster is unable to convert some of the routes due to road infrastructure problems or anything else then please let me know your thoughts by adding a comment.
References:

2 comments:

  1. Route 13 was rummored to get NBFL in August 2013 but was dropped by Sovereign as it would be used on other routes eg 114,292 and 183

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  2. Following the fatal crash that killed Peter van de Bulk at Euston Bus Station, the entrance throat was narrowed and corners tightened, to reduce crossing distances, improve sightlines, and slow down bus speeds to the 10 mph limit. The one bus which prevented a really effective geometry from being delivered was the NBFL. Buses still exceed the speed limits, I suspect mostly coming in from Grafton Place.
    The inquest left more questions than answers, notably how a bus which had just set off from waiting to make the right turn in to the bus station from stationary - waiting for a gap in the oncoming traffic. At a speed on under 10 mph this bus driver managed to run over the victim with both axles between the intial impact by the front n/s corner and the bus stopping...
    The inquest kept referring to the offside A pillar when clearly it meant the nearside one, and the bus was apparently checked over but there is a worrying recall notice for this model that highlights a braking issue where the design of the rear brake actuation/release assembly has been changed and the parts for each version should not be mixed in the same assembly. Apparently a contemporary 'event was a mass PG9 hit' on similar vehicles has no means of checking the fault and vehicles affected, and no audit of completed recall checks seems to be available.

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