Monday, 13 October 2014

TFL Plans to have 200 more New Routemasters

Count the NRM's on the photo and times it by 100.
From Thomas Heatherwick’s website the designer of the New Routemaster.

In the Finance and Policy Committee board papers, it reveals there are plans to have 200 more New Routemasters which would move London a step closer to aspirations outlined in the Mayor’s 2020 vision which is to extend the fleet of 600 New Routemasters to 2,000 by the end of this decade.

Also, a quick follow up to my previous article
about the cost of converting routes to New Routemasters. On the first page of the document it shows that the figures for the existing financial authority are now at £219.9m and the operation for the project is £4.1 million which gives a total of £224m for the 600 New Routemasters which are due in April 2016. The average price for a New Routemaster bus over the life of contract is £354,500. I estimate the cost of having an extra 200 of them (not including the Peak Vehicle Requirements per route) would be in the region of £70,900,000.

So the original plan is to have 600 New Routemasters for routes in Central London and the final bus is due to be delivered by March 2016 as the document stated. The document claims that the “NRM’s are becoming a globally recognisable replacement to the iconic predecessor (which is the AEC Routemaster) which has been used to promote UK technology, manufacturing and design excellence abroad.”

Wrightbus has confirmed to TFL that it has the capacity to deliver the 200 additional New Routemasters by April 2016, provided that an order is placed by December 2014. However, routes 7, 14, 19, 22, 23, 74, 94, 139, 168, 414 and C2 failed the route tests because of reported infrastructure problems. Routes 12, 15, 56, 73, 88, 159, 189 & 205 have been surveyed without any reported infrastructure problems though and routes 453, 137 and 55 are the routes that have been officially confirmed to be converted to New Routemasters.

The document also claims that the New Routemasters “are popular with passengers outperforming conventional designs in areas including comfort, vibration, smoothness of ride and engine noise. 35 per cent of passengers interviewed strongly liked the overall design and environment of the NRM compared to 11 per cent for a conventional bus.”

The 200 additional New Routemasters will be fitted with the Euro VI engine which will cut emissions and improve air quality in London. Currently there are six Euro VI New Routemasters which are the LT8 (a re-engined prototype), LT172, LT173, LT188, LT189 and LT190. Route 453 which is  shortly due for conversion to the New Routemaster will be the start of converting routes to the Euro VI spec New Routemasters.

Again the additional New Routemaster buses will be owned by TFL because if the route changes to another operator. TFL will easily retain the buses and move them to the new operator without the need to fund the new operator to order New Routemasters for their fleet.

There is no final decision on which routes the New Routemaster buses will serve because TFL wants them to be used with new contracts like they have done with Routes 8 and 55, when they were retained by Stagecoach London.

The routes for the additional 200 new Routemasters will be a one person operation, but there will be alterations to the rear door with modifications to the mechanism, voice warning system and markings to improve safety when the door opens inwards as the front doors do.

TFL is assessing the air cooling systems on the double deck buses, after passengers complained of high temperatures and sweltering conditions in the Summer of 2014. This caused TFL to improve insulation around areas such as engine compartment, improved ventilation and remote controlling of saloon temperatures. The most powerful air conditioning systems are not advocated because they would prevent the bus fleet from achieving 'Mayoral air quality goals', including reducing nitrogen oxides by 20 per cent compared to 2012 levels by the end of 2015.

Personally, I think that TFL should design a two-door New Routemaster which would make it easier for bus companies to order and use them for the routes in the Outer London areas, then after the life contract the operators can simply move them to their national fleet for the commercial routes or local PTE (Public Transport Executive) services more easily.  However, I have heard reports from unknown sources that the two-door New Routemaster is in the pipeline.

Do you think that the 200 additional New Routemasters which would extend the fleet to 800 is a good idea? Also, should TFL be ordering conventional buses instead? There is of course the New Tube for London project which will increase capacity on the Piccadilly, Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City lines as well, so let me know your thoughts in the comment section below.

My Twitter is @CLondoner92, don’t forget to follow me for new articles.

1 comment:

  1. 12,15,56,73,88,159,189.
    189:will be converted
    why isn't the 56 and 205 aren't converting


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