Friday, 27 February 2015

Three years since the New Routemaster commenced operation on route 38

It’s been three years now since the New Routemaster first entered in to public service on 27th February 2012, on Route 38.

Arriva London bus LT2 (LT61 BHT) 2011 New Bus for London, Victoria bus station, route 38, 27 February 2012 (6)

On 27th February 2012, the first prototype entered in to service was the LT2 (LT61BHT), starting their first journey at lunch time. It attracted many people to come and view the bus but
unfortunately the bus became jammed packed because too many people wanted to board it for the ride. The first journey also had some teething problems such as issues with the computer system.  In one case the rear platform had to be shut because the bus wouldn't move off.

During its first day in service it was countered by the Unions who raised the issue about the bus being expensive. For their protest they hired an AEC Routemaster (RMC Type) draped with banners on the side of the bus and proceeded to follow the New Routemaster bus. Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA transport Union, described the new bus as a ‘vanity project’.
Arriva London became the first operator to operate these New Routemaster buses and back then it was known as ‘New Bus for London’.

The world press were also reporting on the first day of the New Routemaster in operation.
Australia: SBS News
New Zealand: RadioLIVE
USA: Time Magazine
USA: Condé Nast Traveler
Also, Autocar reported on the New Bus for London’s first day in service.

The prototypes cost £1.4 million each and it was originally planned to have five buses, but instead eight were used on Route 38. Back in 2012, ITV London News  did a report on the New Routemasters and during this, Ken Livingstone said “this is the most expensive bus in human history, we all should celebrate it.” Well, the prototypes were expensive but the production cost for each individual bus was reduced to £354,500, which is still pricey. In my previous article, I informed the reader that the extra 200 New Routemasters which TFL ordered cost £349,500, a saving of £5000 as Wrightbus cut the price. The total cost for the 200 New Routemasters cost £69,900,000.

By the summer of 2012, the rest of the 8 New Routemaster prototypes were delivered on time for the Olympics. But Arriva didn’t hire any conductors, they used existing bus drivers to take turns in driving the bus and being a 2nd crew member. Those buses operated as extras alongside the DW class types but the extra prototype service only went from Victoria to Hackney Central. The full conversion of Route 38 to New Routemasters finally happened in May 2014, with a Peak Vehicle Requirement of 59 buses.

It's also worth noting that the BBC reported in this News article about the New Routemaster and said “TfL announced it is ordering 200 more new Routemaster buses this year and committing to 800 new vehicles each year from 2016 onwards.”

However, back in late 2014, TFL had already ordered the extra 200 New Routemasters which extended the fleet up to 800 NRM’s. TFL had originally mentioned in their board paper though that “No decision was proposed on the order of the next 1,000 vehicles as other bus manufacturers were looking to develop their own double-decker buses with NRM features, which would give TfL options when considering future vehicle choices.”  TFL are planning to order new buses from other manufacturers but with a similar spec to the New Routemaster. In my opinion though, there will not be any more routes converted with 2nd crew member so it will be One Man Operation.

Also, I think that TFL should finish off the New Routemaster project with the '800' and start investing in some Electric and Hybrid buses which put out zero emissions.

I have found a poster from London Transport back in 1970 which promotes the One Man Operation buses. I also zoomedin on the image and it revealed that the Daimler Fleetline was nicknamed the ‘Londoner’, it also mentions that it had a capacity of up to 89 passengers. Compare this with the New Routemaster with 87 passengers (around 80 depending on the curb weight) and it means that the New Routemaster is carrying fewer passengers. Now compare that with the Bendy Bus which can provide up to 149 passengers. Many of the new double deck bus types in London have the carrying capacity of up to 100 passengers.

My memories of 2012 are memorable for me because of the 2012 Olympics and the roll out of the New Routemaster. I find that looking back in history at events and how things unfolded can be extremely interesting. I have also found via, the New Routemaster extras on Route 38 during their early days in service. Here is the video of the prototype New Routemaster in action which was captured during the early days.

Please feel free to give me your opinions and memories of your experience of the early days of the New Routemaster service on Route 38 and don’t forget to share this article by clicking on the Social media icon buttons above the comments. Also, follow me on Google Plus, Twitter, Tumblr and Pinterest which is @CLondoner92


No comments:

Post a comment

Share this page