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Friday, 4 November 2011

New Bus for London

Mayor Boris Johnson drives the first NBfL prototype
bus out of the factory
Today in Ballymena, Co Antrim, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson drove the first finished prototype of the New Bus for London off the production line and showed it off to the assembled media.

Work on this vehicle had been at full speed to achieve completion. The finished article was well worth the effort and everyone commented on the exceptional high quality, attention to detail, and extremely good environmental benefits of this new vehicle.

The Engineering Test vehicle has already amassed several thousand miles at Millbrook Testing Ground. We know its fuel consumption is better than predicted and its emissions rather lower. These results are hugely encouraging.

Detractors accuse the Mayor of a vanity project but in many cases they are the same people who caused TfL and its predecessors to acquire more standard vehicles which when subjected to London conditions cost significant sums of public money in engineering downtime and premature retirement.

The design will always be a matter of taste. What is certain is that the high quality of the build and great attention to detail. What will matter is that the passengers find this vehicle attractive and comfortable, and the operators find it economic to use. So far most people who have seen it are hugely impressed by its looks and ease of use.

So important was today's event that it was attended by many stakeholders including, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, MPs, MLAs, and the national press.

A video clip of the bus emerging from the factory is as http://youtu.be/gk_2jEtaf9U

What next? The bus will be in London during December. There will be a launch marking its arrival here in Central London. After that after further trials, formalities and training, it will enter service with Arriva in the New Year. The other seven prototypes, all in build at Wrights, will join it progressively during the first few months of 2012.

Yes I did get to drive it and as was the case with the Millbrook vehicle earlier this year it has a superb turning circle, is quiet, positive, and a very pleasurable driving experience. As a passenger the moquette seats are more traditional, comfortable and easy to use. The new wireless bell pushes mean we can have more of them and save miles of wiring down every hand pole. Inside the use of maroon and Treadmaster flooring are more than a nod to the Routemaster which, despite the media's insistence, it is not designed to replace!

So not long now until the first vehicle arrives in London, and Londoners see it for the first time for real. I think you will like it!



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9 comments:

  1. It's a good looking vehicle and I for one am looking forward to seeing it and hopefully travelling on it on the streets of London. I'm now waiting for the Cycling Lobby to offer their opinion on why they're dangerous...

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  2. Don't the wireless bells still need a wire to give them power?

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  3. What a total waste of money...total politics...total shit...same thing really.

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  4. Vanity project or not, the "Borismaster" is with us and I will be very interested to see it in service. I suppose its fate will depend largely on the outcome of next year's elections. If Boris wins, maybe it will go into production, although I for one suspect the open platforms and conductors may be short-lived. If there is a change of Mayor, there will only ever be 8, destined to be curiosities owned by transport enthusiasts (FRM1, V3 etc.....)

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  5. No - wireless bells don't work using electricity. They have a tiny bellows producing a high pitched sound which in turn is registered by the bus and which generates the bell/bus stopping indication.

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  6. I must confess that I am slightly perplexed by the statement that "in many cases they are the same people who caused TfL and its predecessors to acquire more standard vehicles which when subjected to London conditions cost significant sums of public money in engineering downtime and premature retirement". Which vehicles in fairness are being referred to here?

    If we are talking about recent vehicles, the only vehicles I can relate to were the Artics. And lets be honest, the only reason that they have been withdrawn is down to politics as the Mayor does not like them. Yes they had issues a few years ago with engine fires but the manufacturer corrected these.

    Surely we are not referring to the Merlins or the DMS's still?? I mean come on. Indeed once all the silly interlocks and other nonsence specified by LT were taken out, they performed just as well as other buses of theie type throughout the UK.

    As stated already, this is a vanity project pure and simple. The idea that London's operating conditions are somehow worse than New York, Glasgow, Hong Kong, Las Vegas or Paris that requires bespoke buses is ludicrous in the extreme. I think there is more chance of this becoming another FRM1 than anything else. We shall see.

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  7. "We know its fuel consumption is better than predicted and its emissions rather lower."

    If this promise can be realised in practice, then the NB4L will certainly deserve better than to be simply derided as a 'vanity project' by its detractors. In the current climate these are genuine benefits, and even if this project is abandoned for political reasons, hopefully the technology can be incorporated into standard designs.

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