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Friday, 28 June 2013

Fifty years on...

You might have been expecting a New Bus for London story last weekend but there was more than enough on-line for everyone at the time.

Better I thought to reflect on the introduction of the new fleet one week on.

Older readers will know that in the mass conversion programmes of the 1960s and 1970s, overnight changes were normal. More recently we have generally made progressive conversions of new types of bus which has meant that all the usual niggling faults, staff unfamiliarity and other teething troubles went unnoticed.

On 22nd June we launched thirty revolutionary vehicles and it was thanks to the tremendous efforts by Metroline that everything ran as well as it did.

With the new three door/two staircase arrangement, passengers too had to get used to the vehicles meaning that journeys were a bit slower than usual and there were a few gaps. As you might expect, with hardly any miles on the clock, the vehicles too had teething problems but this time – with the Mayor’s personal project in the spotlight – it was headline news.

Suffice to say, one week on the service is improving rapidly, the staff and passengers have got the hang of it all, and the buses are settling down. In fact the faults per vehicle are actually no worse than with any other type of new bus – just far more newsworthy.

Passengers love the new product – they like the Customer Assistants and the ease of speedy boarding. People still stand and stare at the bus as it progresses through Central London. Unseen of course is its tremendous fuel consumption and low emissions.

The last time route 24 was subjected to this type of shock – the introduction of London’s first rear-engined double-deckers on 7th November 1965 – nearly half of the fleet was being given roadside assistance on the first day and the service never really recovered.

But this is 2013. Our new bus is in 24-hour service delivering a promise made by the Mayor and for which the majority of Londoners voted in favour just over a year ago. And there are more to come.....

Top photo in 1960s Pimlico by Mike Beamish


  1. By the way the first bus with 2 staircases is the Volvo Ailsa V3. Which does have a door right to the end of the bus. :)

    But since the launch i seen there were complaints about the conductor being strict because of health and safety when it comes to commuters boarding between stops when the bus is stationary. But there have been reports of the NBFL's breaking down and also complaints on twitter by users on about the hot air conditioning and the window openings on the bus. But overall the bus is doing a good job and good response from the commuters because of the open platform, the design and the 2nd staff.

    Also having a 2nd crew member on the bus is needed for buses in London to make our journeys more safer. Plus they ensure that commuters boarding at the rear are touching in.

    It's been many years since London Buses have finally got back onto having a double decker designed specifically for London. But will we see more buses designed specifically for London in the future years time?

  2. Why all this big fuss about the Boris Bus? We've had them on the 38 route for ages and they are ... rubbish, particularly if you're a wheelchair user or visually impaired. There is less room than on the bendy buses, they are gloomy and colour contrast inside is poor. This bus has none of the advantages of the old routemaster (such as jumping on and off between stops to reduce boarding times at stops). These Boris buses are carrying fewer passengers and at higher cost, I can't see how they can be improved. Another white elephant?

  3. Sorry Leon but I have to disagree with this posting. I remember when your blog wasn't so full of political spin and face saving.

    The Customer Assistants have been little more than doors, blocking the platform to anyone wanting to get on or off these ridiculous vehicles. If Boris wants us to have the brains to make our own decision when to board or alight from one of these things, why does a jobsworth CA stop it? You're the customer at TfL, tell Metroline how they should be delivering the contract.

    And hot? Stifling would be the word.

    Finally, I love the logic where you have of these NBfLs running on the 38 in one person mode all day long. Bet the fare dodgers are loving having their free bus back.

    Hey ho, we had it right with bendy buses, or at least we did when they used on the right routes for the right reasons (e.g. the Red Arrows).

    Stop wasting my public money on ridiculous things that only suit London. Even when they so clearly don't - what's up with a Gemini or an E400? They do the job perfectly well for much less money.

  4. FreeBBC - who is there to ensure the people boarding in the middle touch in then? Actually no one. If you want to evade paying your fare, it's the perfect door to use.

  5. Wow. This photo shows a bus cutting across a cycle 'lane' (I refuse to dignify these barely over 1m wide strips with the word lane). You're a narcissistic cyclist-hating wanker, Daniels.

    1. Is the bus not pulling into a stop and therefore has to cross the cycle lane?

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