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Thursday, 23 January 2014

All good things, as they say, come to an end and I am afraid I have to announce that traditional Routemasters will be withdrawn from route 9 this July.

The last route to use Routemasters was route 159, disappearing from London’s streets in December 2005. Since then some have operated on parts of route 9 and 15 as a tourist attraction.

Originally they operated daily between Aldwych and Royal Albert Hall on route 9 and between Trafalgar Square and Tower Hill on route 15. Subsequently route 9 was recast to operate between Trafalgar Square and Kensington High Street and when the contracts were relet in 2010 the routes were rewarded to their original operators - First and Stagecoach. Hence when Tower Transit acquired part of First’s London business in 2013, the operation of route 9 transferred to them.

Route 15 has been of most value, helping with the peak hour flow into the West End whilst carrying tourists out to the Tower. Later in the day, it returns the tourists whilst again supporting the mainstream 15 during the evening peak. At certain times of the day, week, and year an empty bus starting at Tower Hill is a huge blessing when there are 50 or more visitors patiently waiting at there.

Routemasters on route 9 have not been quite so popular and the service has recently been operated by the ‘New Routemasters’ in the shape of the New Bus for London. Nowadays, those travelling for leisure purposes tend to choose the new buses.

With continued growth on our network and no new money, we reluctantly have to accept that the subsidy of over £1m for the tourist Routemasters on route 9 would be better spent elsewhere.

The change also eliminates the conflicting arrangement whereby the conductors on traditional Routemasters serve you at your seat and take cash, whereas the second crew member on the New Routemaster does neither. In addition, the hand-held ticket machines which have long since passed their sell-by date can now be recycled for use on route 15.

This also gives us the opportunity to select vehicles in the best condition, allowing them to continue to perform a useful function on route 15.

During the early summer, we will again arrange for an assortment of vehicles to operate on routes 9 and 15 - as part of this year’s celebrations surrounding ‘Year of the Bus’.

In the meantime, this is your last opportunity to see and ride traditional Routemasters on route 9. Don’t miss it!

(The proposed change is subject to consultation and contractual arrangements)

The top photograph is from 2006 when my newly-repainted RM613 was used alongside other interesting vehicles. Clearly visible on the platform is one of my co-owners and good friend Keith Farrow. A kind person sent me this photo but sadly neither my memory or the EXIF data tells me who. Will gladly credit it if you let me know!

I wasn't there - I had FRM1 (below!) [Photo Colin Stannard]



  1. Shame they have to go but they have served well over the years . Any idea what will happen to the surplus RM's ? Hopefully a well earned retirement in preservation and not just sold to the highest bidder . I'd like to give RM2060 a good home if it becomes available but not sure if its a 9 or 15 at the mo . It was based in Corby for a few years with United Counties , local to me so it would be nice to see it back in the area in its united counties livery . Can only hope !

  2. What will happened to the conductors on the 9H will they be made into CAs on the new routemaster?... Im glade we are keeping the 15H as I'm one of the drivers on that route.

  3. Well I am not shocked to see it going, But I do hope the NBFL makes it's legacy for the RM on the route 9.

    But I understand the reasons of the cuts need to be made in order to save money by withdrawing the 9H.
    But with technology today we would see more videos springing up about the route 9H on YouTube to show its history of the last years of the Routemaster on the Heritage Routes. But I personally think it should stay for another year to make up of 10 years of the Heritage Routes. ;)

    Also I thought the last routes to be converted to NBFL would be the 9 and 15 so they can withdraw the RM's and convert the route to NBFL's at the same time.

    But in another sense most of the people prefer the NBFL's on the 9 compared to the 9H Routemasters because the NBFL's have more space in the interior and able to get in by all 3 doors. But the main thing is that the 9 got the New Routemasters which makes the original Routemasters to leave the 9H.

    Lastly I would like to say thanks to TFL for retaining the Routemasters for nearly a decade on the 9H and 15H. Its really an onwards and upwards that we have to make a full upgrade with the buses and its infrastructure.

  4. Reposting this to the A&TVBF and the Here To There blog - as you have explained so well. Trust this to be in order, hope you are doing well.
    Suzy x

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  6. Its not the routemasters as we knew them anyway,after the shocking refurbishment it feels these remaining vehicles are just on a slow death anyway. I certainly prefer NB4L to the routemasters that are left!!! Would love to see a NB4L be painted and seated in the style of the bus on this blog :)

  7. I'd like to ride on FRM1 or even drive it if I got the chance!

  8. Glory days in 1983 before they were could even get a routemaster on 16 route from Victoria to Neasden..I doubt that will ever happen again even if the route gets nb4L

  9. At the end of the day, why don't you put the New Routemaster on the 15 and then you can do away with the old Routemasters totally.

    Or better still, cancel the contract for the New Routemasters & spend the money on new hybrid buses, then the money saved could be used to keep routemasters on the 9H.

    1. 1.We don't currently plan to put New Routemasters on route 15
      2. We don't want to do away with traditional Routemasters totally
      3. Cancelling the contract for New Routemasters is not free
      4. Keeping traditional Routemasters on route 9 still costs over £1m a year which could be spent on something else.

  10. Them hybrid buses are ordinary in comparison to the new routemaster hybrids? Are you one of the Boris Bashers on the bus forums Stuart?

  11. Leon; can I ask that the dates for "Year of the bus" special operations be posted well in advance so that those of us that live outside London nowadays get a chance to arrange to attend?

  12. Leon,

    I am shocked that you have announced this as a foregone conclusion when the consultation period hasn't even closed.

    If the consultation period really is a charade then why bother with it at all?

    1. I haven't. It says it is subject to consultation.

  13. For what it's worth, I agree that the proposal is sensible, and is a logical money-saving decision.

    However, democratic processes need to be followed first of all, especially in your role.

  14. Disappointing to say the least. The reasoning seems very muddled and contradictory to me. You can't expect these things to cost and operate the same as modern buses, and you can't distil their worth as tourist attractions into merely how much they take in fares, either by accident or design. Worn out ticket machines and contradictory operating arrangements seem like very lame reasons to me, in the grand scheme of things. Worn out buses requiring consolidation of the fleet onto the 15 seems to suggest all the other reasons are completely irrelevant. Under-use on one route while another is doing just fine seems to suggest other options, namely choosing another route for them. I'd expect better really, given that this will reduce the fleet by half, and doesn't remotely reassure anyone about the future of the 15 either. I really hope all options were considered before taking this decision. And I really do hope the consultation exercise is not futile, if people express strong enough opposition or give good enough suggestions.

  15. I think it is correct that 9H goes as they are empty a lot of the time and play havoc with our headways.

    Can I ask will we be getting a PVR increase on the 9's tho??

  16. Mr Daniels, has anyone considered a 23H route yet from Paddington to St. Paul's? The current Routemasters on the 9H need not move garage and Routemasters in Paddington, Edgware Road and Oxford Street would surely be a popular reintroduction.

  17. Please put the extra buses on the 15H and also extend route to Regent Street and extend the operating times from 8am to 8pm/9pm.

    Leon Daniels, Please Comment.

  18. As part of your reasoning for axing the 9H you state that the 15H is more popular. This is not true - passenger numbers are in fact higher on the 9H. I believe both routes should be protected from short-term cost cutting and actively promoted by TfL. There has been almost zero publicity for the Heritage Routemaster routes in their 9 years of operation. I am sure many tourists do not even realise they can travel on them with a normal Oyster or Travelcard. You only need to look at the number of people who stop to take photos of them to realise how popular they really are. So rather than axing them, why not actually make them in to an even bigger success with some simple publicity - should be easy to arrange as part of the Year of the Bus.

  19. So, there was a consultation about axing the heritage Routemasters. Despite the misleading information about passenger numbers supplied, over 84% people disagree with the proposal and sensible suggestions are made too. Result - the Routemasters are still to be axed. What was the point in holding a consultation when the results were going to be ignored anyway?

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