How Boris fleeced London with his buses


11:35 am - May 13th 2013

by Tim Fenton    


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Transport for London (TfL) last week owned up and made public the actual purchase price of the New Bus For London (NBfL), aka Boris Bus.

And that price, at £354,500 per vehicle, makes the NBfL around £50,000 more expensive than a comparable off-the-shelf hybrid double decker. So, despite Bozza’s promises, the NBfL will not be price competitive with alternatives.

As there are to be 600 production examples of the NBfL, this gives a premium of £30 million. Added to this is the cost of the eight prototypes, which, at £11.77 million, gives a premium over eight comparable hybrids of £9.37 million.

We cannot validate the claims for superior fuel consumption, as TfL have thus far declined to release the figures. So that’s a running premium total of £39.37 million.

For that money, Londoners could have had another 131 hybrid double deckers. And it gets worse: far from being the “greenest ever” bus, the NBfL will have to be retro-fitted with the means to enable it to meet 2014 emissions standards. So that means a further extra cost.

However, TfL would benefit if the design were to be sold to any other potential customers. What are the prospects of this? Sadly, they are precisely zero. This can be gleaned from the unwillingness of operators to take the vehicles on: uniquely for London, TfL is having to purchase them outright and then impose them on operators.

But it is in running costs that the truly scandalous scale of waste can be seen. Each NBfL requires a second crew member when its rear platform is in operation, and this has been estimated to add a cost of £62,000 per vehicle per year.

Do the math, as they say: over the 14-year lifetime of the 608-strong fleet, this will land Londoners with a whopping £527.74 million bill in total.

That’s an awfully large premium payment for Bozza’s vanity legacy.

The question begs itself as to how he has been allowed to get away with it: spraying £567 million up the wall merely for something that is “different”, “iconic”, or which may impress a few tourists.

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Tim is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. He blogs more frequently at Zelo Street
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Reader comments


My thanks to Sunny for picking up on this rather large waste of taxpayers’ money.

The original from which this post was edited is here:

http://zelo.tv/15YfTMP

and remember, folks, that £500 million plus is the *extra* cost, over and above that for a comparable fleet of off-the-shelf hybrid double-deckers.

In the FT on Monday:

Mayor says ‘insane’ transport cuts threaten London’s economy

Boris Johnson has warned that threatened cuts to London’s transport budget in the chancellor’s June spending review pose an “insane” risk to the capital’s economy.

The bus is, as I’ve been pointing out for ages, also overweight and doesn’t meet its design passenger capacity. This either means you have to buy more of them to serve a route or cut the capacity (they’re cutting the capacity, in fact, specifying the same number buses to serve the route).

“the NBfL will have to be retro-fitted with the means to enable it to meet 2014 emissions standards”

Not just retrofitted, entirely re-engined, as the currently installed Euro 5 version of the iSBe 4.5l is being replaced with a new Chinese built engine for Euro 6. This has been known about in TfL and the bus industry for ages, but obviously not widely advertised.

Obviously Euro 6 affects all manufacturers, but the first one to roll out a Euro 6 hybrid double decker bus will automatically knock the current NB4L fleet (over 100 by then) off the notional ‘greenest bus’ perch (and it’ll probably be the right weight and capacity, too).

Those figures, I guess, also don’t include the cost of disposing of the relatively new fleet of bendy buses. For all that Boris likes to describe those as “hated” they were actually pretty good for accessibility, and while a bit awkard in some narrow streets, on the whole pretty decent.

The fare evasion issues on the bendy buses, cited as one reason for getting ride of them, were more to do with staff levels and Oyster procedures than the buses themselves – and in fact the suggestion that everyone would have to tap in on NBfL, even if they have a season ticket, could just as easily have been implemented on the bendies. Or, as has become necessary with NBfL, a second crew member could have been employed, this time to check tickets, rather than look after the accidents waiting to happen at the back.

Either solution would have avoided a costly disposal and procurement process that seems to have owed as much to the need to get rid of something associated with Ken and have a shiny new Boris vehicle on the roads.

Politician meddles in the technicalities of public transport and gets it completely wrong. That’s not a revelation it’s a cast iron certainty.

“The fare evasion issues on the bendy buses, cited as one reason for getting ride of them”

It was highly route localised (507/521 nearly none, for instance) and really a consequence of all door boarding, which the 507/521 retain now. The NB4L also has all door boarding, and will thus be prone to fare evasion if put on the wrong routes (the so-called ‘conductor’ can’t sell or check tickets, and is more of a tourist guide/rear platform health and safety minder judging by the advert Metroline put out for them).

Anyway, there’s no indication yet that the NB4L will run on any former bendy routes, the 24 never was, it’s been OPO double decker operated since 1986.

NBfL is already running on a former bendy route – we were served by them on Route 38. Annoyingly, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, it doesn’t actually serve the whole of route 38, stopping short at Hackney Central, rather than going all the way to Clapton Pond.

Perhaps they’re worried we’re too rough on the Lower Clapton Road….

I don’t think we should complain too much about the cost of having a second member of staff. Conductors with the right job description and training* can help with fare evasion problems and make people feel safer being a visible uniformed presence. And that £62k is going to a real, live person who needs a job. But they don’t need BoJoMobiles to hire old fashioned bus conductors.

( * A second member of staff who doesn’t deal with fare evasion or try to police anti-social behaviour on board is a waste of space.)

“Annoyingly, for reasons I don’t entirely understand, it doesn’t actually serve the whole of route 38,”

Don’t work at weekends. They’re prototypes running a sort of extra service and were rushed in for the election last year, really. It’s the fuel consumption of those that TfL is point blank refusing to release under FoI, incidentally, and considering they were even more overweight that’s raising suspicion that they might not be all that green.

“A second member of staff who doesn’t deal with fare evasion or try to police anti-social behaviour on board is a waste of space”

They can’t check or issue tickets and obviously the first instruction to any member of staff witnessing ASB on a bus is to declare a code red and get plod involved rather than sort it out themselves.

“And that £62k is going to a real, live person who needs a job”

TfL’s job is to carry people around, not provide employment; I’d rather it went on more drivers, actually.

Also, this is only 600 buses, the cost of providing a ‘conductor’ on all 8000 buses in London at £62k a pop would be the thick end of half a billion quid *a year*. Currently TfL (forced by Osborne) are desperately trying to cut the subsidy for the whole network to about £350m a year, so you can see why that’s a non-starter, the damage to the bottom line is bad enough with just 600.

Boris’s leadership ambitions are looking very wobbly.

I bet this is the last we hear of it.

@5: Well, public transport is a public matter, and therefore something politicians have to make decisions about. It’s just that, as with everything else, those decisions are likely to be a lot better if they find out the relevant facts first instead of basing policy on what they want to be true.

Another facet of the sometimes crazy cost of ‘democracy’. Don’t blame Boris, blame those who put a cross against his name on polling day!!!

14. Thornavis

Makno@12

Policy decisions are one thing and rightly in the hands of politicians but interfering in operational matters, as they are wont to do, is something else entirely. As for discovering the relevant facts, that’s really what the Civil Service should be doing and passing the info to their ministers. However the Civil Service is just as keen as the politicians these days to get involved in the operation of public transport, with disastrous effect, as has been demonstrated regularly by the DfT.
I don’t necessarily agree that public transport is a public matter either. Obviously it is when public money is involved but that’s largely what causes the political interference in the first place. Even before the days of subsidies and transport planning the government was increasingly keen to get involved and they have rarely got it right.

“Probability precisely zero”
A stupid blatant lie
Unless you believe that you are God, in which case you are merely insane

Umm
Second crew member £62k per annum when the limit for benefits per household based on median household income(more often than not two working adults) is less than half that much?
As you say: do the math. How much is a bus conductor paid? How many of these will be used as Night buses – although that’s a good idea – Night buses should have conductors. So Rachel Holdsworth, whoever she is, assumes that bus conductors get more than £20k per annum AND that the buses never get time off the road for oil changes, cleaning and maintenance.

@16 note that Rachel’s not suggesting someone will be paid £62,000, but that that will be the cost of the employing someone.

The TFL website suggests that you can earn up to £500 per week, which is £26k – though it’s not clear if that’s a take-home figure (which would put the salary rather higher). On top of that there will be employer’s NICs to pay; typically those elements add about 10% to the cost of employment.

Additionally, transport staff in London get free travel passes, and there will be additional benefits such as pensions, and the cost of training. Those working on some parts of the transport network get other things, such as transport to and from work.

I’m sure Rachel would have the details of how the figure was arrived at if asked for the details, but it’s certainly not suggesting that that is the take home pay of a conductor/operator.

“The question begs itself as to how he has been allowed to get away with it: spraying £567 million up the wall merely for something that is “different”, “iconic”, or which may impress a few tourists.”

Costly yet nothing in comparison to the £11.4 billion wasted on the NHS IT programme which oddly enough bought no critisism around these parts. . .

@ Nigel
I was NOT quoting take-home pay. The ONS median household income is pre-tax.
“Up to £500 per week” plus employers NI contribution gets you to £31k pa assuming that conductors get paid the same as drivers at the top of their pay scale. I am sure that your fiend Rachel can get Mike Oldfield to play a tune with the other leg!! Give me her e-mail address and I’ll ask her.
Are you seriously suggesting that it is worth two-and-a-half times the average pre-tax household income to hire a bus conductor for each shift plus one for the Night Bus service plus one for the time when it is off-road whilke being serviced?

20. Thornavis

john77 @ 15

Actually the probability of anyone else buying them is likely zero or as near as, you don’t have to be God to see that the things are not what anyone in the bus industry would choose of their own volition.

21. Thornavis

@john 77, again.

The days of conductors on buses are gone, it isn’t remotely economic and hasn’t been for a long time. Indeed in the case of some routes it never was, one man operation goes back a long way.
It’s not just a question of employing them on an ad hoc basis which isn’t practical, there have to be rosters and adequate coverage of all required shifts, which always involves a degree of extra staff, leaving gaps is not an efficient use of resources. Anyone who has ever had to work out a roster knows this and the more varied it is the harder it is to cover properly.
I wouldn’t be at all surprised if that £62k figure was correct.

To address two points that have come up in the discussion …

The sales potential to other operators in the UK is zero. The operators who run services in London do not want the buses, and this is why TfL is having to buy them, then impose them on routes. I’ve covered this, and the equally zero export potential, in my original post (see @1).

The £62k cost of the second crew member, it must be remembered, is per vehicle per annum. The number of shifts needed per vehicle each day will be more than one, as the platform will be open for at least 12 hours. So that cost covers more than one employee.

Pity such an investigation into the cost of implementing bendy buses by Ken wasn’t carried out.

Boris is just the usual politician who does things for those who pull his strings. Just like how he changed the rules for taxis forcing them to be greener, and surprisingly a friend of his ran a company that made such green taxis. Sod the little people, or in this case the individual taxi drivers and the extra expense but without the ability to increase their charges.

@ #21 Thornavis
Bus conductor is a low-skill job
Do the math. I did, assuming that the new buses are used as Night buses where a conductor is actually useful.
£62k is more than enough to cover 24/7 365 days a year and the buses have to be off the road for cleaning and maintenance a few hours per week.
I can remember the introduction of one-man buses and noticed the slower service as a result. If you want economics you need to adjust for the higher cost of drivers when it takes longer to travel from A to B because you have to collect fares while stationary. When I caught a bus to school 60 years ago, there could be 50 kids on the bus and my journey took less than 10 minutes. The works buses to the factories and shipyards were full, so more than 50 men on each bus.
How old are you? If you want to compare one-man buses with two-man buses (OK occasional conductresses, but rarely on school buses or works buses) you need to look at total cost including the longer hours for drivers to do the same routes and the greater number of buses to operate the same frequencies. Yes, the cost was lower but not to that extent. It is weird that lefties are arguing for lower employee numbers in public transport. As for adequate coverage – I did not have a mobile ‘phone in the 1970s so when the GLC-owned London Transport bus just failed to turn up I couldn’t ‘phone my grandmother to say I was stuck at the bus stop. The “adequate coverage” joke does NOT make me laugh.

25. Robin Levett

@SadbutMadLad #23:

Pity such an investigation into the cost of implementing bendy buses by Ken wasn’t carried out.

Why? What do you think it would have revealed? They replaced Routemasters that were having to be withdrawn from service, on commuter routes where their capacity was required. BoJo chose to withdraw the bendy buses for purely political reasons – they were fit for purpose and had long lifetimes ahead of them.

26. Robin Levett

@john77 #24:

Bus conductor is a low-skill job

Do the math. I did, assuming that the new buses are used as Night buses where a conductor is actually useful.
£62k is more than enough to cover 24/7 365 days a year and the buses have to be off the road for cleaning and maintenance a few hours per week.

OK; assume a very low 60% usage over the course of a year – ie each bus is off the road for on average 40% of the time. That’s 60% * 600 * 24 * 365 = 3,153,600 hours on the road for the fleet of 600.

Assume a conductor works a 38 hour week; that’s 1,710 hours a year (allowing for paid holiday, bank holidays, sickness etc – allow 45 weeks working). That means that, assuming that you manage to get the rosters exactly right you need 1,845 conductors. That’s more than 3 a bus; and each one costs £30k plus per annum. That £62k looks to be a drastic underestimate for 24/7/365 operation, even taking what looks like low usage, and before allowing for overlapping rosters, the fact that at peak times virtually 100% of the buses will be on the road etc etc.

The words “kick back” suddenly popped into my head when I read this. There has to be something in this for Bozza. Let’s face it, he’s no altruist.

28. Thornavis

john77@24

Your entire argument is anecdotal and shows absolutely no understanding of bus operations or their economics. I would suggest reading some history of the industry if you’re going to comment on it. If you do you will then understand why running buses with conductors was no longer economic. You will also learn why production of rear entrance buses went out in the sixties, when they were already outmoded.
Then there’s this:
“£62k is more than enough to cover 24/7 365 days a year and the buses have to be off the road for cleaning and maintenance a few hours per week.”
Which implies that you think crews are allocated to a particular bus and that when it’s off the road there is nothing covering it and that the crew are idle. If that’s not what you think I can’t see the relevance of the comment.
I remember the days of two man operation very well, indeed I was involved in it myself as a conductor and even then we had single manned buses. The double deck vehicles of those days were slower and had a lower capacity than modern ones and where they have been replaced by single deckers that is generally because of a fall in passenger numbers.
Do you have any evidence that there was no appreciable saving from one man operation ? I can tell you that wage costs were far and away the largest single cost to the companies, how would reducing manning not significantly reduce that cost ? That’s how increased productivity works in most industries and especially public transport.
Finally you seem to imply that I’m a leftie, I’m not but there are obviously some lefties here with a markedly better understanding of the economic facts of this issue than you have. Credit where it’s due.

29. Shatterface

But it is in running costs that the truly scandalous scale of waste can be seen. Each NBfL requires a second crew member when its rear platform is in operation, and this has been estimated to add a cost of £62,000 per vehicle per year.

I suspect that if buses already had a second crew member – you know, like they used to – and Johnson was proposing cutting staff people around here would be throwing a dicky-fit.

@ Thornavis
Probability precisely zero means absolute certainty without the slightest sliver of doubt – not one in a million, not one in a billion not one in a trillion, not one in a googleplex.
To know that it is precisely zero requires omniscience, which moves this from a debate about economics and statistics into theology.

@ #28 Thornavis
I said “Yes, the cost was lower but”
So WHY do you pretend that I claimed there was no saving?
As to economics, whether running a service with a conductor is economic or not depends on the number of passengers per ten minutes frequency: I used to catch a bus which usually had all seats occupied and more often than not standing passengers; this was a five minute frequency: it was far more economic to use double-deckers than driver-only single-deckers. Did you read: “When I caught a bus to school 60 years ago, there could be 50 kids on the bus and my journey took less than 10 minutes. The works buses to the factories and shipyards were full, so more than 50 men on each bus.”?
“Which implies that you think crews are allocated to a particular bus and that when it’s off the road there is nothing covering it and that the crew are idle” NO IT DOES NOT. What it implies is that crews are allocated to buses in service and a bus undergoing cleaning and maintenance does not need a driver or clippie.
Modern buses are faster than ones in service two generations ago – what a surprise!! The 1950s buses were faster than the horse buses in Victorian times as well. BUT for buses with a reasonable load factor, the wait at the bus stop while the driver took fares was a significant percentage of total journey time.
You appear not to know the meaning of anecdotal – I was NOT reporting what someone had told me (an anecdote) but what I had personally observed (experience or a witness statement).
If you do not want me to assume that you are a leftie, try not distorting too horribly what I have said when you comment on my posts.

@ Robin Levett
£30k for a low-skilled job?!?
Compared to £21k for a teacher which DfE claims compares favourable with other graduate professions. http://www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching/salary/starting-salary.aspx?sc_lang=en-GB
Compared to £25k median household income which more often than not is two earners
Now try the Math with a sensible salary for a low-skilled job.

33. Thornavis

@30

Well thanks for the lecture on statistics. Now here’s some advice for you, try being less pedantic and understanding the difference between statistical analysis and everyday usage. If no one wants the thing then there’s no chance of anyone buying it, in which case ‘zero’ is perfectly OK as a way of emphasising that.

@31

I said “Yes, the cost was lower but”
So WHY do you pretend that I claimed there was no saving?

I didn’t, I said no appreciable saving, based on this @ 24 ” Yes the cost was lower but not to that extent”. You didn’t say to what extent, perhaps you meant the full cost of a conductor wasn’t saved but then no one thought it would be. It was a significant saving none the less, continuing with conductors was just not feasible.

“As to economics, whether running a service with a conductor is economic or not depends on the number of passengers per ten minutes frequency:”

No it doesn’t, a bus can be full and standing and still not be profitable if running costs exceed revenue, as I said the largest part of running costs was usually staff.
Why choose ten minutes as your benchmark ? Just another assertion I take it, based on your fascinating experiences of yesteryear, which may or may not be anecdotal but are still irrelevant.

“Which implies that you think crews are allocated to a particular bus and that when it’s off the road there is nothing covering it and that the crew are idle” NO IT DOES NOT. What it implies is that crews are allocated to buses in service and a bus undergoing cleaning and maintenance does not need a driver or clippie.”

You still don’t understand that a bus being serviced doesn’t imply a need for one crew less, rosters are compiled on the number of turns to cover not the number of buses required, as Robin Levett has already shown you. It’s a simple enough thing really. There’s no need to shout either.
Btw ‘clippie’ is gender specific, ie female, something else to add to your list of “things I didn’t know about buses.”

The increased speed or rather acceleration, of modern buses is important here and why I brought it up, because it helps compensate both for longer time spent picking up passengers and more importantly for more congested roads, which is the real reason buses end up running late. In any case the matter of fare collection in London is increasingly irrelevant with Oyster cards.

“If you do not want me to assume that you are a leftie, try not distorting too horribly what I have said when you comment on my post”

I wasn’t aware that distorting things horribly was a purely leftie trait. I don’t need to distort your ramblings they do the job admirably themselves.

@ #33 Thornavis
Everyday usage doesn’t say “precisely zero” – it says “no chance”. “precisely” seems to want people to think that it is a precise calculation not an estimate. Do you say “precisely 2” when you mean something between one-and-a-half and two-and-a-half?
“You didn’t say to what extent, perhaps you meant the full cost of a conductor wasn’t saved but then no one thought it would be.” Really? No-one? Well why have so many people on this thread starting with Tim Fenton been arguing on that basis? Are you suggesting that they are deliberate liars?
It is possible to run a bus service with no intention of the maximum possible revenue ever covering minimum costs if you are David Blunkett in Sheffield but private sector bus companies and municipal bus services in towns with moderate Labour Parties set fares that are intended to cover costs. My local Labour-controlled council ran services that were pretty reliable with fares that were cheaper than travelling by car and which covered their costs through high passenger numbers.
I used ten minutes as a reasonable time interval – per day is not a useful one as some services have massive differential is passenger numbers between peak and off-peak and change frequencies between the two. Per minute is too volatile. Per hour is long enough for it to matter where the hour splits at the edge of peak periods so 10 minutes seemed a reasonable choice. I should be mildly interested to see your arguments for how any other time period is markedly superior.
I have been aware that “clippie” is gender-specific for a long time – probably longer than you have been aware that Avis is a girl’s name. Lower-paid jobs, apart from labouring, tend to be predominately occupied by female workers. Is there any reason to expect or require male conductors during daytime?
I do not see why there should be crews allocated to buses which are not supposed to be running. Any minimally competent management will schedule regular cleaning and maintenance to take place while the bus is in the depot between one crew leaving at the end of a shift and the next crew starting their shift. Perhaps you can enlighten me as to just why you need to pay a crew to sit and watch the cleaning and regular maintenance?
I was not aware that Oyster cards were compulsory or that there was new technology that read them in the passenger’s pocket as he/she got on the bus. It takes a non-zero time for an OAP to check in with his/her bus pass and OAPs are a significant %age of bus passengers.
To claim that better acceleration of 2010 single-deckers compared to 1950s double-deckers constitutes a significant time saving compared to 2012 double-deckers is specious nonsense. And road congestion makes no noticeable difference to the comparison between single-deckers and double-deckers so is again specious.

35. Robin Levett

@john77 #32:

£30k for a low-skilled job?!?
Compared to £21k for a teacher which DfE claims compares favourable with other graduate professions. http://www.education.gov.uk/get-into-teaching/salary/starting-salary.aspx?sc_lang=en-GB
Compared to £25k median household income which more often than not is two earners
Now try the Math with a sensible salary for a low-skilled job.

You are still (i) guessign at a conductor’s salary, and (ii) confusing the cost of employing a conductor with his/her salary. In 2008 TfL estimated the cost of employing a conductor at £28k:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2008/mar/07/london08.boris

which story reveals that (in 2008) “…the wage presently paid to conductors working on the only two remaining Routemaster routes – known as “heritage routes” – is £24,600 a year…”.

So the minimum salary would be £24.6k; unless you really think that the unions would stand for the jobs being advertised at less than the relevant salary 5 years ago.

At minumum you need to add NICs at 10% and pension contributions to that salary. Last year employer contributions to the TfL pension fund were of the order of the equivalent of 30%+ of gross salary (employee contributons at 5% totalled c£41m; the employers contributed another £260m). These figures can be found at this page and the documents linked from it:

http://www.tfl.gov.uk/microsites/pensions/43_your_contributions.asp

Taking employer contributions at only 16%, to reflect the fact that they are currently elevated because of a historic deficit, that still means that pay costs alone for a conductor are £24.6k * 125% = £30,996. Or nearasdammit the £31k I was using. That leaves out all other associated costs; training, uniforms etc being the most obvious.

Oh, and with reference to #34; my figures only provide conductors for the time the buses spend on the road. It still works out as needing 3+ conductors per bus.

And finally – anecdotal evidence doesn’t mean what you appear to think it means. It encompasses all evidence drawn from an individual’s personal experience, whether your own or other people’s.

36. pete stanway

when did maths become math….it just sounds so awkward and of course it is another american trendy import making no sense to me

37. Thornavis

@34

“You didn’t say to what extent, perhaps you meant the full cost of a conductor wasn’t saved but then no one thought it would be.” Really? No-one? Well why have so many people on this thread starting with Tim Fenton been arguing on that basis? Are you suggesting that they are deliberate liars?”

You’re rather fond of calling peoples liars but I’d be grateful if you wouldn’t put words into my mouth. I was referring to the people in the bus industry who made the decision, based on actual knowledge of their job, to change over to one man operation. It doesn’t alter the fact that moving back to two crew members is bound to have an effect on costs.

“Any minimally competent management will schedule regular cleaning and maintenance to take place while the bus is in the depot between one crew leaving at the end of a shift and the next crew starting their shift. Perhaps you can enlighten me as to just why you need to pay a crew to sit and watch the cleaning and regular maintenance?”

I’m tired of arguing this point with you since you obviously don’t have a clue how buses are run and maintained and seem quite incapable of grasping that vehicle scheduling and crew rostering aren’t the same thing. What exactly is your knowledge of rostering staff for public transport ? Zero I suspect.

“I used ten minutes as a reasonable time interval – per day is not a useful one as some services have massive differential is passenger numbers between peak and off-peak and change frequencies between the two. Per minute is too volatile. Per hour is long enough for it to matter where the hour splits at the edge of peak periods so 10 minutes seemed a reasonable choice. I should be mildly interested to see your arguments for how any other time period is markedly superior.”

Again you don’t seem to understand that this is exactly what makes two man operation uneconomic and indeed makes all public transport costs problematic. It doesn’t matter how you split up your analysis you will still be paying for an extra body. It’s the overall cost of employing someone that counts, not whether they are cost efficient at a given moment.

“I was not aware that Oyster cards were compulsory or that there was new technology that read them in the passenger’s pocket as he/she got on the bus. It takes a non-zero time for an OAP to check in with his/her bus pass and OAPs are a significant %age of bus passengers.”

There was a thread on this subject the other day, go and check it out.

“To claim that better acceleration of 2010 single-deckers compared to 1950s double-deckers constitutes a significant time saving compared to 2012 double-deckers is specious nonsense.”

I didn’t actually say the time saving was necessarily significant, although it will be in some circumstances but anything helps and my point was that bus design has had to change quite markedly. Better acceleration, greater capacity, rear engines, low floors etc. all have been responses to changed market and road conditions, abandoning double manning was part of that and going back is a retrograde step. The reference to single deckers was originally part of a longer comment on bus design and operation, which I removed before posting but missed that bit.

Oh and Avis may be a girls name but four letters in a single word pseudonym aren’t a name. I’d have thought a pedant would understand that.

@ #35 Robin Levett
Public sector unions no longer rule the world. There are 2.5m unemployed. If the unions say they won’t stand for a conductor’s job being advertised at a reasonable wage Boris should tell them to get stuffed. Private sector workers have seen, on average, a significant fall in real wages over the last five years, even for those who ha

@ #35 Robin Levett
I think I will take the Oxford English Dictionary’s word for it. Hearsay and anecdote are synonyms. If I report what I have been told that is hearsay if I report what I have seen, that is not.
The public sector unions no longer rule the world and there are 2.5 million unemployed. Who says a bus conductor should be paid more than a teacher or a computer programmer or a qualified social worker or a qualified nurse in bands 1 to 5 or the median self-employed worker (who may well be working 50 hours per week) or …? Apart from Len McCluskey and yourself? If Unite “won’t stand for it” when TfL advertises for bus conductors at a fair wage I hope Boris tells Unite where to get off.

@ #37 Thornavis
I don’t have to put any words into your mouth because you have already done so. Your attempt to smear me has rebounded in your face. So your excuse is that the OP and nearly every commentator on this thread except you and I are not people!
There is a thread on remote reading of Oyster cards – wonderful – I am sure Sarah Brown is devouring it with interest. I can inform you that whatever it says about reading Oyster cards in the passenger’s pocket, OAP bus passes have actually to be physically placed on the little reader and that takes time – I rarely use a bus but the last time but one I queued while it took a frail old lady two minutes to get out her pass and place it on the reader so that it worked.
I do not, and never have, disputed that single-manning saves money overall on low-density routes – some of which would be more cheaply served by a taxi – but we are discussing routes served by Ken’s bendy buses, which are presumably those where a normal single-decker does not have enough capacity, so the time taken for passengers to get on one at a time and pay their fare as against time to get on two or three at a time is significant, as is the poor manoeuvrability of bendy buses in traffic – there are far more cars in London in 2013 than in Budapest in the Communist era –
Your contemptuous dismissal of my question “I’m tired of arguing this point with you since you obviously don’t have a clue” when you have *never* given a single reason as to why a bus company should employ a crew to watch while the bus is cleaned is on a par with your dismissing Jim Fenton et al as not being people. I have never met Jim Fenton but I shall continue to assume that he is a person until proven otherwise. In any privatised industry the purpose of crew rostering would be to ensure that there was someone available to the man the bus when it was in use. So you seem to be claiming that the union-dominated* LCC had some completely unrelated basis for crew rostering: that is actually a valid reason for privatising bus services(I was not in favour at the time).
” It’s the overall cost of employing someone that counts, not whether they are cost efficient at a given moment.” So I start by referring to a bus route that is pretty full to leaving the end of the queue for the next bus throughout the day on a five-minute frequency so the conductor was cost-efficient throughout the shift and you claim that cost-efficiency at a given moment is irrelevant – well cost-efficiency for the whole day every day JUST MIGHT BE.
Improved engines and lower floors are nothing to do with the switch to single-manning: the first is due to demand from purchasers of lorries and the second to equal rights legislation for disabled access.
*it wasn’t always union-dominated, just in my lifetime

41. Thornavis

@40

I’m beginning to think you’re a bit deranged. I’ve said nothing about Tim Fenton or anyone else not being people, that’s entirely a product of your overwrought imagination. Neither have I ‘smeared’ you, unless disagreeing with someone is a smear. The rest of your comment is just a rant that misses so many points and builds just as many strawmen that I really can’t be bothered with it.
You may be even older than me but you’re acting like a teenager.

42. Robin Levett

@john77 #39:

I think I will take the Oxford English Dictionary’s word for it. Hearsay and anecdote are synonyms. If I report what I have been told that is hearsay if I report what I have seen, that is not.

Do you recognise this definition of anecdotal:

Definition of anecdotal
adjective

(of an account) not necessarily true or reliable, because based on personal accounts rather than facts or research:

You should; it’s from:

http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/anecdotal

@ Robin Levett
i) I have a hard copy and that is not it’s definition
ii) I stated what I have seen based on facts so it IS reliable, not anecdotal
“Personal accounts” is – as I pointed above – what someone told me/the witness rather than what I/the witness actually observed.
50 years ago anyone who wanted to read a science side subject had to take FOUR ‘O’ level or equivalent English exams (while Arts graduates could get away with one) so I do actually know what some words mean.

@ Thornavis
“no-one” includes Tim Fenton and Robin Levett …
You think I am fond of calling people liars? No, when I was young that was liable to get one a punch on the nose, but I am massively tempted by certain people on this site.
It is a smear to claim that I have no knowledge of the history of public transport, it is smear to say that my entire argument, much of which comprises observed facts, is anecdotal, “shows absolutely no understanding of bus operations or their economics” is a smear – as a teenager I read and commented on the monthly reports of the transport committee on local authority-owned bus service, you feel free to claim that I am stupid because I expect the transport authority/company to have a schedule for cleaning and maintaining buses while they are NOT scheduled to be running. If this is not the case the London, no wonder the northerners look down on you. Up north some guys have the sense to do this.
Disagreeing with someone is not a smear – your posts are.

45. Thornavis

@44

What a pompous and touchy windbag you are and impossible to argue with because you are conducting a quarrel in your own head. All that stuff about scheduling maintenance when buses are not running being a prime example, that’s what happens and always has and rosters reflect that as Robin Levett showed you with some simple arithmetic. You constructed this fiction whereby there was no need to employ so many conductors if rosters were changed and then demanded that people prove it was necessary to have crews standing around idle, when no one but you had implied they were or would be.
It’s the same with all the other guff about communist bendy buses and unions no longer being in charge, entirely your own obsessions.
To cap it all you start going on about Northerners looking down on southerners or something and wanting to punch people on the internet.
I’m outta here before you take over the asylum.

46. Robin Levett

@john77 #43:

However old you are (and you probably have c10 years on me) you don’t know what anecdotal evidence means. Your anecdote is no more reliable than your friend’s.

Now deal with the maths.

@ Robin Levett
Anecdotal = hearsay
When I report what I have actually seen, that is not hearsay.
I have DONE the math (or, as pete stanway says,the maths).
What I do *not* accept is the Len McCluskey assumption that a bus conductor in a low-skilled job should be paid seven times what he/she would get from JSA.

@ Thornavis
You are contradicting yourself again. After several challenges as to why you assumed that the buses had to have crews during cleaning and maintenance you say “scheduling maintenance when buses are not running being a prime example, that’s what happens and always has and rosters reflect that” i.e. I was right all along on that and your claim that I was showing ignorance was worse than bullshit.
It is impossible for YOU to argue because I have pointed out a few of the cases where your arguments are so blatantly divorced from the facts that an amateur can see the error. Robin L argues reasonably – except for his assumption that bus conductors deserve salaries higher than teachers, computer programmers, nurses, qualified social workers etc – but you just sling out insults to try to hide your failings and never answer difficult questions. FYI I traveled on bendy buses in Bratislava, Bucharest and Novosibirsk – all of them were made in Hungary.
“You constructed this fiction whereby there was no need to employ so many conductors if rosters were changed and then demanded that people prove it was necessary to have crews standing around idle, when no one but you had implied they were or would be.” NO WAY – you constructed the fiction that it was necessary to have crews standing around idle in #28 and #33 and when I challenged it you accused me of total ignorance and then refused to answer and now accuse *me* of inventing that fiction.
When a store in Middlesbrough advertised a job there was a queue round the block. You think that in London TfL has to pay 7 times the JSA to hire a low-skilled bus conductor – well if that is anything near the truth northerners WILL look down on you. “He’ll neither work nor want” is/was an expression of contempt up north.

49. Robin Levett

@john77 #47:

Anecdotal = hearsay

No; not in common English usage. In fact, the most comon usage of “anecdote” is precisely recounting of one’s own personal experience. We are in any event discussing the expression “anecdotal evidence”. You have it wrong. Trust me.

@ Robin
“Trust me”
On honesty – generally yes. After four expletive-deleted english exams, I tend to trust myself and anecdote is what someone else has told me. My experience, when I tell it you, is anecdote to you, but not to me.

51. Robin Levett

@john77:

So if you tell me about something that happened to you, you don’t think you’re telling me an anecdote?

But come back to the maths; I take it that you accept my method, and what we’re actually arguing about is what conductors will be paid when the buses come into service?

Even BoJo, when calculating the cost of using conductors, used TfL’s figures. What makes you think he’s going to change his mind? And why do you think that the work conductors do is worth so much less than the average London wage (which is just short of £34k)?

52. margin4error

I love that the only defence really being put here is

“It might not be 62k to staff the platform because we might be paying those people a really low wage and if you don’t include the cost of rostering for two shifts per day for each buss, and thus two members of staff each day per bus, plus each bus’ share of the additional spare capacity needed across all the busses to cover holidays and sick time as well as to cover gaps caused by regular staff turnover – and overlook the additional pay generally required for bank holiday cover and unsociable working hours and so on – and overlook NI Contributions and HR overheads and equipment and training and uniforms and lots of other things – it is plausible we could be paying low enough that that number is marginally too high.

The very fact that seems about the best defence anyone has for the boris buses is probably the greatest condemnation of all.

@ #51 Robin Levett
Youth unemployment is just short of 1 million. These kids are getting £56.80 per week and are (generally) not entitled to housing benefit. You need no special qualifications to be a bus conductor. Minimum wage for a 38-hour week is just over quadruple JSA for under-25s. If TfL advertises for conductors at £300 or even £280 per week it should get a long queue of applicants.
The financial value of a conductor is the difference between revenue and costs for two-man operation excluding conductor’s wages and one-man operation for an equal quality of service to passengers. There is a torrent of claims above that that value is negligible. So why do they want to pay a conductor £25k?
The average wage in London is distorted by the millions paid to employees of Hedge funds who mostly are not worth £56.80 per week, so I don’t think it is a valid benchmark.
As to your calculations, I could quibble about NICs which are 13.8% above £144 per week and pension contributions which are likely to be less than 10% if the buses are run by a private sector franchisee (Arriva reported pension costs at 1% of salary in last R&A shown on their website, but virtually all private sector operators are putting new hires into a DC scheme not a DB one). But there is no point because the quibbles are trivial compared to whether you should pay more than twice the market clearing rate – 5% to 10% yes because you can get to pick and choose better applicants but more than 100% is frankly immoral because a majority of those picking up the tab are paid less than that (or not at all).

54. Tremor Mendous

18. Onbe

BIG difference my partizan friend – the NHS system was NEEDED – but failed.

The new bus was never needed and failed anyway.

I never thought I’d see the day when the Tories ran out of other people’s money.

How much hypocriscy can you exist in?

There will be hell to pay when the Tax dodgers alliance hear of this.

Only kidding


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