The press is finally waking up the Boris bus disaster


9:15 am - July 8th 2013

by Tim Fenton    


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At long last, after more than a year of being told that the much-vaunted New Bus For London (NB4L), a.k.a. the New Routemaster, was unable to keep its occupants warm in winter or cool in summer, the press has woken up to the fact that this obscenely expensive vanity project has not even produced a usable end product for its additional full life cost of well over half a billion pounds.

And the problem the NB4L has is as obvious as it is insoluble: you cannot reliably heat (in winter) or air condition (in summer) a vehicle that has a thwacking great hole in the back of its bodywork. Last winter, there were complaints about how cold the buses were, especially downstairs. There will be more next winter, for the problem remains unsolved, because there is no solution to be had.

Some pundits, like self-appointed engineer Harry Mount, have convinced themselves that this is all about “The terrible design fault with modern windows – they don’t open”, which is total crap. It is because the bodywork is all too open. “When the air con breaks down, as it has this week, there’s no refuge from the heat”. It is working, Harry.

Had the BozzaMaster been designed only with conventional automatic doors which only open when required for passengers to board or alight – like the twin-staircase three-doorway double deckers operated by the BVG in Berlin – all would be well. The wilful insistence on both air-conditioning and an open platform at the rear was a guarantee of failure.

So now the Standard has picked up on the sauna that is the upper deck of the NB4L, and moreover its editorial had demanded that something be done. The story has been deemed sufficiently important for the Mail to lift it, suggesting that other papers will pile in later. But nothing can be done while that rear platform is open. Were it to be closed all day, the travelling environment might improve.

But that would merely underscore what a colossal waste of money the NB4L has already become. And, as Boris Watch has noted, there are questions to be answered as to how Heatherwick got the contract to design this vehicle. They had no previous experience in the field, had not gone through any process of competitive tender, and have produced a bus that is too heavy, as well as too hot.

And it’s hot around that cramped area into which the engine, electric traction pack and exhaust system have been shoehorned in order to accommodate an open rear platform and all that oh-so-stylish sweeping glass exterior.

How long will it be before a journey on the 24 up to Hampstead Heath is cut short by overheating, or, worse, fire? What was that about bendy buses being hot and hazardous?

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


Is there some legal means by which Boris can be surcharged for this predicted debacle? After all, there were many warnings that this was a costly, vanity project.

Just so you know, the back of the bus isn’t open, as it has a glass door on it now. From what I can tell, this, along with non-opening windows, makes for a suffocating sauna-like journey.

“Is there some legal means by which Boris can be surcharged for this predicted debacle?”

Been a prediction for a while that it’ll end up with either a court case against the designer/manufacturer or (more likely, since TfL have carefully managed to take all the risk) a public investigation into the procurement process, which has one or two dodgy areas that warrant more attention than they’re getting.

It’s not so much that the bus is faulty (which it is), it’s that the process by which it came to be was always going to result in a faulty bus. What’s changed is that we now know where the faults are, and TfL’s massive nothing-to-see spin operation has been rumbled – the BBC pointedly juxtaposed shots of a digital thermometer busting 30C with quotes from Leon Daniels claiming they’ve had no complaints and the air cooling had been ‘fixed’. These were problems with the prototypes, we think, from a document last September, so they’ve had two goes at it, and the production vehicles still aren’t right.

“Just so you know, the back of the bus isn’t open, as it has a glass door on it now”

On the 38, yes – the ‘conductors’ on that route put on for the election last year were actually drivers filling in, and have been taken off again. The 24 runs with the door open (and a customer service agent present to stop people using it) until about 9pm.

So far it doesn’t seem to make a lot of difference to the temperature whether the door’s open or closed – the heat comes from inside the bus, from the engine compartment, and makes its way up via the rear stairs instead of being ventilated properly outside. As Tim says, this implies the under-stairs siting and cooling of the engine, generator and exhaust is a poor design choice, which is much harder to fix than the rumoured plan of sticking some opening windows in.

Oh, and remember, two of these jalopies are currently on a world tour promoting British industry. Let’s hope no one asks any awkward questions.

The frontpage lead in Monday’s FT is not Murray’s win at Wimbledon but a sobering news report that Osborne is proposing to implement most recommendations of the Parliamentary Commission on Banking, including the proposal to make reckless misconduct in the management of a bank a criminal offence. But why pick on just Bankers? Why not a new law to make reckless misconduct in the management of a public office a criminal offence as well?

IMO we should take heed of Prof Anthony King’s recent piece in the FT: Sir Humphrey is useless and our ministers are worse

Besides Boris, reckless misconduct in managing a public office could take care of Blair and the Iraq war and Patricia Hewitt and that barmy computer project, costing over £12 billion, to create a national database of personal medical records. As King documents, the catalogue of failed and bad government projects has become increasingly impressive. I look forward to reading his forthcoming book: The Blunders of Our Governments. I’m reminded of that editorial in the BMJ in January 2011:

“What do you call a government that embarks on the biggest upheaval of the NHS in its 63 year history, at breakneck speed, while simultaneously trying to make unprecedented financial savings? The politically correct answer has got to be: mad. . . ”
http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d408.full

“How long will it be before a journey on the 24 up to Hampstead Heath is cut short by overheating, or, worse, fire? What was that about bendy buses being hot and hazardous?”

The irony here is the Evening Standard was in the forefront in attacking, the admittedly very unpleasant bendy buses, and one of their big themes was that they were dangerous after a couple,or so, small fires (no injuries).

The Standard took to calling them ‘Ken’s Chariots of Fire’, perhaps we can call Johnson’s hugely expensive vanity project (meant to be a replacement for the Routemaster) ‘Boris’s Roastmasters’

The Voyager Trains used by Virgin, Cross Country, and East Midlands trains have a similar issue, and to a lesser extent so may the Class 185 (although I’ve less experience of these trains).

Essentially the engine exhaust comes up through the body to the roof and this is in a ‘box that passes through in the passage by the toilets, except in the catering/former catering coach (D) where it sits behind seats with a tendency to have a very warm floor and surrounding panels. as a result of this warming in the saloon the temperature sensor decides cooling is needed, and the opposite end of the csrriage is like an ice box, as the a/c system has been instructed to pile in maximum cooling.

Of course an a/c system can only cool down the inside of a vehicle or building if the condensor in the circuit has a temperature gradient from the circulating coolant (which is at this stage hot) to the ambient air or other medium where the heat being removed from inside is being dumped. So on a hot day you may well reach a state where the condensor simply cannot transfer any heat from the area which needs to be cooled to anywhere else. For this reason air conditioning on railways in deep tube tunnels can be an exercise in futility.

About the only option can be using a supply of compressed air, as many airliners do, taking a bleed from the pressurised by-pass airflow on a turbofan engine and releasing it into the cabin – as the compressed air reverts to normal atmospheric pressure heat is absorbed and a cooling effect delivered. You’ll see the same effect when a CO2 extinguisher is used and ice forms from the water vapour in the air, on the nozzle and in the very cold stream of gas. An even simpler exa,mple is to feel hoiw cold the air is when you let down a cycle tyre by pressing down on the valve.

Now the bus will, like most other buses, have air brakes, and the compressor(s) could fill an additional air reservoir specifically for providing a cooling jet of air, dropping from around 7 bar to 1 bar, and fed through a diffuser into the ventilation system, but that too would rely of the compressed air being able to cool down to give the best effect.

I believe incidentally that I may have the solution to another of TfL’s long standing problems but that will need to wait until I find an ‘angel’ to work with and prove the thermal circuit, which will involve air and water and the phenomenal heat absorbing capacity of water through the latent heat of evaporation and backing this the specific heat for just warming up cool water.

Meantime if your offices are suffering in the heat why not consider a bubbling water feature (which gets topped up from a cool source if possible) and a means to get air flowing past it. The high rate of evaporation from a feature which provides a large surface area of water to evaporate from gives a huge capacity for cooling, and the airflow clears the ‘humid’ air to keep that water evaporating.

They know how to deal with these issues in China:

A Beijing court has sentenced China’s former minister of railways Liu Zhijun to death, with a two-year reprieve, for bribery and abuse of power,
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jul/08/liu-zhijun-sentenced-death-corruption

TJ: how were the Citaros ‘very unpleasant’ exactly? I very much liked them as a semiregular commuter on the 29, because it meant that I could get on the bloody thing.

I’m loving Dave’s Heath Robinson crackpottery. Yes, AC in tube tunnels doesn’t work. This has absolutely cock-all to do with the (perfectly acceptable) AC in class 22x DEMUs, and even less to do with the (terrible) idea of running AC off one’s air brakes.

In general, it is an established fact that AC uses less energy than the drag of open windows, and that people who oppose it are deranged luddites…

This is getting into slightly irrational ‘think of the children’ territory.

I don’t imagine any new vehicle in history has not had operational problems of some sort. Boeing would probably swap their Dreamliner publicity for TfL’s in a heartbeat. In the end, both will most likely end up operating efficiently as they were intended.

We know it’s not really about the bus but doing something, anything, to try and halt the Boris juggernaut. I don’t think most Londoners care the same way they would about cuts to their hospital though.

So the colossal waste of money is irrelevant? That’s a relief, I thought we were a bit short right now.

It costs what, 15% more than a standard hybrid bus, of which we order hundreds per year?

Not losing any sleep personally.

@John B

Well I used the 29 quite a bit as well, maybe it’s a personal thing but if was definitely more standing than sitting and frequently they were rammed.

Plus you had the problem of people jibbing on the bus by the centre doors, so consequently you had lots of inspectors getting on the bus (sometimes with cops)which would lead to barging and pushing as the jibbers rushed to get off the bus.

I used Routemasters regularly going either to school or to work for a number of years and don’t remember either them being either uncomfortably hot or cold. Maybe the problem comes from the new version being particularly badly designed but that doesn’t mean it inevitably had to be the case.

Other John, you’re having a laugh right? 15pc is Quite A Lot in exchange for absolutely nothing. Would you be happy if fares rose 15pc, or taxes rose 15pc, in exchange for absolutely nothing?

Andrew: the NB4L isn’t a Routemaster, and has little in common with one. Most importantly, a Routemaster is front-engined, whereas it’s now universally accepted that rear-engined is the most sensible drivetrain layout for buses.

A lesser man than London’s great Mayor might therefore have concluded that a rear platform was a stupid idea, because it would be impossible to build a rear-engined, rear-platformed bus that didn’t run into the same heat problems that the NB4L has run into.

John,

Ah, that makes sense, thanks.

Yes, calling something a Routemaster doesn’t make it one – it’s got a different propulsion system, different engine siting, one more staircase, two more doors, a second crew member with a totally different job, is considerably longer and heavier and carries slightly more people.

The only thing they *do* have in common seems to be developmental problems, but the RM was given an inordinate length of time to work things out and eventually produced an excellent vehicle that was immediately out of date due to the cost of labour having risen and two crew per bus becoming hopelessly uneconomic. This hasn’t changed, actually, the only thing that has is that the two crew advantage in dwell time (where the driver doesn’t have to deal with ticket sales before driving off) has been completely negated by Oyster and pay-wave debit cards.

Ironically, for the tiny number of people using cash on the New Bus, the only place to buy a ticket from is the driver, so it doesn’t even have that in common with the RM.

The three-door-two-staircase double-deckers in Berlin have an engine under the rear staircase, and while you can feel the heat as you descend the rear staircase it doesn’t turn the whole vehicle into a sauna.

Random speculation: maybe they didn’t put enough thermal insulation between the engine and the passenger compartment, or a big enough radiator in, to save weight or to avoid “spoiling” the shape?

John B

‘Nothing’ is subjective – when announced the 38 doors were being kept shut, I heard reference to the running time of the NB4L being much faster. One of the aims being it would standardise running time on the 38. That sounds like a benefit to me. Seems more plausible than the ‘confused passengers’ guff anyway.

How much more do hybrids cost than standard double deckers? And is the environmental benefit for a few hundred of the non NB4l hybrids Tfl run worth the extra you pay over a standard double decker given you still have thousands of diesel buses operating in the city?

I think it is but my point is I think you’re wrong to say they offer nothing. Although an interesting experiment would be to see if conductors on board increase the likelihood of cash paying passengers. It has no effect on dwell times as passengers are already seated onboard so could provide more convenience for those who may not frequently use buses.

20. Choooser

Regulars of Boriswatch will have seen this coming. Tom and Helen (especially Tom) have dedicated a lot of time and effort to documenting the road to service of this bus.

The endless stream of “it’s teething problems” are as absurd as they are deceptive. I have noticed a lot of activity on any story reporting this dreadful waste of money – with comments blindly repeating this lie (Boris clearly has a lot of money for his PR team!).

Anyone who read Tom’s piece on the trial runs would know that a ‘teething problem’ isn’t ever discovered during testing. I suspect it was simply ‘ignored’ as nobody had the balls to can the project and send it back to Heatherwick – as this would have been a big embarrassment for the mayor.

Fortunately you can always rely on the fact that all liars ‘get found out eventually’ and Boris is no different. He tried to use the law to suppress the story of his ‘love child’ – but he failed in that too.

The man is…as they say…a ‘nasty piece of work’ – and more fool the idiot Londoners who voted for a clown as a mayor who now have a joke for a bus!

Schadenfreud.

21. Choooser

“In general, it is an established fact that AC uses less energy than the drag of open windows”

Really? do you have any evidence for this ‘fact’ – and are you talking about a car doing 60 on a motorway – or a bus which barely gets over 10mph (at which the drag is minimal)

I suspect the air-con is being used intermittently – why? – because the OTHER problem with the Boris buses is that they are NOT efficient – and consequently will not be bought up by any other bus company (without a subsidy – of course!)

22. Choooser

1. John

The buses cost 25% more – and that’s if the taxpayer doesn’t get left with the R&D costs – which it will if they are not taken on by private bus companies.

23. Choooser

12. TJ

…and the 3 door solution of the new bus is different to the 3 door solution of the bendy bus because……?

The ‘conductor’ doesn’t even check fares – fare evasion is EASIER with the new Boris ShiteMasters.

Choooser

And would you care so much about this ‘waste’ if it had been a different Mayor?

Rather than get mad at Tories voting for, shock, horror, the Tory candidate, maybe ask why Labour selected a divisive candidate 40% of Londoners were never going to vote for.

John: that last one’s quite easy, it’s because of his successful eight-year track record and two electoral victories, first as independent mayor then as Labour mayor, and the fact that during that time he turned around London’s transport network.

26. Robin Levett

@John #24:

Rather than get mad at Tories voting for, shock, horror, the Tory candidate, maybe ask why Labour selected a divisive candidate 40% of Londoners were never going to vote for.

One – you might be very surprised at who would be prepared to vote for Livingstone.

Two – 60% looks like a majority to me.

Three – Livingstone was up against Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, Old Etonian and former Bullingdon Club member, and you say Ken was the “divisive” candidate? You need to distinguish beween the way that national Labour saw and see him, and the way the electorate sees him.

Four – Boris’s wins came from stacking up votes in Outer London Tory strongholds that would never have voted for a Labour candidate that didn’t keeep newts.

John B and Robin

Whatever peoples personal views are of Ken, strategically he enduces a strong opinion one way or the other. Whilst he might relate to certain areas or a certain demographic – he did pretty poorly in the outer boroughs.

People will blame it on these areas being rich Tory parts etc but its not strictly true. Areas like Bexley, Croydon, Hillingdon, Enfield have large working class areas too and plenty of Labour support.

Boris enduces the same opinion. Labours problem in London is that he is (and remains whether you like it or not) an extremely popular politician. There is roughly a 40% split between Tories and Labour on 2nd votes in the election and I suspect there always will be so really you are fighting for the 20% who don’t vote Labour or Tory as first choice. Galvanise the outer borough working class in places like Slade Green, Mitcham and Ponders End and you could tip the balance.

If it isn’t Boris, it may well be Lord Coe who has high cache post Olympics so Labour need a bloody good candidate. The primaries should remember this.

Oh and whoever mentioned the West London tram? If it came on the agenda, Ealing would go the colour of whichever party opposed it. Large corridors of the Uxbridge Rd, particularly Southall, did not want it before and I suepct nothing has changed. Ealing Council might be better arguing for more Crossrail trains along the route of the Great Western (they’re getting about 30-40%, the rest terminate at Paddington from the east) with improved access to some of the stations.

I rode on one of these buses on the 24 route last week. My impression was that it was hot in the front seat upstairs (a couple were discussing the air condition problems, and I later saw the newspaper story about it), although I was sitting in hot sunshine as the bus went southwards. On the other hand, the open back platform was useful as I could get off whilst in a traffic jam. The bus’ ride was a lot more smooth and a lot less rattly than the usual spam-can bus. Altogether, I was more impressed than critical. It was the most comfortable ride I’d had on a London bus since I last went on a Routemaster, many years back.

I suspect that not a little of the criticism here is because of the Johnson connection: were a person of different political views to champion this new bus, then I suspect that some comments might be less harsh. I am, before anyone asks, not a Tory voter.

Many vehicles have teething problems. The original Routemaster, for which, as a Londoner of a certain age, I have a great fondness, had many problems at the start, and many modifications had to be made before it became the splendid vehicle for which it is justly famous.

As for costs, London buses up to and including the Routemaster tended to be more expensive than off-the-peg models because they were specially designed for the harder conditions in London and were therefore seldom bought by other companies, which didn’t need such robust vehicles. It was money well spent, as many of these buses lasted considerably longer in service than the off-the-peg ones brought in subsequently.

Time will tell if these new buses are worth the additional money and whether they will prove to be a success. Let’s not make hasty judgements or allow our attitude towards Johnson to influence our opinions on this vehicle.

Do I really need to point out that this is a storm in a tea cup? All buses are rubbish. Bendy, Borisy, or otherwise.

24. John

I don’t need to – there were plenty of raging Tories only too quick to cite some of the previous mayor’s exploits as ‘money wasting’

Remember the Rise festival and how that was deemed to be a waste of moneyby Boris and his cronies? It’s ‘chicken feed’ compared to this debacle.

Hell, Boris has the whol of the evening standard and Andrew (born liar) Gilligan who spent their lives pointing out ‘waste’ – until Boris got in that is.

If Ken had brought in these buses I would be just as critical – even more so in fact because Ken does not have the excuse of “being a bungling clown” and would therefore have let us down more.

As for the choice of candidate – well I think Boris proves without a doubt that ‘popular’ is not always ‘good for the voter’ – despite what the media claim.

I would rather have a mayor as a mayor than a clown “off the telly” no matter which party put them up.

26. Robin Levett

I would also add that the two page spread in the standard right before the first election by Andrew (can’t stop lying) Gilligan about Lee Jasper and corruption at the LDA (of which NOTHING has EVER been proven – despite a thorough police investigation AND Boris’s own ‘forensic accounts investigation’) – had a large effect on Londoner’s opinion of Ken (i.e. that he hung around with corrupt people)

Still – I say f**k them – the fools voted for Boris the clown and now he is being exposed as the fraud HE is. the sluburbs won’t be too happy when their taxes go up to pay for Boris’s bungling.

The idea of a ‘third term’ is such a joke – Boris wouldn’t dare stand as he knows his time is up. He’ll be lucky if he gets to the end of this term without being lynched!

“People will blame it on these areas being rich Tory parts etc but its not strictly true. Areas like Bexley, Croydon, Hillingdon, Enfield have large working class areas too and plenty of Labour support.”

Bexley is a classic case of “wanabebeterthanYOW” people – who vote Tory because they think it raises their class status by doing so.

Like the rest of the middle class – they discover what class they REALLY are when they get their p45

28. Dr Paul

You are lying – you are not allowed to get off the bus in between bus stops – if the doors are open the ‘conductor’ will stop you and if he’s not there the platform will only be open at bus stops.

“Many vehicles have teething problems”

THIS IS NOT A TEETHING PROBLEM – THEY FOUND PROBLEMS WITH THE AIR CON, HEAT AND HUMIDITY IN TESTING LAST SUMMER.

is that clear enough for you? – or are you simply going to repeat the same diatribe again?

The funny bit is you will stil be calling it a ‘teething problem’ when the buses have to go back to the depot to have windows fitted – or a new air con – both of which cannot be done by ‘local’ engineers.

“As for costs, London buses up to and including the Routemaster tended to be more expensive than off-the-peg models because they were specially designed for the harder conditions in London and were therefore seldom bought by other companies, which didn’t need such robust vehicles.”

More lies – thebus is LONGER than all other London buses which is why it can only go on certain routes. Not designed for London’s narrow streets at all! Also London buses do NOT cost more – this one cost more because Boris (or rather the taxpayer) paid for the design.
It won’t be bought by other companies because it’s overweight, under capacity and fuel inefficient.

“It was money well spent, as many of these buses lasted considerably longer in service than the off-the-peg ones brought in subsequently”

Have you any evidence for this? As far as I know the original Routemaster is the only bus which was ‘designed for london’ – every other bus on the street is an off the peg design – that’s why they COST LESS. There is no evidence these buses don’t last as long.

“Time will tell if these new buses are worth the additional money and whether they will prove to be a success. Let’s not make hasty judgements or allow our attitude towards Johnson to influence our opinions on this vehicle.”

Time has already told – that’s because unlike you I have been following this story through production and the failures were obvious. You think on the road is the best place to ‘test out a bus’? – then you’re more clueless than Johnson.

The only influence Boris has over me and this story is the lies he has told (and continues to tell) about the bus which he trumpeted as his own. He picked Heatherwick over ‘real bus designers’ for no apparent reason – and now we have a good looking bus that is impractical.

It seems the only hasty judgement is yours in giving this bus a chance when it’s already been proven in testing it’s not up to scratch.

You can read it all here – if you have time in between posting positive PR for Boris the clown all over the internet!

http://www.boriswatch.co.uk/2013/07/10/sir-peter-hendy-commissioner-of-transport-for-london-its-not-a-political-issue/

34. Robin Levett

@John #27:

Whatever peoples personal views are of Ken, strategically he enduces a strong opinion one way or the other. Whilst he might relate to certain areas or a certain demographic – he did pretty poorly in the outer boroughs.

He had, and probably still has, a far broader base of appeal in London than any other Labour politician. Running as an Independent in 2000, he thrashed Dobson 3-1 on 1st preference votes. He didn’t do that on Labour votes alone. He won the vote in that election in all but two GLA constituencies (Bromley and Bexley, and West Central, both solid Tory), taking a number of Tory GLA constituencies. The same happened in each succeeding election – ie he outperformed the Labour Party – until 2012; and even then – indeed in both elections against Boris – he got more 2nd preference votes, which is an indication of the breadth of his appeal.

Livingstone was hugely divisive from a national Labour Party apparatchik perspective; but he did far better as Mayoral candidate than any alternative Labour politician would have done.

Dr Paul – why don’t you read this ‘teething problem’ and then call TFL and tell them how you fix it!

“TFL originally had a question on the help page regarding about air conditioning on London Buses! It states

“Why don’t London’s buses have air conditioning?

Air conditioning is not mandatory in our new vehicle specifications but partial air chilling on double deck buses is.

To provide air-conditioning, air must be trapped in a confined area to lower it to a thermostatically-controlled level.

Air cannot be trapped in buses because the nature of journeys involves doors opening and closing frequently to let passengers on and off at stops short distances apart. This is in contrast to coaches and trains which travel further between stops. Buses would need to consume more fuel if they were to use high-powered units and this would have an environmental impact in terms of greater exhaust emissions.

London’s buses have partial air chill cooling systems which insert cooled air into the upper deck of vehicles. If the air outside the vehicle is cooler than inside, open windows can assist the circulation and cooling of air on the upper deck.”

…and yet the ‘open platform’ bus has no opening windows and is relying totally on AIR CONDITIONING!!

Boris has a suitably charismatic answer for all those incidental issues concerning the few bus routes his New Routemaster bus is able to negotiate:

A £30bn blueprint which includes digging road tunnels beneath busy junctions has been put forward by a task force set up by the London mayor.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-23250521

Boris for PM is the way to go.

37. Robin Levett

@Dr Paul #28:

As for costs, London buses up to and including the Routemaster tended to be more expensive than off-the-peg models because they were specially designed for the harder conditions in London and were therefore seldom bought by other companies, which didn’t need such robust vehicles.

Really; can you stand that claim up? Up to and including Routemaster, London designed (and built) its own types. AEC was the LGOC’s bus-building subsidiary; try googling for how many AEC types entered service with bus companies outside London.

…and here is further evidence – from Dave Hill about the air con being spotted as a problem back in FEBRUARY – not by TFL staff but by a journalist / blogger who rode the prototype.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/davehillblog/2012/feb/27/boris-johnson-new-london-bus-first-passenger-day?CMP=twt_gu

“Dean also drew my attention to the steamed-up windows. These cannot be opened to let in air. I’d had to run from my home to make my date with London transport history, so I was already a little over-heated. Even so, it felt pretty warm up there. The ceiling is low too. I’m not particularly tall – 5’11” on a good day – but couldn’t quite stand up to my full height. There’s a bit of a reverse Tardis effect – the new bus feels smaller on the inside than it looks from the outside. Dean later wrote:

Eventually the air-conditioning did kick in intermittently, but if things become sweaty on a mild February day, the bus might be a less than pleasant place to be come summer.”

Teething problems indeed!

Chooser — please learn the difference between a ‘lie’, which is a deliberate misrepresentation with the intention to deceive, and making an incorrect statement.

Please also note that I stated that ‘I could get off’; I didn’t say that I did. To say that one ‘can’ do something merely means that it is physically possible; which of course in this instance might well mean ignoring the conductor’s instruction. In point of fact, I stood on the bus until it came to the next stop and indeed chatted to the conductor standing on the platform as the bus came to a halt at the stop, where I alighted.

As for my other ‘lie’, I made no comment upon the length of the new bus or of its suitability for all routes in London. You raised those matters, not me. And I did not say that London’s buses — if (as it seems by your use of the present tense) you are referring to its current ones — cost more; I was referring to designs up to and including the Routemaster which were specifically designed for London’s conditions. There were attempts by AEC to sell new RTs and RMs to operators outwith London, but only a few dozen of the latter were sold.

As for ‘on the hoof’ modifications as a result of teething problems, there were various modifications made over several years to the RM after its initial introduction, including — ironically, in relation to problems with today’s new bus — providing opening front windows on the upper deck, the original RMs not having them. (As it is, I felt on my journey that opening front windows would be a useful modification to these new buses.) Other LT buses had modifications made to them or changes to the design after being introduced into service, including major modifications to the rear chassis design on the RT.

As for length of service, the RT entered service in 1939, the last deliveries were in the mid-1950s, and the last one left LT service in 1979. Many of them had 15 to 20 years in service, and not a few served afterwards with private operators. The RT had an AEC Regent chassis, but the body and some of the mechanics — for example, the pre-selector gearbox, were to LT specifications. They were not ‘off the peg’. The RM entered service in the late 1950s, deliveries continued for another 10 years, and RMs were still running 20 routes until 2003-05, the last one being the 159 in December 2005. Some of these buses were in operation for 30 years or more. Name me any class of bus since then that has had such a long service life in London.

I did not say that the new bus was perfect (I actually find the design rather ugly, especially the domed back end), nor do I think that it does not need improvements. What I did find was that compared to the rough riding that I have experienced on London buses since the arrival of rear-engine designs — I rode on the Atlanteans LT had back in the 1960s, so I’ve had some years of experience of them — this new bus gives significantly more smooth ride.


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