I find it interesting that TFL has placed an order for another 30 hybrid buses with 3 doors and 2 staircases known as the Wrightbus New Routemaster!
As we approach the Mayoral and London Assembly elections to be held in May, TFL have decided to order another 30 New Routemasters, increasing the fleet to 835 NRM’s. It's strange though that they subtracted 3 from the fleet of 808 NRMs which TFL mentioned on its previous order back in October 2014.
During mid 2015, TFL unveiled the rear door modification of the New Routemaster which removes the ability to have an optional rear platform which was the original purpose of the project.I have made a short video which features the rear door modification where the door opens outwards like the middle doors do. So this means that the New Routemaster is now a 3 door 2 staircase hybrid bus.
Anyway, the new small order has lead to an increase of the Estimated Final Cost to £315.6 Million!!!
Let’s see what the Finance and Policy Committee New Routemaster paper says:
The Committee is asked to recommend that the Board approves additional unbudgeted Financial, Project and Procurement Authority for the purchase of 30 additional New Routemaster (NRM) buses for passenger service by September 2016, taking the NRM fleet size to 835. This is an increase to the current project scope. Authority is also sought for iBus and ticketing equipment, and normal mid-life refurbishment and related matters necessary for the operation of these 30 NRMs.
Why the increase?
From section 4.2
The rationale for this proposal is that placing an order now will enable Wrightbus to maintain the operation of one of the two current production lines, which keeps open a more cost effective option for purchasing additional vehicles, if TfL chooses to do so. If both production lines were to close, it would increase the cost of any subsequent order due to the need to remobilise production. The paper included in Part 2 of the agenda sets out further details.
So does it mean TFL have to keep ordering the New Routemasters in order to keep the production lines in operation? We better wait and see in May 2016 when Londoners elect a new Mayor as some of the candidates have said in their policies that they wish to move forward from the New Routemaster orders and probably on to order more zero emission buses.
What will the new 30 NRM’s feature?
From section 4.4
The 30 additional buses would include adjustments made to the original design, including upper and lower deck opening windows to improve ventilation and alterations to the rear door (modifications to the mechanism, voice warning and markings to improve safety). Buses would also include Microvast batteries, with improved operational performance over the original types.
Obviously they will have the new rear door modification, the same as the recently delivered batches have. I have a feeling they might be the shortened New Routemasters which London Bus Club reported on exclusively.
Which route will the additional 30 New Routemasters be in service?
From section 4.10
While no final decision has yet been taken on which additional route will be converted to NRM, three potential routes have been identified. Introduction of vehicles will be through negotiation with the current operator.
I have already reported that routes 3, 68 and 91 are on the list to convert to New Routemasters but I don’t know what other routes are listed; please let me know in the comments section below.
The route will run entirely as One Person Operated (OPO). As a result there would be no additional safety and security benefits or disbenefits compared to a standard double deck bus.
This means that the NRM is a 3 door 2 staircase hybrid bus. The security disbenefit is when passengers enter by the middle or rear door, they don’t touch in which is what contributes to fare evasion. This problem first happened when the bendy buses were in service because of the open boarding proof of payment service which allowed passengers to board at any door.
I think it’s time that TFL bought more zero emission buses in order to combat climate change/global warming and diesel emissions. The zero emission buses may be hydrogen or battery powered buses, but what I would really like to see is for TFL to have zero emission double decker buses by 2030 in the Central London area.
Another alternative is to increase the Alexander Dennis Enviro400H MMC Virtual Electric in to London service as is the case with route 69. I really do think Alexander Dennis should roll out the Virtual Electric with Enviro400H City bodywork though. I am still waiting for the 2 door spec of the New Routemaster which enables bus companies to buy them.
I found out from the London Assembly publication ‘is the New Routemaster value for money’ that there are PDF’s which contain letters from The Budget and Performance Committee and the Managing Director of Surface Transport.
I found one section from one of the documents interesting where it said that London gets an average of around 700 new buses per year, all thanks to the route tender process.
Here is a short update from LOTS regards to the NRM:
New deliveries of LTs have begun for route 68 (batch LT 664-683, 685-686) and are due to begin next week for route 3/N3 (batch LT 684, 687-710). None are yet in service. The present order for LTs has been reduced by three (thus to fleet number 805) to better suit the proposed route allocations. However, a submission to the TfL Board next week will recommend that a further 30 NRMs be ordered (thus to LT 835) and this would maintain Wright’s production line, transcending the Mayoral Election.
What else now for TfL after the extra 30 NRM’s have been delivered? Well, we are still waiting for the two-door single staircase New Routemaster bus to unveil but at least the design cues have been spread to the Alexander Dennis Enviro400H City. Also, the original purpose of the New Routemaster was to restore the rear platform, but it evolved to a 3 door 2 staircase hybrid bus where the new rear door modification ditched the traditional use of the rear platform.
I think I've covered everything now, suffice to say that it will be interesting to see what will succeed the New Routemaster project? Will it be a zero emission bus?
As I've said in previous articles, I do not oppose the New Routemaster, in fact, I love the bus and am just reporting on events as they unfold and watching how the London Bus project evolves as we move into the future.
Please share my article and follow me on Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and Google Plus which is @CLondoner92Previous New Routemaster articles that I've written:
- Failed Route tests for New Routemaster conversion
- TFL releases fuel consumption figures for the New Routemasters'
- A New Bus From Wrightbus
- No more Heatherwick designed buses for London?
- New Completion date for 600 New Routemasters revealed
- Rear door modification for the New Routemaster
- Specs for the new BYD Double Deck Electric Bus compared to the New Routemaster
- TfL’s Green Bond, so more New Routemasters?
- More New Routemasters for Route 88 and 16, plus more news…
- New Bus from Alexander Dennis (Enviro400H City)
- New Routemaster project now costs over £300 million, time for electric buses?
- New window openings for New Routemaster
- Video: The New Routemaster rear door
- REVEALED: Short New Routemaster is unveiled
- Update on short New Routemaster
- Routes 3 & 68 to convert to New Routemaster
"Metroline bus LT98 (LTZ 1098), 22 January 2015" by Oast House Archive. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Metroline_bus_LT98_(LTZ_1098),_22_January_2015.jpg#/media/File:Metroline_bus_LT98_(LTZ_1098),_22_January_2015.jpg
"Enviro400H-City-Rte78-Shoreditch-P1370197" by Spsmiler - Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Enviro400H-City-Rte78-Shoreditch-P1370197.JPG#/media/File:Enviro400H-City-Rte78-Shoreditch-P1370197.JPG