So, until now, was the increasing body of evidence showing that the NB4L was unable to keep its occupants cool in the warmest weather, and warm in the coldest. Critics were told time and again either that there wasn’t a problem, or that it was being fixed, perhaps in later builds of the vehicle. But every summer, the complaints have recurred, until TfL has finally admitted what everyone else knew all along.
In response to a Tweeter called Steven, who asked TfL Bus Alerts “why are the new #routemasters so much hotter than other #buses do they not have #airconditioning very #unpleasantjourney”, it was conceded “of criticism in regards to the air conditioning. We are aware this is an issue and we are investigating how we can improve it”. Like the addicted, it has to start with the admission that there is a problem.
But there had to be an excuse to be going on with: “Thanks for the feedback. It's appreciated. Changes to current buses can't be made - future models will have better air flow systems”. And to that I call bullshit. As Tom at Boris Watch has pointed out, “it's perfectly possible to refit older buses, TfL have chosen not to, I suspect for cost/embarrassment reasons”. He also spelt out the most obvious modification.
“Note that older Euro III buses have been successfully refitted with anti-pollution measures, so a window on a Roastmaster should be easy”. Quite. Unless someone is going to pretend that the window area on the NB4L is load-bearing and therefore out of bounds, the only problem with inserting a few opening windows - BR did it with trains, so it’s not unprecedented - is the damage to Thomas Heatherwick’s ego.
It’s all a long way from Peter Hendy telling the Standard more than two years ago “We found that the new bus, when the cooling is working properly, is cooler than the equivalent latest ordinary bus … Wright’s [the Northern Ireland bus manufacturer] have fixed all the buses on the 24 and are now checking the ones on the 38 and fixing those too … It’s not a political issue, nor is it a fundamental design failure, and it’s nothing to do with a lack of opening windows; it’s a manufacturing and operating failure which has been fixed by Wrights”. It wasn’t, and it isn’t: the vehicles are not fit for purpose.
The problem now is for TfL to actually do something: what that might be, we are not told. The next step after that is to stop pretending nothing can be done about the hundreds of NB4L models already in service: if future buses can have “better air flow systems”, so can the ones now on the streets. Then Bozza and his cheerleaders can stop pretending that there was nothing wrong with the NB4L, and admit they were wrong.