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Monday 15 November 2010

Yikes Chaps, It Might Be Too Long!

Last week saw the unveiling of a full size mock up of the so-called “New Bus For London”, which is not, despite the publicity, even remotely like the Routemaster. Occasional mayor and regular collector of “chicken feed” from the Maily Telegraph, Alexander Boris de Pfeffel Johnson, was clearly in his element with the first incarnation of what has already been dubbed the BorisBus, BorisMaster, or BozzaMaster.

The bus that Bozza is so happy to champion has a total of three entrances and two sets of stairs, which coincides with an existing design, the “Lion” double deckers in service with BVG, who provide bus, tram and U-Bahn services in Berlin. The difference is that the “hop on, hop off” rear entrance of the BorisBus will only be open when the bus is carrying a second crew member.

So when the new bus doesn’t have a conductor on board, using the rear stairs will mean passengers having to walk half the length of the lower deck when boarding or alighting. That will impact on dwell times: an arrangement similar to the Berlin vehicles, where driver only buses still have three doors in service, two of them aligned to the stairs, would be far more practical.

And the length of that deck is non-trivial: the BorisBus, just like the Berlin buses, scales 13.7 metres, which in old money is just over 45 feet. That’s half as long again as the “long” Routemaster, and two thirds longer than the “standard” one. The bendy buses that Bozza so detests are yet longer at around 18 metres, but because they’re, well, bendy, they are no more difficult to get round corners than an 11 metre long “normal” bus.

So it should not surprise anyone when the discovery is made that the BozzaBus has a less than capital wide route availability. Health and Safety judgment has yet to be passed on that rear entrance, and it’s still unlikely that any operator outside London will place an order.

Which would give a parallel with the Routemaster: only one operator outside the capital ordered the bus, taking just fifty vehicles.

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