The introduction of the New Bus For London (NB4L), more usually known as the Boris Bus, BorisMaster or BozzaMaster, is set to continue with a production run of hundreds of vehicles, despite passengers being distinctly lukewarm towards the concept, and in the teeth of opposition from operators who would rather it be someone else having to run and maintain the things.
And this next phase of BozzaMaster operation will feature an entire route given over to the new wonder buses, but here a problem enters: the 38, where the NB4L made its debut, has a requirement so large that it would be some time before deliveries could cover it. So Transport for London (TfL) has decided to select the 24 as the first all-BozzaMaster route.
This will be a real test for the NB4L: the 24, which has run to the same route (Hampstead Heath to Pimlico) for over 100 years, runs a 24 hour a day service. There will be no nights or weekends off for the vehicles. It is estimated that conversion to the NB4L will be complete by August this year (the route has a peak requirement for 26 buses).
So why the 24, apart from it needing less buses than the 38 (where the prototypes will continue to run)? It is no coincidence that the route passes through Parliament Square, and past the end of Downing Street, the target of Bozza’s next stage in his journey of blond ambition. This is also a high risk strategy: a failed bus having to be towed away in full view of MPs and journalists will not go down well.
And talking of journalists, where are they when the Mayor has this good news to tell them? Perhaps they will toddle along later, although one paper may remember that the last time it covered events on route 24, it proved an expensive business. This was the route on which new driver (and practising Muslim) Arunas Raulynaitis was working when he chose to have an on-board pray during a rest break.
The Murdoch Sun then added a pack of lies to this event, asserting that he had ordered passengers off the bus, that he had a rucksack (meaning he was a terrorist), that passengers were therefore wary of boarding the bus, and that he was generally contemptuous of those passengers. Raulynaitis engaged the services of Carter-Ruck, who proceeded to take Rupe’s downmarket troops to the cleaners.
So this time perhaps the Sun hacks will stick to factual reporting, although this is on the face of it a contradiction in terms. It would be nice if someone would take the opportunity to look objectively at the BozzaMaster, given the amount of money being sprayed up the wall on it. But don’t hold your breath.
Do we know what these things will cost TfL? They being too expensive for bus operators to buy themselves.
The cost per production vehicle will be similar to, though a little higher than, other hybrids.
The problems come when the "conductor", who will not perform revenue protection duties, is factored in, together with having to write off the total cost over the period of service in London because there will be no second hand market for them.
That will inevitably make the NB4L significantly more expensive than either other hybrids - or bendy buses. Both have a ready market outside the capital.
Even if route 24 indeed operates 24/7, no individual bus will.
As for a 2nd hand market outside London, most ex-London vehicles have the centre exit removed and lower deck seating increased, so why not the LTs?
Why not? Because these are one-off vehicles and no operator wants them. As a result, TfL have budgeted assuming that the vehicles will not have any residual value after 14 years' service in London.
But has an actual unit cost ever been given in public?
BBC report here:
Fantastic bus, unique, classy, comfy, solid build, visually stimulating, eco friendly, and the public response has been very positive!
Roll on all 600 of them ASAP.
WrightBus exhibited the NB4L at EuroBus Expo in Birmingham a few months ago - they have made no sales.
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