|Body and chassis|
|Floor type||Low floor|
|Engine||Cummins ISBe powering a hybrid diesel-electric system|
|Capacity||80 (87 without wheelchair) (lower: 22 seats, 1 wheelchair space, 18 standing (25 standing without wheelchair); upper deck: 40 seats)|
|Length||11.23 m (36 ft 10 in)|
|Width||2.52 m (8 ft 3 in)|
|Height||4.39 m (14 ft 5 in)|
|Curb weight||12.65 tonnes (12.45 long tons; 13.94 short tons)|
The New Routemaster, originally referred to as the New Bus for London, and colloquially as the Borisbus or Borismaster (a portmanteau of the name of the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson who drove their introduction, and that of the AEC Routemaster that they were designed to replace) is a hybrid diesel-electric bus operated in London. Designed by Heatherwick Studio, it is manufactured by Wrightbus, and is notable for featuring a "hop-on hop-off" rear open platform similar to the original Routemaster bus design, but updated to meet requirements for modern buses to be fully accessible. The first bus entered service on 27 February 2012.
The original AEC Routemaster was a standard London bus type with a rear open platform and crewed by both a driver and conductor. It was withdrawn from service (except for two heritage routes) at the end of 2005 by London Mayor Ken Livingstone, in favour of a fully accessible one-person-operated modern fleet, none of which featured a rear open platform. The withdrawal of the Routemaster became an issue of the 2008 London mayoral election, and Boris Johnson was subsequently elected mayor, with one of his campaign pledges being to introduce a new Routemaster. Following an open design competition in 2008, Wrightbus was awarded the contract to build the bus at the end of 2009, and the final design was announced in May 2010.
The design for the new bus features three doors and two staircases to allow accessible boarding. Unlike the original Routemaster, the new bus has a conventional full front end and a rear platform that can be closed when not needed, rather than the protruding, bonneted 'half cab' design and permanently open platform. The layout of the new bus allows it to be operated by one person at off-peak times. The cost of each bus will be £355,000 over the four year procurement period.
- 1 Configuration
- 2 Background
- 3 Design
- 4 Production
- 5 Demonstrations
- 6 Operation
- 7 Ownership
- 8 Media
- 9 Criticism
- 10 See also
- 11 References
- 12 External links
The final design has doors at the front, centre and rear. The front and rear doors lead to staircases to the upper deck. The rear entrance has a platform and pole similar to the Routemaster, which is kept open for hop-on, hop-off operation when a conductor is on board. Readers for the contactless Oyster card used for payment for transport in London are provided at each of the three boarding points; other types of ticket must be presented to the driver as the conductor does not take fares or check tickets.
There is a new pattern of moquette for the seating. The internal lighting is provided by LED clusters, and there is a climate-controlled ventilation system. There is a system which displays text and provides audio announcements via loudspeakers, and T-loop for users of hearing aids; the information typically includes the route number, destination, name of the next stop, and that the bus is stopping.
The bus is a hybrid diesel-electric driven by a battery-powered electric motor, charged by a diesel fueled generator and recovering energy during braking by regenerative braking; the diesel engine runs only when the battery needs charging and so the bus has lower pollution and better fuel consumption than the earlier ones in this class.
Original Routemaster in London
Designed for and largely operated in London, over 2,800 AEC Routemasters were built between 1956 and 1968. So robust was the design that the Routemaster outlasted newer buses intended to replace it, and remained in use until 2005, well into the deregulated era.
From 31 December 2000 it had become mandatory for all new buses delivered in the UK to comply with the Disability Discrimination Act 1995, leading to the development of the wheelchair-accessible low-floor bus. Older buses were allowed to remain in London until 23 October 2009, in the rest of United Kingdom until 22 October 2014. Through the TfL contract renewal process, after 2000 the Routemaster began to be identified as the most common example of a non-wheelchair-accessible bus type used on TfL routes.
The first London mayor, Ken Livingstone, supported the Routemaster during his first 2000–2004 term, indicating the type would be retained in a limited capacity on contract renewals as before. He also promised to massively convert the whole London bus fleet to low-floor with an original targeted timeline of 23 October 2009, then was pushed earlier to 1 January 2006, thereby requiring the withdrawal of the Routemaster from London. Contributory factors to the withdrawal were said to be the risk of litigation over accidents arising from using the rear platform, the cost savings of one-person operation, and that passengers preferred the comfort levels of modern buses to the vintage Routemaster. Livingstone said that the Routemasters were too dangerous, with approximately twelve people per year dying after falling from them during his mayoralty. The last examples were withdrawn from regular London passenger service in December 2005.
The Routemaster continued in operation on heritage routes 9 and 15, with the former discontinued in July 2014. The heritage routes, shorter than the full 9 and 15 routes, were awarded as tendered routes by TfL, and do not contravene the TfL accessible public transport policy requirement as frequent wheelchair-accessible buses also operate on these routes.
FRM & XRM
An attempt to design a rear-engined front-entrance version of the Routemaster in 1964/65 led to the construction of FRM1 (front-entrance Routemaster) in 1966. This prototype shared approximately 60% of its components with a standard Routemaster, and was the first integrally-constructed rear-engined double-decker built in Britain. Because of its single door (a serious drawback for a bus of this capacity) and continued mechanical problems associated with its unique design, the FRM was considered a dead end, although it did provide proof of concept.
In 1968 London Transport went back to the drawing board for another replacement of the Routemaster, with an anticipated introduction date of 1985. The initial result was a four-axle low-floor design that would have been suitable for automatic fare collection. By 1975 the project was well in hand and had been named XRM (Experimental Route Master). Features of the new design included a side-mounted engine for maximum flexibility in door and seating layout, and hydraulic drive to four small-wheeled axles for the lowest possible floor. Experiments in the mid-1970s yielded disappointing results, and in 1978 the XRM morphed into a more-conventional-looking vehicle, albeit with the rear door located behind the rear axle. Other proposed features were LPG fuel and hydraulic suspension to lower the floor at stops. XRM design work was cancelled in September 1980, as it was calculated that it would cost £153m to build 2,500 new XRMs but only £13.5m to overhaul 2,700 Routemasters. London Transport had by this time committed heavily to the Leyland Titan, to which they had significant design input and it was regarded as a more viable option.
A decade later London Transport once again looked for another replacement. In 1989 designs were solicited from Dennis Bus, Alexander and Northern Counties. Somewhat surprisingly, the style specified was a rear-entrance half-cab layout identical to the original Routemaster, but by now considered obsolete elsewhere in Britain.
In 1999 London Transport received an unsolicited design from its former vehicle engineering manager, Colin Curtis, who had overseen the design of the Routemaster. Dubbed the Q Master it found little favour within London Transport, nor by manufacturers Curtis approached. When Transport for London announced that the Routemaster would be retained until 2010 in September 2000 it indicated it would look at developing a Routemaster replacement, however this project was confirmed as dead in June 2003.
Initial Capoco proposal
On 3 September 2007 the Conservative mayoral candidate for London, Boris Johnson, announced that he was contemplating introducing a modern-day Routemaster. In December 2007, the UK automotive magazine Autocar commissioned the bus designer Capoco, designer of the innovative Optare Solo, to come up with detailed proposals for a new-generation Routemaster. Their design, dubbed the RMXL, was a hybrid technology low-floor bus with a lightweight aluminium space frame, with four more seats and twice the standing capacity of the old Routemaster, and operated solely by a driver.
The design incorporated disabled access through a closing front door behind the front wheels, while retaining open-platform rear access, with the staircase still at the rear. The hybrid drivetrain had a front-mounted continuous-revving hydrogenised petrol engine; this charged front-mounted batteries, which powered the rear wheels through rear-mounted electric motors. This arrangement, through not requiring a mechanical transmission, allowed for a low floor and a step-free entrance into the lower deck from the rear platform.
Hydrogen storage tanks would be located under the rear staircase. The design was covered by the national press but attracted criticism from Livingstone as being too costly to justify and still not safe, despite proposals to monitor the rear platform with cameras.
New Bus For London competition
|The two joint winners for the "whole bus" detailed design category.|
Johnson backed the Autocar / Capoco design in principle and suggested that he would hold a formal design competition to develop a new Routemaster if he was elected London mayor in May 2008. After winning, on 4 July 2008 Johnson announced the New Bus For London competition.
An initiative of Transport for London, the competition invited anybody, both companies and members of the public, to submit ideas for consideration. The competition had two categories, an Imagine category for general ideas and concepts, and a Design category, for more detailed proposals. In both categories, entries could be either "whole bus" submissions, or proposals for parts of the bus.
The Imagine category called for the submission of imaginative ideas for a red double-decker bus with a rear open platform, and one other entrance/exit with doors. The Design category called for detailed designs of a low floor red double-decker bus with at least one internal staircase, a rear open platform, and one other entrance/exit with doors, to be crewed by a driver and conductor, and suitable for carrying 72 passengers seated and standing. The designs were required to satisfy a table of mandatory and suggested design specifications, and "be practical and economic and capable of being put into mass production". The competition offered cash prizes for entrants, with £25,000 for the winner, and smaller awards for good ideas.
One initial set of proposals gained media attention after being unveiled during October 2008, for a "smiley bus" known as the H4 (designed by the H4 Group). Future Systems offered a "space age" alternative powered by hydrogen. Foster and Partners submitted a glass-roofed design. The winners were announced on 19 December 2008. There were 225 entries in the Design category, and 475 entries in the Imagine category
The £25,000 prize for winning the whole bus Design category was shared between two entries, one from Capoco Design, a bus, coach and truck design firm, and one from a joint submission made by architects Foster and Partners and automotive company Aston Martin
Tendering process & final design
The winning and other merited entrants in both the Imagine and Design categories for both 'whole bus' submission and part submissions were passed by TfL to bus manufacturers, for them to draw up detailed final designs meeting all relevant legislation, and later presented to TfL for consideration on a competitive-tender basis. By April 2009, a formal invitation to express interest in the project was published in the Official Journal of the European Union
In May 2009, six manufacturers were invited to negotiate for the contract to design and build the new bus. They were Alexander Dennis, EvoBus (which includes Mercedes-Benz), Hispano Carrocera, Optare, Scania and Wrightbus, having all met TfL's criteria for pre-qualification for tendering, which included demonstrating they had a manufacturing capacity of building 600 buses over three years. Volvo declined to enter the bidding process. Transport for London set a deadline of 14 August for the submission of detailed tenders; Scania and Evobus pulled out before this deadline. Scania did not believe they could produce the first prototype in the time stipulated, and Evobus had concerns as they were not at the time manufacturing any double-decker.
On 23 December 2009, Northern Ireland-based vehicle manufacturer Wrightbus was awarded the contract to build the Future Routemaster. The contract called for a bus with a capacity for at least 87 passengers, two staircases, three doors, and a rear platform which could be left open, or closed with a door when a conductor was not aboard. The bus would be a hybrid, utilising technology to make it 40% more fuel-efficient than conventional diesel buses, and 15% more than London hybrid buses already in operation, reducing nitrogen oxide emissions by 40% and particulate matter by 33% compared with diesel buses.
On 17 May 2010 the final design was unveiled by Wrightbus, with asymmetric glass swoops as its signature "futuristic" styling feature. Transport for London and Wrightbus worked with Heatherwick Studio to produce the styling for Wrightbus' final design. As it is an iconic bus for London, TfL has applied to the Intellectual Property Office for Registered Design Protection for the exterior design.
The body has two diagonal glass windows from top to bottom decks, one curving around the rear, the other on the right-hand side towards the front, which provide natural light to the interiors of both staircases. The rear staircase is in the same position as in the original Routemaster, curving around the rear section, while the front staircase is straight, ascending on the right-hand side of the chassis over the driver's cab, opening out in the front of the upper deck.
The bus is certified to EC Whole Vehicle Type Approval and ECE Regulation 107, according to the manufacturers.
The use of three doors and two staircases is not new to London: London Transport evaluated a prototype bus in the 1980s as part of the Alternative Vehicle Evaluation programme: a specially modified Volvo Ailsa B55 with two staircases. These trials were curtailed due to the running-down and eventual closure of London Transport's bus Engineering Research department.
A static mock-up was unveiled at Acton depot on 11 November 2010: the first engineering prototype was driven by Boris Johnson at a public demonstration on 27 May 2011. The first working prototype was unveiled in December 2011 and driven from City Hall to Trafalgar Square. Within days of its unveiling, the first prototype was reported to have broken down on the M1 north of London, but this was due to human error; it had run out of fuel. The first new bus (fleet number LT 2) entered service with Arriva London on 27 February 2012, on route 38. During the 2012 London mayoral election, former Mayor of London and Labour candidate Ken Livingstone said that, if elected, he would buy no more New Buses for London because of the price. However, Boris Johnson won the election and in September 2012 approved the order for 600 of the new buses, with public funding required estimated at about £160 million. The prototypes remain in service on route 38.
In 2014, a further 200 were ordered which will bring the total to 808.
In May 2013, LT1 and LT2 were loaned to the UK government to take part in a global trade mission covering 16 countries in four continents over 12 months. In October 2013, LT3 was sent on a demonstration tour to Hong Kong and then to Singapore in February 2014. As at August 2014, LT1 was in store in Abu Dhabi pending a decision on the future of the programme, while the other two had returned to England.
In August 2014, LT2 commenced a six-month trial with First West Yorkshire. It was repainted green. In November 2014, Stagecoach Strathtay commenced a three-month trial of a pair of New Routemasters in Dundee. Buses LT312 and LT313 were used daily on the conductor operated route 73 from Arbroath to Ninewells Hospital. The Stagecoach Strathtay trial ended early in mid-December 2014 after the two vehicles proved incapable of running to the timetable and suffered series of high-profile breakdowns in service.
New Routemasters currently operate on the following routes:
When in one-person operation, the driver operates all three doors. When in two-person operation, a conductor (formally known as a customer service assistant) stands on the rear platform and that door stays open even while the bus is moving. At stops, the conductor presses a button to inform the driver that the platform is clear; the driver operates the other two doors as is done for one-person operation.
The annual cost of employing conductors from 06:00 to 19:00 on weekdays is about £62,000 per bus.
Only six routes operate with an open-rear deck:
-Route 9: Mon-Fri 0600-1754 (from Hammersmith), 0640-1859 (from Aldwych)
-Route 10: Mon-Fri 0600-1752 (from Hammersmith), 0650-1930 (from King's Cross)
-Route 11: Mon-Fri 0630-1840, Sat 0715-1800, Sun 0830-1800 (from Fulham), Mon-Fri 0620-1830, Sat 0700-1800, Sun 0830-1800 (from Liverpool Street)
-Route 24: Mon-Fri 0515-1830 (from Hampstead Heath), 0600-1948 (from Pimlico)
-Route 38: Mon-Fri 0700-1730 (from Mildmay Park), 0745-1800 (from Victoria)
-Route 390: Mon-Fri 0615-1852 (from Archway), 0648-1955 (from Notting Hill Gate)
The other routes do not operate with conductors and the rear platform remains closed whilst the bus is moving. In 2014, the TfL board was told that no new routes would have conductors, and would operate with the rear door closed while moving.
Under the bus contract tendering system for London, routes are often updated with new buses every seven years, with new buses owned or leased by the operator, whether the route operator changes or not. Redundant buses, if not used on other London contracts or sold to other London operators, often go on to further use outside London, either cascaded within the fleets of the large national operators who own several of the London operating companies, or sold to other regional companies.
The London transport commissioner Peter Hendy acknowledged in 2008 that there were economic challenges in requiring current private London bus operators to tender for routes if they required the outright purchase of the new bus for London. He acknowledged this could lead to higher bids overall, due to the fact a rear platform bus was unlikely to appeal to operators outside London, and with the questionable utility of hybrid technology to more rural operations.
An independent review of London buses by KPMG for TfL's London Buses division, which oversees the day-to-day network and route-tendering system, but does not own or operate buses, found that in the current credit climate London bus operators were reluctant to take on the residual value risk posed by the New Bus for London route contracts, while TfL would not be able to own the bus fleet due to capital restrictions. It therefore recommended that to allow use of the new buses either route contracts be extended to the expected life of the buses, or use of a leasing company to own the whole fleet, or to otherwise guarantee in some way that the residual risk to operators could be reduced.
The launch of the design for the New Bus for London led to BBC One's The One Show airing a segment on 18 May 2010 reviewing the 100-year history of the London standard double-decker, with John Sergeant reviewing the history of, and riding preserved examples of, the 1910 LGOC B-type, the RT and the original Routemaster.
Because of the close connection between British car magazine Autocar and New Routemaster, it was the subject of a road test in December 2011. The magazine said it was "the best in public transport", and referring to the vehicle's hybrid drivetrain, "brilliant economy and an interior to die for".
The New Routemaster has been criticised for the effectiveness of its air conditioning (although it actually has an air-cooling/heating system which operates differently to an air 'conditioning' system), especially during hot days.
The upper deck windows have also been criticised as being small, not giving comparable views to other bus models, and not letting in much light to the upper deck, making it "gloomy".
Although London Buses' Director of Operations promised that all New Routemasters would be staffed by conductors and the rear platform would be open 12 hours a day, when the buses were introduced on route 148, there was no second crew member and the rear platform was opened by the driver, at bus stops only.
In July 2015 the BBC reported a high level of battery failure, with 80 New Routemasters operating in diesel-only mode. 200 New Routemasters have at least some failing batteries, which will be replaced under warranty. An improved battery design is being introduced.
- Buses in London
- List of bus types used in London
- Hybrid buses in London
- Yutong City Master - Routemaster style bus for Skopje, Macedonia.
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- XRM is ditched Commercial Motor 14 February 1981
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- New Bus for London driven
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- New Routemaster's battery problems mean many run on just diesel BBC News 20 July 2015
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Media related to New Routemaster at Wikimedia Commons
- A New Bus for London Greater London Authority May 2010
- New Routemaster on Wrightbus website
- Product range of the Routemaster on Wrightbus International Website
- A New Routemaster Transport for London, 15 May 2010
- Winning design
- Exclusive preview of new £8m London bus BBC News video preview of new bus with mock-up, 16 September 2010
- New Routemaster winners announced, BBC News, 7 May 2008
- New look for Routemaster bus BBC News video featuring three proposals, 3 November 2008
- Entry for design competition Capoco Design Limited
- Entry for design competition Foster + Partners and Aston Martin, 19 December 2008
- The bus with a 'smile': New design for Routemaster aims to cheer up London commuters Daily Mail article on the H4 Group and Foster + Partners designs
FRM & XRM