In an extraordinary announcement, Boris Johnson's new transport advisor admitted that the new generation of Routemaster buses may never be built at all.
The Mayor's Director of Transport Policy Kulveer Ranger told the Evening Standard that:
"The plan is to have them on the roads by the end of his first term but we're not doing this just for the hell of it. If we find there are initially no suitable bids we will review [the policy]."
Even if a new generation of buses are built, Ranger admitted that they would be unlikely to follow the Routemaster design. According to the Standard:
"The new design would not necessarily be "hopon, hop-off" with a conductor, as on the old Routemasters. (Ranger) said: "Whether or not we have a conductor depends on the design of the bus. We want people to be creative. Our brief is very flexible."
Now call me pedantic but I would have thought that the brief to 'build a new generation of Routemasters' was not a particularly flexible one and would at the very least involve building a bus with an open back.
However, as reported here last month, Transport experts had already told Boris well before the election that his plans for a new routemaster were a 'non-starter' and that his estimates were wildly inaccurate.
A panel of experts told Transit magazine that the creation of a new type of bus for just one city and with an open back would almost certainly to be too expensive to build and potentially impossible to insure.
That Boris should have been confronted with such clear evidence and yet still gone into an election with the new buses as a key pledge is frankly unbelelievable.
The Standard also reveal that the Mayor of New York advised Boris Johnson to scrap any unworkable policies as early as possible, presumably to avoid embarasment later on.
But only one week into his tenure it is clear that Boris must have known full well that this pledge was as dodgy as its costings, well before the capital went to the polls.
Faced with this evidence I can only come to one conclusion:
Londoners. You have been conned.