Thursday, 15 May 2008

Boris Johnson: Routemasters may never be built

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.

Non-Starter

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.

15 comments:

Toneytony said...

'We're not going to do it for the hell of it." That's funny, I though that was exactly why you were doing it.

Anonymous said...

Like a kipper as they say

naysayer said...

I'm going to be designing a new routemaster as well. Of course my brief is very flexible. it won't have an open back, or a conductor or be red or have four wheels or pick people up or drop people off but what it will do is cost an indeterminae amount of money and have a sticker on the side which reads 'routemaster'.

Anonymous said...

I've been amazed at the extent of the grass-roots support for the flimsy 'new routemaster' policy - expectations are high because many people seem to have voted for Boris purely on this basis - or at least, with it being a deciding factor.

If he doesn't deliver there will be trouble. And folks are expecting open platform buses with conductors (who are also apparently going to double as transport police...)

The Tory Troll said...

It's because people understandably feel nostalgic for the old rouemasters. Unfortunately Boris has managed to con the city into believing that he is somehow going to be able to magic them back onto the streets. When in four years time this hasn't happened I guess he will hope that they have forgotten all about them- which by then most people probably will have done.

Expect the idea of 'the new generation routemasters' to be flushed down the memory hole along with the scrapping of the business embassies and referendums on the smoking ban.

Mr. Stop Boris said...

Only some sort of ghastly, dehumanised moron would abolish plans to build the a new generation Routemaster.

The Tory Troll said...

lol

Doug said...

Will this be forgotten about? Boris made a lot of noise about buses - which tend to be fairly visible. People will know he hasn't bought in Routemasters simply because they'll be very obviously absent. All it would take would be for the opposition to remind the electorate that he promised to bring them in shortly before 2012, and the fuss would come back to life.

I hope, anyway...

The Tory Troll said...

Hopefully. It's going to be a long wait though.

Tom said...

I suspect a large amount of the cost of this vapourbus will be incurred by the requirement to be able to do instant u-turns...

Chas said...

From the outset Boris said he would hold a competition to design a new Routemaster. It was therefore clear that he did not know what the bus would be like and how much it would cost. Furthermore, if you organised a competition to design something and all the entries were rubbish, would you build the one that was less rubbish than the others, but still rubbish? Since you are a socialist and therefore don't understand economics, the answer is probably yes. But Boris's transport advisor is highly intelligent and therefore not a socialist. He therefore realises that IF (please notice the use of the conditional) there is not a good design entry in the Routemaster competition, the policy wil be reviewed. This is a very sensible note of caution. Now, let's hope that a good, economically viable design comes forward and we get a new iconic bus, suitable for the streets of London, just as the old Routemaster was.

The Tory Troll said...

My economic knowledge might not be up to the giddy heights of Boris "8-115 million" Johnson, but even I understand that a bus with neither an open-back nor a conductor can legitimately call itself a 'routemaster.'

'Bringing back the routemaster' was all we heard about for months on end. Now we know that that most probably won't be possible we are told: 'oh but the brief is very flexible.' It's not flexible. You promised a new routemaster Boris. Creating something which bears no resemblance to one apart from its name, isn't good enough, no matter how 'iconic' it may or may not be.

dreamingspire said...

As a mere visitor to London a few times per month, I venture to suggest that it is the presence of a conductor on the bus that is much more important than the hop on, hop off feature: better security, and quicker loading. The Routemaster was iconic and also a breakthrough in engineering, but functionally the same design as earlier models. Its the functionality of separate driver, easy access that is needed again - nobody can say that its easy on today's double decker buses to wriggle your way on past the driver. Take away that front door next to the driver and plan a passenger friendly layout, please. And introduce a new form of ticket carrier that is automatically detected without having to get it out and slap it onto the yellow blob - DfT is researching that now.

BritSwedeGuy said...

The whole Routemaster schtick was the equivilent of dangling a puppy in front of a child whilst you pinch their sweets.
Nice going, Boris. I want my sweets back!

Jonathan said...

Who said a Routemaster had to have an open platform or a conductor. There were Routmasters with doors and ones with the entrance behind the driver!

I'll agree that we all want to see the open platform and conductor back but were also likley to sue when we get hurt trying to jump on a moving bus. It's going to need a low floor/ramp or wheelchair lift as well.

How about a double decker bus (with doors for saftey and avoidance of lawsuits) a seperate entrance and exit (to speed boarding - not that people won't try to push past those going the other way) and a oyster card reader to avoid delays paying the driver..

Hey we got those already.. Job Done!