Passengers on Boris's next generation Routemasters will not be able to buy tickets from "traditional conductors" the Mayor admitted today.
A spokesperson said this evening:
"Plans for the new bus still involve an additional crew member."
"The role will not be that of a traditional conductor as almost 99 per cent of fares are now collected through pre paid ticketing. Their job will be customer focused to ensure the safe boarding and alighting of passengers using the open platform, as well as providing information and assistance."
In Boris's transport manifesto he promised to
"[renew] traditional forms by commissioning a 21st century Routemaster with conductors."
and said that we would:
"see the next generation Routemaster, with conductors, running on the streets of London by the end of my first term as Mayor."
However, in January he floated the possibility that the buses could be staffed by Police Community Support Officers instead.
Unfortunately the chairman of the Met Police Federation immediately dismissed the idea, saying that it showed a "complete lack of understanding" of the role of CSOs.
It now seems that Boris's "additional crew members" will in fact be little more than glorified health and safety officers, employed mainly to stop people falling off the back.
And that back may not even be open for half the time.
In the revised specifications issued last month TfL said that:
"Manufacturers have been asked to consider options to allow for the rear platform to be closed off at certain times, such as at night"
Now whether you were a fan of Boris's original Routemaster promises or not, I think it's hard to argue that these two changes fulfill those promises.
Boris promised open-backed buses with conductors, but the buses will be neither truly open-backed nor truly staffed with conductors.
And they're still going to cost us anything between 75 to 110 million pounds extra a year.
That's an awful lot of money for a not-quite-a-Routemaster
So what do you think? Is this a happy modern compromise, or the worst of both worlds?