Snipe - The Scoop

Monday, 17 May 2010

A New Box on Wheels for London

And so here we have it. The final designs for what I assume we must still call Boris's "New Routemaster"

I say "I assume" because there doesn't seem to be much left that's Routemasterish about it.

Where's the distinctive front cab, or the open platform (now a door)?

Why no single entrance, or single staircase?

It's just a standard double decker plus an extra door, extra staircase, and an extra member of staff.

I mean it's not horrible. In fact compared to some of the horrendous designs we've seen over the past year it doesn't look too bad.

It's just not a Routemaster.

It's an expensive theme park ride/coach trip hybrid with a curved roof, higher staffing costs, and a draft at the back.

I don't hate it, I just don't really see the point. Do you?


Chris said...

Let's face it the designer only had one passenger in mind and that's Boris. This is being done for one purpose only; to provide a platform for Boris's re-election campaign in 2012. Climb aboard!

AdamB said...

Just remembered the new Transport Secretary Philip Hammond promised last week to "squeeze the assets." Wonder how this new expensive vanity project fits into that.

Rachella said...

It looks like and old rock & roller's tour bus -- hideous!

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Wow, it is the future on wheels...

AdamB said...

Rachella - Yes it is a bit tour bus like isn't it? As Chris suggests above, you can expect Boris to go "on tour" with it in a couple of years time.

saifu03 said...

Has it got tiny wheels or is it just massive? Looks about the length of those bendy replacements if not longer. And similar to some buses I saw in Berlin/
I think it looks alright - like a tour bus.
It is at least designed for purpose unlike other buses.
Other buses can barely run on the unique combination of tarmac and rain that constitutes London's roads and it looks like it has a nice turning circle to nip down the lanes that other buses simply cannot reach. And with three sets of doors, it will be good for rapid boarding - I just can't believe nobody else thought of this multiple boarding point idea. It is genius.
The important thing is that looks nice from outside - now cyclists won't be killed anymore and car drivers can easily overtake such a small vehicle.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, there are serious differences between this and the old bus -- namely that it's a lot lighter and has a hybrid engine. Those are genuine improvements. Quite honestly I think it looks great -- rather this than a fleet of kitsch museum pieces that break down all the time, spew fumes in to the air and have a lower capacity.

Hobbes said...

Couldn't they just retrofit hybrid engines into the old buses? Or just stick to the old designs, but with lighter materials (I presume that's what you mean by lighter - this thing is a behemoth), and using the existing manufacturing process?

This has red elephant written all over it. (sorry)

Willem said...

Same here, the design is all right from the outside, but I really don't see the point in having another door & stairway - I'm no architect or engineer but surely doubling door & stairways mean you can't fit as many people in the bus, right? Which kinda misses the point of public transport. Unless they're planning to have more buses on the roads altogether I guess

AdamB said...

Yes that's true Willem - the more doors and staircases, the less space for seats.

The counter argument is that if you make it easier for people to get up and down from the top deck then they're more likely to use the seats there are. As it is, double deckers are often very overcrowded on the bottom and half-empty on the top deck.

That's also why bendy buses are much better at carrying large numbers of people than double deckers.

Anonymous said...

Ah Boris - when will you ever learn ???


prj45 said...

Looks very long, so long I figure it should have a bendy bit in the middle so it can get round corners without cutting across them.

Tom said...

"Looks about the length of those bendy replacements if not longer. "

11.2m, which is rather longer than current double deckers, which come in around 10.4m and a lot longer than the 8.4m RM.

"To be fair, there are serious differences between this and the old bus -- namely that it's a lot lighter and has a hybrid engine."

a) how do you know it's lighter? If it's lighter than an RM (which is both narrower and a lot shorter) I'll eat your hat. We've not got net weight figures to compare against modern DDs of the same capacity.
b) it's not the only vehicle with a hybrid drivetrain, you can get a bendy bus with four hub mounted motors already

"Couldn't they just retrofit hybrid engines into the old buses? "

I'd certainly like to see that investigated, particularly for the Euro 3 generation of low floor double deckers. The rail industry is moving (or rather being led by Captain Deltic) towards refurbishment rather than buying jazzy new trains for the hell of it, purely on cost grounds.

I've been formulating the opinion that the whole thing is a clever exercise by TfL in sneaking in some bus engineering research under the radar - they must know the open platform/2 crew thing is a dead end, but having experience of lightweight hybrids might be handy in a few years.

Anonymous said...

Isn't slipping some serious bus engineering under the cover of an open rear-platform bus doing things completely back-to-front?


Kasper said...

Well we already have nearly 300 light weight aluminium bodied hybrid electric double deck buses running around London, all have the same capacity (87) as the new bus but are smaller than it and all new buses (double and single) must be hybrid from 2012 ... this bus is not required to fill a functional need and cannot replace single deckers on routes - it exists only to provide an icon/different look for London only - the question is does it provide value for money given it is costing £7.8m to design and develop ... and that represents the cost premium of over 150 existing London spec hybrids.

Anonymous said...

Two facts: 1. No cyclist has ever been killed by a bendy bus - it's a Boris myth that TfL never challenged during the election campaign. 2. The Heritage Routemasters all have new engines so are 'cleaner' than the originals (but don't sound as good)

Anonymous said...

It looks good and modern. Whats the problem?
You just try and find fault with everything and obsess about the buses which most Londoners do not use. There is more to London politics than a bus.