New Bus for London in Transport Manifestos

We now have the Labour Transport manifesto available, also mentioning the new bus.

Basically Ken will scrap the project and keep only the buses already built.

Ken claims that each bus costs ‘more than £2 million each’, more than ten times the price of a ‘normal’ double decker. This is a statement so grotesquely misleading it (a) cannot sit without challenge, and (b) casts serious doubt upon other claims made as part of his election campaign.

The budget for the design, development and construction of nine vehicles is, as far as I know, about £11 million pounds. Even if we were daft enough to allocate the entire development programme over just nine vehicles this amounts to about £1.23 million per vehicle (over 38 per cent less than Ken states).

In comparing the costs with a ‘normal’ bus, are we to infer this means buses of the type running now? If so this means the end of introducing any high efficiency, low emission vehicles of the type being tested at the moment on a number of routes. Ken’s transport manifesto is silent on this. Generally they cost a little more, but are more efficient over their life.

The cost of increasing the prototype New Bus for London samples from eight to nine vehicles was about £250,000, still more than a hybrid vehicle, but of course this would have had to be hand built. One might reasonably conjecture that building a fleet of them would greatly reduce this price to that where it is closer to the price of a hybrid, but with greater fuel efficiency (Boris claims he will not exceed hybrid price in his manifesto).

Ken’s guess at cost of conductors is £43 million a year, half as much again as my estimate (see last post), based on reasonable platform manning rather than full time. It seems to me (1) that there could be a platformless version and (2) the rear platform could be operated under driver control (the design allows for it), if cost is not warranted of having second person some or all of the time.

Oh, and I’ve had a response from TfL (interesting as I wrote to BJ campaign team) about Bpris’s proposals. Customer research is due soon, apparently, and production vehicles could begin in summer (I assume this is subject to the trifling caveat that Boris wins). They will be mandated on suitable central London routes. No clear answer on my procurement issue except that TfL propose to adopt the same model they do at the moment; no explanation about contractor’s likely reaction to this.

Whilst I’m not certain London actually needed a specific bus design, the fact we have one and it seems to work and be a good vehicle would make it regrettable to ditch it purely because Ken doesn’t want to be associated with a ‘good idea’ designed by someone from an opposing political party. This kind of skulduggery seems to me to be exactly the kind of thing that undermines the idea of elected mayors interested only in short term votes. Other cities note.

About machorne

I have always lived in London and taken a great interest in its history and ongoing development. This extended into the history of its transport services, about which I have written a number of books - I have spent most of my working life working in the industry and observing changes from within, mostly to the good, but not always so. I continue to write, and have a website with half finished stuff in it so that it is at least available, if not complete. Several new books are in hand. I have many 'works in progress' and some of these can be found on my website; the we address is
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