Borismaster needs to be phaster

Yesterday saw Go-Ahead London renew their contract to route 11, operated by their London General subsidiary.

This would have marked the commencement of Borismaster service on the route, if not for LT59 (LTZ 1059) service as practice on Friday. Like the prototypes, the other Borismasters purchased for route 11 will be phased in rather than all of them coming into service on the first day in accordance to peak vehicle requirement - like the first Borismaster conversion on route 24. The plan is to get all new Borismasters phased into service in ten days.

LT43 (LTZ 1043) is being checked out by nearby construction
workers as LT62 (LTZ 1062) - which later leads LT43 en route
return to Fulham - follows to the distance left of the photo.
Liverpool Street Station, Sun Street Passage, ©London Bus Breh.

But what has happened since the last Borismaster post? A lot and a little. The Borismasters on route 24 have been quite controversial already, and they are only nearly into their third month of service! All over London newspapers, the Borismasters could be sighted for having an inside heatwave. As you should all know by now, the Borismasters have been showboated by Boris Johnson for not having windows but an efficient air-conditioning system as a replacement which neutralises the temperature inside his bus with the weather temperature outside. However, these air-cons suffered faults, much to the discomfort of route 24 commuters who experienced weather conditions equivalent to that of Malaysia inside!
Whilst solving the problem, the Borismasters seemed to be of such speciality that instead of getting replacement buses to cover the missing vehicles slots of route 24, the frequency instead suffered miserably. A bus enthusiast recorded an average of thirty minutes between each bus operating on the 24 during solution period.
And that was not all: the eight prototypes of route 38 became absent of conductors during the summer, meaning the rear open platform was also no longer a rear open platform at all because the door there was closed at all times, thus no resemblance to the iconic AEC Routemaster and defeating one of the two main purposes for the introduction of the Borismaster: to introduce a new Routemaster onto our streets.

So when I say a lot and a little: there have been a number of controversies, but little of everything else. The Borismasters on route 24 have not really been able to ignite the expected high amount of interest  from locals and tourists, considering the route being the first of the Borismaster converts.

LT59 (LTZ 1059) leads LT42 (LTZ 1042) on route 11.
Buckingham Palace Road, ©Lee Thatcher.
What about route 11? As stated earlier, LT41-LT68 will be phased into service, meaning that the full route conversion of route 11 will not occur on the same day. This is to ease driver training for the new buses. (The word 'phase' is the first part of the title's portmanteau. More on second part later.)

In comparison to when route 24 began Borismaster operation, there have already been quite a few curtailments - however, none that have really been caused by any road protests like last time. A couple Borismasters on route 11 have already been curtailed to Aldwych, Ludgate Circus and Victoria Station. And there's more, but let's leave that to later - for the sake of my composure.

How was my route 11 experience? Saturday 21 September 2013 would mark my first proper route 11 journey, so I was kind of anticipating this to be a nice day, route 11 being considered as the free tour bus for tourists and the route having just received new buses.

In Aldwych, I saw a Borismaster on the route towards Fulham Broadway  and was surprised to see just how empty it was. Are the Borismasters becoming less and less of an interest to the public eye, I thought to myself. I would go on to wait at Liverpool Street Station fifteen minutes for the LTs to arrive at Liverpool Street Station: LT43 (LTZ 1043) closely followed by LT62 (LTZ 1062) ... and a 133. Both LTs were reasonably filled with passengers, but not of such a quantity to say that they were packed. I then waited a further fifteen to board an LT on the 11. But it was all good, making the most of the wait with photography.

LT62 (LTZ 1062) arriving at Liverpool Street Station as near
construction workers smile and pose as they come to a
realisation that I am taking a photo of a new bus.
Liverpool Street Station, Sun Street Passage, ©London Bus Breh.
Making myself comfortable onboard this gleaming new bus, I took out my notepad in optimism that I would have a smooth, fast and comfortable ride to Fulham Broadway and maybe even visit the nearby Stamford Bridge afterwards. However, as soon as we exited Broad Street onto Wormwood Street on diversion towards the Bishopsgate road  (en route St. Paul's), we were met by gradually moving traffic. I was unable to make any notes of the ride because there was simply no ride. We were stuck in Bishopsgate for approximately twenty minutes before the bus managed to gradually escape the traffic towards St. Paul's. However, there was no real ride there either as the journey was quite slow. The only exciting thing I could jot down was that the bus had to drive on the wrong side of the road temporarily to dodge a cone that was obstructing ... yeah, I was that bored that I am able to describe this as exciting.

After what should have been ten minutes max but seemed like a decade, LT62 reached St. Paul's. Now, I was on the top deck, so I was unable to see what was going on downstairs for the bus to be forced to remain at the stop for yet another twenty minutes! I waited miserably as a record ten buses overtook me. My optimism had been crushed to a bout of anger and a hint of depression as the weather only exacerbated matters by getting cloudier. I knew we were on St. Paul's Churchyard, but I was not expecting a solemn funeral-like atmosphere.

And then when the bus did finally depart St. Paul's Churchyard (SH) towards Ludgate Circus, I got the worst message from the iBus System: 'The destination of this bus has changed. Please wait for further announcements. 11 to Sloane Square.' Wow.

LT55 (LTZ 1055) is seen curtailed to Ludgate Circus.
'People should give this bus a chance. It suits this route perfectly.
It is nice and quiet, not forgetting new,' says one passenger from Kensington.
Victoria Coach Station, Buckingham Palace Road, ©Lee Thatcher.

The bus ride seemed to get slower and slower as we approached Whitehall. I was expecting the bus to at least pick up the pace down the fast straight of Whitehall, but noooo. Not even down there did the bus go slightly faster (second part of title portmanteau). You know, the ride was that slow that a less accelerative Plaxton President overtook us midway towards the next bus stop. The only thing that was keeping me on this bus was the temperature - I did not want to get off and walk into the cold because the air-conditioning systems were actually pretty warming, thus making ride cosier. An improvement to the last batch of Borismasters for Metroline route 24, one should think.

LT43 (LTZ 1043), a Wright Borismaster allocated to route 11.
'We've seen three buses on the 11 today - all normal ones going
to Fulham. This one is our fourth, a new one stopping only
at Sloane Square,' were the remarks of two international passengers.
Sloane Gardens, Sloane Square, ©London Bus Breh.
Therefore, although the ride was as insufferably and melancholically fainéant as taking a lift from an aged person with a zimmerframe, I was pretty annoyed when I had to get off at Sloane Square. I was hoping for LT43 to arrive soon to take that to Fulham, but not only had I lost interest in doing so, it too was curtailed to Sloane Square.

I decided that whatever bus arrived first, I would take that towards home. Unfortunately, this was a Borismaster; LT62 again. Along with the agonisingly slow speed, I was now forced to listen to the iBus System talking unnecessarily about 'touching your Oyster or contactless card as soon as you board' ... like, who is that targeted at, the waiting passengers at bus stops who cannot possibly hear this message or the passengers on the bus who have already boarded and sat down, therefore unable to touch in 'as soon as they board' because they have already boarded and relaxed? That is if they haven't already done touched in as soon as they boarded. Also, people may not have even bothered due to the only Oyster card reader working being the one at the front - and if you boarded via the back, it was virtually impossible to get to the front ...

Slowly taking on the Trafalgar Square roundabout, I moved downstairs to get off. I was greeted by various discomforting stenches from the filled-over-capacity bus that made me start fidgeting with an inexplicable amount of anger which only got worse when the bus driver failed to open the doors inside the bus stop box until the queue of buses in front had departed and he was front of the queue. When he finally did open the doors, I released the anger with a couple of expletives ... or more.

Predecessor succeeds successors. Would not be the first time
I have photographed something like this. In fact, on all Borismaster
related occasions, it has been the predecessor that has looked more dominant.
Liverpool Street Station, Sun Street Passage, ©London Bus Breh.
I thought that this Borismaster conversion would be the most sensible one, seeing as it has been a decade since the last purchase of buses for route 11 (unlike route 38 which was selected to operate the prototypes when it already had over seventy vehicles allocated to it - being London's most frequent route; two minutes between each vehicle - and route 24 when it still has not even been a year since it bought new buses before the Borismaster purchase this summer).

However, I do not think that phasing them in has helped with the service, Borismasters holding more passengers than that of the specified highest capacity number today (as people were forced to sit and stand on the staircases). If Borismasters are to operate on route 11, then the peak vehicle requirement needs to increase now - even if there are still a few WVLs operative on the route.

Unfortunate for this to become a rant. Was hoping for so much more. Hopefully, with the route's PVR increased when all Borismasters have been phased into service, then I shall take another ride and hopefully it'll be as fun as I wanted it to be. But for now, disappointed rant over.

Still feel free to leave a comment and give a Reaction to this article.


  1. LT62 crashed into 2 buses and 3 card yesterday (22nd Sep 13), apparently due to brake failure.


  2. Can you reference that?

    1. It's true Anonymous. LT62 had a break failure and crashed in Chelsea on Sunday. It also crashed into a WHY, I think. But if you pickedup today's Metro Newspaper (24th September 2013), there will be a photo on page 27 about that.

  3. The bus driver from the previous day in which I was onboard probably caressed the brakes so much that by the next day the brakes were gone; he probably caused the brake failure, that's how slow my journey was (lool).

    Please help yourselves to these articles as reference to the LT62 crash:

  4. Are you sure it was contract renewal? I thought the contact ran from October 2010 to October 2015

    1. Indeed, you are correct. I realised this a few days prior to your mention, but forgot to change it. I do think that this is still the most sensible Borismaster conversion seeing as new buses have not been acquired for a decade, regardless of its tender date. Hope you enjoyed the article, nevertheless.

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