The Masters Meet

It’s the photo everyone has or should have been anticipating: a Routemaster and a Borismaster serving the same route! Yes, route 9, home to one of two heritage Routemaster routes, has become the third London bus route to be selected for Borismaster conversion – and the second to be fully converted on the first day. But more on that later.

The Masters Meet: RM1218 (218 CLT) and SRM3 (650 DYE)
are bypassed by LT91 (LTZ 1091). The first photo of mine
in which the successor makes its way ahead of the predecessor.
All other conversions have seen this scenario being the other way around.
Warwick Gardens, Kensington. ©London Bus Breh.
I do it every Borismaster Watch: what has happened since the last conversion? Well, firstly and most importantly, you may have read my last Borismaster article in which I jumped onboard the infamous LT62 (LTZ 1062) on route 11 on its first day of service. Well, that ride was painful, to say the least. I expressed as deeply as possible the agonising boredom I had to experience through my journey analysis, with the bus being at a complete standstill on two occasions throughout one journey for twenty minutes each before being curtailed to Sloane Square. Not only that, when the bus was moving … it just did not feel like it was actually moving.

What happened the next day? LT62 was involved in an off-route four-vehicle crash on the Chelsea Bridge Road, which included a Wright Electrocity on the London Central route 360, an Alexander Dennis Enviro400 serving Abellio London route 452 and a car whose make I cannot recall. The reason behind this was brake failure … and I was not surprised when this reason was announced, seeing as the day before the driver had caressed the brakes so much (hence the slow journey) that the brakes literally could not recover from its abusive work rate from the previous day and consequently failed.

Another incident occurred on the first Borismaster convert: route 24 when a woman on her phone fell off the open platform near Hampstead Heath leaving the woman badly injured, but I cannot possibly use this as evidence to strengthen the hatred of the haters of Borismasters – these sort of things happened with the Routemasters. It was an incident … accidents happen. Okay.

However, that ten-day phase-in plan for route 11 turned out to be a twenty-two day phase-in plan. But I’m not even going to moan about that; just updating you on everything that’s happened - or should have happened - during the last conversion.

LT76 (LTZ 1076), a Wright Borismaster allocated to route 9.
Warwick Gardens, Kensington High Street. ©London Bus Breh.
Now, as for route 9, speculations have stated that the buses would be phased onto the route like the previous conversion but the 9 became fully converted today according to peak vehicle requirement, allowing the East Lancs Myllennium Vykings to free themselves to service in Kingston for route 57 after ten years with Stamford Brook (V).

I was not excited about today, nor was I uninterested – otherwise I would simply have stayed at home. However, when I arrived in Kensington, I was disappointed to see the rear doors of LT94 (LTZ 1094) closed and then another Borismaster with its rear doors closed also, meaning today saw the absence of conductors. This was not a great start to the day, and with the sun disappearing behind the misty clouds, this did not optimise myself.
After taking photos at Kensington Warwick Gardens, I decided to jump onboard a heritage Routemaster on route 9H from Kensington High Street to Trafalgar Square, during which we overtook LT89 (LTZ 1089) – was the predecessor yet again showing its dominance to the successor?
The icon ('s') - are you sure you can class the bus as an icon
yet? I think the icon is the one to the left of the photo.
Warwick Gardens, Kensington. ©London Bus Breh.
LT91 (LTZ 1091), a Wright Borismaster allocated
to route 9. The icon ('s) meet. Misleading advert?
Warwick Gardens, Kensington. ©London Bus Breh.

I took a break, having a cuppa and nice long relaxed discussion with a friend before I returned to Kensington High Street / Warwick Gardens, where I managed to photograph much more preferable photos before heading to Hammersmith Upper Bus Station, planning to have a ride on a Borismaster on the 9.

The main reason I wanted to get one from Hammersmith was because the Upper Bus Station requires you to drive down a ramp to re-join normal roads and I was highly anticipating doing this on a Borismaster … turns out it was not as fun as I expected. In fact, it differed little to that of any other double-decker bus that takes the ramp to enter/exit the bus station.

LT79 (LTZ 1079), a Wright Borismaster allocated to route 9.
Warwick Gardens, Kensington. ©London Bus Breh.
My apathetic attitude towards this conversion was extinguished with a bout of adrenaline and enthusiasm when LT79 (LTZ 1079) started breezing with such unexpected acceleration down the Hammersmith Broadway en route Kensington. The feeling was so much better than that of the Routemaster journey earlier, where the bus struggled with acceleration but was able to drive at acceptable speeds.

I think my  earlier apathy leapt onto the girlfriend of the passenger to my left, as I recalled her moaning, ‘Ah, why do you want to get on this bus the whole way? I do not like the smell, the smell of this bus makes me sick. It is disgusting.’ And yes, the Borismasters do have a distinctive smell, but I would not say it was a disgusting smell. It’s a ‘new bus smell’.

The iBus System made my journey even more enjoyable: it was of crystal clarity and Emma Hignett’s recorded voice did not utter any nerve tempering balderdash such as ‘touch-in your Oyster or contactless card as soon as you board’ and other unnecessary iBus System notices – all I heard was the route number and its destination when departing stops, and the name of the approaching stop. Perfect.

Along with the smooth pace and peace of the ride, the interior lighting made this whole journey feel like a first-class service. Also, the temperatures were perfect, as if they had advanced the air-conditioning system even further. The sense of claustrophobia only came to me when I looked to realise there were no windows to open, otherwise I would not have noticed. Also, the frequency was extremely impressive. 

However, when the electric battery pack turned on to recharge the engine, my happiness started to gradually decrease when the bass of its vibrations reverberated all over the bus and inside of me, but I was still enjoying the ride nevertheless. The Borismaster’s rather thin width was put the test just before entering Knightsbridge as it attempted to squeeze past a truck which was slightly obstructing the bus lane as it parked into traffic on the main lane for other vehicles. As the noise emitting from the electric battery pack of the bus stopped after recharging the engine, everything went into a silent suspense as LT79 squeezed through the truck and the pavement onto the bus lane with the perfect precision, a task which could not possibly have been accomplished or even attempted by a driver of any other bus in London.

Be that as it may, my optimism and joy metamorphosed into a momentary paroxysm of anger as the bus was halted by traffic. Hoping to escape it, the driver tried to speed past the lights, but they went from green to red so quickly that he had to step hard on the brakes and consequently wait a decade before they went green again. However, I became pleasantly distracted from waiting by tourists who started smiling and pointing with interest when they sighted the new bus, and a pretty woman who crossed the road. But I digress. And then the annoying vibrations of the battery pack charging noise returned and I decided that I was not patient enough to endure more traffic that would definitely be encountered on Piccadilly and the Strand, so I decided to get off at Hyde Park Corner Station.

The new Borismasters for London United route 9.
Hammersmith Upper Bus Station. ©London Bus Breh.
There has been such a massive difference since the last conversion. The Boris buses have changed from needing to be ‘phaster’ to becoming a ‘master’. Today was absolutely fantastic. The only disappointment came from the absence of the conductors, and the silly curtailments from Aldwych to Trafalgar Square and Aldwych to Hyde Park Corner (less than a third of the route). I cannot say I like the Borismasters yet, or that I am now highly anticipating the next conversion of route 390 on 7 December 2013 (because I am not), but I sure did love my experience today!


  1. Excellent post LBB - Keep up the good work!

  2. I love the first picture of the 2 route 9's. :) I can't wait to see the Route 15 of it. :D

    Good article