The Sneaky Phase

London United are now the second bus operator to attain two batches of Wright Borismaster hybrids, the fleet code LT120-147 for their Shepherd’s Bush (S) route 148. Due to convert on 15 February 2014, drivers of the 148 had already experienced what it is like behind the wheel of these futuristic-looking state-of-the-art innovations before conversion date, and I’m not just referring to driver training.

Two weeks ago saw this year’s first Tube Strike take place, perpetrating a startling increase of demand for buses. Extra bus services were introduced with a number of reintroductions of iconic AEC manufactured buses as well as loaned entrances of buses from other parts of the UK. Also involved in extra bus services were a number of Borismasters allocated to the 148 to increase the route’s frequency around its heavily congested tourist attractions and landmarks, one of which served Stamford Brook (V) route 9.

Au Morandarte caught up with LT127 (LTZ 1127), one of the
first Wright Borismaster hybrids to be phased onto route 148
on 12 February 2014. Seen at Shepherd's Bush Station.
Also sneaking onto the 9 during the Tube Strike was LT150 (LTZ 1150), a stylishly painted chrome Borismaster in advertisement and celebration of the Year of the Bus, this year being sixty years since the first iconic Routemaster was manufactured, seventy-five years since the first RT-type bus was launched and one hundred years since the B-type bus went frontline during the First World War.

On 15 February 2014, route 148 fully converted to Wright Borismaster hybrid service, succeeding the Scania OmniCity double-decker buses which will be making their way from Shepherd’s Bush (S), assumedly to Fulwell (FW) when London United retain routes 71, 281 and 681 in July. A shock introduction saw LT150 (LTZ 1150) appear on the route before returning to Stamford Brook (V) onto route 9 the following day - could you class this as the first Borismaster odd-working?

Customer service is always at its best with London United, and it's not a surprise
to read that another friendly driver has allowed enthusiasts to change the blinds of
their buses. Seen destined on route 148 for Elephant & Castle (curtailment) on Aldwych.
Many thanks to ©JLV Photography for his cooperation in the article's production.
More photos and videos, including destination board changes, can be found on Flickr and YouTube.
Marble Arch, Westminster, Camberwell and White City were where I wanted photos of the 148. Although I did see Borismasters at Marble Arch on the 148, I was more preoccupied on getting some scenery pictures on Westminster Bridge where I have already a few photos of buses passing the Big Ben and Houses of Parliament. Finishing in Westminster, I caught LT125 (LTZ 1125) to Camberwell. The journey was very smooth and the iBus System was of the same crystal clarity highly praised in The Masters Meet. The only negative criticism I could give all day was that Emma Hignett (the iBus System voice, if you didn’t know), just talked a bit too much. On approach to almost every stop, she just had to say the same old boring balderdash that people only bother to pay attention to the first time they hear it: ‘Watch out for traffic when leaving the bus’, ‘You must touch-in with your Oyster or contactless card as soon as you board’, ‘You can board and alight from any door’ – like there are any conductors or windows to stop us from doing otherwise.

But let me not rant, because I had a soothing afternoon with the 148. I took LT134 (LTZ 1134) from Camberwell Green to White City Bus Station, my first full journey on the 148. It’s a very fast route, taking generally traffic-free fast roads – I have never been on a Borismaster so fast! However, due to the smoothness of the bus as it glided over bumps on the road at fast speed, it limits the thrill of the journey: the adrenaline usually accompanied with the knowledge that the bus is going fast is absent when on a Borismaster. There were also some great sights provided throughout: the aforementioned landmarks of Big Ben and Parliament Square, a diversion which introduced me to the location of the Home Office on Marsham Street off the Horseferry Road near Millbank, City Hall near Victoria, and the personally more familiar Marble Arch and Kensington Gardens. On top of that, the driver was not ramping with the accelerator!

The journey was so smooth that I was forced to take a nap, so I did not get to analyse much. But don’t worry, a frequent viewer of our blog and Shepherd’s Bush (S) driver of the 148 compensates with a review of his own regarding the latest conversion from behind-the-scenes and wheel:

‘We had bus shortages, hence an extra ten buses (Borismasters) were needed during the Tube Strike. The Tube Strike was good in the sense that some LTs had minor faults when they went out into service so you could imagine the impact on the service if this was launch day. LT137 (LTZ 1137), for example, experienced various technical issues including storage computer errors and a flat battery. They are nice to drive, but I know my colleagues will miss the SPs.

‘We have reputable people that board with fare evasion at a low, so drivers are quite annoyed with the fact of having no conductors as it will damage the reputation of a high profile route. One thing that has got my attention with the new Routemasters, the whole engine start procedure is absolutely ridiculous, taking about five steps to start the bus whereas a Scania OmniCity takes only two. You would think moving into a modern era, things would get simpler but the Borismaster already fails at that.’

Many people have been praising this conversion, saying how calm and, to the public anyway, how insufficiently problematic Wright Borismaster service has begun on route 148 and I can see why. So where does this put the 148 on my Borismaster performance hierarchy? Second, behind the simply outstanding performance of route 9 and ahead of the quiet route 390 conversion.

London United will become the first operator to receive more than two batches of Borismasters this year. So far, I think it is safe to say that London United are currently outperforming Metroline and Go-Ahead London with their Wright Borismaster hybrids – will route 10 continue this great run of form? We shall see on 26 April 2014.


  1. Amazing post, great choice of words, such a professional post and brilliant pictures, well done my friend!

  2. Since the early phased in done a good job on warming up the New Routemasters, I hope other routes like 8 and 10 will phase the buses in early.

    But the 148 and 38 is fully OPO because of TFL's funding for the conductors, at least theres a door at the rear which gives it a more flexible service on having a conductor or not. But I do hope that the New Routemasters try the proper night services like N9 and N11 but they don't need to fully convert the route.

    But at least its good use during tube strike, not to mention that London Bus Company and Ensignbus rolled out their vintage buses into service which cheered the passengers up. Also Stagecoach, Metroline and Go Ahead used their Routemasters as well.

    good article mate

  3. Routes 8 and 10 last conversions this year...148 with no conductor is shocking and defeats object of the vehicle...608 buses is not enough and TFL are basically not appreciative of Thomas Heatherwick and Boris Johnson!

  4. I also rode LT125 and caught LT's during the tube strike. I did think this was quite a smooth conversion, apart from the fact buses didn't stay on the route for more than a few hours before returning to the garage. LT150 was in service on Saturday 15th and LT75 went to Shepherds Bush for two days because LT140 wasn't ready in time for the conversion.

  5. A professional post my friend ;) . I would've said the same thing about Emma Hignett talking too much ... e.g "You must touch in with your Oyster or Contact Card as soon as you board". Why bother when there's no PA's.

  6. New Bus For London21 February 2014 at 06:37

    I wonder what route will convert after the 8. It might be an Abellio or a Go-Ahead London route.

  7. The SPs ex-148 will go to Fulwell (FW), not Hounslow (AV) - 71, 281 and 681 are from FW.
    It also takes apparently up to (and over) 15 minutes to check the bus, as opposed to other buses taking shorter than this (spoken to staff member on the 9 conversion day).
    I've also taken a 148 journey so smooth, I fell asleep - between Hyde Park Corner (after the previous bus turned short) to White City (I overslept lol), so agree with that the journey can be smooth.

    Also being on the bus pre-conversion day, I saw almost no one taking advantage of the open boarding - most people boarding at the front. However, post-conversion date, people have finally acknowledged the open boarding availability of these buses and board from all three doors. It's a shame these aren't crewed, but you can't have it all!

    @FreeBBC - The GAL SW LTs have N11 on the blinds, but only up to Hammersmith (I assume they cannot take it around Acton - it is a bit tight on the E3 route for an 11m bus).

  8. 148 Driver for Life26 February 2014 at 11:11

    i woke up to reading this post and very honoured for the mention of me given, thanks. Got some bad news today, one colleague experienced a crash with one of the new LT's today, I'm not sure of any more details at present as its my day, but i keep you posted