Stage Eight

The Borismasters venture east as Stagecoach London route 8 becomes the eighth to convert to New Bus for London operation.


Batch LT239-272, allocated to route 8 from Bow (BW), is a unique batch to the extent it is the first to be introduced fully consisting of all three colour variants currently available for these buses: the traditional London bus red accompanied by the secondary black paintwork Borismaster trait, the full black sponsored by Adidas for the World Cup and silver for the Year of the Bus. Route 38 also now consists of all three colour variants, the silver ones entering service after the 8.

Delivered on time, route 8 had its new buses enter service a week earlier than the proposed conversion date of 28 June 2014. An additional treat to the route saw the prematurely delivered Alexander Dennis Enviro400 hybrid buses destined for route 205 stray onto the 8 with the new Borismasters alongside the existing allocation of Dennis Trident 2 buses, not forgetting the common Scania OmniCity double-decker (route 205) and existing Enviro400 hybrid (route 15) appearances.

I have only been on route 8 fully once. It was a Scania OmniCity double-decker back in late January. For the majority of the journey, I was stricken with apprehension upon seeing an actual lightning bolt for what I believe to be the first time ... you know, you see the sky flash but not the bolt like you would do on TV. Also, the weather became so adverse that the roads were covered by visible heavy wind gusts and water vapour from what were puddles, and each bus stop along the Bethnal Green Road shook violently. I was surprised the bus driver did not stop the bus. Notwithstanding it being the most tense bus experience, I was impressed with the beneficial routeing of the 8 and its adequately frequent service.

Route 8 travels down the A12 Flyover after the Old Ford Road, and this was most anticipated by enthusiasts who could use this to see how fast the Borismasters could go if no luck was found by the already very fast route 148. I boarded LT272 (LTZ 272), one of three silver Year of the Bus Borismasters allocated to the route. Traffic in Holborn was terrible, but it was almost more than advantageous for me as a red, black and silver Borismaster respectively bunched amid the congestion. However, it was unfortunate for the red and black one to arrive at Tottenham Court Road with the silver bus held back by ten minutes for it to arrive just as the red bus departed stand, preventing a hoped photo of the perfect multicoloured lineup.

I experienced average to fast speeds the whole way to Bow. The first thing I noticed was how quiet the air-conditioning was as opposed to previous batches, thus making the engine noise clearer. With other batches, the air-conditioning would either be polluting your ears with the most elongated puff of air, the hybrid motors would be loudly vibrating the bodywork or, for some batches, the iBus announcements would be that tad bit too loud. I had none of this on the 8.

Upon acceleration, the bus sounded like a quiet Bakerloo Line train without gears - I could hear no gear-changes whatsoever. The air-conditioning need not puff loudly to be at its most effective. In fact, it was so effective that I became that slight bit cold in the ridiculously hot weather. It was constant, cooling and complete. Underfoot feedback from the tyres of the road surface detailed every minuscule tarmac inequality yet the bodywork was unaffected by this so the smoothness of the journey was maintained. The bodywork may have only rattled once, when the driver misread thus sped over an uneven road surface.

By Bishopsgate, we had already overtaken two buses on the 8 - we were on a roll. That is until I was stunned to see both LT241 (LTZ 1241) and LT246 (LTZ 1246) regain the lead at Shoreditch High Street Station while we picked up passengers. Except for the average to fast speeds of the journey, playing cops and robbers was the only interesting thing I could do to keep the entertainment going. We overtook them both again in Bethnal Green, but by Roman Road we had lost the lead to LT246 and could not catch up again due to my driver obeying protocol by not running the lights whilst yellow.

The A12 Flyover approached. The driver sped through Old Ford. The excitement built inside the whole bus. Then a traffic light went red at the turn onto the A12. Until now, I never really cared about the A12 as my journeys on the 148 were breezy. This traffic light put the bus and the excitement to a halt, and the nonchalance returned. The driver floored it down the hill to the A12 and although we whizzed past surroundings in a blur, everything just felt still and there was just no real thrill. And after the roundabout, that was the end of the journey.

LT270 (LTZ 1270) was the return bus. The experience was just the same as on LT272 (LTZ 1272), except this driver was more eager on the accelerator. If we were stopped by a traffic light or behind another vehicle in small traffic, I could hear and feel the clicking of the bodywork reacting to his constant tapping of the accelerator as we very slowly bopped closer and closer to the vehicle ahead or the lights until we were allowed to properly accelerate.

Yet another article elsewhere has been published on how much passengers will stifle in the heat of the ineffectively windowless 'new Routemasters' with the buses' inability to cope with London summers, particularly with Metroline's controversial batch for route 24. However, route 8 was flawless and I can guarantee you will have no problems with its buses if you board them this summer.

As flawless as I say the 8 is, if I was to add it to my Borismaster performance hierarchy, it would be a very difficult task: the 148 is consistently fast and although people have complained, I need not to on my abundant experiences of the route. The 38 has such characters driving its buses, it has conductors and its service is impeccable. The 8 has good drivers, is a speedy route and the service is good. Maybe by the next conversion, whenever that will be confirmed, I will be able to announce a proper ordering. But for now, I shall let you decide.

Route 189, 453 or 55 next?

3 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. It has been confirmed, but the Metroline internal adamant rumours of route 189 have not yet been officially confirmed neither has the 453 which has a rumoured date in September postponed to November.

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  2. I love the mini dual carriageway thrash on the A1 Blackwall Approach

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