Earth To TfL, Come In TfL!

I think it's safe to say that Transport for London (TfL) have lowered their expectations over the last few years, especially post 2013. Boris can scratch his head and ask how? but here is what goes on behind the scenes. 

Smart or stupid?

In my opinion this all began when Boris Johnson took over as Mayor of London in 2008, with a pledge to remove all of our bendy buses off London's streets by the end of 2011. In replacement were suppose to be what we know as Borismasters, 600 of them to be precise to run on former bendy bus routes and were to become the new face of London Buses.

Bendy buses was one of those things whether you either liked it or hated it, there was really no in between. People that were against the articulated vehicles were those that worked in TfL offices saying the buses were unsafe as crime rates were generally higher than on your conventional double decker bus. Also fare evasion was incredibly high on these buses as open boarding was allowed through all three doors. 

First of all, if you can afford conductors (which TfL could, but if you've noticed recently TfL can't hence most Borismasters or New Routemasters are now just operated with a driver) for the state-of-the-art 'Routemaster' then it's possible to equip bendy buses with a police officer or conductor. Furthermore, these buses are very expensive: each one costs about £355,000 each when your average hybrid double decker is about £40,000-60,000 cheaper and are definitely more reliable! Borismasters have poor handling and drivers find them difficult to control. Also, converting a route from bendies to Borismasters would be pricey as routes with bendy buses being their main type had a lower PVR (Peak vehicle requirement, it just means how many buses are required to run a bus route during the peak hours) as they had higher capacity whereas Borismasters have a lower capacity and therefore more Borismasters have to be purchased to compensate the lower capacity meaning the route has an unnecessarily high PVR. Get this, it costs roughly £22,656,000 roughly to purchase 65 buses for route 38 when it converted to the 'ultra-modern buses'. And then to imagine how much it costs to hire Customer Assistants......

Ever since these vehicles were introduced in 2012, they have been involved in roughly 15 crashes and this number is expected to rise, some of them resulting in the bus involved to be written off, such as the famous LT62 incident on the second day of that bus' passenger life. In fact, you could even check if a Borismaster has been involved in a road traffic accident using London Vehicle Finder and typing in the command box 'Accident'. Any bus whose fleetnumber begins with 'LT' is of the Borismaster type. In fact, in the same week this post was published, two brand new Borismasters on route 55 (LT315 and 360) were involved in separate crashes in two consecutive days along the 55 route.

Going back to the topic, tax payer's money is being wasted on 600 of these vehicles with several faults. If any of you have made a commute on route 24 in the summer of 2013, you would've felt very hot indeed as these buses don't even have opening windows! You have to rely on the faulty air-conditioning to keep you cool. The sheer carelessness of TfL to spend money on buses that are uncomfortable, unreliable and can easily breach Health & Safety laws shouldn't go unnoticed.

Transport for London have made claims that recently they are having 'financial issues' which is resulting in several cuts to bus services around the city. But get this, they have the nerve to fork out a couple of hundred million pounds to order 200 more of the Borismaster buses to live on London's streets whilst overlooking some of the more important issues that lay on the transport scene such as aiding unreliable bus routes or giving round-the-corner extensions on some bus routes where there has been high demand.

Certainly a waste of money!

If you commute on buses you probably may have noticed on some of the Central London bus routes that there have been several cut backs on many bus routes. Those that currently commute on the number 53 route have probably noticed buses don't go further than Lambeth North anymore, or the iconic Portobello Market route 7 has been cut back to Oxford Circus without consultation. 

It's news that enthusiasts will probably already now, but the general public may not be aware of. These bus routes that are being cut back permanently without any notice or consultation such as:

Route 3, operated by Abellio London, and runs between Oxford Circus and Crystal Palace will now terminate at Regent Street.
Route 7, operated by Metroline Travel, and runs between Russell Square and East Acton Brunel Road will now terminate at Oxford Circus.
Route 8, operated by Stagecoach London, and runs between Oxford Circus and Bow Church has been terminating at Tottenham Court Road for some time now.
Route 15, operated by Stagecoach London, and runs between Regent Street and Blackwall has been terminating at Trafalgar Square for some time now.
Route 47, operated by Stagecoach London, and runs between Shoreditch Curtain Road and Bellingham, Catford Bus Garage will now terminate at Liverpool Street Station.
Route 53, operated by Stagecoach London, and runs between Whitehall Horse Guards and Plumstead Station will now terminate at Lambeth North Station.

Transport for London (TfL) have been cutting these routes back for no reason. In the case of roadworks, previously they used to provide extra buses on the route to allow the route to run fully, but now will terminate short instead because 'they don't have the money'.

Several routes across London are to be given the axe, or are to be nibbled away, as many as thirty bus routes. No new bus routes have been introduced in the city since 2010, which saw bus route 324 (Stanmore Station - Brent Cross, Tesco) being introduced. Now several routes are being threatened partial or complete withdrawal. A list of routes can be seen here.

Originally intended to be temporary withdrawals on routes such as the 53, Transport for London then performed a plot twist by announcing on their Twitter that the changes made to most routes were now permanent. This drew negative comments towards them, but Transport for London being as useful as they were refused to give the reasons behind the sudden changes.

Then Transport for London announced that route 15 would return to Regent Street on the 31st January 2015 after a lengthy absence (probably 2 years now) but buses are still running as far as Trafalgar Square only. The 15 has suffered a lot of cutbacks in the last few years, if anyone can remember the days where 15 used to run all the way to Paddington Basin before being cut a large chunk to Regent Street because of the 'red wall of buses' on Oxford Street, or morelike they didn;t want to fund it anymore as it is logical to re-route the service via Marylebone Road instead. Then 15 got cut back again to Trafalgar Square, and when the square is closed for events or parades, the service has been known to be cut back to Tower Hill before!

Route 159 replaced it with a short extension from Marble Arch. However in 2014 the service returned to Marble Arch because they want to accommodate the 159 service with Borismasters sometime soon, and with their bad handling, they couldn't make it around the Paddington area which resulted in Transport for London (TfL) making up lies or exaggerating the truth to save them money without exposing the poor profile of these LT-type vehicles. Expect the 159 to convert by the end of this year.

TfL are also potentially threatening night bus services across the city when the night tube opens. Certain routes such as the N5 and N20, which cover the Northern Line which will be operating on weekend nights might face the axe on days of the week when the Northern Line operates a 24-hour service. But what if your house is located some time away from the station? What if the bus provides better links between your destinations than the train? TfL are already cutting off links without thinking it through and even checking if the night tube will actually be a success like they claim it's suppose to.

Could your local bus route be the next victim?

Finally, it might be something the public might have not noticed, it's these new Flywheel buses. Flywheel technology is being rolled out on brand new Diesel buses where energy is saved through regenerative braking in a bid to reduce emissions. OK, that's pretty smart, but it you rank this relatively small idea to other green projects such as hybrid, electric or hydrogen buses on the streets - truth is, it really isn't doing much. 

I'm not saying 'No' to this idea, however TfL instead of pushing for operators to purchase hybrid or electric single deckers for their bus routes, now there's been several orders placed for pure diesel buses with 'flywheel technology' instead for the simple fact that they are cheaper, even though TfL were trying to have all single decker bus routes in zone 1 be 'zero-emission' by the year 2020. That's clearly not happening as these 'flywheel technology' buses have entered brand-new on route 100 between Shadwell and Elephant & Castle about 3-4 weeks ago. The average bus stays in service in London for 10-12 years, so that target isn't being met anytime soon unless some sort of cascade is involved where route 100 receives zero-emission buses and sends it's current buses elsewhere.

TfL are trying to be cheap, and want to save money so that they can waste it on another one of their relatively stupid projects such as purchasing 200 extra Borismasters. But they're making life a misery for commuters or general passengers who have forgotten their Oyster Cards at the pub, in the washing machine or at home as cash isn't allowed on buses anymore. The contactless scheme is actually a good idea, but it shouldn't be used to replace cash. A much more detailed rant can be seen here. Just two or three years ago, back when the bendies were alive there were a huge bunch of roadside machines as bendy buses didn't accept cash. These roadside machines allowed you to insert coins into the machine to get a paper ticket which you would show to the driver. However, TfL somehow saw the potential and logic in having no roadside machines, and no cash on buses either. How does that work? And whatever did happen to Saver Tickets? And get this, our ticketing system is becoming one of the most expensive in Europe. TfL charges you for every zone you go through on the tube, so if you start a journey in zone 1 and finish it in zone 4, you will be charged for going through zone 2 and 3. Whereas on most other Metros in Europe, such as Stockholm - they only have THREE zones and if you travel from Zone A to C you will only be charged that. Zone B has no relevance to how much you pay. It's good, eh? 

To sum up this post:
1) Withdrawing the bendies was wrong, and they should be re-instated where needed on the busiest of routes such as routes 18 and 25.
2) Introduction of the Borismasters which have received negative reviews from passengers, drivers and engineers alike followed by TfL lying about financial problems but then immediately placing an order for an extra 200 of these vehicles.
3) Too many bus cuts to several bus routes across the borough.
4) Flywheel isn't a hybrid, TfL. Stop being so cheap and start ordering hybrids!
5) The ticketing system is too complex and is quite a hassle. This can be improved by re-instating old ticketing methods.

There's 5 points already. There's several more unmentioned ones on how TfL can actually be improved.

Share your thoughts on this by posting below in the comments section. Thank you for reading this post and stay safe!


  1. Citaro Gs are the right vehicle for any job.Vote Ken Livingstone for mayor...

    1. Lol, even on the 25?

      Unfortunately Ken Livingstone retired. He said if he didn't win the election in 2012 he was to retire, and I guess that was sadly the outcome.

  2. Not to mention with the 100 and flywheels all single deckers have to be electric in time for ULEZ in 2020. TfL are also rumoured to be wanting to convert all single decked Central London routes to double.

    1. I should've mentioned the ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone ) in the post.

  3. TFL are so ridiculous. It was a waste of money buying the New Routemasters, there are so many negative things about them (they are unsafe). The bendies were better than them. Furthermore, the LT carries 80 people (7 less than the TFL standard) whereas the bendy carried 140. Routes like the 207 have suffered, with half the buses not stopping at my stop because they are full up. All these cut backs do not benefit the people. Look at the 148. It is a very useful link for shoppers to get straight from Selfridges to Westfield. Now, it only goes to Shepherd's Bush, making it no better than the 94. They seem to be ruining the bus service for the public. They are running low on money because they wasted it on buying 600 new buses which are unsafe and very expensive to build. They speed up boarding times, but there are less people that are able to board them. London in general has poor bus connections, all TFL are doing is making it worse. It is mad that they are withdrawing the 23 partially on week nights. I use the route a lot on week nights, and mostly it is full to the brim. All those passengers will have to use the 11, an already very overcrowded route. Are TFL going to put extras on the 11? No. What was the point of making buses cashless. I've seen many people attempt to pay with cash, but they have been refused access and have had to walk a considerable distance as they do not know what an oyster card is. What if you lose your oyster? Then what are you supposed to do? Walk from places like Liverpool Street to Piccadilly Circus? TFL are crazy, and I will complain to them in detail explaining what they are doing is wrong. I know they don't listen that much, but I want them to know how angry the public are. I was livid when the 15 was cut back. Such a handy link lost from Paddington to Piccadilly and St. Paul's. Now, the 23 is severely overcrowded and needs help. TFL should've diverted the 15 via Piccadilly and Park Lane if they were concerned about congestion. I could say a lot more, but I understand that this is only a comment and not a whole post.

    1. The 148 stops pretty much right next to Westfields? I'm not sure what the issue is there.

    2. I agree with what you're saying!

      1) Cutting 148 back was wrong, route 94 is now suffering more as people won't bother to walk to Marble Arch to get to White City as there is no point in doing that.

      2) LTs have poor handling and capacity - and yes, are unsafe. Bus drivers, engineers and passengers alike have had a disliking to them. A lady fell out of the rear open platform in Autumn 2013, on route 24 I think. Just last week, TWO Borismasters alone crashed on route 55.

      3) Having these random bus cuts is unacceptable. People use them, just people who don't work for TfL.

      4) Taking cash off buses, and roadside machines away was just stupid. Let's face it - how else are you suppose to get a one-off ticket when your other form of payment isn't present?

      5) Nah, Park Lane is traffic prone. 15 should be diverted to go Oxford Circus, follow 453 to Marylebone, and then just follow the 18 until Paddington Basin. It's a less congested route and it still keeps most of the links. 15 keeps getting shorter and shorter these days.

      Your detailed comment was appreciated though, LBOTG - it's nice to know I'm not the only one noticing this around here. :) Stay safe.

    3. Luke, Shepherd's Bush Green is near Westfield, however several new people in the area would rather have the bus terminate in the bus station for the sake of convenience and because it's suppose to end there. It might actually be a bit of a hassle as maybe a shopper only wants to shop at Next - which is on the bus station end of the shopping centre and will take about 10-15 minutes to walk to depending on your speed.

  4. The traget that TFL want for all single decker bus routes in zone 1 be 'zero-emission' by the year 2020 is gonna be real difficult because they still have to get rid of the scanias on the 42 and there's no sign of them being scrapped soon.

    1. They will be gone by 2018 at the latest, as by TfL law all TfL service buses must have left London by the time they are 15 years old, unless it is a special bus (e.g The Routemasters on 15H) or they can charge a bus company a special fee to continue using that bus in TfL service.

  5. Let the record show a THIRD Borismaster has just crashed on the no. 55, and the route isn't finished converting to these 'state-of-the-art' vehicles.

  6. 28th February has come, so New Routemasters are to engulf route 15... Bye bye heritage route :(

    1. None of them are even in service! So the routemasters have some more time to live luckily.

    2. Apparently not yet, but I guess it's bound to happen :/ I'm surprised Stagecoach has postponed this, but I suppose 55 is definitely a greater priority at the moment. To my knowledge there are currently 2 Enviro400Hs in 56's fleet, but I don't know if they're off 15 or 205 or brand new...

    3. I think 1 or 2 have come for type training, so they could be seen relatively soon on route 56. Most likely they are from the 15 as route 205 is at Bow (BW), not Leyton (T).

  7. I am very pleased with these new routemaster buses apart from the front of them the exterior and interior of these vehicles are fab and thrilled with news from 2016 onwards another 800 each year of the Lts. A lot of people favour them and I am one of them

    1. Yeah.............about that, not fond of them. And there's only going to be 800 of them in total, not 800 made every year otherwise we'd be dead by now.

  8. TfL are at it with the bus cuts again - this time some really big bus cuts. Route 13, between Aldwych and Golders Green, is to be withdrawn completely in one go with cuts on route 189 to Marble Arch as well.

  9. If you read a recent BBC article it says 800 every year,recently spoke with a 148 driver who much prefers to drive the new routemaster and reason why the 94 failed its test was an inexperienced driver,says ridiculous no new buses of the Boris ilk on 94.
    I am delighted with these new routemasters and i look forward to them on routes 2,3,21,68,87,88,176, very

  10. I found this article very heavily biased and unfair.

    1. I guess you have a point - TfL aren't the worst of people, but they're certainly not the best. It's just at the moment, the nation is paying money towards TfL who are re-investing their money into things that are not really needed or important (e.g; Borismasters). It's not exactly unfair, as many people don't realise what they're doing and therefore roll over it, so to us, it's worth mentioning.