The green Routemaster bus for London.

Bring back the Routemaster! This may no longer be a dream as a major bus company called Capaco have come up with a serious proposal for a ‘green’ version of a Routemaster. With mayoral elections coming up in May 2008 this idea is going to gather steam!

How would it be fueled? There are a number of ideas including biofuels and hydrogen but realistically the LPG option may be best. It’s clean and cheaper to install the infrastructure. Tokyo, Hong Kong and Delhi already run their buses on liquid petroleum gas. A large supply terminal for LPG is being built out on the Welsh coast as we speak.

The key difference between this Routemaster and the old model lies in the transmission. With a hybrid the engine is still in the nose, but there’s no mechanical connection between the engine and the rear wheels. Instead the engine powers a generator that charges the batteries, which drive the electric motors on each rear wheel.

The removal of the huge gearbox, propshaft and rear differential vastly increases the ground floor space. The RMXL’s floor is flat and sits below the centre line of the wheels. This improves passenger access, for pedestrians and those with wheelchairs and buggies. The air suspension will also lower the bus so that the floor is level with the kerb.

For further images showing the design idea behind the new routemaster see here.

Kill off the bendy bus. They are dangerous to other traffic whether on foot, bicycle or other vehicles. They can’t handle London’s little lanes and tight corners. They’re ugly and even more interestingly many passengers are not even bothering to pay as the driver simply can’t track all those getting on!

Lets face it, the bendy bus has lost its way!

The bendy bus is a disaster and probably the worst decision made during Ken Livingston’s time as London mayor.

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19 Responses to The green Routemaster bus for London.

  1. Pete Smith says:

    “Only some ghastly dehumanised moron would want to get rid of the Routemaster” Ken Livingstone, 2001

  2. matt says:

    I was in a local meeting last night which had as a guest a lad from TfL. After the police read out their crime figures from their sting operations for route 29 and local folk told their tales of mad bus drivers and everyone wondered aloud why we couldn’t have the double decker back it was over to the rather pale faced young lad to respond.

    *Bus usage has increased by 49% in 5 years to 6.3m users a day.
    *Capacity had to be built in; bendy = 148 vs double decker = 85
    * H&S
    *quicker getting on & off the bendy bus
    * 98% are prepaid customers

    As the police pointed out the last stat is plainly wrong going by their own fare dodging stats; 900 people caught in 15 hrs of operations.

    It’s so easy to get on and off the bendy no one bothers to pay. It was asked why bus conductors shouldn’t be brought back (paying for themselves by decreasing fare dodging). TfL lad’s response mentioned something about H&S and stab vests!

    I did ask him if he knew of the ‘new’ routemaster piece in the papers and he did. Did he take it seriously? No, it was reported in the ES after all. 🙂

  3. Pete Smith says:

    Is there concrete evidence for massive fare-dodging, or is it just anecdotal? After all, it’s very hard to tell at a glance how people jumping on/off might or might not have paid for the journey. There are several ways of travelling legitimately on buses apart from Oystercard.
    The TfL stat about catching 900 dodgers in 15 hours needs a bit more work, like how big and extensive was the operation to catch them.

  4. matt says:

    The 900 dodgers was a police stat and was collated from 15 hours undercover work on the route 29 bus along a 2 mile section of road in one particular borough.

    Questions were asked as to whether this hinted at a massive problem across London but neither the police staff or the TfL man at the meeting had the answers at their finger tips, except to say dedicated teams of police roam the bus network to catch these people and deal with other crimes, at considerable expense to the tax payer (10s of millions of pounds!).

  5. Pete Smith says:

    Ah yes, the number 29. Wood Green to Trafalgar Square via Green Lanes, Holloway Prison and Mornington Crescent. Surprised anyone lived to tell the tale.

  6. matt says:

    The police have done big operations out in leafy Croydon as well.

    The rather disturbing thing about bus travel these days is the need operators feel to enhance security to Orwellian heights. The latest is to install at least half a dozen cameras within a bus and when relay the pictures to a public screen upstairs (and probably one downstairs with the driver) which constantly flicks through the images from each camera.

    TfL man also announced a soon to be introduced bus tracker service called ibus. A satelite tracker will tell their expensive control centre exactly where each bus is and therefore how long each is taking to do their route. Added to this displays at bus stops will have more accurate arrival info and on the buses passengers will get announcements for every single bustop as the bus approaches.

    Bus journeys used to be a rather peaceful way of getting about. I’ll stick with the tube.

  7. Pete Smith says:

    We’ve had what sounds like your ibus system in Bromley for some time. Each stop has a digital display similar to the ones on the Tube, showing ETA and destination for each approaching bus.
    This addresses what has been a regular complaint about the bus system, the uncertainty over how long you’ll have to wait. If they could offer a live internet feed as SouthEast trains do, I could time my run to the bus stop with absolute precision.
    As for CCTV on buses, I can’t say I’ve got a problem with that, apart from distracting the driver. Buses are uncomplicated things; you get on, sit down, get up, get off. QED. If you’re doing anything else it’s probably naughty, so yes, get the evidence and string ’em up 🙂

  8. matt says:

    Yes there has been the information system for several years but the current one is at full capacity apparently so the new system, once installed can handle up to 25,000 buses. They currently run something like 7000 -8000.

  9. ian says:

    I’m standing up for the Bendy. keep them. There not that bad and give London a European ambience as they can be seen in many of her sister cities. Half of the arguments against them are totally invalid. Clog up the streets? Remember the old 4 in a row routemasters. Dangerous to cyclists? They’ve been using bendys in Amsterdam for years. Streets too narrow? Not on the 29. Fare dodging a problem? Budapest have an ugly efficient system of plain clothed inspectors who suddenly slip on an armband to check tickets. Safer with a conductor? Numerous were assulted by yobs.Would need 2 for safety. But the big axe falls on cost. A fortune it would cost to firstly ‘dump’ the bendys – thereby flooding out the second hand bus market as happened with the DMS fleet in the ’70s and secondly develop a bus solely for London. Manchester trailed some routemasters in the ’80s but dumped them pretty sharply. I get on a bus to go from a2b. If its a bendy all good & fine. It gets me there and saves a taxi. Won’t be too long til the bendys turn green either. Johnson is mad. Dump him in the Thames someone.

  10. matt says:

    A robust defence of the bendy bus dear chap. I give you that. And yes Johnson is mad as a hatter.

    However, if you’ve ever seen two bendy buses at a bus stop (equivalent to 4 double deckers) on Green Lanes, you’ll have seen how they completely dominate their surroundings, both for pesdestrians trying to cross the road and other vehicles being blocked from passing because the arse of these buses sticks out! And watch them trying to get through Stoke Newington high street. It’s a tactical nightmare.

    And there’s no doubt going on the police reports of fare dodging that money is being lost. To counter this the TfL have automated just about every part of fare operation and made spontaneous bus use a bloody nightmare.

    There is a very serious desire within a part of North London to try the doubles on the route 29 again. We shall see.

  11. Pete Smith says:

    As well as being bonkers, in the sense of being the latest in a long line of Great British Eccentrics, Boris Johnson is an extremely clever bloke. He should have become an academic rather than a politician. As you say, absolutely Bossa Nochance of becoming mayor.
    The double decker bus is the transport equivalent of the skyscraper. If you’re short on land area, build taller.

  12. matt says:

    Well said Pete. Same goes for trains and to twist Ian’s example, Holland has made great use of the double decker train for years. A classic example of a densely populated country.

  13. Pete Smith says:

    Yeah, well, we did mull over the idea of double-decker trains in the UK some years back, but sadly there are so many low bridges over our dense rail network it would have been impossible.
    Returning to the bendy bus, it’s true they run them in Amsterdam. This is probably why Dutch cyclists have invaded the pavements.

  14. matt says:

    The Dutch are good at compartmentalizing things aren’t they.

  15. Pete Smith says:

    It’s the tourists I feel sorry for. Is it Holland or Belgium where one way streets are two way streets for cyclists? Lots of scope for a coming together there.

  16. matt says:

    Oh it’s a free for all in Amsterdam. It’s also the field of curbs one has to negotiate on major streets as they section off the various different lanes. My father managed to nearly knock himself out falling over them!

  17. Pete Smith says:

    None of which makes me see the comment “Dangerous to cyclists? They’ve been using bendys in Amsterdam for years” as a justification for going down the same route 🙂 in London.

  18. Tom Ellingham says:

    Bringing back the Routemaster – what an excellent idea! I actually live in Edinburgh, but always enjoyed travelling on the old Routemasters during my stay i London a few years ago. London needs a design icon like the Routemaster. No offence meant, but without it, much of London comes across pretty much the same as many other UK cities.
    I think it’s worth noting, I have made about sixty trips on a Routemaster, and paid (either with cash or through my travel card) for each one. Sometimes I would board a routemaster because it was more scenic than getting the tube home. I have made around a dozen trips on a bendy bus. Never paid for a single one! I’d also like to point out Routemasters employed more people, and were a great deal more civil than a bendy bus.
    TWo floors and an open deck makes more sense than one long bendy sealed snake in a congested city.

  19. matt says:

    Couldn’t agree with you more Tom! The Routemaster’s real problem is in dealing with pushchairs and wheel chairs. Other than that I think they’re fantastic and a real icon as you say. I’ve never been on a bendy as it happens and don’t plan to either. The crime on our local route has put me off!

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