Borismaster: the future

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Snow1964

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*mod note* Moved from the UK Bus Manufacturer thread
They won't be popular outside of London; too many bespoke features and the technology has moved on. They will be stuck with them until the depreciation is run out or they take a hit early.

A guess a few will head to preservation (cos we need more preserved ex London buses) and a few non-PCV but I don't see much future after London

My thought is the Borismasters will not leave London, as no one else will want them.

I suspect a handful may be withdrawn in next 1-4 years (if accident damaged etc), there are a few that are VOR (vehicle off road) and haven’t been used for months already. Likely to be stripped of parts needed for others.

Then my prediction is 3-6 years time few more withdrawals, again for parts recovery, to keep remainder going. After that withdrawals become common due to age. I could easily see 100-150 ending their days allocated to school routes simply because they exist and are paid for.

A big hint will be when (overdue) route 148 tender results is announced, will those buses get a third contract (first was part contract as got converted), and route 148 fleet will be 8 years old at start of new contract.
 
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MotCO

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My thought is the Borismasters will not leave London, as no one else will want them.

I suspect a handful may be withdrawn in next 1-4 years (if accident damaged etc), there are a few that are VOR (vehicle off road) and haven’t been used for months already. Likely to be stripped of parts needed for others.

Then my prediction is 3-6 years time few more withdrawals, again for parts recovery, to keep remainder going. After that withdrawals become common due to age. I could easily see 100-150 ending their days allocated to school routes simply because they exist and are paid for.

A big hint will be when (overdue) route 148 tender results is announced, will those buses get a third contract (first was part contract as got converted), and route 148 fleet will be 8 years old at start of new contract.

On another thread, I've suggested that, after withdrawal, Borismasters could be used for open-top tourist buses. They are longer than most buses, so should be able to carry more punters on the top deck, although one of the staircases may need to be removed.
 

CN04NRJ

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On another thread, I've suggested that, after withdrawal, Borismasters could be used for open-top tourist buses. They are longer than most buses, so should be able to carry more punters on the top deck, although one of the staircases may need to be removed.

Seems alot of work, not only removing the upper deck but removing the second staircase too?

I can't begin to imagine how expensive that would be nevermind whether the body is capable of the loss of structural integrity by becoming open top.
 

OmniCity999

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Seems alot of work, not only removing the upper deck but removing the second staircase too?

I can't begin to imagine how expensive that would be nevermind whether the body is capable of the loss of structural integrity by becoming open top.
And knowing Wright from the general era these were made - their general pretty flimsy.

thats an engineering term, i swear...
 

Goldfish62

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On another thread, I've suggested that, after withdrawal, Borismasters could be used for open-top tourist buses. They are longer than most buses, so should be able to carry more punters on the top deck, although one of the staircases may need to be removed.
Apart from the fact that the engine is located under the rear staircase, what would be the point of removing it other than fitting in a handful more seats?
 

MotCO

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Apart from the fact that the engine is located under the rear staircase, what would be the point of removing it other than fitting in a handful more seats?

Who said remove the rear staircase? :D I was thinking of the front one to get more seats upstairs. But if there are gubbins under the front staircase, then it's not an option.
 

scosutsut

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Vanity project, they'll end up in the bin I reckon, with few tears shed.
 

Goldfish62

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Who said remove the rear staircase? :D I was thinking of the front one to get more seats upstairs. But if there are gubbins under the front staircase, then it's not an option.
Having a front entrance bus (it would have to be unless you're planning on having conductors) and expecting people to walk through the length of the bus of the bus to get upstairs is an interesting concept!

The fuel tank is under the stairs, not that this would preclude blocking off the staircase.

The largest obstacle to them being used outside London is that they're powered by outdated hybrid technology and there's no room to fit a gearbox to convert them to diesel.
 

Andyh82

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On another thread, I've suggested that, after withdrawal, Borismasters could be used for open-top tourist buses. They are longer than most buses, so should be able to carry more punters on the top deck, although one of the staircases may need to be removed.
The open top companies are private operators though and TFL have no control over what vehicles they use.

They need to bury their pride and ensure they operate at least two full contract terms, like any other bus would, anything else would be a waste of money.

Also I know enthusiasts hate them and all they stand for, but I wonder if they’ve reached iconic status with tourists as yet?. Of course TFL stopped using them at the forefront of all bus publicity once Labour got in, and generally use another bus model front and centre these days.
 

MotCO

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The open top companies are private operators though and TFL have no control over what vehicles they use.
I wasn't mandating their use, only suggesting who might buy them when they are sold by TfL. If they are iconic, the would fit the bill.

Having a front entrance bus (it would have to be unless you're planning on having conductors) and expecting people to walk through the length of the bus of the bus to get upstairs is an interesting concept!

I thought that there were usually street-based ticket sellers at each stop.
 

Paul Jones 88

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As a frequent passenger on bus 149 London Bridge to Edmonton Green, I actually enjoy the Boris bus, I like the seats, it's a lovely smooth ride and mostly very quiet.
 

ANDREW_D_WEBB

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On another thread, I've suggested that, after withdrawal, Borismasters could be used for open-top tourist buses. They are longer than most buses, so should be able to carry more punters on the top deck, although one of the staircases may need to be removed.

I am told by an operator who knows a thing or two about converting open top buses that the task would be very difficult to do. The rear window arrangements add to the structural integrity of the bus.

Personally I rather like the buses, albeit they were built for a political need rather than operating need
 

Mikey C

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Absolutely. Ridiculously over-complex and over-expensive monstrosities that were never needed or wanted by operators.
It's not up to the operators what they operate in London. They operate the type of vehicle that TfL specify for a route, and TfL come under the democratically elected Mayor and Assembly. Hence why London double deckers have 2 doors, straight staircases, roller blinds, wheelchair ramps on the middle door, full height bodywork etc

They're not my favourite buses though I do like the 3 doors and 2 staircases AND the completely flat floor. It was really nice using them in the early days on routes 9 and 10 when they had the 2nd crew member allowing the open platform, meaning you could get off when stuck in traffic

And the extra cost of the Borismasters is miniscule when compared to the money pit of Crossrail (or indeed the cost of upgrading stations like Victoria and Bank)
 

Journeyman

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It's not up to the operators what they operate in London. They operate the type of vehicle that TfL specify for a route, and TfL come under the democratically elected Mayor and Assembly. Hence why London double deckers have 2 doors, straight staircases, roller blinds, wheelchair ramps on the middle door, full height bodywork etc

They're not my favourite buses though I do like the 3 doors and 2 staircases AND the completely flat floor. It was really nice using them in the early days on routes 9 and 10 when they had the 2nd crew member allowing the open platform, meaning you could get off when stuck in traffic

And the extra cost of the Borismasters is miniscule when compared to the money pit of Crossrail (or indeed the cost of upgrading stations like Victoria and Bank)
Operators have to pick a London spec vehicle, but there's plenty of those that aren't far off specs used elsewhere, and plenty of vehicles go on to serve around the country. Major operators can still choose the models they buy for London, and have a cascade policy based on that.

It's quite telling that not a single London operator wanted these things - they were forced upon them.

And comparing costs with Crossrail is apples and oranges. Do buses and Crossrail do the same thing? No. Do Borismasters and off-the-peg vehicles? Yes.

The TfL list of forthcoming contract opportunities has this entry:



The expected date is August this year and the value band is £25 million to £50 million
It would be much cheaper to scrap and replace them with standard vehicles.
 

Mikey C

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Operators have to pick a London spec vehicle, but there's plenty of those that aren't far off specs used elsewhere, and plenty of vehicles go on to serve around the country. Major operators can still choose the models they buy for London, and have a cascade policy based on that.

It's quite telling that not a single London operator wanted these things - they were forced upon them.

And comparing costs with Crossrail is apples and oranges. Do buses and Crossrail do the same thing? No. Do Borismasters and off-the-peg vehicles? Yes.


It would be much cheaper to scrap and replace them with standard vehicles.
You're missing the point that it's not up to the operators what type of vehicle they operate. TfL tell them what type of vehicle they want on the route, and if they don't like it they don't have to tender for it

It's because London/TfL have this control that London has pioneered in this country low floor buses, low floor double deckers, hybrid buses, electric buses etc. From which the rest of the country has benefited.

The cost is relevant as one of the sticks always being used to bash the Borismasters is the price of them, as they were more expensive than a conventional hybrid bus. And the "cost" of not being able to transfer them elsewhere in the country
 

M803UYA

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It would be much cheaper to scrap and replace them with standard vehicles.
It would, I think the cost of replacement batteries might be a consideration too. Many hybrids of this era have after 7/8 years been converted to diesel due to the cost of replacing the batteries.
Unsure on TfL contract lengths, but two 5 year contracts might be too long for a bus with 7/8 years battery life?

It's because London/TfL have this control that London has pioneered in this country low floor buses, low floor double deckers, hybrid buses, electric buses etc. From which the rest of the country has benefited.
There's a lot of areas where TfL lags behind the rest of the country too - lack of route branding/corridor branding, lack of electronic destination displays which are almost universal in the rest of the UK and clearer than roller blinds, Oyster which is touch in touch out, wasn't even ITSO compliant when most deregulated operations have smart cards and you simply load a ticket onto it and away you go.
I don't see many electric buses elsewhere in the country, yes there are pockets of operations, specific routes etc but the cost of those vehicle is deemed prohibitive to a deregulated operation. It is however where the industry needs to go. But then TfL can afford to waste money, plead poverty as we all pay for it through our taxes. Just think about the waste of money the Borismaster is, compared to a conventional off the shelf double deck bus which does the same job. It just costs £150k less. Across 1000 buses that is £150 million. Think what else you can do with that sort of money in the provinces?
The argument that London has to have a special bus is nonsense - that theory was blown apart by the 20+ year service lives of Titans, Metrobuses and Olympians...
 
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Mikey C

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It would, I think the cost of replacement batteries might be a consideration too. Many hybrids of this era have after 7/8 years been converted to diesel due to the cost of replacing the batteries.
Unsure on TfL contract lengths, but two 5 year contracts might be too long for a bus with 7/8 years battery life?


There's a lot of areas where TfL lags behind the rest of the country too - lack of route branding/corridor branding, lack of electronic destination displays which are almost universal in the rest of the UK and clearer than roller blinds, Oyster which is touch in touch out, wasn't even ITSO compliant when most deregulated operations have smart cards and you simply load a ticket onto it and away you go.
I don't see many electric buses elsewhere in the country, yes there are pockets of operations, specific routes etc but the cost of those vehicle is deemed prohibitive to a deregulated operation. It is however where the industry needs to go. But then TfL can afford to waste money, plead poverty as we all pay for it through our taxes. Just think about the waste of money the Borismaster is, compared to a conventional off the shelf double deck bus which does the same job. It just costs £150k less. Across 1000 buses that is £150 million. Think what else you can do with that sort of money in the provinces?
The argument that London has to have a special bus is nonsense - that theory was blown apart by the 20+ year service lives of Titans, Metrobuses and Olympians...
Conventional hybrid double deckers are more like £300k, which would make the saving £50m. Which in London transport terms is peanuts when you consider that the cost of upgrading Bank station is now £700m, £78m over budget

The Garden Bridge - £50m wasted on nothing - and the loss making and pointless cable car are far more deserving of stick than the Borismaster, which has at least delivered a working vehicle which will operate in London for 15 years.
 

MotCO

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I also think that the Borismaster introduced improved interiors to buses, more akin to cars - such as the window surrounds being molded plastic rather than plain metal etc. - which could encourage people to leave their cars and travel by bus.
 

M803UYA

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Conventional hybrid double deckers are more like £300k, which would make the saving £50m. Which in London transport terms is peanuts when you consider that the cost of upgrading Bank station is now £700m, £78m over budget

The Garden Bridge - £50m wasted on nothing - and the loss making and pointless cable car are far more deserving of stick than the Borismaster, which has at least delivered a working vehicle which will operate in London for 15 years.
Poor old Boris seems to have form for not being good on numbers. He seems to have carried this into higher office where the amounts spent on 'friends' are truly world beating. Excuse the pun.

Is the Borismaster going to achieve a full 15 year service life? Given the cost of replacement batteries for hybrids, and given the experiences of Bath, East Yorkshire and Reading, all of those places have fitted conventional diesel engines to their Enviro 400 hybrids at the mid-life stage, as this is cheaper than replacement batteries.

If these buses are to remain in service for that length of time, we are approaching a point where replacement of the batteries is necessary.
 

carlberry

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It's because London/TfL have this control that London has pioneered in this country low floor buses, low floor double deckers, hybrid buses, electric buses etc. From which the rest of the country has benefited.
Low floor - Merseyside, Low Floor double decker - Bristol/West Midlands, Electric - Manchester. London are often the last to adapt to change, but used to have a ready stream of cash to pay for whatever took their fancy.
 

Surreyman

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As Tfl own them not the operators I presume they will keep them running for @13/14 years as per other London buses, that's assuming that they don't have some terrible fault/corrosion or become very expensive to run.
Given their length, they can only be used on a finite number of routes, mostly into the current central ULEZ zone, so are likely to stay on these routes (i.e those routes won't be converted to all-electric for some years).
Longer term depends on the Tfl bean counters and what they have allowed for depreciation, local politics will play a part as well, I wouldn't rule out Tfl paying for replacement batteries, the alternative is taking a massive depreciation hit and awarding the currently operated routes on new contracts with new zero-emission vehicles provided by the bus companies with some Tfl funding?
Of course the current Labour Mayor might want to score points over 'Tory Boris's Folly'
 

cnjb8

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I've only ever been on a Borismaster once, and I hope never to go on one again, it was boiling hot and loads of people just hopped on the back or middle doors without paying and went straight upstairs!
I hate to agree on this, but it's fairly likely most will end up being scrapped. Look at the Citaro artics they replaced, most ended up scrapped after rotting for years in some field, the Borismaster is more niche then them and will most likely have a similar fate.
Is export an option? Probably not, because of their hybrid technology, two staircase layout and their bizarre engine layout. Like it has been said here, and most of you will agree, the Borismaster was just another totally insane and unnecessary scheme from TfL, had they'd been hybrid Enviros or Geminis they could have had a longer life serving the people of London
 
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I had no idea the borris bus had so many problems, but then I know nowt about modern buses.

Reading this thread I am reminded of an episode of " The Simpsons" where Homer's long lost brother let's him design a car that is basically a poorly thought out massively expensive wish list from someone who shouldn't be anywhere near the design process.
 

Wolfie

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Conventional hybrid double deckers are more like £300k, which would make the saving £50m. Which in London transport terms is peanuts when you consider that the cost of upgrading Bank station is now £700m, £78m over budget

The Garden Bridge - £50m wasted on nothing - and the loss making and pointless cable car are far more deserving of stick than the Borismaster, which has at least delivered a working vehicle which will operate in London for 15 years.
Re your last para: of course all three projects that you cite have one thing in common.....
 

MotCO

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Given their length, they can only be used on a finite number of routes, mostly into the current central ULEZ zone, so are likely to stay on these routes (i.e those routes won't be converted to all-electric for some years).
That's a good point. However, one outer-suburb route, the 313, has been converted to NBfL, and the 267 does venture into suburbia.

I had always thought that they would start to transfer out to the suburbs, not least since the routes are not so intensive or demanding. Stagecoach used to operate long-wheelbase Olympians, and I'm not sure if the NBfL is any longer than them, so is the NBfL's length a real problem?

I personally thought that all-electric buses would be concentrated in Central London, so if NBfL was retained for the central routes that would not be possible. However, is it possible to replace the diesel gubbins with more batteries, and convert the NBfL to all electric? That would solve both issues.
 

Goldfish62

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I wouldn't rule out Tfl paying for replacement batteries.
The liability for battery replacement costs lies with the operators. Many Borismasters have been through one cycle of battery changes already. Seems that the batteries last around five years instead of around seven years for a "standard" hybrid.

That's a good point. However, one outer-suburb route, the 313, has been converted to NBfL, and the 267 does venture into suburbia.

I had always thought that they would start to transfer out to the suburbs, not least since the routes are not so intensive or demanding. Stagecoach used to operate long-wheelbase Olympians, and I'm not sure if the NBfL is any longer than them, so is the NBfL's length a real problem?

I personally thought that all-electric buses would be concentrated in Central London, so if NBfL was retained for the central routes that would not be possible.
The Olympians that Stagecoach had were 10.3m, ie about the length as a current short wheelbase double deck. The Borismasters are 11.2m long.

The reason some are now in suburbia is because there are no central London routes left where they'll fit.
 

PG

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The liability for battery replacement costs lies with the operators.
In which case I expect tender costs to rise for the contracts using NBfL when they are next out to tender. Maybe having to pay x pounds more (if operators tender a lower cost to run conventional hybrids) will focus minds such they they end up scrapped.
 
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