Sadiq Kahn cancels NB4L/New Routemaster contract with Wrightbus

Discussion in 'Buses & Coaches' started by fredk, 2 Jan 2017.

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  1. fredk

    fredk Member

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    https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2016/dec/31/boris-bus-london-transport-sadiq-khan-end
    I'm not sure whether this was a good move by the new mayor. On one hand the new routemaster has an outdated and polluting diesel electric system, on the other hand it is a nice looking bus with comfortable lighting which is nice to see.
    I do think that with the amount spent in developing the bus, it is a terrible time to pull out of the deal at this stage - all it means is taxpayers getting a worse deal. The whole economy of the new routemaster was about the bulk quantity that would bring down the initial development costs.
    As for pollution, instead of going in and scrapping the entire bus design and platform, I think it is shortsighted of Khan to not have utilised this and worked with Wirghtbus to manufacture buses with new more efficient full battery power rather than diesel electric.
    It seems like a huge waste to develop this product then drop it instead of working on it to be more efficient.
     
    Last edited: 2 Jan 2017
  2. overthewater

    overthewater Established Member

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    You dont keep a white elephant going to save grace, the bus cost to much money buy in the first place.
     
  3. Dent

    Dent Member

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    Basically you are making the Sunk Cost Fallacy.
     
  4. Robertj21a

    Robertj21a Established Member

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    This is just regurgitated news, no more were going to be ordered post-Boris.
    The bus is really not all that good, more style over substance. Loads of Boris-hype covered up a number of deficiencies, but it has tested out a few new practices - and other new types of buses from other manufacturers have since incorporated some of the better bits.
    The fresh interest is far more related to fully electric buses, some of which are now in service.
     
  5. fairysdad

    fairysdad Member

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    They wouldn't be so bad if the back doors were kept open on them like the whole point of them was supposed to have been...
     
  6. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    All that Sadiq Khan has done is to not continue with the production of the NBfL after the present contract expires, which will be at some stage next year after the 1,000th bus has been produced. It was entirely predictable that this would be the case: Boris Johnson's actions in extending the contract for long after the period of his mayoralty were entirely political and imo should have been prevented. Khan has not, to my knowledge, indicated he will seek early withdrawal of these white elephants, unlike Johnson with the bendybus. So TfL is stuck with the purchase and deployment, knowing that the promises regarding fuel economy and emissions will never be realised, which in part contribute to the pollution readings on Oxford Street and the plans by TfL to reduce the number of buses traversing it.
     
  7. Robertj21a

    Robertj21a Established Member

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    Should never have had open rear entrance/exit. Everyone had got used to doored buses and then Boris has to insist on an open door - which necessitates employing an extra member of staff. Idiotic.
     
  8. Blindtraveler

    Blindtraveler Established Member

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    Nowhere near enough to a Pacer :(
    Well I could cry at the waisted public money but celibrate at the fact we'll only have 1000 of them.

    What I would like to know is how his targate of no deezol buses in London will work with a load of these heaps of junk puffing around?
     
  9. fredk

    fredk Member

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    I have always liked the New Routemaster despite its numerous problems. I like the fact it is unique to London, I like the ambient interior, and the styling enhances London streets magnificently.

    However, I acknowledge the fundamental problems which this bus has. I believe the issues stem from the way it was developed - Thomas Heatherwick is a product designer who is incredible at what he does, but he is not a vehicle designer. Perhaps it was Wrightbus who should have addressed the issues and failed. Many aspects are better than off the shelf double deckers (interior, styling, lighting) but some are worse (incredibly small seats with poor legroom and back support, diesel electric system running mostly on diesel mode, the addition of a middle door, 2 staircases when only 1 is needed, poor air conditioning, and more).

    Overall the NB4L pushed the boundaries for bus manufacturers and in their recent models design aspects have filtered through. It is very nice to see the high standard of recent double deckers from Alexander Dennis and Wrightbus.
     
  10. nerd

    nerd Member

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    Target is likely to be for 2025 - by which time the new Routemasters would all have been sold on in any case. Five years from now, and they would all have been gone.

    But they were essentially backward-looking - especially the third door. What they sadly failed to do was to re-think the urban bus for a post-diesel road environment. For most London routes that likely implies hydrogen fuel cell technology; but making that work will then imply a different form of double-decker bus.

    For one thing, smaller windows (especially on the upper deck), to save weight.
     
  11. Failed Unit

    Failed Unit Established Member

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    Was their anything to stop other bus companies ordering them? The have just chosen not to because they are not suitable for thier businesses?
     
  12. Robertj21a

    Robertj21a Established Member

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    Apart from the needless open platform requiring a 2nd crew member I particularly dislike the general drabness of the interior, the poor layout of, uncomfortable, seats and the lack of fresh air (only now being addressed, slowly).
    Given that the ridership levels are increasing in the suburbs, they may well end up operating outside the central area in later years. It's extremely unlikely that many will see any further life outside the TfL area.
     
  13. AM9

    AM9 Established Member

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    Just imaging where we would be if Boris on a wave of populism allowed the introduction of a slam-door suburban train to allow boarding and alighting whenever the passenger's 'common sense' dictated. :)
     
  14. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    There would be quite a few fans on here I imagine!
     
  15. Robertj21a

    Robertj21a Established Member

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    Why would they - where is the significant benefit over more standard buses ?
     
  16. Failed Unit

    Failed Unit Established Member

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    That was where i was driving at with the question. If any company could buy it and they have decided it isn't worth it for their business the product has an issue. If it was something special then I am sure they would have appeared in other large cities.
     
  17. thejuggler

    thejuggler Member

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    The bus is fundamentally flawed from a business point of view. Look at the weight plate, most are over 12 tonnes, far heavier than other double deckers and more kerb weight means a lower passenger capacity.

    Which bus company would pay 50% more for a bus with questionable reliability to carry fewer revenue earners?!

    A few years ago First touted them for Leeds, they were never going to happen, it was just a ruse because the trolleybus was seen as a potential threat.

    First now have lots of shiny new bog standard Wright buses serving Leeds!!
     
  18. Deerfold

    Deerfold Established Member

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    Indeed.

    A couple went round the world on promotional duties but none have been ordered by anyone but TfL. First Leeds asserted they were thinking of buying some, but this was in an offensive against the planned trolleybuses and they were looking for public funds to help buy and staff them. Although the trolleybus has been cancelled there's been no sign of any orders from them.
     
  19. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    I'm going to go out on a limb and predict that gradual withdrawal of these buses will start next year, not for ideological reasons but because they're not fit for purpose. Other than the EL routes around Barking all of these buses have been/ will be allocated to Central London routes, and these are planned to be reduced significantly in the next year or two. For London bus transport historians, this will invoke memories of the RT class, 4825 in number (plus 1631 RTLs and 500 RTWs) where earlier members of the class were withdrawn before the last few hundred were introduced, as London Transport had overordered before the withdrawal of petrol rationing led to an upsurge in car ownership.
     
  20. Liam

    Liam Established Member

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    Stagecoach ran a couple of them between Dundee and Arbroath, introduced with much fanfare, but quietly sent back to London after a number of breakdowns.
     
  21. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    In what way are they "not fit for purpose"? You can argue until the cows come home about whether you *like* them or not, but as buses they do the job reasonably well, particularly now opening windows (proper ones, too, not hoppers) have been fitted.
     
  22. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Established Member

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    Hybrid technology that doesn't work effectively so they're essentially diesel vehicles?
     
  23. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    That might hasten their replacement a bit, but given the number of other similar hybrids and diesel vehicles in use it hardly makes them not fit for purpose.

    With new bodies a replacement driveline may also be cheaper than new buses.
     
  24. TheGrandWazoo

    TheGrandWazoo Established Member

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    No - the batteries don't work, had to be replaced under warranty, and are still causing issues. Hence, they are not fit for purpose.

    Other hybrids work fine; these don't. A reflection on a rushed design process to meet a politically driven timescale?
     
  25. gingerheid

    gingerheid Member

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    I wonder what will happen to these after they are withdrawn. I hope they don't end up languishing in a quarry in Malta before unsuccessful attempts to flog them to Sudan!
     
  26. HSTEd

    HSTEd Established Member

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    It is highly unlikely that we will see large scale deliveries of battery electric buses in London any time soon.
    It will require huge capital investment in 33kV feeders to bus depots and such for charging.
     
  27. nerd

    nerd Member

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    There is an intriguing, wider, question about hybrid technologies. Certainly, other hybrids work fine; but do they work quite fine enough?

    Specifically, the aspiration of Green Bus Fund was that kickstarting the market for hybrid buses with public support for initial orders would bring down unit costs to a level where they would be competitive with non-hybrid buses complying with Euro 6 standards. The extra cost of hybrid installation would be outweighed by fuel savings in urban bus running.

    My impression - though I am happy to be corrected by those with better information - is that this has not been achieved; and is now unlikely to be achieved unless diesel fuel becomes much more expensive. Operators will continue only to buy hybrids if they are paid to do so.

    If so, then hybrid technology for buses is beginning to look like a dead end. Which in turn implies the same for the New Routemaster. Three doors and two staircases results in a bus that is too long and heavy with severely contrained passenger capacity. Operated as a straight diesel, they would be uneconomic compared to standard double-deck models; and they are too heavy for alternative fuel technologies - fuel cells, batteries.

    Those alternatives, or course, will likely too always require public subsidy towards their purchase price; to be justified if health and environmental benefits of diesel-free urban air may be maintained. My view though, is that the price premiums for battery and fuel cell technolgies will be such as to preclude public authorties from simply handing money over to bus operators. Instead we will see a tram-like operating model in which diesel-free urban units are publically purchased, and likely publicly owned; with operators bidding for franchises.
     
    Last edited: 4 Jan 2017
  28. Arctic Troll

    Arctic Troll Established Member

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    There are many routes in London where they cannot operate because the wheelbase is too long, the C2 being the most notable example. The air cooling system doesn't work, requiring modified windows. The rear platform isn't appropriate, requiring a re-designed rear door that opens outwards not inwards. The hybrid system doesn't work very well, requiring replacement batteries, and uses a system that is largely obsolete. The claimed fuel efficiency never happened because the third door and second staircase added too much weight.

    I wouldn't be so harsh as to say they are "unfit for purpose"- they work as buses- but they are more expensive and less useful than hybrid double deckers from other manufacturers. They don't do anything that a E400H doesn't do for £100,000 less.

    As for the "sunk cost fallacy", Khan hasn't cancelled existing orders, he has simply not exercised the option for more of them. Buying more would bring the unit price down, but would still be chucking good money after bad money. Save the cash and buy some E400H MMC City buses.
     
  29. Busaholic

    Busaholic Established Member

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    I agree that it was a bit too strong to say they are 'unfit for purpose' but I was exaggerating in order to make a point. I don't believe there will be anything like a thousand in use in two years time, and probably none in five years time.
    At the knock-down price they'll have to sell them for, Ensign or whoever may be able to shift a few, but most will probably end up stored just like the majority of the bendies.
     
  30. Robertj21a

    Robertj21a Established Member

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    I don't agree with that. Most of the 1,000 Borismasters are likely to stay on London routes for another 5-10 years at least (possibly moving out to inner suburban services). They may, of course, need some further modifications to enable that to happen.

    There will be next to no market for them outside TfL-land.
     
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