Sunday, 1 September 2013

Heading in the Wrong Direction? Driver Lost?

Recently, while heading for a meeting with the enterprising people at East Yorkshire Motor Services, a regular reader had the presence of mind to overtake and then pull over to snap this LT-class New Bus for London. The quality’s not good: it was rushed and with a portable phone. It (the bus) was heading east on the A63 within 15 or so miles of Kingston upon Hull. The bus, on trade plates, was therefore a long way from home and presumably had been on the M62 beforehand. Since Hull is the end of the line, where was its ultimate destination, wondered our correspondent. The port?

He speculated that it might be a demonstrator for East Yorkshire. Given the NB4L’s propensity to cook passengers, such a vehicle might be an asset along the east coast, where Easterlies can make even August seem ddecidely chilly. If anyone has any better ideas, could they comment. Perhaps it was being smuggled out of the country on a container ship for Norway, another rather cold place that might benefit from a super-heated bus.

Meanwhile, Arriva Malta is reported to have grounded its entire fleet of 68 ex-London Mercedes articulated buses following two fires in 24 hours. London buses seem to attract the wrong kind of heat. Perhaps the NBfL as seen on the A63 was due for a sea trip via Hull to Malta as a bendy replacement. After all, there is a precedent...

26 comments:

James said...

From Leon Daniels' blog of 5 August:

The buses have also been busy promoting British technology at home and abroad. After leaving the USA, LT1 journeyed to Bogota after which it will head to the Far East. Another vehicle is already doing similar duties in Europe and a third vehicle is likely to be added to the tour.

Logical assumption is that this is bus number three.

Who will buy is an interesting question. The Germans will dismiss it as a double-decker minibus (put next to Berlin's 3-axle MANs you can see their point). The Swedes used to run Atlanteans in Stockholm, though...

ACBest said...

It was heading to EYMS' depot in prep for the Big Bus Day event, in which it was one of the vehicles on display.

Anonymous said...

The answer is easy - it was displayed at the "Big Bus Day" in Hull on Saturday Aug 31, the press release states "The New Bus For London! This brand new bus is stopping by the Big Bus Day on its way to London". To see more, visit http://www.eyms.co.uk/content/busservices/newsitempr.aspx?id=939.

Sadly I wasn't there but had been at the venue - the Streetlife Museum in Hull - a week earlier and saw adverts there and on EYMS buses.

Richard Delahoy

Anonymous said...

I know the question's been answered but whilst they're touting it about for overseas sales, I've heard nothing to suggest any inclination to sell it to provincial operators in the UK. Indeed, to do so would surely defeat the object of it being a *London* icon, specially built for *London* conditions and a New Bus For *London*.

Anonymous said...

Who'd want it in the UK?

The extra staffing cost involved with rear door access alone would rule it out (the only reason London can afford it is that the rest of the country pays taxes to subsidise transport in London).

Anonymous said...

Anon 0954 - if any were to be sold elsewhere, they wouldn't have to have the rear door and conductor.

Anonymous said...

If it was built without the rear doors and staircase would it then be acceptable to the rest of the UK? just a thought.

Exiled Bhoy in Fife said...

Anon 10:12

In that case the bus would have to be radically re-designed which would push the potential cost even higher. The whole back-end would need changed, with seats put in where the rear-platform and stairs are, loosing the features that make the New Bus for London (NBfL) - or great red elephant if you prefer - "attractive" in the first place.

There's nothing really you can add to Anon 09:54's comments. The reason it's not been promoted in the rest of the United Kingdom is that even its builders concluded there is just no market for the great red elephant outside London.

I mean which non-London operator decides that rather than an ADL Enviro 400/Wright Gemini (hybrid or not) what they really need is a two-axle, twin-staircase, three-door, poor seated (for it's size), poorly ventilated hybrid double-decker?? I mean only Classic Bus North West really uses Routemasters outside London now in normal regular service - and that's just for tourists along the prom at Blackpool.

The simple facts are that London buys these double-deckers simply because it can. Transport for London (TfL) gorges itself on the subsidies provided by hard-pressed tax-payers - many of whom live outside London - and provides vanity projects like these claiming it needs a bespoke double-decker. Meanwhile, for the hard pressed bus users outwith London have to put up with a very hit-and-miss service, depending on where you live and who provides the services.

If the level of subsidies that TfL receives were available around the rest of the country, bus usage would rocket, vehicle replacement would be unbelievable and the United Kingdom would have a public transport network to rival anything else on the planet. However, the country would most likely also be bankrupt....

As you can probably guess I'm not a fan of NBfL. To me it represents all that's wrong with our transport industry at present, in that where you live in an area that's rich with money, well done. If you don't...tough. Until our politicians grapple the imbalance between public transport funding in London and the rest of the country, the bus policy is going to be dictated by what London wants....

Anonymous said...

Or we could just buy the other, more functional products on the market.

Anonymous said...

68 Citaros off the road in late Aug must be a massive dent in the Malta network's capacity.

Anonymous said...

For more photos see http://www.flickr.com/photos/willstransportphotos/

Anonymous said...

Re: 11:00 - yes, there would need to be an element of redesign, you could also say that if it were to be built to a shorter length but let's not get hung-up on the rear door and staircase as being the only novel features, it has a radically different drive-line than other hybrids and this may be more significant if the buses settle down and become reliable. Let's face it, neither the E40D or (particularly IMX) the B5LH seem very reliable machines at the moment.

Anonymous said...

Sorry, (obviously?!) I meant to put E40H or B5LH.

Pete said...

@1135 - if it has a 'radically different' (and better) drive line (does it in fact?), this can no doubt be fitted to other designs. The same goes for any other technical innovations it may have.

The unique features are its shape, which London won't want to share (because it's iconic, you know) and its layout, which the rest of the UK is unlikely to want.

Generic Omnibuses Blog Commenter said...

I think it's trentbarton's fault.

Anonymous said...

First of all, a few buses had problems had a problems with the air conditioning. I assume thats solved, as you would not hear the end of the crowing about it on twitter and by other bitter and twisted knockers.

Also knock it off on the bitching on taxes and transport funding. London and the South East has 20% of its GDP shipped off to subsidise the rest of the country and so what if the capital spends more on transport, you guys consume more in other tax receipts and need we mention the very high rates of subsidy required for Metro PTE rail fares. We are one country, yet each area has different requirements if you want to go down the road of each area getting exactly the same treatment, then London and Southeast would gain a great deal more than they lost.

It's all very easy to bitch about someone else getting more than you and conveniently forget the other areas where that is different.

Bitter Troll said...

Alex Hornby is to blame for this mess.

Anonymous said...

Also, the original NBfL development vehicle has resurfaced at Cummins in Darlington.

Steve said...

Exiled Bhoy in Fife @ 11.00

You're dead wrong - London's GDP subsidises the rest of the UK. Did you not know this fact?

But I agree that this hideous bus is a complete waste of money and I really do wish that the rest of the UK's bus services had a bigger slice of the money, especially those rural areas that have lost or will lose their services altogether.

The Ed Wills Appreciation Society said...

I think there is some influence from GSC and TB in the Borismaster, must be why it doesn't work.

Exiled Bhoy in Fife said...

Steve - I'm sorry but at no point have I mentioned GDP...what exactly does GDP have to do with running buses anyway???

I'm talking about the block grant that Transport for London (TfL) receives via the Mayor's office ultimately from HM Treasury. Namely all the taxpayers in the country.

Before the creation of TfL, it received an annual subsidy of approx. £40 million. In 2018 it's going to rise to £721 million. That's even with the cuts demanded by the current government. It spends £774 per head on transport, nearly double what is spent in other regions of the country. Until recently, the budget for cycling in London for one year was more than what Leeds had been able to spend on transport projects over the last decade.

Lets hypothise for a moment that Stagecoach - for example - ran all the transport in London. Do you really think as a private company it would decide it needed a bespoke double-decker. Of course it wouldn't?

There is real concern in arears out with London that transport spending in the UK is skewed in favour of London. New Bus for London is a prime example of that.

plcd1 said...

@ Exiled Bhoy in Fife - could you please clarify what your financial numbers refer to and where they are from? I recently researched the annual bus subsidy (difference between revenue and cost of operation) for TfL from TfL annual reports / business plans and a Parliamentary reply from TfL on this topic.

I can assure you that the *bus* subsidy is nothing like £721m and I struggle to see how you can have a number for 2018 given TfL have not published nor approved a revised budget stretching as far as 2018. This is because TfL have yet to resolve all the issues that arise from the Chancellor's Autumn Statement which reduced revenue funding but gave a stable amount of *capital* funding and increased TfL's annual prudential borrowing limited.

For the record bus subsidy was £24m in 2000/01 and will be £367m in 2013/14. It peaked at £563m in 2008/9 and has been on a downward trend since Boris was elected. Also for the record patronage was 1,354m pass jnys in 2000/01, 2,247m in 2008/9 and is forecast to hit 2,427m pass jnys in 2013/14.

RC169 said...

Exiled Bhoy in Fife said...

"Do you really think as a private company it would decide it needed a bespoke double-decker. Of course it wouldn't?"

I wouldn't be so sure. The former boss of First was recorded as challenging the manufacturers to build lighter, more fuel efficient buses - he specified a couple of targets, which were probably optimistic, but one has to have something to aim for. As for Stagecoach, I seem to recall that Mr Souter owns 20% of ADL. The NB4L apparently cost £11m to develop, a sum which both of those groups could probably find if they were minded to.

Of course, they would probably try to achieve improvements through the normal dialog between manufacturers and customers, but I wouldn't rule it out. It's been done before - with widely varying degrees of success!

plcd1 said...

@ RC169 - to some extent the big groups have influenced the manufacturers and body builders to move in their direction. Arriva clearly have some influence with VDL and Wrights via other links within the parent group. First have influenced Wrights and Volvo over the years and we wait to see how the lighter replacement for the B9 performs.

Stagecoach, to be fair, shop around in terms of chassis but there has been a strong Alexander and later Alexander Dennis link for many, many years. The high level of standardisation in Stagecoach fleet policy is a boon to whoever wins the bodywork orders!

The Annual Report does clearly state that Mr Souter and Mrs Gloag have no influence over Stagecoach's vehicle purchasing policy given their shareholdings in ADL.

I doubt any of them would commission their own bespoke bus and I cannot see anyone buying the NB4L in its current form. It is worth noting that a TfL board paper does say other "formats" of the NB4L would be investigated. I take that to mean one with a single stair and two doors but I'm guessing. As someone else said if the reliability is proven and fuel economy is good then someone might be tempted to try a NB4L with a more coventional layout.

RC169 said...

plcd1 said...

"It is worth noting that a TfL board paper does say other "formats" of the NB4L would be investigated. I take that to mean one with a single stair and two doors but I'm guessing."

Since the NB4L can have a rear platform, it could also have a conventional door at the back (i.e. controlled by the driver). To get the best passenger flow, the second staircase would also be needed, but the centre door could be eliminated. This would undoubtedly give a far more satisfactory passenger flow than designs with centre doors (and staircases). As far as I'm aware none of the current manufacturers' standard offerings would allow a rear door/staircase of this nature, so the NB4L does have that advantage over its rivals.

Whether there are many routes outside London that really need that sort of passenger flow is probably debatable, but it would, to my mind, be far more effective at reducing dwell times (sorry Busing!) than the typical front entrance/centre exit layout that most dual door buses have.

Anonymous said...

To follow up on the comments above, I recently travelled on NB4L on both the 24 and 38 on a Saturday daytime. The 24 operated with platform assistants with a full open platform. The 38 sees five or six of the original batch in service single manned mixed in with the normal buses. The rear platform door is in two parts. The curved part is locked shut but the flat part is a single leaf powered door that opened and closed in line with the other two doors and people alighted and boarded through it using the Oyster reader as appropriate whilst using the front and rear doors for on/off as normal. A warning beep advises of the doors closing.