Orders for the much-anticipated redesigned double-decker buses that hit the streets of London in 2011 will be discontinued under Mayor Sadiq Khan. In a money-saving gambit, Transport for London (TfL) stopped orders for the New Routemasters designed by Thomas Heatherwick, on the grounds that they are too expensive.
During his campaign, Khan suggested the modern buses manufactured by Wrightbus be discontinued to free up money to freeze fares for four years. Transport for London just confirmed that suggestion in Khan’s first Business Plan: “New capital investment will be reduced significantly as we discontinue purchases of New Routemaster buses. We will carry on investing in the fleet however, by retrofitting 3,000 vehicles with Euro VI standard emission technology by 2020.”
The New Routemasters were greeted with excitement when they were unveiled in 2010; people praised Heatherwick for bestowing a “London look” on the buses. The vehicles boast three doors and two staircases, and succeeded the iconic old Routemaster buses. As the buses jaunted more frequently through the city, Heatherwick said he was glad the bus became “part of London’s landscape and personality.” Passengers did grumble that the buses were too hot, so TfL added windows that could open.
Former mayor Boris Johnson bought the first 600 buses for £354,000 each in 2012, and 200 more in 2014 for £325,000 apiece.
The New Routemaster buses are hybrid diesel-electric vehicles, but many people now think electric batteries have overtaken the older technology. A spokesperson for the mayor told The Guardian TfL would invest in “a new generation of buses” designed to benefit London’s air quality. The business plan says “a significant number of new green buses will be unveiled” in 2020 or 2021.
Images via Heatherwick Studio