The New Bus for London, also known as the Boris Bus, Borismaster and New Routemaster is a diesel-electric hybrid bus manufactured by Wrightbus. The bus is designed by Heatherwick Studio and is designed to feature a hop-on hop-off platform which previously featured on the AEC Routemaster popular in London prior to 2005 as well as being fully accessible and featuring all the features of a modern double decker bus. The first bus entered service on a special timetable on Route 38 between Hackney Central and Victoria Station on 27th February 2012 and now operates on many Central London Routes.
The original AEC Routemaster was popular in London from 1956 to 2005 when the then Mayor of London Ken Livingstone had them withdrawn from service excluding two heritage routes in favour of modern accessible one person operated buses. When Boris Johnson was elected Mayor of London in 2008 one of his campaign pledges was to introduce a new Routemaster in London and he quickly opened a design competition for the New Routemaster. Wrightbus was awarded the contract to build the New Bus for London in 2009 and the final design, a design done by Heatherwick Studio was announced in 2010.
The New Bus for London has three doors, one at the front, the centre and the rear, the rear door is wider than the rest and can remain open during motion to allow the rear platform to be used as a hop-on hop-off platform. The rear platform features a pole for safe embarking and disembarking and the rear platform can only be used when a conductor is on board. The New Bus for London also features two staircases, the front of which is by the middle door and leads up to the front of the upper deck currently seen on modern buses in London and the rear staircase curves round the rear of the bus from the rear platform to the rear of the upper deck as previously seen on the AEC Routemaster. The bus features windows which follow the staircases which allows natural light on both staircases.
Oyster and Contactless Payment Card Readers are located by all boarding points and although conductors are on board on some routes however conductors do not take fares or check tickets.
A new Moquette was introduced for the New Bus for London and the interior is lit by LED lighting throughout, the New Bus for London also features the iBus system included on all London Buses. The bus is powered by a battery powered electric motor which is charged by a diesel fueled power generator which only runs when the battery needs charging, the battery is also charged through regenerative braking.
A design competition for the New Bus for London opened in 2008 which saw many entrants in a ‘whole bus’ category and a ‘parts of the bus’ category. The joint winners of the competition in the ‘whole bus’ category were designs made by Capoco Design and a joint design by Foster and Partners & Aston Martin who shared the prize money of £25,000. Other notable entries were the ‘Smiley Bus’ also known as H4 from the H4 Group, a space age hydrogen design by Future Systems and a glass roofed design from Foster and Partners.
The winning designs and some other entrant designs were passed to bus manufacturers for final designs pre-tender, on 23rd December 2009 Wrightbus were awarded the contract to build the new bus. Wrightbus and Transport for London worked with Heatherwick Studio to make the final design of which TfL applied to the Intellectual Property Office for Registered Design Protection for the exterior design.
A static mock-up was unveiled at the London Transport Museum’s Acton Depot on 11th November 2010 and the first engineering prototype was driven by Mayor of London Boris Johnson at public demonstration on 27th May 2011. The first working prototype was driven from City Hall to Trafalgar Square in December 2011. The first eight prototypes entered service on a special timetable on Route 38 between Hackney Central and Victoria Station on 27th February 2012. The first production batch entered service on Route 24 on 22nd June 2013 followed by Route 11 on 21st September 2013.
600 buses are due to be in service in London by 2016, the first 272 buses were delivered with Euro 5 engines except for 6 which were fitted with Euro 6 engines as a trial. It is expected that all New Bus for London vehicle deliveries from now on will be delivered with Euro 6 engines.
In May 2013 the first two prototypes LT1 and LT2 were loaned to the UK Government to take part in a global trade mission covering 16 countries in four continents during a year, LT3 went on a demonstration tour to Hong Kong and Singapore in February 2014. In August 2014 LT1 was in store in Abu Dhabi pending a decision on the future of the mission whilst the other two returned to the UK. In August 2014 LT2 was loaned to First West Yorkshire as part of a six month trial with the operator, whilst with First West Yorkshire the bus was repainted green. In November 2014 LT312 and LT313 were loaned to Stagecoach Strathtay as part of a three month trial with the operator, the buses were used on Route 73 from Arbroath to Ninewells Hospital with a conductor.
The trial ended early in mid December 2014 due to poor reliability and the buses being incapable of running to the timetable, the buses were transferred to Stagecoach London’s West Ham Depot on 15th December 2014 for use by Stagecoach London.