New Bus For London Comes To 24 Route

The 24 this morning, with a reflection of the BT Tower

As of this morning the 24 route between Pimlico and Hampstead Heath became the first in London to be served entirely by the New Bus for London (NB4L).

At peak times up to 27 of the vehicles will ply their way through the capital, taking in sights such as Trafalgar Square, Parliament and Camden Town. At least, that’s the plan — as a commenter noted, they’re short five vehicles at the moment due to late delivery, so you might see the odd non-NB4L in service. The route is operated 24-hours. Between around 6am and 8pm the rear platform door will remain open with a ‘assistant’ present to provide, er, assistance (but not actually take fares — you must present an Oyster or bank card to board); after 8pm the rear door will be controlled by the driver.

Though the 24 is the first route to go fully NB4L (the 38 previously had eight prototypes, which have now been switched to single person operation, meaning an assistant will not be present) the mayor has planned for 600 to be on the streets by 2016. In September, the 11 between Fulham and Liverpool Street will be converted; seems south Londoners are being overlooked on the transport front yet again.

Critics of the vehicle have kvetched about the cost, and about Transport for London’s dubious claims over its efficiency. Yet the general consensus from the public is that they are a pleasing addition to the city streets, and they excite a palpable sense of joy: on our brief ride on the 24 this morning we heard one teenager confiding to a friend about how nice it was inside. Gives the old transport enthusiast in us hope for the next generation.

If you’re a regular rider on the 24 we’d like to know what you make of the new buses.

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  • Vinnie

    Walking around Euston Circus Road this morning trying to spot the new buses, two came along at once (surprise, surprise) from Hampstead Road!

    However, walking down Tottenham Court Road at around 7:45, I did see a “normal” 24 bus heading north. Not quite the “first [route] in London to be served entirely by the New Bus for London”, then… at least YET.

    • http://londonist.com/ Dean Nicholas

      Was chatting to the bus assistant this morning and he said the changeover happened around 8am.

    • FreeBBC

      I checked on the Bus News which i posted on the TFL forum, this is what it says.

      “Due to late delivery, not all the new LTs will initially be available for service, so the five VWH hybrid buses currently running on route 24 will be retained in case they are needed as spares.”

      http://www.thetflforum.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?tid=496&pid=2217#pid2217

      But its only the beginning.

  • Andy

    So they took the new buses away from the 38 route? Aww – ill miss seeing them. Dont think ive ever been to pimlico / hampstead heath!

    • KP

      No they haven’t, there are still a few on the 38 today!

    • FreeBBC

      I checked on the London Vehicle Finder http://www.londonvf.co.uk/ by searching by a route number. The prototypes are still on the 38. But they dropped the conductor mode and its on the one person operating for now.

      • http://londonist.com/ Dean Nicholas

        Ah, thanks for that — my information came from the assistant on the 24 who seemed to think they wouldn’t operate on the 38 any longer. Will update the post.

      • Andy

        So does that mean they’ve closed the rear door? I read somewhere that if there isnt a conductor at the back, the doors are closed, because people cant be trusted to get off a bus without someone watching over them.

        • http://londonist.com/ Dean Nicholas

          Yes, the rear door on the 38 is now much like the other doors, i.e. opened at only at stops and controlled by the driver. Rendering the rear platform a bit pointless.

  • Mark Walley

    I saw one of these on Friday on the 24 Route, but without a number on it at the back (I didn’t see the front, but assume it said “out of service”). Presumably doing a test run.

  • JulieP

    Hear hear from me…I’d love to have the NB4L buses on one of our routes south of the river eg the 159, AND this passes through the west end so the tourists etc don’t miss out!

    • Mark Walley

      Number 12 would work well for this too.

  • Anonymous Widower

    I rode one of the new 24s yesterday. No serious problems, but it was a bit chaotic due to the large number of passengers and many seemed a bit confused about the bus. On the 38 route, they came in in ones and twos, giving the punters time to get used to them. Some tourists I spoke to, from the States, said it didn’t match what it said in their guide.

    • http://londonist.com/ Dean Nicholas

      Anything that befuddles tourists must surely be a good thing though, right?

  • Jane Pimlico

    Like look of bus, but found it overheated in cabin; upper deck also sweltering, airless. Conductor explained it was “climate controlled.” No one allowed to stand on platform – so called “health and safety” issue, but that’s the fun place on the bus. Maybe conductors earn “hazard pay” for such a pleasant place to stand.

    • EastLondonGuy

      …sweltering, airless- indeed!
      CLAUSTROPHOBIC BUSES
      Dear TFL,
      Please, please, please add windows that open for air for us, Londoners.

  • John

    Waited 38 minutes at Pimlico for a 24 on Saturday (frequency every 6-10mins). Because of the 3 door layout, total confusion in the bottom deck as soon as it got busy, in just a few stops.
    The bus sat at virtually every stop for minutes on end and everybody looked totally fed up on the journey. Journeys seem to take an absolute age, and they turned a lot of buses early, so in Whitehall I was turfed off into the street with about 20 others. Every bus that followed was almost full.
    It was horribly stuffy owing to lack of opening windows as there aren’t any! The windows upstairs are so small that you can’t see where you’re going (the tops of the windows are too low). The ceiling upstairs is also very low for anyone taller too.
    Platform attendant was telling people to get on at middle doors (where on all other London double-decker buses you only get off at the middle) added to confusion. He seemed to want to stop anyone from using the open platform (and wasn’t that the whole idea?) even to get on the bus.
    Two staircases cause problems too, take up space so there are very few seats on the low level floor.
    It was a relief to get off the new Boris ‘wonderbus’ – and onto a normal bus again for my journey home. I will avoid the new Boris bus in future as it’s SO slow – takes ages at every stop, with the new generation of ‘Jobsworths’ for London – the Platform Attendant!

    • http://londonist.com/ Dean Nicholas

      Interesting comments. The 24 is run by a different bus company to the 38 so all the attendants are new on the job — they might relax after a few days.

    • dubmill

      On Saturday the Northern Line was closed so this had a huge impact on passenger numbers and also service intervals. Also, I have noticed before that, when tube lines are shut, you get a lot of people who never normally use buses suddenly trying to use them. There’s a lot of confusion about what bus to get on and in this case there was also a lack of familiarity with a new, significantly different style of vehicle.

      Having said that, there are certainly concerns about the stuffiness (the “climate-controlled” A/C could do with kicking in a bit sooner), layout (gangways on lower deck appear very narrow, making getting off hard if lots of people are standing), plus as you say the odd manner in which the platform attendants were over-zealously warning people about the dangers of getting on or off at places other than bus stops. I know they have to comply with health and safety to a degree, but there should be a way of doing it that doesn’t prevent or deter people from using the facility.

  • jrb

    Was really looking forward to the new bus coming to “my” route, but am rather unimpressed, unfortunately. The windows upstairs are really short from top to bottom, making a general feeling of claustrophobia rather than the airy claims made prior to launch. Maybe the dark red colour throughout doesn’t help – much darker than the nice pale blue on the “normal” buses. On those ones, sitting upstairs on the front seat was a joy, but it’s awful on the new ones: there’s a pillar right down the front window top to bottom, right in your eyeline. I descended down the back stairs to get off this morning and the conductor didn’t like me standing at the bottom of the stairs on the platform at all! Does this mean you’re not going to be allowed to come down those stairs until the last minute before needing to get off?! Also, after just 2 days of use, 2 of the Oyster readers were broken, meaning I got in everyone’s way going through from the back to the middle doors as they also were trying to get on. Sad to be disappointed, but unfortunately I am.

    • dubmill

      I must say I like that dark red internal colour. I do agree, though, that there’s a certain claustrophobia, as there was on the old Routemasters, actually. This is exacerbated by there being no window at the back on the upper deck. Also, as you say, this whole platform access thing needs to be ironed out. I think it may work better if the platform assistants give a little leeway here and there, as old style Routemaster conductors did. The question is will they be allowed to, or are they in an impossible position as regards being blamed if something goes wrong and someone falls off?

      • http://londonist.com/ Dean Nicholas

        The bus operators will be solely responsible for any accidents (more here: http://www.mayorwatch.co.uk/tfl-bus-operators-solely-liable-for-new-bus-rear-platform-accidents/201222057) so you can perhaps understand the caution.

        The lack of windows is a problem, and something I hoped they would address after the prototype vehicles. Clearly they have decided not to.

        • EastLondonGuy

          …yes, the lack of windows is a massive problem for us regular commuters.

          Dear TFL,

          RE: New NB4L Buses

          Please, please, please add windows that open for air for us, Londoners.

    • EastLondonGuy

      Yes, New Buses= Claustrophobia.
      Windows that open are a MUST and are NEEDED NOW!!

  • Sandra

    Complete waste of money. They look good (exterior) but are impractical.
    Why pay someone on each bus just to ensure that people don’t fall off the platform at the back?
    Bendy buses lost a lot of money because people jumped on the back doors without swiping their Oyster cards. The same will happen here and there is more opportunity to do this.
    The 24 route serves a lot of pensioners and there are not many seats on the lower level.
    There is absolutely no need to have two staircases on a bus.

  • Rickola

    What on earth is the point of the rear platform if you are forbidden to use it except at a bus stop? Happened to me twice today.

  • Wheelchair user

    Complete nightmare on the new 24 buses on Sunday 23 June. The wheelchair ramps do not work and had to be manually retracted by a ratchet set, we waited for another bus and the same thing happened, both were subsequently taken out of service. Two further drivers refused to allow us on and rudely telling us to wait for another bus. The drivers need to some serious customer service training and the mechanics need to check the disabled ramps before putting them out on the road.

  • http://londonist.com/ Dean Nicholas

    I’ve heard that TfL are going to have a word with Metroline about the over-officious policing of the rear platform.

  • chris

    Please cancel this bus. It is a disaster. The upper deck is claustrophobic with low ceilings and no opening windows.The ground floor is HOT too hot and again no windows to open. When the air con came on the noise was very loud and did not cool the bus. The seats on a plinth are too high. I could not access the window seat without clutching someones knee.Then old 24 was fine.

  • Meg

    Dreadful interior. No leg room for the elderly and disabled but looks good outside. Not running as frequently as the older ones and the seats are smaller and harder

  • Camille

    Omg this is a joke no windows and no air condfitioning that works.Past another which had broken down,what a surprise.Keep up with Ny and get air con everywhere.

    • EastLondonGuy

      …Agreed.

      Windows that open are a MUST!!

      Claustrophobic Buses!
      The driver gets air and the conductor gets air: but the passengers don’t.

      • Nick

        You’re a bit of a stuck record, matey.
        FWIW, I loathe windows that open on buses, so you don’t speak for me when you claim that all Londners want them.
        I’ve been using the new 24 during rush hour for the last few days and find it works well.

        • EastLondonGuy

          …Eat your words! (gobble-gobble)

          See articles in Evening Standard 5th July 2013 onward:

          Meltdown on the Boris bus: air-con cock-up leaves passengers sweltering in 30C

          - Air-con faults and windows that don’t open on £354,000 buses

          - Vehicles hailed by Mayor as ‘brilliant feat of engineering’
          ;)

          • EastLondonGuy

            I really do hope they fix this because deep down I am a fan of these buses and routemasters in general

      • Nick

        Also, I am puzzled by these cries of “claustrophobia”. I suffer quite badly from claustrophobia – that’s why I’m using the bus instead of the tube during rush hour – and haven’t found even a hint of it on the new 24.

  • Mitch Bee

    These buses are absolutely horrid. Claustraphobic interiors, extremely hot inside (good for winter only), and does not one thing the current generation Wright/Alexander Dennis/Scania/Volvo buses can do at half (or more) of the cost this vanity project for Boris Johnson can offer and do it Better! Just shows when a Tory dabbles in public transport and knows absolutely nothing about it except dewy eyed nostalgia for a bus type that should’ve been gone by 1980 this is the result it’s not what is needed and not what London council tax payers should be paying for. Does NB4L make my so called high frequency services run better? – no I sometimes wait 20-25 minutes for two buses that should operate 8-10 min and 12-15 min frequencies because London Buses stitch up contracts with particular operators. Does it make Countdown more reliable? – no way so maybe if Mr Johnson actually knew something about improving bus provision he’d do things which made it more reliable and improved what we have no rather than a vanity project we don’t need. Personally I don’t care what type of bus it is as long as it’s reliable, runs on time and clean. Final comment the ONLY reason Johnson withdrew bendies was due to his pet middle/upper class cycling chums who think anything/everything (including pedestrians) are in their way of achieving a record time akin to the Tour de France got wiped out when riding within inches of them. If they had some manners not many would’ve done. But these cyclists have absolutely no manners especially to pedestrians. BTW I don’t own/drive a car!

    • EastLondonGuy

      Claustrophobic

      I don’t even suffer from claustrophobia but if you are on the bus and start looking around it starts to creep in… The buses are Claustrophobic! No air, poor air circulation and an insufficient air conditioning system that just makes noise to give you false hope of air. They need to add windows that open: the on board air conditioning as poor.

      This view is from an initial fan of the buses and their exterior

  • Spencer

    Seen on the M1 driving south in June, I was going north so could not see the numbers, were 2 new buses for London both showing on the front blinds, 16 to Marble Arch!
    Is there something we should be told?

  • Moaner

    I am so disappointed in the new 24 bus. It’s boiling hot, airless and – worst of all – smelly. No air circulation can shift these smells. The seats are shallow – they remind me of seats in Victorian theatres, build for people of a smaller average size. Nice to have ‘conductors’ to chat to about how awful the buses are.
    Oh – and the back of the bus looks like Hitler.

  • http://Donald2000.blogspot.com TigerDonald2000

    I have tried the new 24 bus but agree with the commentators which said that it was a little bit claustrophobic. Also there was a long way to walk from Victoria Station to get the bus in Victoria Street. The actual journey to the RFH was extremely slow and aggravated by the phlethora of people on the streets in Camden Market. Far too many people seemed to want to get on the bus even for a Sunday and I could not readily identify what the advantage of the bus really was. Coming from a background whereby I was a bus afficionado in the 1960′s with the original Routemaster this was a very real disappointment to me.

  • Carl Sanders

    Fri 9 Aug : 15.20hrs approx : Travelled on this today; Awful!
    a. Bus that ignored those at the bus stop on the other side of the road
    and did not bother to stop reg no. LTZ 1036.
    b. The bus that was not going to stop outside of Tesco was present at the same time as Reg no. LTZ1036.

    1. The top two outside front seats view is now blocked by a window strut and a black exterior protection rod that the older buses did not have, dreadful design.

    2. The return journey was taken from Tottenham Ct road outside of Tesco Metro. On waiting one no.24 bus was across the other side of the road and sped past to avoid traffic. There was hardly anyone on the bus and we had been waiting for one. At the same time a no. 24 further down the road was noted, the road was heavily congested and it was noted the this driver started to pull out of the bus lane to drive off without stopping either. It was only by going into the road in front of the bus and asking why it was not stopping at the bus stop.

    3. I rarely have to catch the bus, but each time there is a problem, like stopping half way to a destination and being informed to get the next bus behind. The service is appalling! As for wasting money on these buses, grief an enthusiastic 6th former would come up with a more intelligent design!

    Needs sorting out Boris, big waste of money for sure!

  • tommy

    Hi All,

    Does anyone know if there are screens on these buses?

    Tommy