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.