Has the final wheel come off Boris Johnson’s 'New Routemaster' policy? The good thing about it was that it came with a promise to restore conductors to the routes currently served by the bendy buses Johnson wants to replace: a bus with a conductor is a friendlier bus, a friendlier bus is a
safer bus and so on. Problem is, Johnson has no grip on the economics of the plan, even weeks after he first came unstuck on the subject.
To cut a long and sometimes deeply embarrassing story short, The Blond’s troubles began way back in February when he told Vanessa Feltz it would cost a mere £8 million to staff the existing bendy routes with conductors when, in fact, it would cost several times that if existing passenger
capacity were to be maintained. Moreover, when estimates compiled by TfL—later broadly confirmed by bus consultancy TAS—suggested that the full “new Routemaster” pledge would cost a good £100 million to put into effect, Team Boris complained that you couldn’t put a price on a bus that has yet to be invented.
Fair enough, if a little hazy. But then, earlier this week, Johnson was ambushed in Edgware—imagine!—by an undercover Ken Livingstone supporter to whom he disclosed that, in fact, he did have an idea what the price of the 'New Routemaster' policy would be—round about £100 million, and therefore not so very different from the TfL figures he was so quick to rubbish only a few weeks ago. New Routemaster is starting to look like a write-off to Londonist—and that’s just a little bit sad.
By Dave Hill