TfL reveals cost of New Bus for London fleet

TfL will buy 600 vehicles and pay the salaries of the second crew member. Photo: TfL
TfL will buy 600 vehicles and pay the salaries of the second crew member. Photo: TfL
Transport for London is to spend £212m buying 600 of the Mayor’s New Bus for London vehicles.

In September the TfL board agreed to purchase the buses, deviating from the standard practice of bus operators supplying their own vehicles.

Board members were advised that TfL’s mandated use of the buses and the inability to deploy them outside London meant accounting rules would require them to be considered TfL assets even if operators purchased them directly.

The average cost of each bus over the life of the contract, which runs until 2016, is £354,500.

TfL today claimed that the decision to bulk purchase the buses had allowed it “to get a lower unit price” than if operators had bought them directly.

However the announced price contradicts previous statements by Mayor Boris Johnson.

In October 2012, Liberal Democrat Assembly Member Caroline Pidgeon questioned the Mayor over industry speculation that the bus was “going to cost £330,000 each.”

In response Mr Johnson said: “the deal that we are able to do with Wrightbus will actually be considerably cheaper and better value for Londoners”.

In September 2009 the Mayor told Green party AM Jenny Jones: “If you look at the current cost of a bus, £250,000, roughly speaking, buys you a new bendy bus. We think that we can get a wonderful new bus for London which will be considerably cleaner, greener, lighter and exactly what this city needs for much less than that”.

TfL says the cost “includes inflation, technical upgrades and mandatory changes including the legal requirement to fit Euro 6 engines to all new vehicles from 2014.”.

However it excludes TfL’s estimated £37m bill for underwriting the cost of the second crew member needed to supervise use of the vehicle’s open rear platform.

In a statement TfL claimed the buses would produce “around four times less” PM and NOx emissions that “the fleet average hybrid bus, and 20 per cent less CO2”, but failed to provide specific emissions figures.

The first production buses will enter service later this year on route 24.

Each vehicle will remain in London for its entire working life, expected to be “at least” 14 years.

Announcing the purchase price, the Mayor said: “We will ensure these buses more than earn their keep over the next few years.  By keeping them in harness in the capital for the entirety of their useful life, we will be extracting every last drop of value out of them.”

Commenting on the announcement, Assembly Member Darren Johnson said: “The New Bus for London is an expensive vanity project which the next Mayor will abandon as an outdated and polluting waste of money. Londoners’ simply can’t afford the higher fares that will come from paying £37m a year to bus assistants whose only real job is to stop people falling off the rear platform when it is open.

“The reason why these buses will spend their entire life in London is because no one else wants them. That is also the reason why TfL have had to buy the buses themselves, at a premium rate, rather than let the operators have all the upfront costs and risks.

On the issue of emissions, Mr Johnson said: “The Mayor has boasted about the green credentials of these new buses, but they will all have to be retrofitted at the end of next year and made less polluting in order to keep up with the higher standards for all new buses being produced throughout Europe. The Mayor has also refused to come clean on the fuel consumption of the bus by publishing the on the road data they have.”


  1. Helen says

    Boris Johnson has recently been claiming (wrongly) in public that TfL retired the 50+-years-old Routemaster vehicles due to “Health and Safety” yet his new bus requires a Health & Safety Operative whose dole duty is to supervise the open back door.

    The second member of staff is *not* a conductor – he or she does not check passes or travelcards or sell tickets or even give the starting signal to the driver. The second member of crew doubles staffing costs which are the most expensive part of bus operation.

  2. Saif says

    Is there a running total of TfL’s inability to match the costs the Mayor has set them. They seem to be a bit rubbish at it. This is over £100k extra per bus – (let us assume that it is not less than 250)! “Much less” should be >10% – so he thought, maybe genuinely, that he could get this new bus *bought*from a private supplier for £225k. Only the 55% more PER BUS in reality.

    It could not in anyway be the Mayor’s fault for not understanding economics on every single project. He is very clever you know – we are always told this.

    What he said –
    Buses: Much less than [£250k per bus]. Actually 55% more.
    Bikes: No cost. Actually infintely more expensive.
    Cable Car: no cost. Actually infintely more expensive.

  3. Taxpayer says

    The staff will then run into trouble when they get assaulted as they will have had no training
    How many assaults on drivers ?
    Still 24 route Pimlico -Hampstead wonder why they chose that pretty little route ? Cannot think ?

  4. Crouch End says

    Bring back the bendies! For all their misgivings they enabled us to get from AtoB, paying less. Bin the Borismaster. Too jazzy for a public utility vehicle. Ok keep one or two for the tourists now they are here.