London tax and fare payers will have to incur the cost of hundreds of Boris Johnson’s New Bus For London buses according to Transport for London papers.
In an FOI response to this site TfL previously said its contract with manufacturers Wright Bus “allows for either TfL to purchase the buses and make them available to route operators (if appropriate) or for Wrights to supply them to our operators at capped prices.”
However papers for a TfL board meeting now say operator ownership “is not the most advantageous in the case of NBfL.”
The papers also say that because there is only one provider of the bus, the cost of buying the vehicles “will score against TfL’s borrowing capacity” and their value “included as an asset on TfL’s balance sheet regardless of whether it is purchased by operating companies or TfL.”
Board members are also advised that: “The uniqueness of NBfL will also disfavour the financial deal that operating companies can obtain with the leasing companies”.
Members are therefore being asked to authorise the purchase of 600 buses by TfL which would then be made available to operators.
Salaries for the so-called conductors on the buses who will supervise use of the rear platform but not collect or check fares are also to be met by TfL.
TfL had previously insisted responsibility for these additional staff would rest with the bus operators but the papers now say operators will merely be responsible for recruiting the extra staff while TfL will pay all associated costs including salaries.
Commenting on the proposals for TfL to buy the buses, Green Party London Assembly member Darren Johnson said: “The Mayor has called the New Bus for London a world class piece of technology, but the problem is that no one outside of London is going to buy it. If Transport for London go ahead with this madness, then fares will have to rise to pay for the New Bus for London and investment will have to be cut in other projects. It is everything that we warned the Mayor would happen. By 2016, Londoners will be paying upto £37m a year for the extra staff on these buses.
“The Mayor intends to force operators to use this bus, making the contracts more expensive. They won’t be given an option to choose the best bus from the best manufacturer and the best price. So these extra costs will be carried by Transport for London and that means higher fares. He is having to buy these buses from a monopoly supplier, rather than at a competitive market rate and unlike all the other buses in London we won’t be able to get money back by selling them on to operators in the rest of the country.”