A decision to order 30 more New Routemaster buses has been criticised by Liberal Democrats on the London Assembly.
The buses are being bought by Transport for London in order to allow manufacturers Wrightbus to keep open production lines ahead of a decision on whether to buy a more substantial number of the vehicles.“The New Routemasters are incredibly expensive to both purchase and run and they fall far short of the environmental standards of 100% electric buses.”
Papers being discussed by TfL’s Finance and Policy Committee on Thursday say: “Placing an order now will enable Wrightbus to maintain the operation of one of the two current production lines, which keeps open a more cost effective option for purchasing additional vehicles, if TfL chooses to do so.
“If both production lines were to close, it would increase the cost of any subsequent order due to the need to remobilise production.”
Any decision to increase orders beyond the 30 proposed in the papers is likely to be taken by Mayor Boris Johnson’s successor who will be elected in May.
When the New Routemaster was first unveiled Mr Johnson and TfL suggested there would be strong interest from both domestic and international bus operators for the vehicles.
Despite this initial optimism no orders have been placed by customers other than TfL.
The Mayor’s critics have blamed the vehicles’ £350,000 price tag for the lack of interest, saying that cheaper alternatives are already available.
Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the Liberal Democrat group on the London Assembly, said the need for TfL to underwrite Wrightbus’ operating costs “is clear evidence that no one is interested in buying these buses”.
She added: “The New Routemasters are incredibly expensive to both purchase and run and they fall far short of the environmental standards of 100% electric buses.
“London is falling behind other cities in the adoption of electric buses due to the Mayor’s obsession with the expensive New Routemaster bus.”