Mayor Boris Johnson and Transport for London are facing calls to halt the roll-out of the New Bus for London after a women was left fighting for her life today after falling off the back of one.
The unnamed female passenger is reported to have fallen head first from the rear platform of the double decker in Kentish Town at 7.20am this morning.
Paramedics treated her at the scene before taking her to St Mary’s Hospital in Paddington.
The introduction of a new bus with rear platform formed part of Mayor Johnson’s 2008 election manifesto.
SInce being introduced earlier this year, the fleet of new buses have attracted complaints about poorly working air cooling and have been involved in a series of accidents.
Last month one the buses collided with a line of stationary traffic the junction with Ebury Bridge Road in Chelsea. A police investigation into the incident is still underway.
It is understood some bus operators were unhappy with the presence of the open rear platform, designed to evoke memories of the classic Routemaster bus, amid concerns of passenger safety.
As first revealed by MayorWatch last year, TfL eventually agreed to meet the full costs of employing a second crew member to supervise the platform’s use.
Although the staff are commonly thought to be conductors, they neither collect nor check fares.
Instead their duties include “ensuring customers board and alight the vehicle in safety” and providing assistance to passengers.
600 of the vehicles are due to enter service by 2016 but London Assembly Member Darren Johnson has called on the Mayor to halt the roll-out in light of today’s accident.
Assembly Member Johnson said: “One of the main reasons why hop-on hop-off buses were phased out of London’s transport system years ago was that they are not appropriate for a modern, accessible public transport system.
“The second staff member whose job it is to guard the back platform comes at a cost of £62,000 per bus per year – £37m in total across the 600 buses in operation – but even with this extra staff member, a passenger fell onto the road and suffered serious injuries.
“In light of today’s tragic incident as well as concerns raised by disability and other campaign groups, the Mayor should order an immediate halt to the production of these vehicles. Londoners’ safety must come first and there are serious doubts hanging over the Mayor’s flagship bus today.”
Mike Weston, TfL’s Director of Buses, said: “At around 07:20 this morning (Friday 4 October) a passenger was injured after alighting from the rear platform of a New Bus for London on route 24. The incident occurred at Prince of Wales Road, at the junction with Malden Crescent, NW5.
“Our first concern is, of course, for the passenger and we can confirm the emergency services attended the scene. There will be a thorough investigation into this incident.”