Bus operators will be solely responsible for any additional insurance premiums arising out of their use of the New Bus for London and the mandatory use of the open rear platform.
The bus was a 2008 manifesto commitment by Mayor Boris Johnson who has previously hailed it as “the latest, greatest masterpiece of British engineering and design”.
The Mayor has predicted that “600” of the buses will eventually be seen in the capital’s streets.
Currently just eight prototypes are undergoing in-service trials.
The design includes a rear entry platform reminiscent of the iconic Routemaster which TfL have said will be open for most of the day.
Despite mandating the presence and use of the open platform, TfL has distanced itself from any liability arising from its use.
Responding to an FOI request about discussions with insurers over any such liability, TfL said its contractors “are responsible for such matters” and confirmed it “has not purchased any additional insurance cover in this regard.”
Operators will also have sole responsibility for recruiting and paying the second crew member needed to supervise use of the rear platform.
This potentially threatens to increase costs for operators who may be forced to use the New Bus in order to help the Mayor deliver on his target.
TfL declined to provide what advice it has had over mandating the use of a single bus on future route tenders.
However it did reveal the contract with prototype manufacturers Wrightbus “provides that TfL will have sufficient intellectual property rights to enable other manufacturers to supply vehicles of this style in the event that their usage represents a material proportion of the London bus fleet.”
TfL’s response also says: “The contract 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.”