Hop-off: Safety fears cripple Boris Johnson's 'new Routemasters'

Boris Johnson unveiling designs for his new Routemaster-style bus
Boris Johnson unveiling designs for his new Routemaster-style bus
Adam Bienkov By

Londoners are being blocked from hopping on and off Boris Johnson's multimillion pound 'new Routemaster' buses because of health and safety fears.

The London mayor promised to restore the "hop-on and hop-off" facility to London's buses during his first mayoral election campaign.

Millions of pounds were spent in the design and construction of these buses.

In a speech to the Conservative party conference last year, he applauded his decision to bring back the facility "that was so wrongly taken away by the health and safety fiends"

However, Politics.co.uk can reveal that the 'open rear platforms' on the buses are being routinely closed to all passengers due to safety fears, with some remaining permanently closed to the public.

Concerns over people falling out the back of the bus has meant supervisors have been stationed on the rear platforms at all times they remain open.

Because of the substantial cost of this, the 'open platforms' of the new buses are being shut to all passengers for days on end, with some being shut for good.

According to data released under Freedom of Information, the rear platforms on all of the 'new buses for London' remain closed throughout the evening.

The rear platforms also remain closed throughout the weekends on all but one one route.

And on another route, the platforms have been permanently closed by Transport for London (TfL) due to health and safety concerns.

Passengers are now prevented from using the rear platforms on Route 148 at all times, because of a lack of staff available to supervise their use.

However, the data released by TfL may be underestimating the extent of the problem.

Passengers on the buses are supposed to be able to alight in between stops.

However, many passengers have reported being prevented from doing so by staff who physically block their exit.

TfL deny this is their official policy.

However, TfL's current "conditions of carriage" for passengers states that "on our bus services, you must board or alight from the vehicle only at official bus stops."

This is believed to have caused some confusion for staff operating the new buses.

A TfL spokesperson insisted that it was down to passengers to assess when they could use the rear platforms.

"The open rear platform is designed to give our passengers choice when they can alight but they should only use it when they feel it is safe to do so," they said.

Johnson's new bus has been plagued with problems since it was launched two years ago.

Faulty air conditioning and a decision not to include openable windows on the top deck have led to sweltering conditions on the buses.

Johnson has admitted that conditions on the bus are sometimes akin to a "bikram yoga style sauna".

As we revealed last year, Wrightbus, who manufacture the buses, threatened to take legal action to prevent the publication of a book highlighting some of the design faults of the vehicles.


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