You may know them as ‘Boris Buses’: the New Routemaster double-deckers commissioned back in 2009 by our former mayor (current whereabouts unknown). Based on the iconic old-school Routemasters, with their ‘hop on, hop off’ open back platforms, the new buses were introduced at massive expense and have had an equally massive load of problems. The air con malfunctioned, the batteries cut out, and issues with safety and staffing meant those open platforms were quickly closed off. Now there’s a fun new issue: fare evasion!
At the moment, you can board a New Routemaster in three different places: at the front by the driver, in the middle or at the back. With neither of the latter two doors supervised by staff, fare-dodging is apparently rife, just like on the noughties ‘bendy buses’ that the New Routemasters replaced. This loophole is costing TfL more than £3.6m every year.
Now the powers that be are taking action. From this year, you’ll no longer be able to hop on a New Routemaster through the back or middle doors. You’ll have to walk past the driver and beep in, just like on every other bus.
The lockdown starts on routes 55 and 267 on January 25, and will roll out across all other routes through the year. Passengers with wheelchairs and pushchairs will still be able to board via the middle doors, like they can on other kinds of bus.
In short: fare-dodgers (you know who you are) have killed off one of the few remaining good things about London’s most extravagant buses. And this is why we can’t have nice things.