Transport for London (TfL) has announced that it will spend £2m upgrading the new Routemaster buses with windows that actually open.
Since the first summer of its release in 2012, the awkwardly-named New Bus for London (or NB4L, or Boris Bus, or new Routemaster or whatever else you want to call it), has come under criticism for its less than efficient air cooling, which has led to recorded temperatures in excess of 30 degrees. Passengers complained that the lack of opening windows exacerbated the problem.
It’s not rocket science to know that opening windows aren’t conducive to an efficient air cooling (not air conditioning, as a lot of people have described it), but combined with faults in the system it meant that in the summer, passengers were served up at their destination lightly baked with a glaze of perspiration.
TfL plan to spend the estimated £2m cost retrofitting 500 existing buses and installing opening windows at a further 300 still at the factory. London Assembly Labour transport spokesperson Val Shawcross said:
“With passengers enduring years of suffocating journeys on overheated buses, these upgrades will be welcomed. But the paying public has been left to fork out £2 million pounds for more upgrades to what was supposed to be a state of the art vehicle.”
Green Party member Darren Johnson also welcomes the improvements, but questions London Mayor Boris Johnson and TfL’s previous rejection of opening windows based on concern over extra emissions. Mr Johnson said:
“I will be questioning the Mayor about his previous claim that opening windows would overwork the air cooling system and cause more emissions to be pumped out – we need an assurance that this won’t happen.”
The Mayor faced further criticism earlier this year when batteries on a number of buses failed, which meant they were running on diesel more often than they should, thus negating any environmental advance gained from using hybrid engines.
Director of buses Mike Weston said:
“We’re pleased they’ve now been able to come up with an affordable and working design to install opening windows, which we anticipate will have been installed across our entire fleet by next summer.”
If that doesn’t guarantee us bad weather next summer, I don’t know what will.