Better I thought to reflect on the introduction of the new fleet one week on.
Older readers will know that in the mass conversion programmes of the 1960s and 1970s, overnight changes were normal. More recently we have generally made progressive conversions of new types of bus which has meant that all the usual niggling faults, staff unfamiliarity and other teething troubles went unnoticed.
On 22nd June we launched thirty revolutionary vehicles and it was thanks to the tremendous efforts by Metroline that everything ran as well as it did.
With the new three door/two staircase arrangement, passengers too had to get used to the vehicles meaning that journeys were a bit slower than usual and there were a few gaps. As you might expect, with hardly any miles on the clock, the vehicles too had teething problems but this time – with the Mayor’s personal project in the spotlight – it was headline news.
Suffice to say, one week on the service is improving rapidly, the staff and passengers have got the hang of it all, and the buses are settling down. In fact the faults per vehicle are actually no worse than with any other type of new bus – just far more newsworthy.
Passengers love the new product – they like the Customer Assistants and the ease of speedy boarding. People still stand and stare at the bus as it progresses through Central London. Unseen of course is its tremendous fuel consumption and low emissions.
The last time route 24 was subjected to this type of shock – the introduction of London’s first rear-engined double-deckers on 7th November 1965 – nearly half of the fleet was being given roadside assistance on the first day and the service never really recovered.
But this is 2013. Our new bus is in 24-hour service delivering a promise made by the Mayor and for which the majority of Londoners voted in favour just over a year ago. And there are more to come.....
Top photo in 1960s Pimlico by Mike Beamish