By Gemma Childe on 1st Mar 2012
The new Routemaster bus has taken to London’s streets, with some hailing its green credentials and others claiming it is a waste of money.
The red double-decker, modelled on the classic Routemaster, is 40 per cent more fuel efficient and much quieter than the diesel alternative.
It began serving the 38 route between Victoria and Hackney on Monday.
Transport for London (TfL) says the bus is 15 per cent more fuel efficient than existing hybrid buses. In tests the vehicle emitted only 640 grams per kilometre of carbon dioxide and 3.96 g/km of oxides of nitrogen.
But while it promises to be more popular than the capital’s much-maligned ‘bendy’ buses, the new Routemaster does not come cheap. Each costs £1.4m, compared with about £190,000 for a standard double-decker.
The first bus will be followed by a further seven prototypes by May this year, at a cost of £11.37m.
In an open letter to London mayor Boris Johnson, the Labour MP for Tottenham David Lammy said: "Riding this bus is surely the most expensive bus ticket in history.
"With 62 seats at a cost of £1.4m, the cost per seat is £22,580. At £22,695, you can buy a brand new 3 Series BMW."
The Green Party’s London mayoral candidate Jenny Jones pointed out that of the 800 new buses planned for 2012/13 just 52 will be hybrids, fewer than entered service the previous financial year.
She also accused Johnson of dropping his pledge that all new buses would be hybrids from 2012 onwards.
However, Johnson launched a staunch defence of the buses, calling them "the very best in British design, engineering and manufacture".
He said: "But it's not just a pretty face. The green innards of this red bus mean it is twice as fuel efficient as a diesel bus and the most environment-friendly of its kind.
"When ordered in greater numbers it will make a significant economic contribution to the manufacturing industries, while also helping deliver a cleaner, greener and more pleasant city."