New Routemaster ‘Boris bus’ breaks down in Kentish Town on launch day
- Credit: Archant
Transport bosses were left red-faced after the new “Boris bus” broke down on its first day on the streets of Camden.
A new Routemaster ran into trouble just hours after its much-hyped launch on bus route No 24 on Saturday and became stranded for hours in the middle of a busy junction.
The faulty £350,000 double-decker broke down in Kentish Town at about 2pm, where Kentish Town Road and Prince of Wales Road meet, and remained stuck straddling the junction into the evening.
Passer-by Alistair McIntosh, 51, a company director, said: “It’s no wonder that Boris cycles everywhere. It’s not a bus, it’s an installation.
“Harold Wilson and Ted Heath gave us Concorde, Mrs Thatcher gave us the M25 and the Channel Tunnel, and the coalition and Boris can’t even get a bus to work.”
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The bus was one of a fleet of 32 introduced on the No 24 route, from Pimlico to Hampstead Heath via Camden Town, as it became the first route to be served solely by the new Routemaster at the weekend.
It was returning to the garage when it stopped running, causing hours of traffic chaos and backing up a line of No 46 buses that could not squeeze out of Prince of Wales Road.
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Despina Neophetou, 28, of Spring Place, Kentish Town, said: “It’s just sitting in the middle of the road. It doesn’t give a good impression about them on the first day.”
An oily slick leaked from the back of the vehicle onto the road. Transport for London (TfL) said the breakdown was due to a “steering issue”.
The new Routemaster cost £11million to develop and is one of the Mayor of London’s flagship projects.
Each bus is priced at £354,000 and “conductors” who keep watch on the open platform cost about £60,000 a year.
Rass Farddoust, 29, an estate agent at Oliver’s Town, on the corner of Kentish Town Road, said: “Where’s all the money going? They’re overpriced for what you’re getting.”
It was the second Routemaster launch to run less than smoothly.
The iconic open-back of the new bus had to be kept shut after the door malfunctioned on the first official journey on route No 38 from Victoria to Hackney in February last year.
Mike Weston, TfL operations director, said: “As you would expect, with any significant service change involving a fleet of new buses there have been a couple of teething problems and we worked hard to minimise the impact of these on our passengers.
“We are pleased with the way the conversion of route No 24 has gone and the initial response from passengers has been very positive.”