No testing of emissions from New Routemaster buses while in non-hybrid mode has ever been carried out by Transport for London (TfL), a Freedom of Information request has revealed
No testing of emissions from New Routemaster buses while in non-hybrid mode has ever been carried out by Transport for London (TfL), a Freedom of Information request has revealed.
Labelled by TfL as “cleanest and greenest bus of its classâ€? the New Routemasters – dubbed the Boris Bus – awere designed to be low emission vehicles by running mostly on electricity and only using the diesel generators when the batteries run flat.
However, last week TfL’s managing director of surface transport, Leon Daniels, admitted that 80 of the new electric-diesel hybrid Routemaster buses have been running solely on diesel generators rather than electric power due to problems with the batteries (see AirQualityNews.com story).
TfL said an improved battery design had been introduced on new buses and that any older batteries have since been repaired and replaced at no cost to the taxpayer, but it has faced criticism that the buses – first brought into service by the Mayor of London in 2012 – are overly-expensive and contribute to poor air quality.
The news prompted London Assembly Member Stephen Knight to submit a Freedom of Information (FOI) request to TfL about whether any emissions testing of the Routemasters had been carried out while operating on just diesel fuel, to which TfL confirmed yesterday (August 5) in response that there had not.
TfL’s response states: “We only hold hybrid mode emissions data, as the basis of the test is to assess the vehicle in its normal operating mode.â€?
A spokesman for TfL added today that there was “no purpose in testing the New Routemasters in non-hybrid mode because they are hybrid busesâ€?.
However, Mr Knight said the FOI response showed that TfL has “no understanding of the real levels of pollution created by the New Routemasters despite repeated claims that they are the ‘most-environmentally friendly bus of its kind’â€?.
The revelation comes as tube worker strikes hit the capital today (August 6), with 250 extra buses put on London’s roads by TfL to try and make up for the temporary closure of all Underground stations on the network.
As a result of the FOI request findings, Lib Dem Mr Knight has written to the Mayor, Boris Johnson, calling for emissions testing of the buses to be carried out “as a matter of urgency with the results made available to the public as soon as possibleâ€?.
Mr Knight said: “Time and time again the Mayor has claimed that the new Routemaster is the most environmentally friendly bus of its kind. Such a claim is simply nonsense if the buses are not operating as intended and relying entirely on their dirty diesel engines.
“Londoners have paid a fortune for the new Routemasters. At the very least they deserve to know how polluting they really are. The Mayor should stop making fanciful claims about the new Routemasters and instead ensure a full evaluation is undertaken of the actual levels of pollution that the buses are creating.â€?