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Following a Freedom of Information request to Transport for London, it has been disclosed that all New Routemasters are to be modified to allow the driver to open the front doors only forcing passengers to board through the front entrance door.
Currently the doors are set up to open on one control button only, but due to high fare evasion on these vehicles TfL have agreed to have the whole fleet of 1,000 buses modified.
A separate front door control button will be installed in the cab "thus enabling the front door opening signal to be decoupled from the mid and rear door opening signal"
Following trials with a front door only boarding scheme on Route 8 and N8 it was confirmed that fare evasion dropped sharply. It is estimated that £3.6 million is lost each year on fare evasion on New Routemasters and as a result the whole fleet will be modified to force passengers to board from the front only
TfL have declined to disclose costs of the scheme. They hope to have the conversions completed by early 2020 but the closure and subsequent takeover of Wrightbus will have had an effect on the final dates.
Originally the New Routemasters operated with the rear door open and
with a member of staff who supervised the platform area
Originally conductors were carried on the vehicles when new. The conductors were dispensed with to reduce operating costs. On routes 9,10,11,24,38 and 390 around £10 million per year was saved by withdrawal of conductors.
This happened at a time when TfL's direct income from central Government was reducing and TfL was moving to be an entirely self-funding public body.
According to answers received in the freedom from information document TfL say that they have no further plans to purchase new buses with three doors and two staircases.
Also when asked about the withdrawal of the bendy buses on the grounds of reducing fare evasion TfL said that the decision was made based on a Mayoralty priority.
This article first appeared on www.focustransport.org
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