Mayor answers to London
Question by Kit Malthouse
When you initiate the competition for the new Routemaster would you please consider asking the entrants to specifically consider alternatives to hybrid engines, namely hydrogen engines? There is a strong strain of thought that says hybrid technology is a temporary solution pending the development of new heavy-duty hydrogen engines and a promulgation of the supply of hydrogen throughout London. What I would hate to see is for you commission a new Routemaster with hybrid technology that then becomes redundant and ends up costing Londoners more within a short space of time.
The other aspect of course which many, many Londoners, particularly in my constituency, will be concerned about is noise. The new Volvo buses that are being used throughout London cause a massive amount of noise. I should declare an interest as I live on the route of the 88 bus. Of course hydrogen engines produce no noise at all and operate completely silently as well as having no emissions. I would urge you to consider possibly allowing entrants to take more time around the introduction of a bus that may prove more cost effective and better for the environment and provide less noise in perhaps a slightly longer timeframe.
Answer by Boris Johnson (1st Term)
As I said, I think, in answer to Darren, what I am determined to have is a green clean bus and hybrid technology is certainly one of the things we are looking at. The price at the moment of hydrogen buses is very high but it may be that it comes down.
Certainly one of the issues now and one of the reasons why I think actually a new bus design makes sense for London is that the cost of fuel makes it very, very expensive to propel around our streets these buses which are so heavy. The noise that you are hearing is the noise of a motor trying to drive a very, very heavy bus. We can, I think, do much, much better to lighten our buses and thereby propel them more cheaply. That is going to be one of the advantages I hope of the new generation Routemaster.
Val, I think your constituents and people on Route 73 will love it when it comes as I think I never tired of saying to you last week. They are not going to wait. It is going to be tremendous.