Mayor answers to London

New Bus

[Supplementary question]

Question number2893/2012
Meeting date17/10/2012

Question by Caroline Pidgeon

I want to pick up on some of the points that Darren [Johnson] has been making, Mr Mayor. You claim that this is going to be the cleanest, greenest bus, but on a number of air quality measures your bus is 56% more polluting than a regular Volvo diesel bus that we see on the streets of London. So is your bus really going to be the greenest bus that this city ever sees?

Answer by Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Well, yes it is, and your figures are, I am afraid, Caroline, uncharacteristically -- well actually not uncharacteristically because all too often your figures are wrong.

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): They are not my figures, Mr Mayor.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): The authorised TfL figures are that, on nitrogen oxide the diesel bus emits 1,295 grams per kilometre, while this bus will emit under half that figure.

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): Well Mike Weston, TfL’s Bus Operations Director, in a presentation on 31 May showed that the new bus for London will be considerably more polluting in the area particulate matter than a diesel Volvo bus, so it is from TfL’s own figures. There are also issues around the vehicle weight, which is supposed to make buses more fuel efficient, but your new bus for London is 750 kilograms heavier than the most common hybrid. Have you not failed, really, to have the greenest bus that you claim to have?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Which makes it all the more staggering that is can deliver mileage figures of 8.6 miles per gallon. It is perfectly true that it is a big and beautiful machine because it has two staircases for easy access and I think it is a completely astonishing feat of engineering. I cannot comment on your particulate figures, I do not have them before me, but they sound extremely suspect to me.

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): Well I think they are from your own figures, Mr Mayor.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): You have, in carbon dioxide (CO2), which is --

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): It is particulate matter I am referring to.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): -- which people have challenged me on before.In CO2 it emits less than half the CO2 of a current diesel bus and under half of the nitrous oxide. So I do not know where your figures are coming from on particulates.

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): From Transport for London.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): They sound most unlikely. It is perfectly true that the bus is big, but that is because it need to be capacious and needs to have swift access and egress, and that is why it has two staircases.

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): Well I suggest you might want to pick that point up with Transport for London. Let us look at the building of these buses, because you only have one company, Wrightbus, who are going to be building these. Are you confident they have the capacity to be able to fulfil this contract? You said at your conference that this factory has received the biggest single order in its history.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): This is the kind of Liberal Democrat defeatism that I thought we had forgotten. This is a British company that has already delivered a fantastic new machine, it is using cutting edge British technology, employing British people and already, on the streets of London, thanks to their efforts, enterprise and ingenuity, you have a bus that is cleaner and greener than any previous bus, and you are now seriously telling me that we should be hesitant about giving the contract to a British company? Do we want to give it back to some German firm? I think that would be completely wrong.

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): Mr Mayor, absolutely not, I am just saying, are you confident that they are able to fulfil this order, the largest order you said they have ever had, when they have just also had an order for 550 buses for Singapore? Are you confident? You could have just answered yes to that.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): The answer is yes, of course it is, but I was surprised that you should even ask.

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): For clarity on the number of buses, you have said it is 608 today, I have heard 598 from TfL. You say it is 608 buses you have ordered. When will we start to see them being rolled out onto the streets of London?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I thought you had a [later] question; we are rolling together these questions? The first new route to be wholly populated by the new bus because at the moment I have to admit they are a rare and heart stopping sight when you see them but the first route that is going to be entirely populated by the new bus for London will be, I think, April next year and then on throughout the year. I can give you the rough production timetable.

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): By which month are we going to start seeing them roll out?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): You are going to see the first route that is wholly populated by the new bus from April next year, from memory, and the peak of the production scale is I think 2014, with about 208 buses being built in that year.

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): So we are going to be seeing what, ten a month or something?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): About 150 being built next year. I can give you the figures later on if you want.

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): I think the detail of that schedule would be very helpful. Finally, you have picked up the issue of costs and you say it is going to be very similar to a hybrid.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Here we go.

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): Hybrid buses cost around £300,000 each. The talk of the bus industry is that this new bus for London is more likely going to cost £330,000 each. Will you promise, today, that you will publish exactly how much each of these buses is costing Londoners?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Of course, yes, and the deal that we are able to do with Wrightbus will actually be considerably cheaper and better value for Londoners, because instead of paying under some private finance initiative scheme for the rental cost of the fleet (which is basically what happens at the moment) we will be able to own the buses direct, without thereby incurring the risk premium, which is about 136, which runs into the tens of millions in bus contracts.

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): You will publish the figures, Mr Mayor?

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I will give you the figures for the production schedules: 208 in 2014, 247 in 2015, 52 in 2016.

Caroline Pidgeon (AM): Lovely, thank you Mr Mayor.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): 93 by the end of next year.

Jennette Arnold OBE (Chair): Before I bring in Assembly Member Tracey, can we just note that Assembly Member Pidgeon has brought forward her question 2836, which asks whether you are confident about the delivery.

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): Yes.

Jennette Arnold OBE (Chair): Can I remind Members that it is not for them to bring their questions forward and I would like conversations with each Member

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): I am happy to answer it.

Jennette Arnold OBE (Chair): You might be happy, but I am not!

Boris Johnson (Mayor of London): You are in charge!

Jennette Arnold OBE (Chair): Can I call upon Assembly Member Tracey?

Main question

Darren Johnson


> 1 Caroline Pidgeon
2Richard Tracey