Routemaster bus emissions ‘not tested in diesel-only mode’

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.

Four hybrid buses with wireless charging technology will run on the Canning Town to Walthamstow route from next year

Hybrid Routemaster buses were first introduced on London’s roads in 2012

Labelled by TfL as “cleanest and greenest bus of its class” 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 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.”

A spokesman for TfL added today that there was “no purpose in testing the New Routemasters in non-hybrid mode because they are hybrid buses”.

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’”.

Tube strikes

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 possible”.

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.”


Notify of
Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Noel Lock
Noel Lock
8 years ago

Be interesting to see how they compare with Reading’s buses than run on carbon-neutral certified bio-methane. Any bets?

8 years ago
Reply to  Noel Lock

Taking a educated guess since the buses are using natural gas/methane ( the fact it carbon-neutral certified bio-methane is irrelevant) this is cleaner burning (more of it turn to co2 + water) than diesel fuel (compared to particulates aka soot) in addition due to a diesel engines run hotter and at higher pressures (thats how they ignite the fuel without spark plugs) this however causes Nitrogen in the air to form Nitrogen dioxide.

The real question is who in their right mind thought the dieselisation of private cars was a good idea further more why are London buses still using diesel instead of LPG (which Chicago has done since at least the 1950s) or even better we could have use electricity via trolley buses or my preferred solution the modern wireless version Online Electric Vehicle –

Help us break the news – share your information, opinion or analysis
Back to top