The Anonymous Widower

Riding On A Battery-Electric Double-Deck Bus

This morning I rode on a battery-electric double-deck bus.

Some of these buses are russing on route 98 between Holborn and Willesden Garage, which includes a run down Oxford Street.

There’s more on the buses in this page on the Metroline web site.

I went upstairs and the experience was little different to that of a normal hybrid bus.

My Thoughts

My thoughts in various areas.

Design

It is a well-designed bus, that is easy to use for this seventy-year-old.

Passenger Experience

Travelling along Oxford Street, the passenger experience was equal to that of a New Routemaster, without the occasional low noise of the engine.

 

Performance Of The Bus

As we proceeded along Oxford Street, the performance of the bus, was very much in line with current hybrid buses.

The bus wasn’t full on the upper deck, but I suspect that the total weight of the passengers is very much lower than the weight of the battery, so this might mean that a full bus performs well compared with an empty bus.

Limited Space On The Lower Deck

There is one obvious problem and that is that the size of the battery reduces the number of seats downstairs.

As I said earlier, I doubt the weight of the passengers is a problem, but the available space, where they sit and stand could be.

Economics Of The Bus

The bus will obviously be expensive to purchase and to run, as batteries are expensive and need to be replaced every few years.

Coupled with the fact that capacity is smaller than current hybrid buses, which probably means more buses are needed to perform the required service, the economics of the buses may not be suitable for many routes.

I also wonder, if a battery-electric double-deck bus has better economics than a single-deck bus, as the extra weight of the top deck and the extra passengers is small compared to the weight of the battery.

But the economics will get better with improved battery technology.

The Marketing Advantages

BYD and Metroline could be  big winners here, as corporate videos and marketing material showing buses in Central London, can’t be a bad thing!

The Competition From Diesel Hybrid Buses

I believe that one competitor to the battery-electric bus will be the next generation of diesel hybrid buses.

Take the current modern hybrid buses like a New Routemaster or any other hybrid bus built in the last couple of years. These have a battery that can power the bus for perhaps a couple of miles.

As the battery is smaller, it can be squeezed into an unlikely space. On a New Routemaster, the diesel engine is under the back stairs and the battery is under the front stairs.

A technique called geo-fencing can be retro-fitted, which forbids the use of the buses diesel engine in sensitive areas, based on GPS technology.

So a route like London’s route 98 could work through the ULEZ on battery power and charge the battery between Edware Road station and Willesden Garage.

The Competition From Hydrogen Hybrid Buses

This will surely be similar to that from diesel hybrid buses.

  • Battery size will probably be as for a diesel hybrid bus.
  • As hydrogen doesn’t give out noxious emissions, this will be an advantage and you won’t need the geo-fencing.
  • But you will need to store the hydrogen.

As hydrogen technology improves, I feel that thehydrogen hybrid bus could become a formidable competitor.

The Competition From Converting Old Diesel Buses To Diesel Hybrid Buses

I talked about this in Arriva London Engineering Assists In Trial To Turn Older Diesel Engine Powered Buses Green.

Never underestimate good engineers with a good idea, that has a good financial payback.

Conclusion

There is going to be a lot of competition between the various technologies and the passengers, bus operators, London and London’s air will be big winners.

As all of this technology can be applied anywhere, other parts of the UK will benefit.

November 8, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Throwing The Baby Out With The Bathwater

I like the New Routemaster and I use them regularly as five of the routes running close to my house use the buses.

So when I saw that Wright SRM buses, which are based on the New Routemaster, were being trialled on Route 183, I had to take a ride.

I went between Golders Green and Kenton stations.

In my view the bus has three major design faults compared to the New Routemaster.

The Floor Is No Longer Flat

The New Routemaster has a completely flat floor, whereas this bus doesn’t.

I suspect that this is because the bus is based on a standard Volvo B5LH chassis to save money, whereas the New Routemaster used a custom design.

Front Entry Only

One of the great features of the New Routemaster is that you can get in at any door, as there are card readers on all doors.

Drivers take advantage of this and often seem to stop the bus, so passengers can board quickly.

This must mean that they keep to the timetable better!

The Bus Is Rather Gloomy Inside

I sat towards the back, as I often do on New Routemasters, but the bus is so gloomy, as there is no windows facing to the rear.

Conclusion

I very much feel that someone needs to design a better bus chassis, as the standard Volvo chassis means that a flat floor and a light and airy interior, which are so important in my view, seem to be impossible.

Wrightbus can do a lot better.

November 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

My Football Routine

I usually arrange my Saturday football around a schedule something like this.

  1. 09:00 Go to Islington Marks and Spencer, Boots and Chapel Market, as my grandmother would have done over a hundred years ago, to do my weekend shopping.
  2. 11:00 Listen to Fighting Talk on Radio 5.
  3. 12:45 Leave home and catch a bus to Liverpool Street.
  4. 13:30 Catch the train for Ipswich.
  5. 14:43 Arrive in Ipswich and walk to Portman Road
  6. 15:00 Watch the match.
  7. 17:09 Catch the train back from Ipswich.
  8. 18:30 Arrive back in London
  9. 19:00 Arrive back home.

Sometimes I vary the routine, by having lunch in Spitalfields before I get the train.

I should say that as I’m a coeliac, I find getting acceptable gluten-free food in Ipswich difficult, so I never eat anything in the town.

You might think what is wrong with my schedule.

It’s the dreaded Rail Replacement Buses, that seem to interrupt many weekends, when there is football at Ipswich.

The time taken by the buses means, I have to allow an extra ninety minutes over the normal rail journey.

I know there is a lot of work to do on the line, but why can’t it be done on days when there is no football. As a widower, who lives alone, I find it tiresome.

I’ve even talked to some Norwich supporters about this and they’re as angry as I am.

November 4, 2017 Posted by | Sport, Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Congestion Charge On Minicabs To Boost Buses

The title of this post is the same as an article in the Sunday Times.

As a non-driver, I don’t pay the Congestion Charge, but I do get fed up with both the mass of traffic and the pollution it causes in Central London. The former mainly for slowing the buses I use.

The article is saying the following.

  • The Charge will be levied on mini-cabs.
  • The Charge may be levied to 11 pm instead of 6 pm.
  • The Charge msy be levied on Saturdays.

Why not Sundays as well?

And surely the Western Extension should be reinstated!

October 29, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Arriva London Engineering Assists In Trial To Turn Older Diesel Engine Powered Buses Green

The title of this post, is the same as that of an article on the Arriva London web site.

This sums up the project.

A new idea to turn older diesel engine buses into much more environmentally friendly vehicles has been developed by Vantage Power Ltd based in Greenford, West London in association with Ensign Ltd, the largest reseller of buses in the UK.

The new unit will start trials in July, when two of Arriva London’s 2005, Volvo B7TL, Euro 3 buses, with Alexander Dennis bodies, VLA99 and VLA100 will resume service following their conversion. The trials are fully supported by TfL.

Effectively two twelve year old buses will become hybrids with new electric drive systems.

The objectives of the project are ambitious.

The new system will be tested to see how well it performs against its targets of 40% reduction in the use of fuel, 80%+ reduction in emissions, and a cost saving for the unit which is estimated to be 80% less than a new Hybrid bus.

They are also developing a technique called geo-fence technology. This is said.

This technology, uses GPS information combined with route information, and can enable the vehicle to ensure its batteries are at full charge before entering certain areas (such as the ULEZ), or past schools, or libraries, and upon entering these areas, the engine can shut itself down and the vehicle then operate as an almost silent ZEV (Zero Emission Vehicle).

So the buses get new hybrid drives, which work as battery buses in sensitive areas and London gets cleaner air. And Arriva London gets a cashback!

I wonder how many old buses can be converted into cleaner hybrids. This conversion was on a Volvo B7TL chassis, of which there were 790 in London alone.

I also wonder if London’s current hybrid buses can have the geo-fence technology applied.

Close to my house there are six London bus routes, that go into or through the ULEX; namely routes 21, 30, 38, 56, 76 and 141 of which the 21, 38 and 76 are New Routemasters, which are modern hybrid buses. In addition, the 141  is run by seven-year-old hybrid buses. These routes would all be candidates for geo-fence technology.

October 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Even Vauxhall Corsas Have 4G Wi-Fi

This is the case according to adverts at the side of the pitch in the England Slovakia game at Wembley tonight.

I don’t drive, so I don’t care, but it appears that this increasingly features on cars.

Bombardier have fitted this feature to Crossrail’s Class 345 trains, so will we see it increasingly fitted to all trains, taxis and buses?

It’ll certainly be something that passengers on public transport will expect.

September 4, 2017 Posted by | Computing, Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Courtesy On London Buses

Today, a 30 bus was at the stop that takes me on my way in the morning. Especially, if like today, I was tryibg to get to the Angel  I say trying, as Thanes Water are having a big construction party as they try to sort out the water mains on Upper Street. Normally, I have three routes that I can take. But due to the works, only the 30 is a sensible option, as the others go  via Silicon Roundabout.

Courtesy 1 – The driver was about to leave as I approached, but he saw me coming and waited.

Courtesy 2 – The bus was pretty full with the only one empty seat for persons of restricted mobility. So I had one of those non-arguments with a pregnant lady about who would not have the seat. On seeing a vacant seat towards the back of the bus, I walked past and she eventually sat down. You see these after you situations a lot. The funniest, I saw was when an elderly Orthodox Jew and a black lady about twenty, delayed a bus whilst they decided who got on first. So charming!

Courtesy 3 – The seat I went for had a lady’s bag on it, but she quickly removed it, when she saw I was coming for the seat.

Courtesy 4 – At Highbury Grove a guy pushing a lady in a wheelchair needed to get on! As the ramp descended a guy who’d parked his baby in a buggy in the space made a quick exit, to allow the wheelchair to be parked.

Courtesy 5 – At the next stop, a lady with a buggy and two other children,  needed to get on, but after other passengers told her the wheelchair space was occupied, she moved on.

London buses are generally friendly places and people often talk to each other.

I’ve actually never seen an argument over the wheelchair space in London.

I do wonder if this courtesy is helped, by London’s bus design, which always has a separate entrance and exit. The exit doubles as the wheelchair entrance.

August 28, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | 2 Comments

The Beginning Of The End For The Thameslink Works

They seem to have been going on for ever, but this article in Rail Engineer entitled Thameslink – The Final Countdown, describes the work in the last few months before the new Thameslink service opens next year.

This is the first paragraph.

With just a few months to go, including two major commissionings, the rebuilt, remodelled and resignalled London Bridge becomes fully operational on 2 January 2018. The Thameslink service resumes through the high level station via the new segregated alignment between Blackfriars and Bricklayers Arms Junction, engineered into the remodelled layout as a key objective of the project together with the introduction of Automatic Train Operation (ATO) overlay to ETCS.

So it looks like from January 2nd, 2018, instead of a jolly round South London, Thameslink trains will be calling at their own pair of platforms in London Bridge.

Other points and milestones flagged up in the article include.

  • British Rail’s Network South East proposed thought up this plan in 1990.
  • The complete concourse at London Bridge opens in January 2018.
  • Other fit out work in London Bridge station will continue until May 2018.
  • Most of the track works at London Bridge will be sorted during the August Bank Holiday blockade.
  • The Christmas 2017 Blockade will finish things off for the January 2nd opening.
  • ATO (Automatic Train Control) will go live on 2nd January 2018 and allow twenty trains per hour (tph), through the Central Core of Thameslink.
  • 24 tph will start with the May 2018 timetable change.

Let’s hope it’s all been worth the trouble and strife.

Certainly, the flag-ship of the scheme; London Bridge station looks capable of becoming one of the world’s great railway stations.

  • Interchange between the various routes at the station is easy.
  • Signage and information set new standards.
  • It has a proper bus station and taxi rank.
  • Although not completed yet the connection to the Underground looks like it will be much better than most .

But to me, the biggest advantage is that London Bridge will become an easy-to-access rail hub, which will be my starting point for many journeys, as I have a regular bus service to the station from virtually outside my house.

The high-frequency rail link between London Bridge and Waterloo East station, also gives me a  relaxed route home from Waterloo station using the 141 bus from London Bridge station to a stop perhaps fifty metres from my house.

Going to London Bridge station, the walk is a perhaps a hundred metres to the bus stop, but there is no roads to cross. The buses run from five in the morning to midnight and during the day, there is a bus every few minutes, which takes just under half-an-hour to London Bridge. According to Transport for London’s Journey Planner, the fastest journey is thirty-three minutes with a lot more walking, the Overground and the Jubilee Line.

St. Pancras takes the same time with a long underground walk to Thameslink, so it looks like my fastest way to Gatwick and Brighton will start with a bus to London Bridge station.

Conclusion

I don’t know what it’s like in other cities, but in London, it’s often as quick, but easier and more pleasant to use the buses rather than the Underground or equivalent, if the journey is short.

August 22, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Bank Junction Goes Buses And Cyclists Only

On Monday, the 22nd of June 2017, the City of London brought in an order making the busy Bank Junction buses and cyclists only between seven in the morning and seven in the evening from Monday to Friday.

I took these pictures soon after ten in the morning.

The first few pictures were taken from the top of a Routemaster bus on Route 21, as it travelled from where I live across the city to London Bridge station.

Note.

  • Most drivers seemed to be avoiding the area.
  • The City of London Police were telling drivers, but didn’t appear to be ticketing anybody.
  • Much of the congestion seemed to be caused by half-empty polluting Tour Buses.
  • One pedestrian was moaning that he couldn’t use his car to get around the City.

Overall, it appeared to be a calm start.

The Upgrade Of Bank Station

I have only shown the area on the surface, but under the ground around Bank Junction, a massive construction project is starting in the City of London’s twin goals of more and better office accomodation and transport links.

Bank station is getting a major upgrade, which will include.

  • In The New Tunnel Under Bank Station, I wrote about an upgraded pedestrian tunnel that crosses the area.
  • In Between Bank And Cannon Street Station, I wrote about how Bloomberg are helping develop a new step-free entrance to the Waterloo and City Line and Bank station, which will open by early 2018.
  • A new Northern Line tunnel to create more space on the platforms and increase frequency on the line.
  • The station weill receive a forty percent increase in capacity.
  • Full step-free access with thirteen new escalators and three new lifts.
  • A new entrance to Bank station opposite Cannon Street station.
  • Two North-South moving walkways.
  • Some of the £600million project cost will be funded by oversite office development.
  • Hopefully, much of the work will be finished by 2021.

There’s more in this article in the Guardian, which is entitled Bank station upgrades point to London’s bigger, busier future.

Bank Station And Crossrail

You may wonder, why if Bank station is so important, that Crossrail doesn’t call and Crossrail 2 won’t either.

It may not, but the Central Line will have good connections to Crossrail at Stratford, Liverpool Street, Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street stations.

So passengers for Bethnal Green, Bank, St. Paul’s, Chancery Lane and Holborn will change from Crossrail to the Cwntral Line at a convenient station.

In addition, Crossrail will feed passengers into loops in the District, Hammersmith and City and Jubilee Lines.

Travellers will pay their money and take their choice.

Other Developments At Bank

I wouldn’t be surprised to see more pedestrian routes linking the City stations of Bank, Cannon Street, Fenchurch Street, Liverpool Street and Moorgate; both on the surface and possibly underground.

I would also make sure that all buses in the centre of London are low-emission vehicles. That certainly doesn’t apply to those polluting and jam-creating Tour Buses and tourist coaches.

 

May 25, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

An Integrated Bus And Train Information Point

I saw this information point in the middle of Exeter.

Buses at the top, Exeter Central station in the middle and Exeter St. Davids station underneath.

Why aren’t there more in other cities?

April 6, 2017 Posted by | Travel | , , , | Leave a comment