TfL Routemasters withdrawn from London

AEC Routemasters are no longer operating on TfL heritage bus services in London.

An answer to a Freedom of Information (FOI) request confirmed the AEC Routemasters on London’s 15H heritage route are no longer to operate.

The 15H’s withdrawal follows the retirement of the 9H heritage route in 2014.

The Stagecoach-operated heritage service on route 15H previously operated between Tower Gateway and Trafalgar Square at three buses an hour, between 10am and 6pm on Saturdays, Sundays and Bank holidays between March and September. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic it did not operate in the 2020 season.

A TfL spokesperson told Bus and Coach Buyer that after reviewing the bus network to ensure it responds to customer demand, TfL concluded that the heritage buses on a section of route 15 are not needed for the current and predicted customer demand on the corridor. They said that this, combined with concerns about the environmental and accessibility limitations (heritage Routemasters are not at ULEZ standards or step-free], means that their continued operation is no longer viable.

Heritage Routemasters are not ULEZ-compliant but are exempt from ULEZ due to being historical vehicles.

According to the FOI response, the 15H route has been discontinued due to falling ridership on the Central London network and because it is the only part of the fleet that does not provide step-free access. The buses have a high step up to the rear platform and cannot be accessed by wheelchair users and with a difficulty by those with mobility issues.

The service had already been reduced to a weekend and Bank Holiday-only service during the summer months in March 2019 to reduce cost and make the best use of resources at a time when TfL was moving increasingly to a self-funding position. TfL said: “The change was part of making our core network services financially sustainable for the future.”

The FOI response can be found here.

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