London’s air quality has improved dramatically since the 1950s when legislation was introduced to prevent the infamous ‘pea souper’ smogs that blighted the capital. But
despite this, air pollution is still an issue for Londoners, affecting health and everyday quality of life.
The Mayor has set the target to reduce London’s CO2 emissions from its 1990 level by 60% in 2025, and also to reduce local air pollution from transport in order to improve air quality and quality of life for Londoners.
TfL, who are responsible for the day-to-day operation of London’s public transport network, main roads and associated infrastructure, has developed a sustainable procurement policy to operate low environmental impact buses throughout its vast vehicle network. Overall, London has Europe’s largest fleet of green buses and is looking to increase. Currently, all new buses entering the fleet should be hybrid. By 2016 there will be more than 1,700 hybrid energy system buses in service in London of which 600 will be the NBfL. Overall hybrid buses will represent 20 per cent of the total bus fleet (8,500 buses).
There was a public competition launch in July 2008 with the objective to harvest ideas and concepts for the new bus. The competition was open to design studios, colleges and the general public. There were over 700 entries from all over the world. Some of the ideas and concepts the competition produced allowed TfL to further develop its tender specification for the NBfL.
Once the performance specification had been created a European procurement exercise started in February 2009. There were six initial expressions of interest and on the 23rd December 2013, Wrightbus of Ballymena, Northern Ireland were awarded the contract.
The contract was a competitive, fixed price deal. The fixed price was chosen as it removes the risk and uncertainty of higher production and material costs and inflation over the next four years. The fixed price not only included the 600 buses, but also the design & development of the bus, a mock-up, development test vehicle & testing and an initial batch of 6 prototypes vehicles. Sustainability criteria were included as a core part of the process.
The bus began service in February 2012 and by May 2016 the aim is that there will be a full roll out of 600 vehicles.
When the NBfL was announced, a lot of work was done to let the public know that the new bus would be much more environmentally friendly than a conventional bus. At events and throughout the press both the Mayor and TfL highlighted how the new bus would produce substantially fewer emissions of CO2, NOx and particulate matter (PM).
The public competition for initial ideas and concepts greatly helped create interest in the project and a buzz around it. TfL also organised a public consultation on the new buses to gather public feedback and answer questions from the general public.
Customer research carried out in summer 2012 confirms the NBfL is well liked by customers, scoring very high satisfaction among passengers who particularly rate its smooth ride, comfort and quietness.
GML is estimated to be 7 as the project is already implemented and evaluated to be viable in the long term.