Survey reveals that users of the new buses are more satisfied

 

There are now 450 New Routemasters in service

 

London’s expanding fleet of New Routemaster buses has pushed up user satisfaction on the routes where they have been introduced, Transport for London claims.

London’s 450-strong fleet of New Routemasters currently operate on 13 routes. From July, 53 more New Routemasters will enter service on Route 73 (Victoria and Stoke Newington) and the overall fleet will reach 800 next year.

Critics of the bespoke vehicles – designed exclusively for London -say they are an expensive “vanity project”, but TfL claims they are popular with passengers. A customer survey conducted in November 2014, a year after the vehicles were first introduced, revealed that overall satisfaction is higher among customers who travel on the New Routemasters than among those who travel on standard buses (87% versus 84% respectively).  The survey also found that New Routemaster routes have had a higher rise in overall satisfaction (five percentage points) than standard routes (two points) over the last two years.

TfL also conducted a piece of qualitative research last year to identify all the different journey aspects that influence the bus user experience. In terms of the New Routemaster, the survey found that it gives customers a sense of progress and innovation around bus travel, leading to feelings of trust and reassurance around the service. “Even if they don’t use the service, its presence in London is impactful,” a spokesperson told Passenger Transport. “Customers look forward to using the
New Routemaster.”

Commenting on TfL’s findings, Ray Stenning, design director at London-based Best Impressions, said: “There is no doubt the New Routemaster has presence on the streets of London and a lot of thought has gone into its design. As I have being saying for years to disbelieving managers, good design is a highly effective, powerful business tool.”

He added: “If they really are more popular with passengers and it gets more people on to public transport, or realising that public transport isn’t for losers, that has to be good.”

While Stenning believes that the New Routemaster has many pleasing design touches, he says that it also has flaws.

“Upstairs is claustrophobic and gloomy with severely restricted views out. Nice to have daylight illuminating the staircase but why at the expense of daylight coming in to the upper saloon and better-sized windows you can look out of?

“And I’m not convinced by the over-respectful, almost pious homage to the original Routemaster. Was the Routemaster, style-wise, that good?”

 

This article appears inside the latest issue of Passenger Transport.

 

 

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