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01. 10. 2020 10:10

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New Routemaster buses to become front-boarding only

All New Routemasters will be converted to make the middle and rear doors exit only following a successful pilot on the route 8 that reduced fare evasion without affecting the reliability of the route, Transport for London (TfL) confirmed this morning.

Key points:

  • Middle and rear doors will become exit only to tackle fare evasion
  • More than £3.6m that could be invested in transport is lost every year from fare evasion on New Routemasters
  • Early indications suggest fare evasion more than halved during trial of front-door-only boarding on route 8
  • Customers with wheelchairs and pushchairs will still be able to board through middle doors

The New Routemasters currently allow boarding through all doors, but this has seen fare evaders deprive London’s transport network of millions of pounds of vital revenue, says TfL.

Fare evasion on New Routemasters is more than double the rate of other buses, with Transport for London (TfL) estimating that more than £3.6m is lost each year on New Routemasters. The current system also means that customers with accessibility needs cannot always board buses first.

New routemaster front boarding only

Early indications suggest that fare evasion dropped by more than half during a trial of front-door-only boarding on route 8, with no adverse effect on service efficiency.

The pilot, which started in August, was successful in communicating the change and encouraging people to board through the front doors – reducing fare evasion and improving accessibility.

Boarding using the middle and rear doors on all New Routemasters will be phased out, starting with the routes 55 and 267 on 25 January.

Customers will be advised of the changes to boarding with emails and on-board announcements. Signage will also be changed on buses. Customers with wheelchairs and pushchairs will continue to be able to board through middle doors.

The changes will also make using buses in London simpler for all, as boarding arrangements for New Routemasters will now be the same as on other London buses.

All drivers have undergone training to improve their customers’ experience, and by boarding at the front, it will be easier for passengers to interact with drivers.

TfL’s team of more than 450 revenue inspectors operate across the whole network day and night, using new technology and intelligence to identify anyone travelling without a ticket.

All New Routemasters will be converted to make the middle and rear doors exit only following a successful pilot on the route 8 that reduced fare evasion without affecting the reliability of the route, Transport for London (TfL) confirmed this morning.

Fare evasion is a serious criminal offence that could lead to prosecution, a criminal record and a fine of up to £1,000. The changes being made to New Routemasters are part of a wider programme of activity designed to drive down fare evasion across the whole TfL network.

Claire Mann, TfL’s Director of Bus Operations, says: “Fare dodging is criminal and unfair, and it deprives London’s transport of the investment it needs.

"Our successful pilot on the route 8 has shown that boarding using the front door only doesn’t delay the service and reduces fare evasion, so we will change all other New Routemasters to follow suit."

The £100m lost to fare evasion across the whole network every year could fund more than 1,000 additional members of frontline staff or police officers on the network, adds TfL.

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