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. 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.
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. 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, said: “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.
“Customers with wheelchairs and pushchairs will still be able to board using the middle doors and will find it easier to access the priority space on buses as – like on other buses – they will be able to use the middle doors to board without having other customers doing so at the same time.”
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.