Take the 148 Boris Bus to Camberwell

Just a quick update to relay the exciting news that from this Saturday, 15 February 2014, the 148 Camberwell to White City bus route will be operated by New Routemasters aka ‘Boris buses’. This is the first bus route in South London which will feature the new bus.

The 148 of course is used by many media types as it travels to the BBC — Today Programme presenter and Camberwell resident Justin Webb is a regular user of the service.

Two cheers for the new bus
However as with so many things in Camberwell it seems we go two steps forward, one step back as the Routemasters on this route, according to the SE1 website, will not be operating with an open platform at the back and will not have a conductor on board. This removes one of the main advantages of the new buses for which we as London tax payers are paying a premium.

TfL 148 bus information

30 thoughts on “Take the 148 Boris Bus to Camberwell”

  1. Travelled on one of the new design 148’s this morning from Camberwell to Elephant. The driver was really smiley as I got on — obviously quite chuffed with his new machine.
    They’re quite nice inside, but I sense the fare evasion problem that signed the seal of death for the bendy bus is back.

  2. Have to say, I’m not a fan of the new bus.

    Although the bus is nicely upholstered, the rear platform isn’t open on most of the routes, as the bus companies don’t want to pay for a ‘conductor’ (who isn’t really) to prevent fare dodging and jumping on and off between stops (as you could in the old Routemaster). That removes one of the big reasons for the design being the way it is.

    Also, the buses are heavier and less fuel efficient than other modern buses and as a result no other country in the world wants to buy them, making them very expensive to manufacture — a cost which is borne by TfL (that is, taxes).

    It’s somewhat of a white elephant, a project driven by nostalgia and vanity.

  3. I suspect it’s more likely that Justin Webb uses the number 12 these days as Today moved to back to Broadcasting House a while back!

  4. While we are on the subject of transport, Lambeth Council is still intent upon replacing Vauxhall Bus Station with a new high street ‘destination’, favouring shopping & revelry over the ability to change between buses/train/tube quickly, safely and under cover. The former ‘Friends of VBS’ have evolved into a well-organised and enthusiastic group of supporters with its own (inevitable) but informative Facebook page — there is a petition to sign if you feel that the needs of the travelling public should take precedence over profitable development opportunities.


    P.S. I’m a long-term follower of the blog and have never posted anything before but this has really got my dander up! Thank you

  5. A notice of re-entry and forfeiture of lease has appeared in the window of Johansson’s. It’s a sad day: Camberwell’s best Swedish restaurant is no more.

  6. But on the other hand, the Camberwell Arms was open tonight — for the first time — and was heaving with (young) people.

  7. @Job — I also went past the new Camberwell Arms yesterday evening. It’s good there’s another decent bar in Central Camberwell. I just hope it works, because that venue has a bit of a chequered history.

  8. I had lunch at the Camberwell Arms today. It was excellent. This must be the best thing to have hit Camberwell since… I suppose No.67. All’s well in Camberwell.

  9. ^^^^ A good first post Voyaguese mainly because of this: “this has really got my dander up!”

    Excessive revelry at Vauxhall Bus Station sounds optimistic, but why not?

  10. Job, is the Camberwell Arms more for the local well-off types (like the Crooked Well) or the younger student types (like the Peckham Pelican)?

  11. More cool than the Crooked Well. More pricey than the Pelican. Well off students? Still-slightly-studenty professionals? It’s serious food but with a studied informality: mismatched chairs, chalkboards, old school pub fit out.

  12. Thanks Job. I always liked that pub because it’s like a proper pub.

    “Studied informality” sounds very like the Pelican. But as soon as you start trying for that, it looks forced. The Pelican, which I like in some ways, is almost the apogee of chain bars.

  13. The situation with Johansson’s seems to be this. There is no agreement in place for anyone to take the premises over. The two sides of the shop belong to two different owners (one owns the side with the toilets, the other the side with the kitchen). The two different owners may want to let their respective sides separately. Everything is up in the air.

  14. Being fair regarding buses. I do not care how it looks, if I arrive at my destination thats all that matters. Do you question the looks of a aeroplane based on the colour or features. If you are going to criticise the looks you might as well criticise the journey. Regarding fare invasion. I seen people go on bus when the bus drivers change. Just because it has no conductor means nothing. Anyone can find a oyster card and use it for buses.

  15. Tim, I think everyone is in agreement that the buses look nice.

    I wasn’t pointing out fare evasion as a problem, I just said that the back platform stays closed because no bus company wants to pay a second salary to a ‘conductor’ to prevent fare evasion, so the back stairs and open platform are useless.

    And I’ve no idea what point you’re trying to make with that Oyster card comment.

  16. I’m not sure it’s been mentioned yet, but Cafe Florence opened on Denmark Hill just after Christmas (I think). It’s all but opposite Love Walk cafe, and seems a bright and cheery place with a small but good menu.

    I also don’t think it’s been noted here that Su Thai, on Coldharbour Lane, has gone. It closed up at the end of last year and looked as though it was getting a refurb. But it’s never reopened and now is clearly done for.

  17. I seen it happen. I have seen people finding a oyster card on the floor and using them. If you ever been to Victoria, cant count the times I seen beggars to try and use old tickets for cash.

     so the back stairs and open platform are useless.

    If you used the old routemasters which had backstairs and open platform. Yes people do hop on but conductors alwsys checked tickets when they were on. Routemasters are iconic.

  18. Yea the new buses cost more and may be less efficient but there is a much greater hidden value. Its not aesthetic cause your right that aesthetic is subjective but you can not argue that the new bus isn’t iconic and that is good if you are mayor of london and want to attract visitors! You see there are 6000 buses in London and the city is famous for its red buses, its a brand. But for the last 15 years these buses have been pretty generic save for the colour which is fast disappearing under a coat of ‘lebara mobile.’ So the new bus is much deeper than just a new bus.. i know you just want to get from A to B and you don’t care about the colour but you got to remember that its not always just about ‘me.’ Im not saying its good or bad just saying it how it is and that expensive up front might give you much more in other ways.

  19. It would have been entirely possible to build a bus with an iconic form that was lighter, had larger capacity, and was more fuel-efficient — just by losing the useless rear staircase.

  20. Hands up — it was me that raised the issue of fare evasion. It was a major (but not the sole) factor in the scrapping of the bendybus. Should it concern me? Well yes — without giving too much away, I work in public transport and know that it affects the fare levels of those that do pay.
    Bus-related news — TfL are planning to extend the 136 from Peckham to Elephant via the existing 343 route. http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/media/newscentre/metro/29373.aspx
    The consultation closed yesterday.

  21. Fare evasion on the 148 will be no more of a problem then on any other route, because the back doors won’t be opened as the operator doesn’t want to pay the extra salary for a ‘conductor ’.

  22. @peter, When we got the bus the other day, all three doors are opened at the same time, so yes there will be the same problem.

    I’m with NickW on this one. They are iconic, but yes a more efficient bus would have been nicer.

    They smell like new cars inside. It’s lovely! My only gripe is the health and safety overload. The fact that the conductor (if there is one) is not a conductor and can’t check fares, only stop people falling off the platform. Also, there are very loud announcements at almost every stop warning you to “be careful when alighting from this bus, there may be traffic on the road”. Really? I had no idea. Or to “touch in and out etc.…” Ramble, ramble, moan, moan!

    But yes, it’s a lovely looking bus!

  23. The rear end of the Boris bus is like a large bum or knob. Nevertheless, a situationist test-ride seems like a good idea.

  24. Maybe we should all get on dressed as ‘conductors’ and organise an event of some kind that makes use of the rear platform?

  25. That’s it! SE5 R US — SE5 Rear-platform Uniformed Situationists, “Combining to drive down the minimum wage,” something like that.

    There is a Japanese garden in the park near the White City terminus left over from the 1910 Japan show.

    That is a worthy destination for the philosophical travellers of Camberwell at the end of their — as it is called these days — journey. I can feel a haiku coming on.

    They look like herons,
    by the municipal pond -
    see, they all fly south!

  26. When shall we all go?
    A bus so big and wholly farcical (in the shadow of Boris) deserves a celebration.
    If only we could bring back those wonderful conductors to journey with us.
    Maybe a Sunday or a Bank Holiday?

  27. It would be wonderful, wouldn’t it, Maude? The merry pranksters. We could film it. Various publications could cover it — the Guardian, Situationist News, the Spectator. All aboard Boris’s red elephant! The bus really does look like a big red elephant from the rear.

    In the bland, market-driven world of politics, it would be a timeless, typically British, semi-inexplicable, wholly eccentric journey to the heart of farce.

    And back.

  28. And always always back to Camberwell.
    We’ll invite our friends and take packed lunches (or high teas) and eat them when we reach our destination.

    Perhaps May Day?

  29. From observation, if you want to get off the bus between stops due to traffic, or for convenience, along Walworth Road you can hit the emergency button by the doors to open them. I’m too sensible, but that is a preferred DIY method.

    Edit: Obviously, the bus needs to be stopped first

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