�170m taxpayer bill for eco-bus is “good news for Londoners” claims Boris Johnson’s office

Hackney’s London Assembly Member Jennette Arnold has told Boris Johnson to “get his priorities right”, after last week’s announcement the Mayor’s new buses will cost Londoners over �170 million.

Operators were supposed to foot the bill for the new fleet of eco-friendly buses, which were commissioned to replace bendy buses – but now publicly funded Transport for London has bought them instead.

The buses, which have hybrid engines using half as much fuel as normal double-deckers, were dubbed the “world’s most expensive buses” when they were launched on the route 38 through Hackney in February.

“The Mayor needs to get this priorities right and shouldn’t be wasting money on vanity projects like his new bus, when this money could be spent putting police back on the streets or keeping a fire station open,” said Ms Arnold.

“We need to protect our vital emergency services – not wasting money on a few buses which will cover less than eight per cent of the bus network.”

London’s Fire Authority is facing up to �35million of cuts this financial year.

Ms Arnold first raised questions about the price of the buses in 2009 when the Mayor revealed that the design and development cost of the project was estimated to be �3.3million.

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A spokeswoman for the Mayor said the buses were “good news for Londoners”, creating Europe’s cleanest bus fleet, whilst supporting job creation and UK engineering.

These new buses mark the delivery of the Mayor’s election manifesto promise and it misleading claim their financing has any impact on police budgets,” she added.

“Transport for London’s innovative approach to financing these cutting edge buses will actually deliver tens of millions of pounds savings over their operational life.”

TfL plans to lease the buses to the operators for a notional fee, and claims will reduce route contract costs – because the operator will have to quote for just staffing, fuel and maintenance – and not vehicle costs.

TfL also plans to move the buses between operators when route contracts change and claims this will extend the vehicle’s “operational life”.