Revamped double-decker to hit London streets soon
The latest incarnation of the British capital’s iconic
double-decker buses will be crisscrossing the city’s streets in
time for the summer Olympics, London Mayor Boris Johnson promised
Johnson said the sleek new vehicles would be a fitting successor
to London’s much-loved red Routemasters, which were nearly all
pulled off the streets in 2005. Their bigger, boxier replacements
proved more practical in many ways, but haven’t inspired the same
kind of loyalty.
Johnson promised a redesign when he became mayor, and the he was
on board Friday as a prototype pulled into Trafalgar Square.
”It is the latest, greatest masterpiece of British engineering
and design,” Johnson crowed.
Although some old-style Routemasters still ply the tourist route
between St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Tower of London, the bus
beloved by generations of Londoners was doomed by issues of
accessibility and cost.
Passengers loved the buses’ curved lines, their conductors and
their open platforms at the back – ideal for a harried commuter
racing to make a connection.
But Routemasters weren’t wheelchair-accessible and the aging
fleet proved expensive to maintain. Even the handy hop-on, hop-off
platforms were a problem: Passengers racing to catch their early
morning ride or coming home from the pub sometimes fell off the
bus, occasionally with fatal consequences.
Johnson’s new bus revives the platforms (which can now be
closed) and restores some of the original’s asymmetry and rounded
feel. The mayor’s administration claims it will be the most
environmentally friendly vehicle of its kind.
The mayor’s opponents have raised concerns over the cost of the
redesign, attacking it as a vanity project.
Opposition assembly member Val Shawcross said Londoners should
be asking themselves ”whether spending millions on redesigning
buses when we’re on the verge of another recession should really be
A New Bus for London: