Monday, May 17, 2010

Return of the Routemaster: Boris Johnson unveils new version of classic double-decker bus that lets you hop on and off
By Daily Mail Reporter

Futuristic: A computer generated image of what the new London bus will look like

London Mayor Boris Johnson today revealed the design of the new futuristic bus that reinstates the Routemaster's classic hop-on hop-off platform, still so fondly remembered by commuters.

Passengers have been promised a 'greener, light and airy' service when the new double-decker buses start running in London in 2012.

They will feature two staircases, two doors and an open platform allowing passengers to hop on and off.

Classic feature: Another artist's mockup shows the open hop-on hop-off platform at the rear of the bus

But when the back of the bus is open - during rush hour and other busy times - it will be manned by a member of staff who will ensure that commuters validate their tickets.

The new bus, to replace the bendy bus which is gradually being phased out, was a key pledge of Mr Johnson’s election campaign.

Critics have questioned whether the new Routemasters, costing £7.8 million for five, provide value for money.

However Transport for London said the initial cost included design and development, covering all research, prototypes and testing.

Nostalgia: The front and back of a Routemaster bus showing how passengers would hop on and off. The Routemaster is still used on a limited basis for two tourist routes in London

Night life: The new buses will have two staircases and three doors, one of which will be the hop-on, hop-off platform of the old model

Out with the old, in with the new: Conventional London buses sit inside the Battersea depot as the new design is revealed

If more buses are commissioned, the outlay will be reduced. A conventional double decker costs £190,000 to build.

Mr Johnson rode his bike to the Battersea bus depot today to unveil the final design of the buses, being made by Northern Ireland manufacturer Wrightbus, in collaboration with design firm Heatherwick Studio.

The buses, which will have two staircases, are made of lightweight materials with a glass 'swoop' at the rear and on the side where the stairways will be, to give the bus an airy feel.

They will be 15 per cent more fuel efficient than existing hybrid buses and 40 per cent more efficient than conventional diesel double-deckers.

Revealed: Boris Johnson poses with the winning design for London's new buses

Thirsty work: Boris Johnson rides his bike to the bus depot in Battersea and then tucks into refreshments after unveiling the new design for the Routemaster-style double-deckers

On average the new buses will require 28 litres of fuel per 100 kilometres.

It will carry 87 people - 62 sitting and 25 standing - about the same as a conventional double-decker but almost half the number of a bendy bus.

Wheelchair users and people with pushchairs will be able to board the bus using the middle door, which will fold out a ramp like conventional buses.

The first prototype will be delivered late next year, with the new buses entering service from early 2012.

When he took office in 2008, Mr Johnson vowed to bring back a 'greener' version of the Routemaster, which was first introduced in London in the mid-1950s.

The Routemaster was withdrawn from regular service in December 2005 by Mr Johnson's predecessor Ken Livingstone because they were inaccessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs.

Some classic Routemasters still run on a limited basis on two tourist routes in London where they complement the full-time service.

Mr Johnson said today: 'This iconic new part of our transport system is not only beautiful, but also has a green heart beating beneath its stylish, swooshing exterior.

'It will cut emissions, and give Londoners a bus they can be proud of, complete with cutting edge design, and the freedom of an open platform.

'I expect to eventually have hundreds of these on London's roads, and for cities around the globe to be beside themselves with envy for our stunning red emblem of 21st century London.'

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