By Richard Hartley-parkinson and Claire Bates
The new buses will see the return of a platform at the back which Londoners will welcome as it means they can hop off when traffic is slow moving
They're back. Well, sort of. A 21st century version of the old hop-on, hop-off bus was unveiled yesterday.
The successor to the London Routemaster, which was withdrawn from all but a few tourist routes in 2005, will enter service on February 20.
London Mayor Boris Johnson greeted the new buses in customary florid style, declaring: ‘Christmas has arrived early in the form of this revolutionary new bus whose gleaming coat of red paint and sinuous curves will brighten the day of all who see it humming along our great city’s streets.
Maiden voyage: Boris Johnson today took his first trip on the Routemaster ahead of its return to the streets of London in February next year
Two schoolchildren jump off the back of one of the new buses at its launch in Trafalgar Square today
‘It is the latest, greatest masterpiece of British engineering and design, and I am certain it will become a much loved and iconic vehicle akin to the Routemaster from which it draws so much inspiration.’
The double-deckers have two staircases, three entrances for quick boarding and a rear platform to provide a hop-on, hop-off service. They can carry 87 passengers.
Their arrival fulfils an election pledge by Mr Johnson, who vowed to bring in a ‘green’ successor to the Routemaster as well getting rid of the ultra-long bendy buses which have now all been withdrawn.
Eight of the new buses will be introduced in the first half of next year and the first of them, operated by Arriva, will be on route 38, which runs from Victoria station to Hackney, East London.
The vehicle, built by Northern Ireland company Wrightbus, has a hybrid engine and is 15 per cent more fuel efficient than existing hybrid buses and 40 per cent more efficient than conventional double-deckers.
Routemasters were withdrawn because they were inaccessible to wheelchairs and pushchairs.
Mr Johnson said today: 'Christmas has arrived early in the form of this revolutionary new bus whose gleaming coat of red paint and sinuous curves will brighten the day of all who see it humming along our great city's streets.
'It is the latest, greatest masterpiece of British engineering and design, and I am certain it will become a much loved and iconic vehicle akin to the legendary Routemaster from which it draws so much inspiration.'
The Mayor of London also promised a return for a new 'green' successor to the Routemaster along with vowing to get rid of the ultra-long bendy buses which have now been returned.
The first of the new buses will be operated by transport company Arriva, entering passenger service on February 20 on route 38 running from Victoria station to Hackney in east London.
In total, eight of the new buses will enter passenger service in the first half of 2012 - a reserved figure compared to the original Routemaster buses when 800 were ordered in the first wave.
TfL Commissioner Peter Hendy said: 'It is a phenomenal achievement to get a bus of this calibre from the drawing board to the streets of London in just two years and my congratulations goes to all who have worked tirelessly to make this happen.
'This bus has been designed from the wheels up with the complex needs of Londoners in mind; it truly is a 21st century bus.
'It’s stylish and comfortable, and will ensure a smooth ride for all on board as well as an eye-catching spectacle for those who will see it glide through the streets of London.'
The final design of the bus was unveiled in 2010 reinstating the classic hop-on, hop-off platform that has been missed by many rushing commuters who want to disembark when the bus is stuck in traffic.
There are three doors on the bus - one at the front, in the middle and the open door at the back.
Inside there will be two staircases and enough room for 87 passengers with 62 seated and the rest standing.
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.
After they were pulled from service, the old Routemaster buses became the preserve of tourist routes
The buses are the first to be designed specifically for the capital for the last 50 years
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.
If more buses are commissioned, the outlay will be reduced. A conventional double decker costs £190,000 to build.
The design of the new buses differs from the older version like this one pictured at Charing Cross. With another two doors, the queues will disappear much more quickly
Among his election pledges, the London Mayor promised to get rid of bendy buses and return Routemasters to the streets of the capital
There was plenty of interest in the new 82-passenger buses that will swing into action on February 20
The buses are made of lightweight materials with a glass 'swoop' at the rear and on the side where the stairways will be in order to give the bus an airy feel.
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.
Some classic Routemasters still run on a limited basis on two tourist routes in London where they complement the full-time service.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
At last, a new Routemaster chugs into view: 21st century version of famous hop-on, hop-off bus unveiled by London Mayor Boris Johnson
By Richard Hartley-parkinson and Claire Bates