Transport for London has revealed the chosen design for the successor
to the iconic (as it’s always called) Routemaster bus. This project was always going to be challenging, but perhaps
only now is it possible to see how challenging.
London’s mayor Boris Johnson has called the design ‘stunning’,
‘beautiful’ and – yes – ‘iconic’. But he would, wouldn’t he? Boris has made this
his focal pet project. He may not be able to see through his plan for Heathrow-on-Sea, out in the Thames estuary, but he has
the authority and the budget to put a new style of bus on London’s streets.
Hidden London does not wish to be too harsh in its judgement,
not least in order to avoid a charge of hypocrisy. This website castigated Boris’s predecessor, Ken Livingstone, for
withdrawing the Routemaster from regular service when he had promised to retain it. The new design is by no means disastrous.
From most angles, it’s a perfectly acceptable looking bus – quite swish, even – with the added benefit of
an open platform at the rear, permitting Londoners once again to hop on or fall off a moving vehicle.
The problem, however, is that the bus is supposed to be ‘inspired
by the much-loved [as it’s also always called] Routemaster’ and yet, with the exception of that rear platform
and its accompanying staircase, there’s little evidence of this. It’s just a bog-standard modern bus with a bit
of asymmetric styling, plus an open back door.
The ‘New Bus for London’ (they’re sensibly not christening
it the New Routemaster) boasts very low fuel consumption, noise levels and emissions, high standards of ventilation and safety,
and lots of tinted glass.