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Not stunning enough

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.


click to view the virtual tour on YouTube
A still from Transport for London's 'virtual tour' of the New Bus for London

But might it not have been worth sacrificing – or at least not taking full of advantage of – such potential advances in exchange for styling that reminded us just a little more of the Routemaster?
Hidden London would have preferred a design that was more distinctive and perhaps even a little quirky. Just like the Routemaster was in its day.

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