38 = £160 million = 600 buses

23 September 2012 – 8:28 am

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Clerkenwell based Heatherwick Studio have re-designed the iconic London Routemaster bus for the new Millennium. Featuring the iconic rear sweeping bodywork of old and contemporarily three sets of doors, one which helps wheelchair access, it also boasts unlike its predecessor, a rear set of closing doors.

Entering on the rear platform, the world renowned half spiral staircase climbs away and links to the upper deck. Seat fabrics are muted retro, with a wood effect floor patterned to lead the passenger around the vehicle. There is a good flow to the styling in and out. High use of glass and internal LEDs see plenty of light distributed throughout the vehicle.

The New Routemaster, present for several months now on London’s Route 38 linking Victoria and Islington via Soho and W1. The initial live trial of seven models will be joined by a mass-rollout over the coming months and years.

One of the largest bus orders in Europe was announced this week and sees Wrightbus of Northern Ireland commissioned to build 600 units of the hybrid New Routemaster for TfL, (previously known as London Transport), in a contract which will run until 2016. Despite local news of the resulting £160 million bill, the London public have received the New Routemaster well.

This is largely due to the fond affection globally for the original Routemaster and the previous mayor’s widely accepted failed bendy bus programme. A euro style articulated vehicle was open to fare evasion and more suited to the wide European avenues of Barcelona than the medieval streets of London. Often these whales of a bus would get stuck at tight road junctions and between two sets of traffic lights. Causing further congestion in a city of well over 10 million inhabitants.

As an all new model, the New Routemaster is built for London and correspondingly suits the city’s traffic, passengers, staff and infrastructure. It also distinguishes London from other major cities and harks back to a heritage which in this case dates back around 100 years.

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