The Routemaster wasn’t just a bus; it was an iconic example of industrial engineering-cum-aesthetic tour de force which was every bit as important to Londoners and tourists alike as Big Ben, Carnaby Street in the swinging sixites and the dear old Queen Mum.
Launching in 1954 and built by the Associated Equipment Company, it became a recognisable worldwide symbol of London, adorning postcards and becoming the must-have holiday snap for international visitors.
So when Transport for London began retiring the buses from service in 2003, they were met with public outcry. The decision to scrap the big red bus was made even more painful when its replacement was revealed; the shoddy bendy bus, prone to spontaneous combustion, fare-bunkers and the most horrifying night-bus journeys you can possibly imagine.
So to appease the angry mob, TFL commissioned a re-design of the Routemaster, the fruits of which were today unveiled by Mayor Boris Johnson.
And you know what? It ain’t half bad.
Ok, to be fair, it was never going to beat the original design. Everyone has fond memories of jumping onto the open back of the Routemaster and grabbing the ridiculously long tickets from the conductor.
But in terms of making the most of the technology available these days and keeping as many of the old features intact as possible, it’s a success. There are now three doors (front, middle and the classic jump-on platform, which can be shut off completely if no conductor is present), a second staircase that now has windows as you ascend, larger windows across the whole of the bus, a curved finish and a hybrid engine to please the green conscious.
So what do you think? Good enough to drive proudly alongside the Routemasters of yesteryear, or a disaster as embarrassing as Boris Johnson’s barnet?
To help you decide check out our gallery at the bottom of this post, and then leave your vote in our poll.