In Pictures: The New Bus For London

The Mayor officially unveiled the New Bus for London on the streets of the capital this morning. We went down to Trafalgar Square to take a look.

The first impressions are good: this is a gorgeous vehicle. Whether you think this is a symbol of 21st-century travel or are convinced that it’s a costly vanity project, the finished product is a beautiful thing to behold. Not since the Routemaster has London seen a bus that looks like it’s been so lovingly designed. The influence of Thomas Heatherwick’s studio, who worked on the project, is clear: the flowing forms of the exterior are matched inside, and every detail, from the recessed lights to the ‘stop’ buttons, are clearly the product of a heightened aesthetic sense. A hybrid vehicle, the bus is also being described as ‘the most environmentally friendly of its kind’, and in tests emitted 640 g/km of CO2 and 3.96 g/km of nitrogen oxide, around half of what a diesel bus pumps out.

The comparisons with Routemaster extend to the cork and rubber flooring, which is the same used in the older bus, and most notably at the rear, with its open platform. There are three doors in total on the bus; the one in the centre allows people in wheelchairs to board, while the back will, for the most part, be a hop-on, hop-off door, with an Oyster card reader at the bottom of the stairs. The rear platform will be kept open whilst a conductor is working on the bus, which should cover it for most of the operating hours; however, in late evenings, when no conductor is on board, the central and rear doors will be for exit only. There is also a staircase in the middle of the bus.

One thing to note is that, unlike most of the capital’s buses, the windows cannot be opened, meaning it will rely on the air conditioning system for ventilation. All very well and good, but it might become unpleasant on a hot summer’s day.

The bus will be tested over the coming weeks and is due to be put into passenger service on 20th February on the 38 route, a service that has been operated by Routemasters and bendy buses over the years. Transport for London have so far bought eight of the vehicles, and by the summer all should be running on the 38, the peak vehicle requirement (PVR) for which is 70, so the New Bus will make up a little over 10% of the buses on that route.

TfL has spent £10m for the eight buses, or £1.6m each, including research and development; building further vehicles will be significantly cheaper. This hasn’t stopped Labour dismissing it as mayoral vanity project. If it is, then at least it’s a good looking one.

The one thing it’s missing at the moment, of course, is a nickname: ‘New Bus for London’ isn’t particularly snappy. Suggestions welcome in the comments.

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  • Chuyueling

    very cute

  • http://twitter.com/zefrog Nicolas Chinardet

    ‘the most environmentally friendly of its kind’
    The kind being diesel? Most current London buses are hybrid, ie more environmentally friendly than this…

    • Dean Nicholas

      Yes, as James notes below, it’s a hybrid (I’ll add that to the text).

    • Newbusfan

      Factually wrong I am afraid. By far the majority of current London busses are Diesel though there are number of hybrid busses currently running. According to TFL however the  existing hybrid busses are significantly less economical than the new bus for London. It is possible that over it’s lifetime the saving in fuel over standard Hybrid busses will pay for the 30% higher capital cost. So a great bus – and great value for money. It will be fantastic to hop on and off again. 

  • Anonymous

    This is a hybrid, quite a good one according to the spec. That said, you could have bought many more normal hybrids for the same price.

    Looks like the downstairs changed quite a bit from the mock up, which is good. Look forward to trying it out.

  • Anonymous

    “The one thing it’s missing at the moment, of course, is a nickname:”

    The Borismaster?

    • http://jamesmitchell.co.uk James

      The blunderbus, more like.

  • Anonymous

    No, this is a hybrid – http://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/projectsandschemes/15493.aspx#page-link-about-the-bus

    This was a requirement in the original competition rules.

  • Gerry King

    Certainly too good for the poor. It must not go on nasty routes.

    • Reuben

      The 38 is a horrible route.

  • Guest

    Okay, so the rear door is open only when there is a conductor on the bus. So otherwise, if you want to get on the top deck, you will have to wade through all the people standing/sitting on the lower deck, and do the same thing while getting off. Just imagine the amount of time it will require for people to get on and off. Is this a design issue?

    • http://twitter.com/zefrog Nicolas Chinardet

      My understanding from the article is that the back door will remain open when there is a conductor, allowing for hop on hop off. but will close and open with there isn’t, allowing for normal circulation of passengers at bus stops.

      • Dean Nicholas

        This is correct, or at least it’s what I was told today. I think the commentator above didn’t realise there was a staircase in the middle (my fault I didn’t mention it and you can’t see it very clearly in the photos). 

    • Dean Nicholas

      There’s a staircase in the middle of the bus too — though it’s not too clear from the photographs or text above (I’ve since added a line about it)

    • Dennis Santos

      There appears to be an extra staircase right behind the driver.

  • Anonymous

    boris in the driver’s seat… hahaha

  • Leonthezombiechild

    TFL can introduce as many space-aged looking buses as they want but the service is stil AWFUL!! 

  • Leonthezombiechild

    ….oh and they’ve basically just sold us back what we already had in the first place…….DUH! its just a shiney routemaster!!!!

  • Leonthezombiechild

    ….oh and they’ve basically just sold us back what we already had in the first place…….DUH! its just a shiney routemaster!!!!

  • Leonthezombiechild

    ….oh and they’ve basically just sold us back what we already had in the first place…….DUH! its just a shiney routemaster!!!!

  • Leonthezombiechild

    TFL……..worst company EVER!

    • Rob44t

      The bus service in London is actually quite good. 
      Buses are more expensive in Manchester and the service isn’t as regular.

      • http://twitter.com/sparticus Mark Walley

        Definitely. If you compare it to the service in anywhere else in the UK we’ve got easily the best service at an alright price. I can’t speak for many other major cities worldwide but I imagine it’s up there.

        • Matt Fulford

           Just come to Bristol…. That’s a terrible bus service.. Worst (First) Bus suck.

    • Dave-s

      Every city’s population likes to say they have the worst bus company ever, but the loudest complainers have never experienced another city’s service. I live in Ottawa Canada where this is the norm, but having used both TFL and OC Transpo, I would much prefer TFL which provides service o ten times the population…

  • Leonthezombiechild

    service is STILL TERRIBLE!!!!!!!!

  • Leonthezombiechild

    service is STILL TERRIBLE!!!!!!!!

  • Leonthezombiechild

    service is STILL TERRIBLE!!!!!!!!

  • Leonthezombiechild

    TFL……..worst company EVER!

  • Leonthezombiechild

    TFL……..worst company EVER!

  • Leonthezombiechild

    TFL……..worst company EVER!

  • lill72

    Can someone tell me – is there a better space for wheelchairs/prams etc? Ie – no poles in the way – making it so tricky for two prams to squeeze in side by side. The amount of time this takes up and the inconvenience to mums with prams as well as other passengers is quite unreal – when it could so easily be fixed. In fact, I have seen buses in Brighton that do not have this problem. Hopefully it has been addressed with these new buses??

    • Dean Nicholas

      There is a pole to one side, but the space looks larger than on current buses and I should think it would be possible to fit two wheelchairs / prams side by side quit easily.

  • Leonthezombiechild

    probably not…..its boris! the town clown!

  • 1000km

    How about ‘New Routemaster’

  • http://twitter.com/BillEllson Bill Ellson

    Given London’s affection for alliteration it is inevitably going to be the ‘Boris Bus’.

  • Wilco258

    Boris Bus?

    • Dennis Santos

      They were calling it this on the radio, while chatting with Boris.

  • Hilda

    Looking good. But it wont be after the scum in our society have scratched the windows, vandalised seats and stuck chewing gum everywhere.

    • rider

      It is terrible that people like you keep berating the young in the society. Surely they are as much a product of this society as they are of the parents that bring them up. The fault, therefore, lies with all of us, not just those who become the face of the crime.

      • Hilda

        Typical left wing response. I agree the fault lies with society, but not with me individually bcos I’ve never voted for left wing governments.

        • http://twitter.com/zefrog Nicolas Chinardet

          am confused now… do we blame “The Scum” or left wing government?

          • Hilda

            Both

        • rider

          Calling people ‘scum’ tells more about the person writing than the people they are talking about…

          Moreover, blaming left-wing governments for the state of the society doesn’t    stop you from being a part of the very society you live in, then and now. What did you do when the left wing governments were in power? Sleep?

          • Hilda

            You’re just being silly. Its the government that sets the trend (eg whether people have respect for authority/society/etc whether they feel completely free to do whatever they want (eg vandalise boris buses)), not individuals.

          • Anonymous

            So I presume no vandalism, graffiti or litter dropping ever happened in the 80s or early/mid 90s, under the previous Tory governments?

          • Hilda

            Of course it did, but things are worse now than they were then.

            I’m not wasting anymore of my time with this stupid conversation.

          • rider

            That is exactly what a communist would say – they would want a government that controls people’s behaviour! You are really not a right-winger, you are just confused as far as your political ideology goes. Too bad. 

    • Dean Nicholas

      Do you ride on buses much? Most of the vehicles I travel on every day are pretty clean and in decent condition, given the amount of passengers they carry. 

      • Hilda

        Not a huge amount, maybe ignor my comments. But it just annoys me intensely how people dont give a shit about the society they live in, for example dropping litter, I walk up my street and the amount of litter in the verge is unbelieveble. People just dont care, they’re not civilised.

      • Marco C D

        That’s because they have teams with steam machines cleaning it all at the end of the shift’s; not beacause people look after them!
         Most people are ok but I’ve seen all sorts of discusting manners and lack of respect for others property!! Yes  also agree this people have no respect for others so it qualifies as SCUM to me…

  • rider

    London is a COLD city, and therefore open door buses like those in the old routemasters just mean more inconvenience for passengers in the cold winter months.

    Worst.idea.ever

    • http://twitter.com/sparticus Mark Walley

      The rear buses have doors, so I imagine they’ll be kept shut in the cold. No idea if they’ll be always open in the summer though so people can jump on and off when it’s stopped at the lights or whatever.

    • Dennis Santos

      I drove the old routemasters for 3 years, just before they were cancelled and believe me, that platform got sorely missed when they went. Besides, to avoid paying for conductors, the back doors will probably be closed and the the platform unused more often then not.

  • Dean Nicholas

    In terms of the nickname, a few have mentioned Boris Bus… thing is, while that’s technically correct (more so than ‘Boris Bike’, as the provenance of the cycle hire scheme is quibbled over by some Ken Livingstone supporters) it’s also a bit dull and unimaginative. I’m sure we can do much better. 

  • http://twitter.com/johnhenry John-Henry Barac

    Nickname thoughts

    Route-mistress
    busorama (all that window space)

    Straight bus (not bendy)

    Double decker….. (traditional)

    And I hope we’ll come to know the bikes as “Blue bikes”.. (Neither Boris nor Barclays)

    • http://twitter.com/zefrog Nicolas Chinardet

      People will probably end up calling them routemasters or just bus…

      • http://twitter.com/johnhenry John-Henry Barac

        indeed, or damn bus, or f-ing bus etc, depending on how the service is doing… thats where the prefix “boris” comes into itself…its a shame to spend so much money and not give the bus a serious modern rethink… not this strange nostalgic mishmash

    • Dean Nicholas

      I quite like the sound of Routemistress. 

  • http://www.petrholusa.com Petr Holusa

    OMG!!!!! There is no possible to open windows. There is no windows for fresh air and I hate Air condition…. Nice bus but a lot of people wiill ravage these buses.

    • Dave H

      Lots of people ravaging a bus? Now there’s an image.

  • Flipdoodle

    please NOT the boris bus. he gets enough undeserved glory from the boris bike. 
    i like routemistress, a curvier routemaster. 

  • J Griffith

    Routemaster is a trademark name and therefore cannot be use for these busses.

    • Flipdoodle

      do you think they would object to routemistress?

  • Patric_1m

    I really think someone should call this bus just what it is — a present to Boris from Boris but paid for by “us”!  It’s a vanity project by no meager measure.  I am disabled.  I have some difficult even with the regular tired buses as the drivers often never seem to want lower the door for me.  I found my daily commutes as move around London to various work places made easier on the lower articulated buses.  Yes, I agree that on some routes the streets were either too narrow or too congested by other forms of transit to go about with ease.  But what makes anyone think that these will stop the offence of “free riding”  — hoping on and off is actually made easier for the fare jumper unless Boris is starting up a new school for the unemployed — bus conducting by the homeless!

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jason-Superboi-Jeong/1067655016 Jason Superboi Jeong

    ah i love British people and their designs…

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_WGEFJGUNSIZ5ZJE2GUE44H2FPE Kitzufiyan

    I have traveled in this bus personally. This bus is  a means of comfortable journey to people of London and there is no doubt about that it is also looking prefect.
    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20111213223125AAQE0Fd

  • Hergest

    It might – just might – have a smidgen more character than the current shoddy fare blocking London’s roads, but nothing can really replace the Routemaster.

    That said, a burning effigy of Ken Livingstone (who, let us not forget, swept away that particular branch of our heritage) would be an acceptable consolation.  Or better still, the man himself…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Areslv-Lv/100003156040090 Areslv Lv
  • G856oma

    Bin it and bring back the bendys. Too much glass it’ll be filthy in winter & even more expensive to keep clean.I’m sure that Mercedies has plenty of tried and tested fuel saving engine designs. bet it’ll cost a fortune to maintain as the engine design is totally new and therefore untested. Up go the fares

  • Anonymous
  • NoMoreUpholsteredSeats

    Why oh why they still use upholstered seats??!! Can’t bloody stand them. Filthy and unhygienic. Have a look at, errm, anywhere else, and bring in recycled PET or HPDE plastic ones, easier to clean, cheaper to replace…

  • Loving Dalston

    Round Dalston I’ve heard it called the Bozza Bus. Not quite right as a nickname bcs it’s unlikely to last once Boris becomes a historical/forgotten figure. On the other hand, we still call cops bobbies.

  • londona729

    I don’t know why this bus was designed with windows that don’t open!

    I avoid the Boris Bus routes now as they are much slower than normal bus routes. For example 24′s are regularly overtaken by 134′s (and 29′s ) between Camden Town and Tottenham Court Road. Drivers have to be much more cautious about pulling off from a bus stop (they need permission from the conductor to do so!).