Today, of course, is the Routemaster’s swansong. Its passing will be mourned by all but the curmudgeonly. So as our big red friend prepared to go on one final mission, we gauged the mood of the public, the drivers and the ‘clippies’.
Thanks to Silvia Diaz for most of what follows.
As dawn broke over Streatham Bus garage, fans lined up to pay their last respects to Routemaster 159, due to take it’s last journey before being decommissioned.
And all the way from Marble Arch, cameras were out in force; three key stops for aficionados being Marble Arch, Westminster Bridge and Streatham Garage. Brian Ridge from Piddinghoe, near New Haven said he wouldn’t have missed it for the world.
I travelled on them as a nipper, it’s the end of an era; the beating heart of London is no more and it’s high treason.
Bus Conductor Ralph Baruwa, was surprised at reactions from passengers over the past few days.
We’ve been rammed all week; people have demanded extra tickets to keep as souvenirs, and taking photos.
Driver Robert Walker was more practical:
I’ve been a driver for 11 years, these buses are part of England. People being sad at them going; personally, it’s not a shock, but it’s an old fashioned bus. Time to modernise and move on.
However, one bus driver, who asked to remain anonymous, said:
Someone cried this morning at the station, I’m touched that people care so much about this bus.
So that’s it. The Routemaster has passed on to the great depot in the sky. Well, almost. The buses will make a slight return on two special ‘Heritage Routes’ through central London. And calls came today for a ‘replacement Routemaster’ that would maintain the iconic design features while remedying its faults.
Londonist wonders: in 50 years time, will we be lamenting the demise of the bendy bus, in favour of the new-fangled hover-coach?