There are two universal truths about London buses: you wait ages for one to come, then two arrive at once; and that they can be used as an ad-hoc measuring system when feet, kilos and tonnes just don’t convey enough grandiosity.
As long as 15 metres, high as 4.38 metres and weighing 12.65 tonnes, the double decker has taken its place alongside Olympic swimming pools and football stadiums as a barometer of muchness. So let’s hop on board for a whistle-stop tour of their use across various sections of our media.
Where else to start other than that infamous London favourite: the fatberg? Years of sewage abuse has long seen build-ups of grease across the capital, and last year produced Britain’s biggest ever fatberg in drains at Kingston-on-Thames. Reportedly “bus-sized”, it fell short of the larger clean up operation underneath Leicester Square in 2010 which removed nine double-deckers’ worth of fatty filth from the tourist hotspot. Still hungry?
Buses were practically invented to describe the measurements of whales. You probably know the blue whale is the world’s biggest ever animal, more than 3.5 times the length of a double decker, but how about this giant glowworm Australian divers found in 2011, which is just over two times the length? Stretching further back in time, the world’s largest dinosaur apparently roamed the earth at around five times the height of a double decker, with scientists uncovering the remains of a Titanosaur in 2014.
Entertainment and people
The IMAX is famous for having the best screen in London to catch your favourite films on, and at nearly five times the height of a double-decker, it’s no surprise. It might be a tall task for West Kensington ‘supermum’ Hanora McCool to organise a cinema trip with the all the children she has fostered over the years though – clocking in at 190 heads, this ‘biggest family in Britain’ could fill three buses.
Want to make a statement about climate change? Why not build a three-tonne polar bear puppet the size of a Routemaster and parade it past the Houses of Parliament and Westminster? It wouldn’t just be polar bears at threat if this similarly dimensioned asteroid hit the Earth two years ago – thankfully, unlike our well-guided TFL drivers, its sat-nav was a shade off.
Every year, according to Sainsbury’s, Britain wastes a shocking 1.65 million tonnes of potatoes, bread and milk along – or 130,000 buses, to use the correct parlance. Breaking it down further, the average annual food waste from a single UK restaurant could fill up three alone. All worth thinking about the next time you’re scraping your fatty burger remains down Leicester Square’s drains, no?