Gadget Break – New London bus has that crucial Fifth Element look

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The Mayor of London, yes, they have a mayor, revealed the long-awaited new London bus today. For those of you unaware that the Old London Bus needed updating, I can assure you it did. And the long bendy ones favoured by other countries just would not do for Ye Olde London – aside from their habit of killing cyclists on tight corners and bursting into flames.

The old Routemaster bus is an icon on London, but the iconic 1954 design needed a revamp. It needed that crucial Fifth Element look cities really ought to be buying into in 2010.

Step forward Heatherwick Studios, the design agency behind the new bus, which will arrive for the London Olympics in 2012. The Wright Group, makers of London’s current double-decker bus, will make the new one.

The new design has two staircases and three doors, with that old fashioned rear door returning to the design. The original’s diesel engine has gone in favour of a hybrid model which has a 40 percent efficiency boost over normal engines, and 15 percent more power than existing hybrids. It should also be quieter.

Some 87 passengers will fill the new bus, more than the old 77 but less than the 149 on the bendy buses. And the first five buses will cost £1.6 million each, or about £7.8 million. That will drop to £300,000 each. A normal bus costed £190,000 and a bendy bus £250,000.

All in all it’s looking pretty good. I can’t wait.

  • Phil

    I can’t wait either, although I moved back to the States now.

    I lived in Britain long enough to extensively use, and then mourn the retirement of the Routemasters. The great thing about these was that you could hop on/off between official stops. Although officially frowned upon, the conductors usually looked the other way.

    London Transport didn’t like them because they took a two people to operate — driver and conductor.

    It looks like the new design has glass doors blocking the rear deck, so maybe jumping on/off won’t be possible now with entry only from the front, thus making them a driver-only operation.

    Time will tell.

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  • Mike in London

    Yes, we have a mayor of London, just like New York City has a mayor. Crazy, huh?! It’s almost like we live in a real city!

    • Gizmo

      Some techies have lead a sheltered life and the whole concept of political entities actually running the cities of the world is a foreign concept to them. That’s why the word “DUH!” is so popular over here in the states.

  • Drew

    By “Old”, do you mean the old Routemaster or the current gen of double-decker buses made by a handful of different companies?

    Thank goodness if it’s quieter. Some of the current buses sound like a jet taking off as it accelerates.

    Phil, the selling point of the (horrible) bendy-buses was that people could enter through any door and use their Oyster card. No reason why that couldn’t be applied to the Nu-Routemaster.

    • Phil

      True enough, Drew. I forgot about Oyster, which I used mainly for the Underground.

      However, I’ll bet that the safety weenies will quash the jump on/off between stops fun I always had on the original (old) Routemasters.

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  • http://www.buspictures.net/ bus pictures

    This bus looks great. It is time to put this bus to London’s roads.

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