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.

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