London is set to get a fleet of electric Routemaster buses, with the city's Mayor, Boris Johnson, finally delivering on his promise to bring back the classic design to the capital's streets – in a sleek new hybrid-powered, eco-friendly format.
The Routemaster is one of London's iconic sights. Tourists immediately associate the large red double-deckers with the city. And the demise of the old-style Routemaster is still mourned throughout the capital.
What we don't particularly miss, however, is the diesel fumes and the smog. Which is why the new hybrid Routemaster 2.0 is being introduced back into circulation on the streets of London.
Hundreds of Routemaster 2.0s planned
Johnson released the information to the press and public this week, noting that:
"This iconic new part of our transport system is not only beautiful, but has a green heart beating beneath its stylish, swooshing exterior.
"It will cut emissions and give Londoners a bus they can be proud of. I expect to eventually have hundreds of these on London's roads, and for cities around the globe to be beside themselves with envy for our stunning red emblem of 21st Century London."
There is already some opposition from British taxpayers to Johnson's ambitious plans, seeing as the buses cost £290,000 a pop.
However, when you consider that the new Routemaster will be 15 per cent more fuel efficient than existing hybrid buses, and a considerable 40 per cent more efficient that more than current diesel double deckers, the plan makes more sense.
Routemaster 2.0 designer Thomas Heatherwick has changed the iconic design only a little – in order to increase the passenger's overall pleasure in the ride – with the new bus featuring three doors and two staircases, one which features a window all the way up the stairs.
"It suddenly becomes quite distinctive because, as a bus user, you'll suddenly be able to see out as you walk up the staircases," the designer explains.
Transport spokesman Kulveer Ranger added: "We want it to be inspiring, we want it to be fun, we want this new bus to encompass everything that is great about traveling around London on an icon like the old Routemaster was."
Routemaster's manufacturers, Wrightbus, are aiming to get the first fleet of Routemaster 2.0s on the streets of London by 2012 in time for the Olympics.