The Routemaster bus

The Routemaster bus is almost no more - it runs on a couple of heritage routes in central London. Otherwise, buses are (more or less) accessible. I'm glad that they've been replaced, both because they were useless if you had mobility problems and because they were designed when people were smaller. I can only fit with some discomfort into the seats and my brother, who is rather taller than me, can only fit on the sideways facing benches at the back. Neither of us can stand on the lower deck without stooping. I think the iconic thing people look for is a red, double-decker bus; the model is less important.

The big advantages of the Routemaster were that it had a conductor, which I think made people feel safer than cameras do, and that it had a modular design. It lasted so long because if a part broke, you could replace it pretty easily and without taking the bus apart. It also allowed parts to be scavenged from one bus for another, further adding to their lifespan. It would be good, I think, to come up with a single design of bus for London. The initial costs may be higher, but it would provide the branding that makes it a tourist icon and would, in time, become as 'loved' as the Routemaster. If its lifetime were as long as the Routemaster - 47 years in London and still counting in some places - and the fact that its design evolved from the 1938 RT, which is still running in Davis, CA - I'm sure it would pay for itself many times over.



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