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Routemaster bus at Zürich Zoo

filed on: 08.08.2020 (8th Aug 2020)

It has (regretably) been many years since I last visited Zürich's Zoo, but while googling the topic to find the above clip I came across pictures of an RTL routemaster bus - within the zoo grounds. The bus immedaitely piqued my interest and so I researched it further.

The bus, branded Top Deck Safari, is not operational unfortunately, but has been positioned to provide safari-like views from its open-top upper deck and can also be hired as an event location.

This picture is from an article from the zoo website on the Hyena enclosure.
routemaster bus zurich zoo

The bus appears to be little more than a shell, and has a large opening cut in the side. The lower deck appears to be glazed still, but the upper deck has no windows, presumably for better viewability. But overall, the venerable bus appears to be turned out very neatly and still retains that unmistakable London routemaster look and feel, with even the typeface on the blinds seeming authentic. All this points to a rather skilled and high quality rebuild.

A little further searching on the zoo site found a February dated item presenting the (then new) bus, which is part of the novel Lewa Savannah area (for which the previosuly mentioned video clip is an advert). The article also has some background information and an interesting photo of the bus during the rebuild.
routemaster bus zurich zoo
routemaster bus zurich zoo

Zooming in on the pictures a little reveals that whoever did the rebuild, re-applied the London fleet number, RML 2533, in its correct location on the side of the engine bonnet. Assuming this to be the bus' correct identity, I searched a little further in this direction, and came across the below "before and after" views of the rebuild on the kreis7.blogspot site.
routemaster bus zurich zoo

Another find (on baumaschinenbilder.de) reveals an older view of the bus in rather forlorn condition, prior to its rebuild, vandalized and left in an industrial zone in Niederhasli (near Zürich), but interestingly with the same adverts as in the above view. These pictures would suggest that the bus was not brought to Switzerland especially for the zoo but was previosuly intended for some other use which was probably never realized.

A commenter on the site says the bus entered service with LT in 1966 registered JJD 533D. From 1993-1997 it ran for Kentish Bus. It was finally withdrawn by Arriva in 2005 (the year regular Routemaster operation ceased in London).
routemaster bus zurich zoo

This news item is from the 2020 newslog.


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