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Last days for London's Routemaster

filed on: 17.11.2005 (17th Nov 2005)

(This announcement may be slightly off-topic, but no apology is offerered other than that the Routemaster is one of the most high-profile and significant bus designs of history)

The days of Routemasters on regular heavy-duty bus services are coming to a close. Their last day in public service will be the 9th December when they will be withdrawn from route 159.

The Routemaster was first introduced in 1954 and was strikingly advanced for its time. Instead of a traditional bodyshell on chassis construction, the Routemaster has an integral load-bearing body made of lightweight alloys permitting significant weight savings. When the last bus of this type was delivered in 1968, 2876 Routemasters had been built. For many years these buses were the very model of the double-deck, rear entrance, conductor worked red London bus. The incredible ruggedness and durability of the design granted them a long lifespan. Mass withdrawals began in the early 1980s, largely as part of a cost-driven transition to driver-only buses. Many of the withdrawn buses were sold overseas where they are seen as a London icon. In the face of privatisation, many provincial operators in the UK also acquired Routemasters, but most of these had been replaced by the early 1990s and London operations outlasted them all. Their amazing poularity among passengers led to many being refurbished and re-engined. Finally, however, it was access requirements that led to the demise of these legendary vehicles that had outlasted several generations of newer buses.

The Routemaster story is not over yet. Even before the last 159 drives into the garage, two heritage routes began operation at the beginning of this week (14th November). These run at 15 minute headways every day from 09:30 to 18:30 and strengthen routes 9 and 15. The buses used are recently refurbished examples that have been repainted into their historic 1960s liveries complete with the old London Transport roundell.

source: The Routemaster Association, TfL (Transport for London)

This news item is from the 2005 newslog.

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