Image from the Guardian
One of Mayor Boris Johnson's election promises when he got elected two years ago was to re-introduce the much loved double decker bus. There was a competition and two designs were chosen. The virtual prototype for the winning bus has now been unveiled. The physical prototype comes next year and the bus itself is set to come into service in time for the 2012 Olympics.
Designed by Thomas Heatherwick, the new curvy, highly styled Routemaster will be15 per cent more fuel efficient than existing hybrid buses and 40 per cent more than diesel double-deckers. It will include the classic jump-on platform at the back so that riders can jump on and off in between stops.
The original Routemaster
The bus will have three doors and two staircases for speedier boarding and access to the top deck. The back platform will be open during the day, when there is a second conductor, so that passengers can jump on and off. The bus will hold 87 passengers, including 25 standing.
The new green buses will be made of lightweight materials and will have lots of glass to make it look and feel airy and bright. The angular window allows passengers to look out as they climb the stairs. The bus will have a hybrid diesel/electric engine designed to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust.
The designers are not the same ones chosen in the original competition. The Wright Group and Thomas Heatherwick are the creators of this new look bus. Heatherwick is well-known for the spectacular Seed Pavillion now at the Shanghai World Expo. The Wright Group made the last double-decker buses.
There is some concern about the cost of the project, with some calling it a "vanity project" for the Mayor. Transport for London has budgeted more than £11 million for the project and the first five buses will cost £7.8 million. However a Transport spokesman said that amount included design, development and building costs. Once the buses are rolling it is expected that the cost will be reduced to about £300,000 apiece (compared to £190,000 for a regular bus).
The buses replace the much-hated bendy buses which clog traffic and travel half-empty most of the time. They cost about £250,000 each.
Image from Transport Briefing
As for the new London bicycle rental system, it's on its way and will swing into action on July 30. There was some controversy because the 6,000 bicycles are being imported from Montreal, rather than being built in Britain. However, they are part of the Canadian Bixi system which has been adapted for London use. There will be 400 docking stations around the central part of London.
More on Double Decker Buses and Bike Rental Systems
New Double Decker Buses To Hit London Soon
Ottawa, London and Boston to Use Canadian Bixi System for Bicycle
Montreal has Bixi and Great Bike Lane System