The history and evolution of London buses have taken a long route to buses we're now familiar and reliant on, London's iconic red buses are an integral part of the city and have taken millions of passengers up and down the capital for decades. It all began with horse-drawn omnibus (image below) which proved popular. Later, with electrification, the carriages were joined by trams. The red bus didn't appear on London roads until the early 1920s. Since then these distinctive buses have become a symbol of this friendly metropolis. Practical and well designed, the buses are one of many reasons that so many people love London.
The Routemaster was introduced in the mid 1950s. It was phased out in 2005. These buses were not only my favorites, but London's most loved bus. You could hop on and off the bus as you pleased while traveling between London's popular tourist attractions. As a child I found that one of the perks of these buses arose when I was only going one or two stops. On those occasions I could sometimes get to my destination without encountering the conductor who would otherwise take my fare. This worked better when I sat upstairs at the very front because it took much longer for the conductor to get to me.
1941, Phyllis Thompson became the first woman licensed to drive a double-deck bus
The Current Double Decker Bus
The current double decker bus that took over from the Routemaster, is 'pay-on-entry'. The main problem with this bus is people can't hop on and off as they please. Even when caught in heavy traffic, passengers can't get out and walk. Drivers won't open the doors between stops. It can be very frustrating, especially if you're stationary and only 10 feet from your stop! These buses were brought in for “health and safety” reasons and to reduce fare dodging. The main savings though is the conductor's salary. To be fair, these buses are quieter, better for wheelchair users. the elderly and moms with buggies.
Fact. The London bus network is one of the largest in the world.
The Bendy Bus (Articulated Bus)
The Bendy Bus, or articulated bus came into service in 2002 and was phased out in 2009. When they were introduced, I couldn't understand why they were created. Why would you want to chop off the top deck of a bus and tow it behind? Aside from that, these articulated buses have created more controversy than all the other buses put together. Too often these buses caught fire and were involved in accidents. Londoners just weren't used to buses that long. Also, during rush hour, the rear doors of the second carriage made it easy for people to sneak on without paying.
Fact. Two thirds of public transport journeys are made by bus.
The New Routemaster Bus.
The new Routemaster bus looks amazing. This hybrid bus was inspired by the original Routemaster and I think it's a fabulous design although our former mayor, Ken Livingstone, was never a fan for cost reasons. This new modern bus has three doors and two staircases as well as a hop-on, hop-off rear platform. It's much lighter, more fuel efficient and greener than its predecessors. I can't wait for them to be rolled out everywhere and to start hoping on and off them. The total price for the first eight buses, including research and development, cost over 10 million pounds. That means the next eight buses should cost much less!? Only time will tell whether they will be a success when they're rolled out in 2012/13.
Fact. An average bus user travels 3.4 miles per journey.
London Tour Buses.
You get a bird's eye view while riding an open-top bus. The unique panoramic views are ideal for taking photographs from its elevated perspective. These buses are a great way to see, hear and smell the city of London with live guided commentary of the cities iconic buildings and many of its hot spots and attractions.