Routemaster Bus

Routemaster Bus

The Routemaster bus became London Transport's most famous and best-loved bus design. It was launched in 1959 and eventually withdrawn in 2005. Its longevity was one reason why the Routemaster became a style icon, recognised the world over as a symbol of London. Taking a ride on the top deck of a Routemaster was a quintessentially 'London' thing to do for Londoner and tourist alike.

In the late 1940s, London Transport (L.T) needed a high-capacity bus, with room for 70 people. This was seen as an excellent way of reducing L.T's operation costs in the austere years following the Second World War, and of developing a more efficient diesel bus to replace London's electric trolleybuses.

A A M Durrant, the Chief Mechanical Engineer (Road Services) for London Transport between 1945 and 1965, recalled how he approached the design for the Routemaster. 'The first thing to do ... was to make a complete reappraisal of the operating requirements, and we asked the Operating Managers to try and erase from their minds all the past features they had specified, to think out their requirements from rock bottom and ignore for the time being any restrictions that hitherto might have had an influence upon them, such as Ministry regulations, the aim being to get down to the ideal bus from their point of view'.

The first prototype built in 1954 took to the roads in 1956. L.T. ordered 800 Routemasters that year. The first production model was ready in 1958, and delivery started in 1959. It was built by Associated Equipment Company (A.E.C) and Park Royal Vehicles.

Douglas Scott, a freelance industrial designer who had previously worked on the R.F-type, designed the Routemaster. He designed the elegant full-width bonnet that hid the radiator and the red tartan moquette seat covers. The ceiling was painted Sung yellow, supposedly to help disguise the cigarette stains on the top deck. Passengers were allowed to smoke upstairs until smoking was banned on buses on 14 February 1991.

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