New red buses for Londoners and tourists too
There are some precautions. Be prepared. Know your destination. Move swiftly and sit down quickly.
Bus drivers in London have one thing in mind and that is to stay on schedule and keep moving. If you doddle for a second, they are likely to take off and jostle you.
If you are trying to scurry up the stairs to the top level of the bus where the view is best, you had better get a move on.
“A global icon is reborn: Londoners meet city's new $36,000 per seat red bus
By Alastair Jamieson, msnbc.com
LONDON – London's red double-decker buses are as globally recognizable as New York's yellow cabs, so there was dismay when the city's classic Routemaster vehicles were phased out six years ago.
This week's launch of a modern version of the bus – the first designed specifically for the U.K. capital since the original was introduced in the 1950s – has proven the double-decker is more than just a way of getting around.
The prototype features the same distinctive curves as its post-war predecessor, as well as the hop-on, hop-off rear platform used by impatient Londoners when stuck in traffic jams.
Its arrival fulfills an election promise made by Boris Johnson, the charmingly clownish mayor who believes public affection for the new Routemaster will restore some civic pride in a creaking and often-maligned transport system.
The timing of the launch is no accident, five months ahead of the Olympic Games and 12 weeks before Johnson is up for re-election against an opponent who is making transport – in particular, inflation-busting fare increases – a big campaign issue.
With a trademark rhetorical flourish, Johnson hailed the new bus at Monday’s unveiling as "a stunning piece of automotive architecture" representing "the very best in British design, engineering and manufacture" and "a demonstration of what can be done given imagination and determination".
Others see it as a vanity project for Johnson, a blustery Conservative whose mass cycle-rental scheme has earned the name "Boris Bikes." David Lammy, a Labour Party member of parliament, asked how the mayor could justify the "extraordinary" cost – equivalent to $2.25 million each – of the eight prototype vehicles. That compares to the $300,000 price tag for an ordinary, off-the-shelf double decker – although a major order would reduce the individual cost considerably.
Lammy noted that the new Routemaster also has less space than its more functional rivals and costs $36,000 per seat – the same price as a new 3-series BMW.
Indeed, the whole project has been likened to Concorde – the supersonic aircraft that inspired awe and became a symbol engineering achievement despite costing a fortune to produce and never achieving widespread commercial success.
But the bus has already been welcomed by cheering crowds on its first trips in passenger service on the high-frequency route 38 between Victoria railway station and the north-east borough of Hackney.
Newly-designed bus may have sleek curves, but at $36,000 per seat are they worth the price?
One blog review even reported onboard conversation between strangers – a concept so rare among taciturn Londoners that it seems almost to be discouraged. "Vanity project or no, the new bus is certainly a head-turner and a talking point," the Londonist concluded.”