Forgive the rare non Tube post, but last night, The Londoneer & myself were treated to a sneak peek tour of the inside of the new London bus which is currently on display at London Transport Museum. I don't normally get excited about buses, but couldn't turn down the unique opportunity to see inside the full sized mock up & take a few photos. I loved the mixture of 21st century sleekness and modernity on the outside and the lovely retro touches which hark back to the old Routemaster on the inside.
I'd half expected some eyewateringly bright upholstery (like the new London Underground seats), but was really surprised. The moquette on the seats was wonderful and kind of echoed the body's shape. As you can see from the pictures there a lot more seats facing the back of the bus. A large rear window makes it easy to see where you've been!
When you go upstairs (or come downstairs) there's a pane of glass running along the side, so you can see outside.
The platform to the rear set of stairs is really similar to the old Routemaster decks which I had fond memories of jumping on when the bus was still moving. However, unlike the old buses, the platform will have the facility to be closed off at certain times (by a second member of staff), mainly at night.
Upstairs I was convinced the roof was lower than on current buses, but was informed it's at the same height. The new bus will also be air conditioned and due to the latest hybrid technology and will be 40% more fuel efficient than conventional diesel buses - which is all good.
The mock-up will be used to fine-tune the design of the bus before a prototype is manufactured by Wrightbus Ltd later this year and the first five new buses will enter service in 2012.
The new London bus is on display at London Transport Museum until June 2011. There will also be two free open evenings to allow people to see the bus free of charge (sadly only the outside of the bus), the first on Friday 13th May 2011 (as part of Museums at Night) and the second on May 20th 2011.
There's also a whole range of bus related family activities taking place in April around the Easter holidays, ranging from storytelling to designing a new uniform for the driver and second crew member. Full details in the Events section of the Museum's site.