First passengers jump aboard the new bus for London

27 February 2012  •  Source: Transport for London (TfL)

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, will today (Monday 27 February) deliver on his manifesto pledge to introduce a 21st century bus that draws inspiration from the iconic Routemaster, as the first new bus for London enters passenger service.

The bus will pick up its first fare paying customers in Hackney at around midday as it plies its trade on one of the capital’s busiest bus routes, the 38, which runs between Victoria and Hackney. This first bus will be quickly joined by a further seven prototypes at a rate of one every couple of weeks as they roll off the Wrightbus production line where a team of 25 engineers and a 40 strong production team have built the prototype buses. All eight prototypes will be in service by the end of May.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “From today Londoners will have the chance to jump aboard this stunning piece of automotive architecture on which every feature is tailored to the London passenger. It represents the very best in British design, engineering and manufacture and is a demonstration of what can be done given imagination and determination.

“But it’s not just a pretty face. The green innards of this red bus mean that it is twice as fuel efficient as a diesel bus and the most environment-friendly of its kind. When ordered in greater numbers it will make a significant economic contribution to the manufacturing industries, while also helping deliver a cleaner, greener and more pleasant city.”

The new bus has a host of exciting and innovative features including three entrances and two staircases to enable fast boarding and alighting of passengers; the reintroduction of an open rear platform; LED lighting; new seating moquette and wireless bell pushes.

The new bus utilises the very latest green engine technology and is the most environmentally friendly bus of its kind. In tests at Millbrook Proving Ground, the engineering test vehicle emitted only 640 grams per kilometre (g/km) of CO2 and 3.96 g/km of Oxides of nitrogen (NOx) – less than half of the CO2 emitted by a current diesel bus (1295g/km) and under half of the NOx emitted by a current diesel bus (9.3g/km). In testing, fuel economy was also better than twice that of a standard diesel bus at 11.6mpg

TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, Leon Daniels, said: “This vehicle really has set a new standard. It utilises the latest cutting edge engine technology to deliver phenomenal fuel economy and emission performance. It has also been manufactured using a range of innovative materials and techniques. However, the most significant achievement of this whole project is the phenomenal speed with which a vehicle of this quality has been taken from the drawing board onto the streets to pick up its first fare paying passengers in a little over two years. That is really something.”

The Mayor first announced his intention to create a new bus in the run up to the 2008 Mayoral election. A competition was launched in July 2008 that sought to harvest design ideas for a new bus for London that drew inspiration from the iconic Routemaster but was fit for the 21st century. This would be the first time a bus had been designed specifically for the streets of London in more than 50 years. The competition was a huge success with more than 700 entries received from professionals and non-professionals of all ages from five continents.

The ideas harvested from the design competition were provided to manufacturers who then took part in a competitive tender process to win the right to manufacture a new bus for London. Wrightbus, a family owned company based in Ballymena, Northern Ireland, emerged from this process as the winning manufacturer in January 2010. London based Heatherwick Studio was also appointed to provide independent advice on the development of both the interior and external design of the bus to ensure the project remained true to the original vision and objective the Mayor had for this iconic bus.

In May that same year the public were given the first glance of the new bus when the Mayor unveiled the initial design for the bus at the London Transport Museum. Within months, in November, a life size three dimensional mock up of the bus has been constructed. The mock-up was used to physically test how the computer designed bus would look and feel. The mock-up was also used to engage with stakeholders, including leading mobility and accessibility groups, and some very useful feedback was used to refine the design.

In May 2011, an engineering test vehicle was unveiled at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire. This vehicle underwent months of intensive structural, engineering and emissions testing and drove more than 6000 miles in conditions simulating operation in London.

The first prototype bus was completed in November and the Mayor was on hand to drive the first vehicle off the production line. The bus crossed the Irish Sea and was unveiled in Trafalgar Square just before Christmas. Early this year the bus undertook a tour which included eight London boroughs along with Westfield Stratford City and Westfield London shopping centres. With more than 10,000 people viewing the bus during the tour, the bus with its iconic design received an overwhelmingly positive reaction from the public. Since this time the bus has been undergoing the necessary final testing, certification and licensing to enable it to carry passengers.

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