The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson has unveiled new plans for the future of London Buses. 4 years after the introduction of Boris’ Routemaster, the next batch will be served by a single operator, eliminating the bus conductor which was only introduced 4 years ago. So exactly how have London buses changed over the years, and what avenue will they take next?
The first London bus operated in 1829 as a horse drawn carriage, by Omnibus which ran between Paddington and Bank and cost one shilling (5p in todays currency). The idea came from Paris where the service was already popular. The buses could carry 22 people and were painted different colours to signify their route. Although passenger-carrying carriages had operated previously, this was the first which travelled a dedicated route with particular stops. This bus was revamped in 1865 and was known as the ‘Knifeboard’ due to its bench on the roof, which helped increase the number of seats.
It wasn’t until the 1920’s where London saw the ‘New Motor Bus’ which is the oldest bus closest to our current buses, which could seat 57 passengers. From the 1920’s most buses had a motor and the shape broadly remained the same. In 2001 the first of the new style bendy buses were introduced in London, although due to fare evasion with 3 doors, blocking junctions and collision with cyclists they were taken out of London’s Transport network only 8 years later.
The first of the hybrid buses were introduced to London in 2010, after Borris Johnsons Majors Electoral speech in 2008, now known as the Borris Bus. This bus similar in style to the 1960’s Routemaster, has two members of staff with a conductor and a hop on hop off rear platform (the same platform was eliminated in 2005 by Ken Livingstone, London’s Major at the time) and two staircases to increase accessibility.
Why the all of a sudden change heart? Boris is now revoking his iconic Borris Bus by taking away the fundamentals of the design. Rather than changing the shape and design of the buses I believe more effort and money should have been invested in making the bus run entirely on electric, although this technology might just be around the corner!