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Last Updated: Thursday, 20 May, 2004, 05:19 GMT 06:19 UK
End of the road for an icon
Routemaster bus
Breakfast's Max Foster talking to bus designer Colin Curtis
For half a century, the bright red Routemaster bus has been a familiar sight on London's streets.

But despite their popularity with drivers, users and tourists alike, the gleaming double deckers, days are numbered.

Now the Routemasters are to be replaced over the next year or so, with a more reliable and economic design.

  • On Thursday, Breakfast spoke to Colin Curtis who was one of the Routemaster designers

  • We also heard from bus driver Dave Barley

    One of the main attractions of the Routemaster, was that it was easy to get on and off, they had comfortable seats, and took much of their design inspiration from world war II technology.

    Originally expected to last less than 20 years, the fact that the buses were so adaptable meant their design kept evolving.

    The buses always looked good, and evolved to include heating and other modern features.

    Fans of the Routemaster say that new buses are ugly and won't be as flexible as the old models.

    Designers have even drawn up a new design for the Routemaster - known as the QRM - but there has been little interest in developing it.

    One of the problems faced by the designers is that companies don't want to buy 'one piece' units; they want to buy buses that can be built by different manufacturers and then assembled.

    Decision

    Transport for London has taken the decision to remove all the Routemasters from the capital's streets by the end of 2005.

    One alternative to the Routemaster is the so called bendy bus, a single deck bus which is longer than normal, and flexes in the middle, this takes more passengers, and many of these vehicles have been bought by money raised from the congestion charge.



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