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Routemaster makes final journey

9 December 05 13:09 GMT

Bus enthusiasts have boarded the last Routemaster vehicle to serve on a normal London route.

Forty passengers joined dignitaries on the 159 route in Oxford St on the 1208 service which was 26 minutes late.

The double-decker Routemasters, with their distinctive hop-on hop-off rear platforms, have been serving the city for more than 50 years.

The vehicles have been phased out and replaced with more modern designs, considered safer and more accessible.

Crowds gathered as the last Routemaster in operation pulled into Brixton bus garage in south London at around 1440 GMT, much to the chagrin of its fans across the world.

The bus, however, will not die out completely with services operating on two heritage routes.

Route 15 will run from Trafalgar Square to Tower Hill, via Fleet Street, while the number nine will start at Royal Albert Hall, end in Aldwych, and take in Knightsbridge and Piccadilly.

Transport history

A further 350 have been sold off to the public to be reborn into a wealth of guises - from bars to accommodation for the homeless.

Fred Martin, 59, who travelled from Norwich for the send-off, said: "I grew up with the Routemaster when I was living in Enfield in north London. We are losing so much of our tradition."

However, driver Winston Briscoe, 62, who manned the last 159 bus service with his conductor Lloyd Licorish, 61, will not be lamenting the bus's end.

"I prefer driving the more modern buses," said Mr Briscoe. "You can have better inter-action with passengers and I don't have to worry about people falling off the back platform when they are jumping on and off."

For those after their own piece of transport history, there are still 35 left priced between £12,000 and £35,000.

Transport watchdog, London Travelwatch, said the continued use of the Routemaster, which is inaccessible to wheelchairs or baby buggies, was not viable.

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