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Routemaster makes final journey
December 9, 2005 8:21 AM   Subscribe

Routemaster makes final journey. I must be turning into an old sentimental fool: I understand the technical and practical reasons to retire them, yet I think it's sad.
posted by blogenstock (27 comments total)

 
My wife got knocked down by one on Oxford Street on our honeymoon-- it brushed her hard, I caught her before she hit the ground and she thought someone had shoved her but it was a Routemaster.

I'll miss them when I'm in London but I won't miss those grotty seats.
posted by Mayor Curley at 8:27 AM on December 9, 2005


I haven't ridden a bus in London for years. How easy it to ride for free on the new ones if there's no gaping hole at the back end?
posted by vbfg at 8:28 AM on December 9, 2005


I'm going to miss them. They had character.
posted by grouse at 8:29 AM on December 9, 2005


.
posted by scarabic at 8:35 AM on December 9, 2005


.
posted by shoepal at 8:37 AM on December 9, 2005


.






The 38 and 73 just aren't right as non-routemasters
posted by penguin pie at 8:47 AM on December 9, 2005


Are the replacement buses still double-decker?
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:51 AM on December 9, 2005


Oh man! The big red telephone boothes, the big red mailboxes and now this! You guys got something against the color red?
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 8:53 AM on December 9, 2005


Ho hum. It's not the last journey. They're still running regularly on two heritage routes through central London.

It's not your fault, the media is misrepresenting it.
posted by ascullion at 8:54 AM on December 9, 2005


.

I'll miss the 19 in particular. It starts at Battersea Bridge and I used to love the way you could get there late, but still run up the side of the bridge and jump aboard because of the low speed of the traffic. One thing I won't miss is the crappy "wind-down" windows, though, which leak like a sieve.

At least the 19 has stayed double-decker, but others like the 73 have become "bendy buses", which are like two single-deckers joined on a hinge. As for free rides, the Routemasters all had conductors, which stopped fare-dodging - by contrast the bendy buses don't even require you to show your ticket to the driver. You just have to swipte your Oyster card against a reader, or do nothing if you've got a paper ticket. I get the 507 every day from Victoria and there are legions of school kids who ride for free and get very jumpy if a police officer gets on board...

But never fear, the buses are still red!
posted by greycap at 8:59 AM on December 9, 2005


I've only been in England for 36 hours. Only remember two things. Going to a gay pub, which was just like what I thought a pub would be, only gayer. And riding a doubledecker bus.
posted by Nelson at 9:05 AM on December 9, 2005


The 137 as well -- it's been a new-style double decker for a couple of years and it simply doesn't feel right. It's not the 'magic bus' any more

The whole wheelchair-accessibility argument is a complete fallacy. I've lived in London for 20 years, public transport is my primary means of getting around (other than shanks' pony), and I have once -- once! -- seen someone in a wheelchair on a bus.
posted by Hogshead at 9:09 AM on December 9, 2005


This is terrible news for amateur metrologists. Now we'll never know how big things are!

Blue whale: four times as long as a London bus
Giraffe: twice as tall as a London bus
Albania: enough citizens to fill 3500 London buses

All of which used to piss my dad, a proud Northerner, off no end.
posted by nylon at 9:12 AM on December 9, 2005


Greycap, I very much doubt that the schoolkids are getting nervous about fare dodging as all children under 16 ride for free on all buses in London.

The routemaster looked marvellous, but lets not forget one major drawback - you couldn't use it if you were in a wheelchair. Unlike all the other buses which can take wheelchairs (or are being adapted to), if you were in a wheelchair and saw a routemaster coming you were screwed. I have a friend in a chair and he has spent years having to take taxis, so he's over the moon to see the back of them.
posted by ciderwoman at 9:13 AM on December 9, 2005


The whole wheelchair-accessibility argument is a complete fallacy. I've lived in London for 20 years, public transport is my primary means of getting around (other than shanks' pony), and I have once -- once! -- seen someone in a wheelchair on a bus.

I can't express in text how absurd this line is. Why do you think that is, Hogshead? Possibly because they litereally weren't able to board Routemasters?
posted by ascullion at 9:24 AM on December 9, 2005


I was thrilled at the names: Winston Briscoe driving, Lloyd Licorish conducting. I hope to ride one of them on the "heritage routes" someday.
posted by wzcx at 9:25 AM on December 9, 2005


Hogshead, for some reason I missed your comment on preview.

I have no idea which route you're taking, but on the route down through Kilburn I regularly see wheelchair users on the buses.

Still, fuck 'em if it means some old bus can keep running, eh?
posted by ciderwoman at 9:28 AM on December 9, 2005


I see quite a few wheelchair users on the bus too - and in fact I have seen bus drivers refuse to stop at bus stops where a wheelchair user is waiting. Whether it's because their particular bus isn't equipped with the ramps/lowering devices etc, or just bloody-mindedness, I'm not sure, but people definitely get a raw deal. London transport must be a complete nightmare for those with disabilities, for example most Tube stations are not wheelchair accessible. It's the right decision to move away from Routemasters, even if they will be missed.

ciderwoman - you're quite right, I'd forgotten that TfL have made it free for 16s and under. Maybe it is just the police officers themselves (who get free bus and rail travel as part of their conditions of service, I think) making them jumpy...
posted by greycap at 10:08 AM on December 9, 2005


I've lived in London for 20 years, public transport is my primary means of getting around (other than shanks' pony), and I have once -- once! -- seen someone in a wheelchair on a bus.

Maybe since the drivers like to lie about their wheelchair ramp not working, because they can't be arsed to use it.
posted by grouse at 10:08 AM on December 9, 2005


This reminded me of this recent article from the Independent (Spurl Cache here as they take articles down fairly quickly). The article pointed out that

A recent booklet from the Policy Exchange think-tank identifies eight "children of Routemaster" that were offered to London's transport chiefs. The author Andrew Morgan, a founder of the Routemaster Association, wrote: "The designs and technology are there to build a worthy successor to the Routemaster."

The booklet can be found here (direct link to 88 page pdf). The relevant chapter is 'Building son of the Routemaster, and it points out that

It is understood
that TfL [Transport for London] was offered these [double decker] alternatives but chose to push on regardless
with the off-the-shelf current early generation low-floor one person
operated double deckers or “bendy” buses.


Rejected alternative designs (which would have allowed wheelchair access) included one by Blake Cotterill that won an automotive design award (images here and here).

It looks like transport for London didn't really have much interest in looking for a real alternative to the Routemaster, despite the lack of support for the decision to scrap them. I've heard nothing but bad things about the bendy buses from friends in London, which didn't do themselves a lot of favours due to their tendancy to burst into flames which emerged shortly after their introduction.
posted by drill_here_fore_seismics at 11:11 AM on December 9, 2005


But english cops still wear pointy helmets right?
posted by jouke at 11:24 AM on December 9, 2005


Metafilter: Just like what I thought a pub would be, only gayer
posted by athenian at 11:38 AM on December 9, 2005


I've only been to London once, when I was a kid. My parents, of course, made sure we got to ride one of the famous double-deckers. I was too timid to really appreciate it. I did take notice of the conductor, though: the little mechanism he was wearing on his belt that dispensed change. He took notice of me, too, and presented me with a blank roll of the paper that tickets were printed on. It was about three inches wide on a little cardboard center, off-white to gray, and hundreds of yards long. I used it to draw very, very loooooong comic strips. Thank you, Routemaster!
posted by steef at 3:41 PM on December 9, 2005


They're still rolling at UCD!
posted by squirrel at 4:45 PM on December 9, 2005


Like the Guardian said yesterday: Who cares:? Back in the day there was a huge fuss about replacing the trolley cars -- replacing them with an ugly, squat, red abomination. Which was the Routemaster. HEll, in 50 years today's children will be bewailing the end of the Bendy Bus. Pshaw.
posted by bonaldi at 6:42 PM on December 9, 2005


In 50 years today's children will be bewailing the end of food and UV protection.
posted by squirrel at 8:43 PM on December 10, 2005


I am deeply sad about the demise of Routemasters but on the plus side the bendy buses apparently annoy angry cyclists even more.
posted by Zulq at 3:16 PM on December 11, 2005


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