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WHAT IS IT?
The New Bus for London project was intended to produce a new and distinctive double-decker red bus specifically for London, in the tradition of the world-famous 'Routemaster'.
Although taking some styling hints from its illustrious predecessor, the 'New Routemaster', as it has now become known, is very much a design for the 21st Century and features a low-emission hybrid drive (the diesel engine powers a generator which provides electric transmission, rather than driving the vehicle directly). The vehicles also feature two staircases and three doors for speedier boarding and alighting, and to comply with modern disabilty regulations features a ramp and space for a wheelchair user.
It was intended to have the rear platform door open in normal service, with a "Customer Assistant" to advise when it was safe to board and alight, but only a few routes ever had these due to the cost and the role was abolished in September 2016. All doors are now controlled by the driver and are only opened at bus stops.
The bus was designed by Thomas Heatherwick, and was developed by bus builders Wrightbus of Ballymena, Northern Ireland. Wrigtbus is a long-etablished builder of bus bodies and has also supplied numerous examples of its more conventional double-deck Eclipse Gemini and Eclipse Gemini 2 bodies to bus operators throughout London. Wrightbus is using experience gained in the development of the New Bus for London to develop its product range further.
The first New Bus for London prototypes appeared in early 2012, and were trialled on busy route 38 alongside conventional buses. Mass production started during 2013 and the buses now operate on a number of Central London routes, including routes 3, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 24, 38, 55, 59, 68, 73, 137, 148, 149, 159, 168, 189, 211, 390 and 453, with routes 21, 48, 76 and 253 to follow in the near future. A number will also be deployed on East London Transit routes EL1, EL2 and 387 (to be renumbered EL3) in the Barking area. A total of 1000 'New Routemaster' buses are due to be in service by mid-2017.
The New Bus for London - the 'New Routemaster'
HOW TO USE THE BUSES
The New Routemasters have three entrances and two staircases, and a system of open boarding allows for speedier journeys.
If you have an Oyster Card (or Freedom pass issued by a London Borough) you may board by any door. You must place your card on the Oyster reader before proceeding inside the vehicle and ensure it has registered correctly - you will hear a single beep, or multiple beeps if it is a Zip-card issued to younger people.
If you have a paper travelcard you must board by the front door and show your ticket to the driver.
You may exit by any door.
Wheelchair users should board and alight by the centre doors, which is adjacent to the designated wheelchair space. The driver will activate a ramp so you can get on and off. Wheelchair users travel free on London Buses and do not need to show proof of entitlement to the driver.
Please note that 'open boarding' applies ONLY to the New Routemasters, and to the single-deck buses used on routes 507 and 521. On all other London buses you must board by the front door only and exit by the centre doors.
Three doorways and open boarding mean less time spent at stops.