One of the benefits of BBC News Online is the fact that they never get rid of their articles – they’re there forever so, as I did today, you can find how many glowing eulogies there have been for the old Routemaster.
Everyone about how the RM will soon be gone. 1999, 2002 and one from 2004.
Funnily enough this years will probably be the one that was right.
Reading back at the other two articles, I was amused to hear about Ken Livingstone’s capaign to keep them running prior to his election! Another transport u-turn oh yes, but one that sadly, sell… just needs to be done.
When my mum first visited me after moving to London, she boarded one with excited delight. "They got rid of these in the 60s in Manchester! Blimey!" or something along those lines anyway.
I’ve also always felt some excitment about travelling on them. Jumping on the platform… Those curved stairs. That wonderful design. Those cramped piddly seats… The fact you can’t get a wheelchair on…
Their replacements will be more accessible, cheaper to run and have a bit more room. Where replaced by bendy buses, they’ll be able to carry double the passenger numbers.
Pay-before-you-board has helped get people on the bus quicker as well, and when launched, the Oyster pre-pay smartcard will save people fumbling for change.
The benefits that the Routemaster has are being slowly eroded, but even so, they’ve been such a part of London for so long, that they really will be missed. But they can’t run forever. Fifty years on the road is a pretty amazing lifespan, and is a testament to the way they have been built and maintained.
Routemasters, we will miss you.