The Bus competition has now been bumped back onto the front page of the TfL website, and experts have been hurried into place:

Alexander Dennis, Britain’s largest bus maker, has deployed 80 development engineers to work on plans for a successor to London’s iconic Routemaster double decker bus.

The news emerged as Transport for London issued a reminder about London Mayor Boris Johnson’s competition to design a new bus for London, prompting speculation that the hoped for deluge of entries had failed to materialise. Organisations and individuals wishing to enter the contest have until Friday 19 September to submit an entry.

Colin Robertson, chief executive of Falkirk-based Alexander Dennis, said engineers were focusing efforts on creating a bus using a hybrid diesel/electric engine and low-energy drive technology that would allow a new-generation Routemaster to enter service in time for the 2012 Olympics.”

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14 Responses to The ‘Routemaster’ Grinds Into Gear

  1. Tom says:

    It’s worth noting that ADL are punting for the big Olympic bus contract, and supplied the bus (a converted Enviro400) for the 2012 handover in Beijing. They’re also developing a bus with hybrid drive technology *anyway*. It’s thus not in their interest to poo-poo the Routemaster competition idea, and if you read it carefully, they’re not actually saying they’re going to build NG RM, merely that they’re creating a design that *could* be used for an NG RM by 2012. If they’ve got 80 guys working on the NG RM design that has to be in at the end of October, they’re mad – you can’t prepare a detailed enough design in that time, so what they’re probably doing is working on generic future designs that might fit an RM replacement. It is, of course, not really in the RM spirit to bodge a bus intended for the mass international market with some suggestions from Joe Public and call it a Routemaster. The original, of course, was a bus designed over many years at huge expense purely for service in London. There’s no way on earth that would work in today’s market.

    ADL’s current buses (like my local Enviro200s) look exactly like bendy buses inside, anyway, since they all have to meet the same accessibility rules. Boris called the bendy interior ‘Stalinist’ at one point.

  2. Is there anything much that Boris *hasn’t* called ‘Stalinist’ at some point? I’m not sure how you get paid as much as he does to be a columnist yet get away with using the same tired adjectives with such tedious frequency.

  3. I must confess to being a trifle adrift here (admittedly I saw the story under Peter Marsh’s by-line at the FT: though, it seems to smack of the same press-release as your original).

    What Marsh said was:
    “… chief executive of the Falkirk-based company, Mr Robertson said its output of hybrid buses could rise from about 20 this year to “three or four hundred” by 2012, with a large proportion of these vehicles potentially for London.”

    That looks sketchy to me. The firm’s total output of hybrid buses, now only a score or so a year, is going to be ramped up by a factor of twenty fold? In a three-four year cycle? And what amounts to “a large proportion”? Ummm.

    Is there an explanation in the other information here: that the company is looking to have collaborative manufacturing based in the USA and China? The joys of the RM (and there were a few) included that it was a LT design, for London, and produced in London (at AEC Southall and Park Royal, as I recall). Somehow we are meant to develop happy nostalgia about a product equally intended for Dubai, China and unspecified US cities, and perhaps even produced there.

    In that context, I feel a hint of flannel about the implication of the 80-strong design team directed explicitly at serving the wishes of Blasted Boris.

    Does the MoD have a say in this? For, “the buses use of drive technology designed by BAE Systems for military vehicles”. [sic]

  4. Mike says:

    Sent in a concept of my own, that fulfils the criteria of being a modern, 21st century bus… high capacity, quick at loading and unloading passangers, accessible and disabled-friendly, no ‘top deck’ problems (empty seats up top and shed loads of passengers crammed at the bottom).

    Anyway, unless you guessed already, it’s a bendy… not sure if BoJo will go for it somehow…

  5. Andy says:

    Ironic, really, that on the Newsnight debates Boris kept saying that his new Routemaster would cost the same as Ken’s 500 new hybrid buses by 2012. Surely if Alexander Dennis are submitting a hybrid design it’s going to cost substantially more than a non-hybrid bus – even without the higher vehicle requirement, extra staff and conductors etc.?

  6. Tom says:

    Good point well made. The strong likelihood is that hybrid buses will be available by 2012 anyway, Ken’s point was that London should lead in procuring them, even though obviously it’s more sensible to wait, if you want to save money.

    It would be hugely ironic if Boris’s flagship transport policy comes full circle and ends up endorsing Ken’s view. More on this to come, I feel.

  7. Guano says:

    I thought that Boris said about bendy-buses that they were “socialistic” rather than “Stalinist”. However the logic of both these labels is far from clear to me.

  8. Tom says:

    I’m sure it was the *interior* he called Stalinist, but I’m damned if I can find the quote. Might have to let that one slide unless I can find it. It stuck in my mind as being unusually stupid even for an irrelevant Boris totalitarian comparison.

    My Isabel Dedring research has found lots and lots of stuff about hybrid buses, by the way. She’s quite a fan, in fact it’s not entirely unlikely that the ‘500 hybrids’ Boris decried during the campaign is her input.

  9. hi , please check my original design fo New Routemaster which i’ve designed for competition:

    thank You

  10. Tom says:

    Um. I think I can best frame my response through the medium of intepretative dance.

  11. BenSix says:

    A Bez by any chance?

  12. Ewan says:

    Was seen here first!!

  13. BenSix says:

    The designs are certainly impressive, Rafal, but we’re not particularly keen on the very introduction of the Routemaster hybrid. Thanks for dropping by, though.

  14. James Buller says:

    Having entered the Design A Bus For London, competition with a feature idea of a bus I got a letter today from Boris:

    Thank you very much for taking part in the New Bus for London competition. The competition generated a fantastic response. We received 700 entries from around the world. Entries in this category were received from individuals, schools, institutions and businesses, large and small.

    We were stunned by the quality of the submissions and the huge amount of effort and thought that clearly went into the work. The range of entries and the creativity and imagination showcased therein far-exceeded our expectations, so the judging process took longer than we anticipated. Having concluded our deliberations, I am sorry to say you that you have not been selected to receive a prize.

    We will be announcing the winners at a press conference on Friday 19 December 2008, after which details of the winning designs will be made available on the Transport for London website at Should you wish to take a closer look at some of the other entries in the competition, you may wish to visit an exhibition based on the competition which will be set up by Transport for London in the New Year. Details will be on the website above.

    Once again, I would like to thank you for taking the time to participate in this first crucial step towards introducing a new bus, designed specifically for London, onto the Capital’s streets. I hope you will be pleased with the final product.
    Yours sincerely

    Boris Johnson
    Mayor of London and
    Chairman of Transport for London

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