Not being a journalist, probably not being welcome and definitely have two sets of builders and a day’s work on my plate, I’m not going to be able to follow the competition results too closely, but Dave Hill is coming over all Web 2.0 on us and twittering away.  News so far is that there are two main winners and Capoco have won something.

I also heard through my extensive connections in the industry (arf) that a friend’s son had won one of the prizes, but due to the embargo placed on it I can’t say who or what, even if I knew.  It’ll be interesting to see if I can get an interview before Gilligan does.

Update via Dave at 9:57:

Joint winners are capoco and aston martin/fosters!

Update at 10:10

Standard is leading with it.  Yes, the Evening Boris was updated before the TfL website, but after Boris Watch.

Update via Dave at 10:21

Yes, there will be conductors

That would fund a few rape crisis centres, eh?

Update at 10:27

Still nothing on the TfL website.  The competition has had the odd effect of bunging £25,000 of TfL’s money to a luxury car maker and an incredibly rich architect (‘fosters’ is Lord Foster, as it turns out).

Update at 10:36


The Capoco submission was praised for its technical excellence, in particular its light-weight structure and hybrid propulsion.

It also had a separate door for wheelchairs and pushchairs. The bus would seat 66 passengers with room for 14 standing, compared with 72 seats and five standing on the old Routemaster.

Pathetic capacity, then.  2 crew for 80 against 1 crew for 120 on a bendy, and far fewer seats downstairs – I can count 20, which is less than a normal double-decker, in fact it’s less than a midibus.  That’ll be value-for-money, Boris.  I strongly suspect that it’s markedly longer than the RML, too, with the extra door.

Update at 10:39

Standard is trying to pretend that everyone wants it back.  That’s, what, half an hour or so and they’ve managed to obtain the images, show them to a few random members of the public, get the responses and put them on a page?  Yeah, right.

Update at 11:03

TfL’s pages are updated, and look horrible.  Check them out.  Noteworthy – there’s no picture of the winning design, but a big picture of, er, Boris.  Vanity, vanity, vanity.

Update at 11:12

The BBC has updated their coverage, going for the ‘Aston Martin Bus’ angle.  I can see why the Standard chose the back end and side view of the buses, they are indeed both as ugly as sin from the front.  Given that modern buses are mostly quite attractive, particularly the Wright Gemini 2, which I’d personally go to bed with, was this really the best they could come up with?  The first Standard comments are from myself and Mark Lee, I’m delighted to say.  Eat my dust, Gilligan.

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7 Responses to Routemaster Competition

  1. Mark Lee says:

    Well now we know where all the infrastructure cuts and fare rises are going.

    To be fair – the buses are aesthetically pleasing – but they pretty impractical – if they only have boarding / alighting via the rear platform (except for the disabled) then there will be longer pauses at each stop.

    My real fundamental issue, however, is that these buses will probably cost a lot more to build and maintain. The current fleet of buses use standard vehicles that are used across the country and elsewhere, albeit with a few ‘tweaks’ for London (such as the centre doors). That means manufacturers can achieve better economies of scale, and by using multiple manufacturers with different models, you can have a competitive tender for procurement.

    If you have this ‘bus for London’ – it will presumably be made by only one manufacturer and only available for use on London routes. This means that the manufacturer won’t be able to achieve as good economies of scale, and due to the lack of competition, could charge a premium for the vehicles and spare parts.

    Add this to the £100 million per year in additional operating costs that Boris has admitted to (clue: if this is Boris’s estimate, the true cost is probably even higher) due to the conductors – then as public transport users, we will be paying a phenomenal cost for this project, the sole functions of which appear to be aesthetic and the creation of a Boris Johnston ‘legacy’.

    Think of all of the transport projects that have been canned – the DLR Dagenham Dock extension, CRT, aspects of the NLL upgrade, parts of the step free access programme, and those at risk, such as ELLX2, currently in intensive care.

    The money that will be frittered away on this vanity project would have been much, much better spent on these infrastructure projects.

    The man’s priorities make no sense whatsoever.

  2. Tom says:

    I agree entirely. Also, the images released so far don’t show the front of either bus, which is noteworthy. The Capoco RMXL, which the winning design is clearly almost the same as, was as ugly as sin –

    I do wonder if the dual winner outcome isn’t a clever way of ensuring that the whole scheme can be buried beneath a sensible adaptation of an existing design by one of the majors. All the indications I’ve seen are that the winners won’t build the bus (Capoco can’t, and Aston Martin have no experience and Lord Foster is an architect), so it’s going to go to someone else. I ask myself, if I was a sensible transport official (and the judging panel was stuffed with them) how would I rig it so the boss gets his publicity but London doesn’t get the shaft?

    Finally, who owns the copyright?

  3. Jack says:

    I think they look really nice

  4. Tom says:

    The Capoco one looks like someone took a bicycle pump to the old RM and the AM/Foster one looks like it’s from a cartoon. Bugs Bunny, to be precise.

    I’ll lay down a bet now – neither of these will be built and there won’t be a prototype in 2011. That’s based on an engineering rule of thumb that says anything with more than 10% new technology in will be late. See Concorde, APT, BART etc.

  5. um errrr um errrr um errr can someone explain why it matters what a bus looks like??? surely cost and reliability are the key issues for anyone actually GETTING a bus (rather than watching it drive past their expensive office suite).

    and .. is it true the aston martin comes with all sorts of antiterrorist options? rear firing cannon, oil spray, front bulletshield, doubles as a boat, etc???

  6. OHOC says:

    An insider source (who cannot be named and for all intents and purposes does not exist) told me that the panel was examining an entry, in all seriousness, by Professor Pat Pending called the “Convert-a-Bus.” It would have a helicopter function to enable it to fly over traffic, a robotic conductor to apprehend fare dodgers and Dick Dastardly and a black hole where public funds could be put.

    Regrettably, it was rejected as being too sensible.

  7. […] story GigaOm  (from – Mathew Ingram takes the Wall Street Journal Routemaster Competition – 12/19/2008 Not being a journalist, probably not being welcome and definitely […]

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