In days gone by when health and safety were two separate words, jumping on and off the old Routemaster double decker buses was the most thrilling game in town. Running late for school and chasing down the No. 68 was truly a life affirming moment. The bus starts to pull away, you increase your speed and then you make the leap of faith. You land on the open platform, breathe a sigh of relief, climb the curved staircase, sit in the roomy seat at the back and let your heartbeat decrease at a leisurely rate. Those were the days and by the looks of it those days may well be returning.
Mayor of London, bon viveur and all-round aryan looking guy, Boris Johnson, is going all ‘back to the future’ on our minds with his Post-Modern version of the old red double decker. It feels like a resurrection of the golden years of London Transport when men were men, women were indeed women and cyclists were very nervous. Not only will the buses possess an open platform but they will also herald the return of fabled cries such as… ‘tickets’, ‘all change please’ and ‘get your bleeding feet off the seats’ – yes that’s right THE CONDUCTOR RETURNS (voice-over man stylee) – which in the scheme of things will be a very good thing . The driver gets a partner, the old dears get to chat with someone about the weather and the kids can take the piss out of a uniformed jobsworth. Everybody wins.
On a more serious note, it’s a nice change to have something meticulously styled (The new Routemaster has been designed by internationally reknowned designers Heatherwick Studio) brought in to replace the cattle pen experience of the detested ‘bendy’ bus, to admire on the roads of London. A fusion of glass, light and curved edges that will bring back a sense of nostalgia, pride and belonging in the hearts of all Londoners. Hitting the streets next month, this modern take on an universally acclaimed London icon is a definite victory of form over function.