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Saturday26 July 2014

Thomas Heatherwick and Boris Johnson unveil London's new routemaster bus

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Designer says the new model represents a return to the best of British design.

Designer Thomas Heatherwick joined Mayor of London Boris Johnson this morning to reveal a life-size mock-up of the capital’s new bus design.The two were part of a team unveiling the design at the London Transport Museum’s depot at Acton.

The new design, set to hit the streets in 2012, takes inspiration from the old Routemaster both outside and in with features including two staircases and windows following the smooth sweeping lines of the bus. The mock-up will be used to fine-tune the design of the bus, whose interior details still require significant work.

Heatherwick, who earlier this month scooped the prize for the best pavilion at this year’s Shanghai Expo, said the new bus was a “work in progress”.

“The inside is still a bit of a raw sketch but the outside is pretty much what it’s going to look like,” he said. “The focus for us has been on the passengers’ experience.”

He added there was a real chance to transform bus design quality for the first time in half a century because Transport for London is now the client and decides on the details rather than this being the preserve of bus operating companies.

“The old routemaster showed fantastic attention to detail,” he said.

Johnson, who plans to abolish so-called “bendy buses” by the end of 2011, said: “Standing on the rear platform of this delectable bus brings back a sense of nostalgia but conversely also demonstrates the quintessence of the latest technology and design, making this bus fit for 21st century London.”

The new model will be 40% more fuel efficient than existing diesel double-deckers, 15% more efficient than existing hybrid buses and substantially quieter.

Last year a routemaster design by Foster & Partners and another by transport designer Capoco Design, won joint first prize in an ideas competition organised by the mayor.

However, manufacturer Wrightbus later put forward the proposal which has led to today’s model being produced.

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