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ORAC
29th Oct 2005, 05:28
That's it, nearly all gone. Second last route finished yesterday. Back in the UK for the 2nd-11th Dec. Wonder if I can make London for the 9th.......

The Times (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/newspaper/0,,175-1847955,00.html): Fans travelled miles to witness one final voyage

YOU wait ages for a number 38 bus and then 51 come along at once. But sadly for fans of London’s favourite double decker, yesterday’s Routemasters, pottering between Victoria Station and Hackney, were the last of their kind.

From today, the 38 will be a bendy bus: twice as long but with fewer seats and no back platform. The architects of progress say that the new buses are kinder to wheelchair users and parents with pushchairs.

The armies of nostalgics who lined the 38’s route retorted that they lack the charm and character that made the red Routemaster an international symbol of London. Now only one Routemaster service remains, on Transport for London’s equivalent of Death Row. The number 159 from Marble Arch to Streatham is scheduled to reach its final destination on December 9. Two daytime “heritage” routes for tourists, due to start next month, will be all that remain of more than 50 years of history.

Hundreds of devotees from around the world queued up for the last chance to ride on the Routemaster’s most popular and famous route, from Clapton Pond in Hackney to Victoria via Islington, Theatreland, Chinatown, Piccadilly and Hyde Park Corner. Gaggles of amateur photographers and bus-spotters jostled for position along the route, anxious for a final glimpse of the so-called “magic bus”. Special commemorative Routemasters in immaculate condition — some painted gold or silver in Jubilee years — were brought out of storage and put in service.

For some, the emotion of the moment proved impossible to contain and they had to be physically restrained by marshalls from entering the Hackney depot where the last of 60 No 38s were proudly lined up. Some enthusiasts said that they had bought old Routemasters for as little as £3,000, driving them on motorways at their top speed of 37mph and storing them in barns or caravan parks.

Conductors carrying 1950s ticket machines cheerfully admitted they were unable to scan computerised travel cards, but printed old-fashioned tickets for a donation to charity. When the gold Routemaster — at the age of 47 one of the oldest — pulled up near Sadler’s Wells, there was a scramble to get on board.

The 38 was renowned for its eccentric conductors — “Duke Baysee” had a top 40 hit in 1995 and frequently entertained late-night passengers with his harmonica playing. He said: “Me and my brother used to hop on and off the Routemasters as kids. You can’t do that without a platform. People aren’t happy that they’re going and the police have complained that there won’t be any conductors. The Routemaster is the best bus in the world. If you’ve got one special thing that people love, why get rid of it and copy everyone else? Some people get on for two stops just to say they’ve been on one. You wouldn’t knock down Buckingham Palace and build a new one.”

Of the 140 remaining conductors, 120 are taking redundancy and 20 are retraining as drivers or taking other bus company jobs.

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ZFT
29th Oct 2005, 08:37
As a young boy I remember standing at the White Hard roundabout on Yeading Lane watching many Routemaster open chassis being test driven from Southall bus works, drivers resplendent with leather jackets and goggles.

Still prefer the RT though. More homework done on the upstairs of a 97 than at home I fear!!

TheFlyingSquirrel
29th Oct 2005, 09:10
The demise of any London bus is a good thing - Ken Livingstone's curse - I'm so glad at last these filthy, ancient, tired and worn out old crap heaps have been sent to the garage one last time. The stinking black, belching fumes from these rotten, slow and aged carbuncles will never infect me again ! They should have been scrapped years ago. The amount of times i've seen old ladies laying bleeding in the gutter where they've fallen from these monstrosities is quite staggering. The death of any bus is wonderful - Only another 3000 to go now ! Hooray !! Bendy busses and London - we do not have enough bandwidth to even begin on this subject. London is a crap house run by a bent, communist dictator. Can't wait to leave here forever next year - it's not the city I once knew.

Jordan D
29th Oct 2005, 09:25
I think the loss of the Routemaster is a great shame. It is one of London's most iconic images, and something people across the globe recognise as a "London thing". Ken's just doing his bit for the PC brigade, forgetting at the same time, that if he keeps proclaiming that London's tourism is on a fall post 7/7, he needs to stop doing stupid things like this.

I for one have already made complaints.

Jordan

Caslance
29th Oct 2005, 10:58
Machines, however iconic, don't last for ever.

They become worn out, they have to be replaced.

This isn't politics, it's engineering.

Zoom
29th Oct 2005, 11:23
So why not 'engineer' a modern version of the Routemaster? It was short (..er than it's replacement), tall for easy city-viewing and looked gorgeous in red.

Duckbutt
29th Oct 2005, 12:02
Incredibly pedantic I know, but wasn't RT's on route 55 not 97 at that location ZFT?

Zoom, totally agree - surely for the same number of passenger a Routemaster would take up far less road space than a Bendybus which must therefore only increase congestion?

Marko Ramius
29th Oct 2005, 12:07
I loved the ability to just "jump on and off" at will whenever the bus was going slow enough.

I must admit that I do remeber having had a few jars to many and I misinterpreted the speed to the bus I ended up sprawled across Oxford Street.

Bus for sale (http://www.firstgroupshop.com/auction/auctiondetails.php?id=100029&PHPSESSID=99acec5374ce7b5cae7a97e904fe6fd4)

Time Bandit
29th Oct 2005, 12:39
Indeed, the Routemaster multiplied the number of bus stops in London. Every traffic light was a bus stop. It was so easy to find a bus down Piccadilly to hop onto. They really should have brought out a newer version of this classic.

No doubt the PC brigade doesn’t like the Routemaster's open back or the lack of space for disabled people. I don't accept any argument that says a bendy bus or a normal 1980s style double decker is as versatile as a new model based on the old Routemaster would have been.

The lunacy of the bendy bus is that people easily just slip onto the bus through the back door un-noticed by the driver! You really need a conductor. The 2 man crew on the Routemaster was cited as a reason to rid the system of them in favour of one-man crewed busses. TFL must be run by Schoolchildren.

I can't see how you can seat as many people into a bendy bus as you can onto a Routemaster. Maybe you can get more people in because there are so few seats on a bendy bus, but who wants to stand?

I use the number 38 3 or 4 times every day and was privileged to hop onto a special refurbished one on the way back to my office. The engine ran sweetly (no vicious shaking when the bus up at traffic lights!) and the upholstery was very dapper.

Solution? Make a new Routemaster. Amazing no one saw this one through. The Bendy Cruise Ships of the Streets are no substitute for a revamped model of the Routemaster. Somebody somewhere high up there in the bus brigade lacks vision.

The only saving grace for Transport For London is that they will maintain a Heritage Route.

Onan the Clumsy
29th Oct 2005, 14:14
As a young boy I remember standing at the White Hard roundabout on Yeading Lane watching many Routemaster open chassis being test driven from Southall bus works, drivers resplendent with leather jackets and goggles.
I'd forgotten all about that, but they used to make coaches up near Blackpool and we'd aoocsionally see bloked driving the chassis in a little plywood cab. The stuff boys' dreams are made of...well before puberty sets in :(

Jordan D
29th Oct 2005, 15:10
Engineering or not - you should remember that the Routemaster Buses are cleaner and more efficient than many of their newer counterparts.

Jordan

ZFT
30th Oct 2005, 03:19
Duckbutt

<<Incredibly pedantic I know, but wasn't RT's on route 55 not 97 at that location ZFT?>>

If my memory serves me correctly, it was the 97 from Ruislip Rd to Ealing Broadway.

I recall 65 being a local route around Greenford, but not 55.

Eric T Cartman
3rd Nov 2005, 13:12
@ ZFT & Duckbutt
In 1960's :
Route 55 : Chiswick-Turnham Green-Acton-Hanwell-Greenford-Hayes (Bourne Avenue)
Route 65 : Ealing-Kew-Richmond-Kingston-Surbiton-Chessington- Leatherhead
Route 97 : Brentford-Northfields-Ealing Broadway-Greenford-Yeading-Ruislip Station
Yes, I know it's sad, but my excuse is that I worked for LT from 1964-1968 !
Incidentally, a bendy-bus on the Route 25 from Ilford to Oxford Street is known to East End locals as "the free bus" !!
:(