The New Route Master Buses – Angry Joolz Explains

September 21, 2015 | Joolz

Is it just me, or are the new route master buses totally rubbish? I mean, can you believe that they actually won a design award? A design award! What were they up against? I mean you don’t hear anything about the award itself or who the competitors were. Oh no, all you hear is “Award Winning Design”.

I was on one yesterday and it occurred to me that EVERYTHING about them annoyed me.

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Ok, they do look kind of flashy. A sort of cool upgrade to bring it into the 21st century, but did the judges of these awards actually take a trip on one of those buses? I mean REALLY take a trip? I’m talking rushing through the pouring rain and lashing wind with three bags of heavy shopping and a broken umbrella to jump onto the bus? Trying to negotiate their way through a crowd of moronic people listening to their ipods and staring at their phones, oblivious to one’s desperation to reach the bus before the doors close?

I suspect not. I expect the judges just looked at it and thought, “Ooh, that looks shiny. How smart. Won’t it be nice to see those buzzing around town as I get picked up by my chauffeur or take a taxi myself”.

I never see Boris Johnson riding the bus. He’s obsessed with bikes but has he actually attempted to run through the sweaty, humid summer street in a suit and jump on the crowded, boiling hot bus where the air conditioning is always set for the wrong type of day. Super bloody boiling when it’s hot outside, or impossibly cold when it’s cold outside. With temperatures reaching 31 degrees they’re known as the “Roast Masters!” In fact, this week heralds the news that you will soon, shock horror, be able to open the windows on the new route master busses (except it’s going to cost £2 million!!!)
What is wrong with these people?! Windows that open – it’s hardly a revolutionary concept!
They claim that they decided to install windows because “they have listened to their customers”. Why did they need to be told by the customers to install something as basic as opening windows? Why didn’t they do it in the first place? What a waste of money!

I suspect the problem to be the usual style-over-content obsession which is very much diffused in our society these days. The truth is Londoners are far too terrified to speak in public so they grin and bear it, but as soon as one person pipes up you can’t shut people up!

That one person in this case – as usual – was me.

Having no shame, as I do, I got talking to the conductor who was trying, in vain, to prevent someone standing on the platform whilst the doors were open. Predictably the usual response ensued as it always does from older people who remember the old route master buses.

“I was brought up with the old ones and I always used to stand at the back. No one ever had an accident….etc etc”

We all feel the same. The old ones were fine. Convenient, you could jump on and off, no one got hurt, the staircase was narrow enough to clamp yourself in even if you don’t have a hand free.

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No sooner had I tried to back her up than a whole debate broke out on the bus.
“Well the difference is in the old days you wouldn’t sue them if you got hurt. That’s what they’re worried about,” one lady said to me.

Fair point I suppose. But then I voiced some other grievances.
There’s no leg-room! The old ones were much more comfortable! The elderly Jamaican fellow opposite me agreed, and what is more a tallish bloke got on to sit opposite him too. In fact, their legs had to sort of interlock in order to accommodate both passengers.
Oh, and yes, Transport For London announcers, I’m a “passenger” not a “customer” thank you very much.

What else is rubbish about them, besides not being able to get my legs in? Well, you can’t see out of the back for starters. I mean, sometimes I want to look out of the back window to see if my other bus is approaching but I can’t see anything. No view!

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View out of the rear window

And those stair cases! I mean both are too wide! Is it to accommodate the expanding girths of our population? I was carrying a camera bag, a tripod, some shopping and an umbrella and managed to reach the top deck before the bus jolted forwards.

Now please. I’m a seasoned Londoner and experienced traveler on its transport. However, with the old buses I could lean on something to support me. Not with these! Nowhere to lean. You NEED both hands, and the barrier next to the stair-well is so low that I almost went head-first over the side!
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It’s the same with the back staircase. Rubbish for holding on. Rubbish for negotiating with no hands. No wonder they always want the door closed because I could easily fall down and into the road. This would NEVER have happened with the old ones.
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To the best of my knowledge the only vintage route master is the Number 15 bus going from Trafalgar Square to The Tower of London. I recommend this route to any tourist who wants a nice trip. It passes many nice old parts of London and just the feeling of sitting on those old buses is one of the most pleasurable experiences one can have. I like to sit in the back seat at the top (well, until someone told me that that’s where the weird old men always sit!) Guilty your honour!

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So why did they get rid of them? I’m sure they were safer than these new ones and frankly they looked nicer and more iconic. It was so convenient jumping on and off them. I mean, what’s the point in having that back door if they’re going to close it? It’s stupid. It’s also confusing for tourists because whenever you get on the old number 15 the conductor tells you to sit down and he’ll come to you, but of course everyone always wants to show him their ticket as they get on. Most don’t speak English so he must go through this long-suffering routine at every stop. I’ve seen him get really impatient after a while, “Just sit DOWN; I’ll come to YOU!” because on the other buses you are supposed to present your ticket immediately.

They just don’t seem to get it. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!

They’ve tried those old long bendy buses. I mean I could have told you they were a bad idea. They didn’t need to waste all that money. We used to call that the FREE BUS because no one ever paid their fare. It foolishly adopted the trustworthy continental system of assuming people had paid. (How do buses in Europe ever make money? No one ever pays!)

Call me a curmudgeonly old git but why must they change things just for the sake of it? I mean, why pay some graphic designer thousands of pounds to change the font on the GOOGLE logo?
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Same goes for the BBC. They paid astronomical amounts of money to change it from this to this:

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Bring back the old ways, that’s what I say. It’s so sad to see all those lovely old buses only getting used for weddings and tourism. Occasionally they pop up in other countries. Who can forget the green one in Live and Let Die when James Bond drives it under a low bridge?

They just have to change stuff, don’t they, to justify their inflated budgets and wages.

Leave it to me, I say. I’ll sort it out.
Joolz for Mayor!

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Julian McDonnell (or “Joolz”) is an award winning tourism film maker from London. Read More