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Ken Bruce's verdict on the 'son of Routemaster'

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Steve Phillips Steve Phillips | 14:25 UK time, Friday, 31 December 2010

Model of the new Routemaster. The new bus will be on the streets from 2012

Hi there everyone.

In early November, I previewed the brand new bus for London, the much anticipated replacement for the beloved Routemaster.

I thought it was very impressive and, judging by the comments left on the blog, many of you seemed to agree.

Now, though, we have a verdict from someone whose opinion really counts.

Here, for your post-festive pleasure, Radio 2's Ken Bruce offers his thoughts on the new bus in a very special guest blog.

Take it away, Ken...

By Ken Bruce, Radio Legend

I like it! There, I've said it - as the joint owner of a small stable of original Routemasters, I appreciate this may not be the response expected of me but this new bus does seem to represent the best of the old with the best of the new.

The external styling is impressive, breaking free of the angular "boxy" styles we've had to put up with until recent years, but then, traditionally in bus design functionality has taken precedence over appearance. At last though, it seems to have been realised it's possible to achieve both.

As to function, downstairs seating numbers, one the great plusses of the old RM, have had to be reduced to accommodate three doors and wheelchair/buggy spaces. But there are, in the words of the conductors of the past, plenty of seats upstairs and all trimmed in an attractive new version of traditional Routemaster tartan.

I'll be interested to see how often the famous rear platform is open in practice. I expect daytime Regent St and Oxford St services will operate that way, but how widespread will the practice be?

A crew member "on the back" is expensive and I fear that the rear door may not be open as often or as widely as perhaps the public may expect.

But the bus is very welcome; there will be more seats and better frequencies than the bendy bus, which was foisted on London passengers during that long period of collective denial at TfL, where its obvious deficiencies - the amount of valuable road space taken up, the lack of seats and the ease of fare evasion - were ignored.

It all goes to show yet again the value of planning for the future with a little imagination; had we had some, these buses could have been replacing Routemasters ten years ago.

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