Thursday, December 08, 2005

the greatest bus in the world (a tribute)

Soundtrack: The Monkees - Missing Links

It's a very sad week. As of tomorrow morning, the London Routemaster is no more.

I work by the route of the 159, which will be the last Routemaster service. All week there's been hordes of men taking photos at the crossroads, but it was only yesterday when reading BBC Magazine that I realised just what they were taking photos of.

Today has just been funny. I popped out at lunch, and I've never seen so many of the bloody things. And there were gold ones! And there were pre-Routemaster ones an'all! My boss took a slight detour (via two Routemasters) on his way back from a meeting and said there were hundreds of men with cameras. A fellow passenger apparently exclaimed "They're not usually this clean".

I was terrified of Routemasters when I first moved to London. I'm going to fall off! How do you pay for a ticket? Where's the bell to say what stop to get off at? Back then the 159 and 12 were both Routemasters and I had no choice but to conquer my fear.

It was very soon that I realised their glory. You can sit up at the front and pretend you're a driver! Is the traffic slow? Sod it, jump off in the middle of the road and get run over - at least you'll get to your destination quicker! You can pull the bell string and pretend you're a conductor! You can risk your life and catch the bus when it stops at traffic lights! You can pretend you're on a rollercoaster as you stand by the exit when you turn a corner.

The Routemasters make London. I'll be so sad to see them leave. :(


  1. man, that'd be like shutting down the cable cars here. lame.

  2. There are still two routes that will remain Routemasters so they're not being abolished altogether. They're called 'heritage' routes, which run through central London every 15 minutes, so tourists can still ride on them.

  3. To be fair, they were almost a novelty already. Down here, Streatham bus garage has a few, but mainly it's the modern double deckers you get.

    Shame they're getting phased out even further, though.

  4. Definitely the end of an era... Cheerio Routemasters!

    I don't really think 'heritage' routes really count though, they still run steam trains in the west midlands on heritage routes but you can't take 'em to work or when you go shopping which is what counts.

    Strangely I don't think I've ever ridden on one though... I normally take the tube in London and the only time I took a bus is had foldy doors and stuff. Rubbish!

  5. The 159 was my second home for a long while, literally, some days I used to spend more time on it than I actually did at home, but hey, that's London life for yer. I'm sad to see them go because I think buses were just better when they had conductors on them. I sincerely believe that the powers that be are just using the disability accessibility / women with buggies argument in a cynical way to save money. The routemasters cost more to run because there are two members of staff on them. But that's exactly what I used to like about them.

  6. Yeah, you need someone to keep the kids in line. Kids in public! Grrr... Should be banned!