It’s four years and one week since I got an email from leading bus design company Capoco agreeing to put together a proposal for a replacement Routemaster, a New Bus for London. The feature - which ran in the Christmas 2007 edition of Autocar - was in response to then London Mayoral candidate Boris Johnson’s call for a replacement for the classic double decker.
Many people had mocked Boris for even suggesting the idea, but I went to see Johnson in his campaign headquarters with the Capoco proposal in hand. I said in the feature that public transport needed to raise its game in terms of design and told Boris that building a new cutting-edge, super-green, bus specifically for the capital was entirely possible.
Johnson, possibly rashly, put the commitment in his manifesto for the 2008 election, promising to get a new Routemaster on the road within four years of becoming Mayor. This morning, in Northern Ireland, the first production version of the ‘New Bus for London’ - in concept very similar to Autocar’s proposal - came off the line at Wrightbus, three years and seven months after Johnson became mayor. It’s the first of eight proving vehicles that will be real-world tested in London over the next six months. This example will arrive on the streets of London for driver training in mid-December.