This morning, there were a lot of strained looking people at the London Transport Museum. Boris Johnson, the new London mayor was announcing a competition to design a new ‘open-platform’ bus. Johnson had made reviving the Routemaster bus concept a theme of his successful election campaign.
The transport establishment and Transport for London (then chaired by Ken Livingstone) rushed to condemn the idea out of hand, while defending the 390 controversial ‘bendy buses’ that are currently running in the capital.
After Autocar commissioned leading bus designers Capoco to show how it could be done last December, the letters page of The Times lit up with arguments for and against the idea.
At the Transport Museum, the assembled press were gritting their teeth, looking for holes in the plan. ‘Wouldn’t ending the bendy bus contracts cost a fortune?’ ‘Wouldn’t people kill themselves falling off the back?’ ‘Surely we can’t afford it?’
Standing next to Boris was TfL boss Peter ‘bendy’ Hendy and David Brown, TfL’s Head of Surface Transport. Both looked uncomfortable. But then they had helped attack Boris when he was chosen as the Conservative candidate for mayor.