Year of the Bus
Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has launched the ‘Year of the Bus’. It involves 12 months of events and activities to mark the contribution the capital’s bus network continues to make to the life and economy of the city and the UK as a whole. This year sees a number of significant anniversaries, including 60 years since the creation of the original Routemaster, 75 years since the launch of its predecessor the RT type bus and 100 years since hundreds of the capital’s buses were sent to the Western Front during the First World War. Throughout 2014, TfL working in partnership with London Transport Museum will host a number of engaging events, exhibitions, re-creations and other activities. At the launch event, the Mayor unveiled a specially painted silver NBfL (or New Routemaster as TfL is now referring to it). It will initially enter passenger service on route 9 and will then transfer to route 10 when it converts to New Routemasters in the spring.
The Year of the Bus will see an exhibition at London Transport Museum entitled ‘Goodbye Piccadilly – from the home front to the Western Front’, which opens on 16 May 2014. It will commemorate and explore the contribution of buses and bus drivers to the First World War and life on the home front in wartime London. A B-Type Bus will be restored as part of the celebration. B-Types were commandeered in large numbers during the war and converted into ‘Battle Buses’ that carried soldiers to the frontline and were used as ambulances and even mobile pigeon lofts. The Battle Bus will be fully restored in its original livery in the summer, then will be painted khaki and converted into a ‘Battle Bus’ later in the year, travelling back to France. It will then return to London to take part in events to commemorate the centenary of the outbreak of the war. In the summer, there will be a bus cavalcade event featuring historic vehicles from the last century back on the capital’s roads.
MD for TfL Surface Transport, Leon Daniels, said, ‘In London people make more than 2.3bn bus journeys a year, more than are made in the rest of England. This year will see a richly deserved celebration of the humble bus from its origins in the 19th century to today, and also look at what the future holds for this crucial part of London’s transport network.’
London buses carry 6.5m passengers a day and are part of one of the largest bus networks anywhere in the world, with an 8,600 strong bus fleet, operating across around 700 routes serving 19,000 stops. The entire fleet is fitted with ramps and 71% of the networks’ stops are wheelchair accessible, with an extra £18m commited to ensure this figure increases to 95% by 2016. The bus network directly employs 24,500 bus drivers and tens of thousands more in supporting roles. By 2016 there will be over 1,700 hybrid buses in service on the city’s streets, representing 20% of the total fleet.