Routemaster Bus, Piccadilly Circus

A Routemaster in Piccadilly Circus.

RM Routemaster profile

Routemaster in profile

The AEC Routemaster is a model of double-decker bus that was built by Associated Equipment Company (AEC) in 1954 (in production from 1958) and produced until 1968.[1] Primarily front-engined, rear open platform buses, a small number of variants were produced with doors and/or front entrances. Introduced by London Transport in 1956, the Routemaster saw continuous service in London until 2005, and currently remains on two heritage routes in central London.

The Routemaster was developed by AEC in partnership with London Transport, the customer for nearly all new Routemasters, delivered in traditional red or green "country" colours, although small numbers were also delivered to British European Airways and the Northern General Transport Company. In all, 2,876 Routemasters were built,[1] with approximately 1,000 still in existence.

A pioneering design, the Routemaster outlasted several of its replacement types in London, survived the privatisation of the former London Transport bus operators, and was used by other operators around the UK. In modern UK public transport bus operation, the unique features of the standard Routemaster were both praised and criticised. The open platform, while exposed to the elements, allowed boarding and alighting away from stops; and the presence of a conductor allowed minimal boarding time and optimal security, although the presence of conductors produced greater labour costs.

The traditional red Routemaster has become one of the famous features of London, with much tourist paraphernalia continuing to bear Routemaster imagery, and with examples still in existence around the world. Despite its fame, the previous London bus classes the Routemaster replaced (the RT-type AEC Regent and Leyland Titan RTL and RTW counterparts) are often mistaken for Routemasters by the public and by the media.[2]

Novel designEdit

Heritage Routemaster

Rear platform of a Routemaster, with updated hand-rails for Heritage Route operation

The Routemaster bus was developed during the years 1947–1956 by a team directed by A. A.M. Durrant and Colin Curtis, with vehicle styling by Douglas Scott. The design brief was to produce a vehicle that was lighter (hence more fuel efficient), easier to operate and to be maintained by the existing maintenance practices at the recently opened Aldenham Works. The resulting vehicle could carry 64 seated passengers despite weighing three-quarters of a ton less than the previous RT which could carry 56 seated passengers. The first task on delivery to service was to replace London's trolleybuses, which had themselves replaced trams, in London and to commence replacement of the older types of diesel motor bus. The Routemaster was primarily intended for London use, being designed by London Transport and constructed at the AEC Works in Southall, Middlesex with assembly at bodybuilder Park Royal Vehicles, a subsidiary of the AEC company.

It was an innovative design compared with previous buses, and used lightweight aluminium and techniques developed in aircraft production during World War II.[3] As well as a novel weight-saving integral design, the Routemaster also introduced (for the first time on a bus) independent front suspension, power steering, a fully automatic gearbox and power-hydraulic braking.[4] This surprised some early drivers who found the chassis unexpectedly light and nimble compared to older designs, especially as depicted on film on tests at the Chiswick Works "skid pan". Footage of Routemaster RM200 (VLT 200) undergoing the skid test at Chiswick was included in the 1971 film On the Buses.[5]

The Routemaster design was a departure from the traditional chassis/body construction method. With London Transport being the primary customer, the option to use different bodybuilders was less important. The design was one of the first "integral" buses,[4] with the bus being a combination of an "A" steel sub-frame (including engine, steering, front suspension), a rear "B" steel sub-frame (carrying rear axle and suspension), connected by the aluminium body.[1] The gear box was mounted on the underside of the body structure with shafts linking the engine to the back axle.


Drivers cab of RM8

Driver’s cab of early Routemaster RM8

London Transport received four prototype Routemasters; these were placed in service between 1956 and 1958. The first two were built at the London Transport works at Chiswick, the third at Addlestone by Weymann, and the fourth, an experimental Green Line coach, at Eastern Coach Works at Lowestoft. The third and fourth had Leyland engines.[4] The Routemaster was first exhibited at the Commercial Motor Show at Earl's Court in 1954.[3]

In 1961 a small batch of 24 longer RMLs (30ft compared with the standard 27ft 6in) was built as a test, before eventually going into production from 1965.

In 1962 the front entrance RMF concept was trialed, with a single bus RMF 1254 produced based on the trial RMLs. This was exhibited and toured, leading to a small number of orders as the RMF and RMA class.

In 1964, just before mainstream production of the RML, the final front-engined Routemaster model, AEC started work on a front-entrance, rear-engined Routemaster, the FRM class.[6] Completed in 1966, it was not produced beyond an initial prototype, FRM1. This saw regular London service, then on tour operations, before being withdrawn in 1983. This vehicle acquired the nickname "Fruitmaster".


Routemaster RM758

RM class Routemaster in Vauxhall, 2005

Production of mechanical components was undertaken chiefly at AEC's Southall site (though a significant number had Leyland engines) throughout the life of the Routemaster, with body construction and final assembly at Park Royal. AEC itself was taken over by Leyland Motors in 1962,[7] Routemaster production ceased in 1968.[7]

The majority of production examples were 27 feet 6 inches (8.4 metres) long to meet the then maximum length regulations. This was later relaxed, and reflected in later 30 feet (9.1 metres) "long" types, although this was delayed with union resistance to the extra work for conductors.[8]

The production classes were designated as follows:

  • RM - standard bus ( 27.5 ft)
  • RML - (lengthened) bus (30 ft)
  • RMC - coach (27' 6")
  • RCL - (lengthened) coach (30 ft)
  • RMF - front entrance bus (essentially a demonstrator to drive sales outside London)
  • RMA - front entrance bus (designated by LT when purchased from British Airways)

RM and RML classEdit

At 2120 RMs and 524 RMLs, these make up the majority of Routemasters ever made. The RML class was simply a standard RM with a distinctive and seemingly out of place half window section added in the middle giving 8 extra seats. This was not a dramatic change, as it took advantage of the modular design approach of the Routemaster that would be copied by later manufacturers.[8] The RML was originally to be the "Routemaster Leyland" designation, with ER to signify "Extended Routemaster".[8] The RM and RML featured a cubby hole beneath the rear staircase where the conductor could stand while not collecting fares without obstructing boarding/alighting passengers.

RMC and RCL classEdit

Routemaster RCL 2233

Preserved RCL class Routemaster in London Transport Green Line livery

The RMC was a coach version, produced for the "Green Line" routes. These had modified suspension and interiors to allow longer range and more comfortable running, along with an electrically operated door instead of an open platform.[9] The RCL was a long version of the RMC with a larger engine and similar coach style features.[10]

RMF and RMA classEdit

The RMF and RMA class were production versions of a front entrance model Routemaster, primarily for non-London use.[11] Like the coach class these featured an electrically operated door, although the staircase was moved to the front of the bus with the door. After being exhibited and demonstrated to other operators, the RMF attracted little interest, apart from an order from Northern General as the RMF, and in a short version, from British European Airways (BEA) as the RMA class.

The British Electric Traction subsidiary the Northern General Transport Company introduced the RMF class in 1964/1965, with an initial batch of 18, followed by another 32, and later joined by the prototype RMF1254.[11] The fleet were fitted with Leyland engines and a higher ratio rear axle for operation on longer trunk routes.[12] These buses operated in various Northern red and cream liveries[13][14] before surviving into the National Bus Company era receiving the poppy red corporate livery and NBC Northern fleetnames. The RMF fleet wore long standing adverts, "Shop at Binns". Their service in the north also produced the odd sight of a Routemaster with a rollsign for service "X1 to Scandinavia", by virtue of the connection to the ferry line from North Shields to Scandinavia.[15] These were used until 1977, when they were disposed of in a variety of ways,[11] some finding use in London, although none were deemed suitable for regular London service.

BEA introduced the RMA class buses built to the shorter length (with trailers) in various liveries in 1966/1967 for use on airport bus service to and from Heathrow Airport.[16] These were all eventually sold to London Transport after being withdrawn in stages in the 1970s, finding various roles.[17]

London Transport Routemaster heydayEdit

Green and Red RT buses

Red and Green RT Type buses, as distinguished from Routemasters

The heyday of Routemaster operation was its first 25 years of operation, until September 1982,[18] when the type started to be withdrawn and transferred to training fleets, due to service reductions.

The RM class was placed in service from 1959 to replace trolleybuses, completed in May 1962. Subsequent Routemasters, the last 500 of which were the RML types, began replacing the previous generation of buses, the RT-type AEC Regent and Leyland Titan RTL and RTW. RMLs also displaced RMs on central routes to cope with higher loadings.[8] The last Routemaster, RML 2760, entered service in March 1968.

The original London Transport concept for the Routemaster included the intentional routine overhaul and refurbishment of the Routemaster fleet at London Transport's Aldenham Works, usually every 5 years. Here the buses were completely stripped down and rebuilt, leaving practically as new. As the number of Routemasters in London reduced, however, and newer bus designs not suited to this practice were introduced, the overhaul routine was abandoned and Aldenham Works closed in the mid-1980s.

Green liveried RoutemastersEdit

2003-m07-d20 (18reduced) - Alton Bus Rally

Preserved RMC class Routemaster with rear folding doors, in in the "NBC Green" livery of London Country Bus Services, lighter than London Transport "Country" green

The "green Routemasters" originally worked for LT's "country division", which took coach type RMC and RCL buses, for Green Line services, and later standard bus RMLs. The RMC class were initially used on Green Line routes in outlying towns.[9] Similarly, the RCL entered service in areas where the RMC was not introduced.[10]

These vehicles passed to the nationalised National Bus Company's subsidiary London Country Bus Services (known simply as London Country) in 1969, which took over outlying areas of LT bus operation resulting from the 1968 Transport Act. The transfer comprised 69 RMCs, 43 RCLs and 97 RMLs.[4]

By the latter half of the 1970s, most of these vehicles were re-acquired by London Transport, as London Country modernised and standardised its fleet, and increased car usage and improved commuter railways reduced suburban bus demand. Most of the RMLs found use on red London bus routes,[4] and the RMC and RCL class were cascaded into the training fleet.[9] As the RCL class was relatively new (in Routemaster terms), and LT was suffering from lack of parts, between 1980 and 1984 several of the RCLs were converted to standard bus use.[19]

Decline in LondonEdit

London DMS Fleetline and Routemaster

A Routemaster next to a DMS class one man operated bus. The Fleetline was slated to replace the Routemaster, but eventually got outlived

Many of London's bus routes were converted to one person operation (then known as one man operation or OMO) in the 1970s, out of a desire to reduce operating costs and address staff shortages. There was also for a time a parts shortage for Routemasters, aggravated by the closure of AEC.[20] With the introduction of single-deck Red Arrow services in London, and successful conversion to modern rear engined OMO buses around the country, LT was considering replacing Routemasters with modern practices and buses. The operation of the Routemaster (very) gradually became contracted to central areas, with RMLs replacing RMs, where LT felt that the Routemaster still provided an efficient means of transporting larger numbers of people in busy central routes, justifying the economics of two man operation.[21] The rapid acceleration and rugged construction of the Routemasters also proved to be more suited to such urban conditions than some more modern designs.[21]

The Routemaster fleet remained largely intact for around 15 years after production ended in 1968, with withdrawals mainly due to fires. Following the defeat of the GLC in the House of Lords regarding their subsidised fare scheme, major service reductions followed in September 1982. Consequently the first withdrawals commenced, with many of these early disposals being for scrap. The continued practice of route conversion to one person operation resulted in a steady trickle of withdrawals. This practice had largely halted by 1988, with comparatively few withdrawn up to 1992.

In the 1980s, several of the returned Routemasters purchased from Northern General, BEA and London Country, which had doors rather than an open platform, were put to use on London Transport's revived sightseeing operation The Original London Sightseeing Tour, alongside the RCL class (some converted to open top buses),[19] the RMF class,[11] and the RMA class.[17]

Privatisation of London BusesEdit

Two Routemasters in London

Routemasters wearing First London and London General post-privatisation paint schemes, 2005.

In 1984 the process of privatisation of London bus services began, and the Routemasters were transferred from London Transport operation to several different arms-length business units based on different garages, leading to minor additions to the standard red livery. Nine of the twelve new operating units inherited Routemasters, Centrewest, Leaside, London Central, London General, London United, Metroline, London Northern, South London and East London.[22] During this time, following the failure and premature withdrawal of heralded replacement vehicle classes such as the DM/DMS class Daimler Fleetline, the Routemasters that had not yet been disposed of saw their lives extended for use until privatisation. Where new route tenders called for Routemaster operation, these were leased from London Buses.[22]

By 1994, all the operating units had been sold and this produced some colour livery variations and additions to some Routemasters from their previous all-over red liveries. In the new London route tendering process, all but one of the Routemaster operated routes were allowed to keep their now privately owned Routemasters[4] for the 5 year contract period, and further refurbishments resulted.

Life extensionsEdit

Routemaster NML 619E

Routemasters still hard at work in 2003

Since the ending of production at Southall and later closure of the Aldenham works, new options for extending the life of the Routemaster became necessary if they were to continue to run. This made sense as even by 1987, when some buses looked decidedly worn out, inspections by London Buses revealed the basic structure of the buses was still sound,[20] requiring only replacement of engines and interior/exterior renewal.

From 1992-1994, all but 2 of the RML type were refurbished for ten years' further service. This work, which included updating the interior to modern tastes and substituting Iveco or Cummins engines, was carried out by Mainline, TB Precision, Nottingham truck & Bus, and by one of the new London Buses business units, Leaside Buses. 100 RM class vehicles were also re-engined.[4] Post-privatisation, in 1996, the Routemasters on London Central's RMs on route 36, Stagecoach London's RMLs for routes 8 and 15, and Arriva's RMs for route 159, all received new Scania engines.[4] Between 2001 and 2004, under new mayor Ken Livingstone and Transport for London, the replacement authority for London Buses, further refurbishment saw TfL buy back 49 RMs from a variety of sources. Initially started by Marshall Bus, this was continued by Arriva London when Marshall ceased trading in 2002.

Colourful RoutemastersEdit

Routemaster VLT 6

Golden Jubilee Routemaster

With the Routemaster's longevity, there have been Routemaster buses painted to celebrate both the Queen's silver and golden jubilee, in 1977 and 2002, i.e. 25 and 50 years on the throne respectively. 25 buses were painted Silver to celebrate the Silver Jubilee,[23] and out of 50 buses painted gold in London in 2002, 15 (12 RML, 3 RM) were Routemasters.[24]

During privatisation in London, from 1986 several private operators won contracts to operate London bus services, some of which including Routemaster operated routes. Before an 80% red rule for liveries was reintroduced in 1997 by LT, the contract tendering authority, some of these new entrants proceeded to run Routemasters in their own non-red liveries, most notably Kentish Bus on Route 19 and Borehamwood Travel Services (BTS) (now part of Transdev London) on Route 13.

The iconic nature of the Routemaster also appealed to the many new operators outside of London that appeared post-1986 in the UK following bus deregulation. Several operators took second hand Routemasters from London as a cheap way of expanding their fleets to stave off competition from new operators emerging after deregulation.[25] Likewise, start up operators also chose the Routemaster as an eye-catching bus for their own start up operations. Subsequently, Routemasters were seen around the country painted in a variety of proprietary colours, and were used in regular service in Southampton, Blackpool, Glasgow, Perth, Dundee, Hull, Carlisle, Bedford, Corby, Manchester (Stagecoach), Southend and Burnley.[4] During this era, several Routemasters found their way through more than one company, and were also often loaned between operators.

One of the earliest, if not the earliest, examples of deregulated use of Routemasters was early in the history of the Stagecoach Group. Now one of the largest post-deregulation operators in the UK, Stagecoach combined the vintage Routemaster with their new and striking corporate livery of all-over white with red, orange and blue stripes,[26] to start one of their first operations, Magic Bus, in Glasgow, Scotland, in the late 1980s. This contrasted with the traditional identities still in use at the time.

Reading Mainline 15 and 17

Two preserved Reading Mainline Routemasters

Towards the end of this period, in 1994 in Reading, new operator Reading Mainline built up a 45 strong Routemaster fleet to compete with the established operator Reading Buses, in the process becoming the largest operator of Routemasters outside London. They used conductors to compete on speed in the town centre, and in the outskirts took advantage of the rear platform to operate hail and ride sections of route. After building up a network covering nearly the whole town, Reading Buses posted their first ever financial loss to purchase the company in 1998, with Reading Buses continuing Routemaster operation for another two years albeit reduced in number, until 2000.

With the costs involved in running elderly two-man buses, and with a general reduction in the number of operators, buses and services in the years following in the deregulated industry as competitors merged or sold out, these examples of use outside London declined through the 1990s. Many of these buses found their way back to London to assist with the refurbishment program or as basic spares donors, or to increase the fleet size generally.

The final withdrawal from mainstream London service saw another resurgence in the use of Routemasters outside of London,[25] but this time on a smaller scale than the post deregulation public transport fleets. Post 2000, usage was characterised by small novelty or seasonal routes.

Withdrawal from LondonEdit

Arriva London Routemaster bus RML2752 (SMK 752F) route 159 last day 9 Dec 2005

A Routemaster seen with its replacements, a modern double decker and a bendy bus. Final 159 journey, December 2005

In his first election campaign to become Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone made a commitment that he would not be withdrawing the Routemaster from service, stating:

Only a de-humanised moron would get rid of the Routemaster[27]

During the new millennium, debates surrounded the issue of whether to replace or retain the Routemaster in London service. Supporters citing its continued mechanical fitness, speed of boarding and tourist potential, while opponents pointed to the economics of running increasingly elderly buses when newer, larger and more modern designs were now on the market following a resurgence in the bus manufacturing industry after recession in the 1990s. Opponents also pointed specifically to the lack of accessibility of the Routemaster in light of impending relevant legislation, which meant all new buses now entering service in London were of a low-floor design. The emergence of off-bus ticketing technology also reduced the argument for better dwell times, whereby the Oyster card and off-bus ticket machines would reduce the time it took to board the bus.

In 2004, following his second election campaign, Livingstone announced the phasing out of the type in order to provide a bus service in the capital fully accessible to wheelchair users. Government legislation requires full accessibility by 2017 under the Disability Discrimination Act. As a consequence the Routemaster was officially withdrawn from general service on 9 December 2005, although it remains in regular service on two "heritage" routes (see below).

Routemaster route 12

Routemaster on Route 12 towards Dulwich, South London, in 2000

Withdrawals began on the dates below as the routes' five-year contracts expired.

The Routemaster was gradually phased out of service by the end of 2005. By December 2005 only one route was left, the 159 (Marble Arch — Streatham). Friday 9 December 2005 would be the last official running day.[28] On Thursday 8th, 24 special buses, including preserved RMs and RMLs, plus a number of their predecessors from the "RT" bus family, made guest appearances on the 159 route.


RM2217 arrives for the last time, surrounded by crowds. December 9, 2005.

On Friday, instead of doing a normal shift, with crews ending normally at around 11pm, on police advice,[29] the day was split into two duty shifts,[29] a Routemaster shift, and a VLA class shift (Volvo B7TL/Alexander ALX400), the replacement bus for route 159, with the Routemasters due to be replaced in the middle of the day.

Towards the last runs to the garage, crowds blocked the four-lane road,[28] bringing all traffic to a standstill. RM2217 was set to be the last official running bus, as per the timetable. Heavily delayed, RM2217 even took 10 minutes to turn the final corner into Brixton Garage.

The bus left the public highway at 14:07, accompanied by duplicates provided by preserved buses RM5 and RM6. Due to the delays, it is possible that RM54 was actually the last in service, running into Streatham Station stand a few minutes later,[29] before running dead to Norwood Garage.

Later, RM5 and RM6, followed by RM2217 were moved to the old LCC Tramways depot at Brixton for press photographs in the quieter surroundings of the old tramways depot, complete with still visible tramlines.

Routemasters in use todayEdit

London heritage routesEdit

Routemaster RM1562

Heritage Routemaster running off service on Route 9

Two heritage routes were immediately introduced in London, recognising the nostalgia for the type among ordinary Londoners, and their appeal to tourists. Although these buses are operated under contract to TfL, and accept standard Travelcards, Oystercards or cash fares, they only operate for a limited time during the day duplicating short sections of two regular London bus routes. The Heritage routes operate around 10 buses each,[30] with 5 each in reserve.

  • Heritage route 9: Royal Albert Hall — Hyde Park Corner — Piccadilly Circus — Trafalgar Square — Strand — Aldwych.
  • Heritage route 15: Trafalgar Square — Strand — Aldwych — Fleet Street — Cannon Street — Monument — Tower Hill.

The buses used were specially restored from remaining examples for this service, and have clean environmental engines and modern electrics and sealed windows.

Other public transport usesEdit

Most of the post-privatisation use of Routemasters in UK public transport service has now ceased.

Nottingham & District Omnibus Routemaster bus RML2336 (CUV 336C), Mansfield Street, Nottingham, 14 April 2008

Nottingham & District Omnibus Routmaster followed by a Nottingham City Transport bus

On 7 April 2008 Routemasters were also introduced on a regular bus route in Nottingham, England.[31] They were operated by Bellamy's Coaches Ltd with red Routemasters branded as the Nottingham & District Omnibus,[32][33] on route 20 on a 20 minute frequency from 7am to 7pm, six days a week.[34] Bellamy's positioned the conductor and open platform features of the Routemaster as being able to compete with the incumbent operator's Nottingham City Transport (NCT) services, on increased speed of travel through the city centre bus stops, and through hail and ride operation in the suburbs. The Routemasters were withdrawn on 28 June 2008 with the company citing low passenger demand, although to satisfy bus service registration requirements, the service continued using single-decker buses into August.[35] The council, which has an 82% stake in NCT, was criticised for not doing enough to provide information about the service in public facilities, and for increasing the competition selectively on the Routemaster route.[34]

The London and South East of England operator Metrobus has retained a green liveried Routemaster, RML 2317 (CUV 317C), obtained from sister company London General, which is sometimes used on regular routes as well as private and preservation appearances. Cavendish Motor Services operate RML 2324 in a light green and green livery, for special journeys as well as a relief bus for a number of their routes in the Eastbourne area.

Non-public service useEdit

Rootmaster Cafe 2

A Routemaster in use as a cafe in Brick Lane, London

Aside from the London heritage routes, the last major operator of Routemasters in service in the UK, is in Edinburgh, Scotland. Local operator Lothian Buses tour operation Mac Tours[36] uses a variety of closed and open top Routemasters on regular tour bus duties.[30]

Several operators in the UK maintain Routemasters for private hire usage, with the majority held by the successors to the former London Bus units, Ensignbus, London Bus Company Ltd (formerly Blue Triangle) and Timebus Travel.[30]

Many cities around the world have a Routemaster, or an older RT variant somewhere, often privately owned and used for many different purposes (from Preservation to Hot Dog stands, tour bus to shop). Routemasters can be found far from home in places such as Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, China, Canada, Southern California, Malaysia, even Fairbanks, Alaska.

A number of Stagecoach-owned Routemasters have been exported to Montreal in Canada, where Stagecoach now provide a tourist service around the city. This is a unique case of London Routemasters being operated on a daily service in a foreign country by a former London Routemaster operator.

Future RoutemasterEdit

Main article: Future Routemaster
Boris Johnson -holding a red model bus -2007

Boris Johnson with a model of a Routemaster wearing the slogan "Back Boris for a greater London" for his 2008 London mayoral campaign

Such is the popularity of the Routemaster that many calls continue to be made for a new version of the vehicle to be produced. Conservative Mayoral candidate for London, Boris Johnson, on 3 September 2007, announced that he was contemplating introducing a modern-day version of the Routemaster bus (and scrapping bendy bus operation). In December 2007 UK magazine Autocar commissioned leading bus designer Capoco, designer of the innovative Optare Solo, to come up with detailed proposals for a new-generation Routemaster.[37] Mayoral candidate Boris Johnson backed the Capoco design in principle and suggested that he would hold a formal design competition to develop a new Routemaster if he became London mayor in 2008. After being successfully elected, this competition was set up, and held open for general ideas and detailed designs to be submitted by companies and members of the public, with cash prizes for the winning entries. The results of the competition were published on 19 December 2008, with the winning and otherwise good proposals being passed to bus manufacturers to draw up a final design. The winners included two joint 'whole bus' designs, one submitted by Capoco, and one submitted by Aston Martin and Foster and Partners[38]. Transport for London expects a prototype to be on London streets by 2011.[39]

Routemasters in preservationEdit


Several disposed of Routemasters were sold to preservation groups. Ensignbus, the bus dealer, handled disposals by the hundreds, as they also did for other London types. In December 2004 Ensignbus held a raffle for 32 Routemasters, available for £2,000 to those who could prove they had the finances to store and care for them.[40] Ensignbus has since opened a transport museum which contains several preserved examples.[41]

50th AnniversaryEdit

On 25 July 2004, in Finsbury Park, London, over 100 preserved Routemasters with various operators and museums were lined up, in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first appearance of the Routemaster.[42]

Jeremy ClarksonEdit

In October 2008, British television presenter and motoring enthusiast Jeremy Clarkson caused controversy when he destroyed a Routemaster in a stunt to promote his new DVD[43] The chairman of the Routemaster Association compared the selection of a Routemaster when other old buses could have been used with choosing to explode an E-Type Jaguar. In response, a spokesman for Clarkson's production company stated, "What [Clarkson] wants to blow up for his own, and the viewers' entertainment, is up to's a well-known fact that he isn't fond of buses."

Notable preserved RoutemastersEdit

Row of seven preserved Routemasters

Seven preserved Routemasters line up for a running day in London, 2007

  • Cobham Bus Museum has the third prototype RML3 [42] (L in this case stood for Leyland). This vehicle has had a replica of its original front fitted.
  • The prototype coach RMC4 (originally CRL4) is preserved by Roger Wright of the London Bus Company and is being fitted with a replica of its original front.
  • The first production Routemaster RM8 is preserved by the RM8 Club. This vehicle was displayed at the 1958 Commercial Vehicle Exhibition as the new bus for London. It was employed at LT Chiswick as an experimental vehicle upon which many routemaster modifications were tested. The bus finally entered public service at Sidcup (SP) garage in March 1976, being the last Routemaster to enter service and the last open-platform bus to be introduced into service in the UK. It served LT at Sidcup garage until the garage went "one-man" in 1985. It then entered preservation with the RM8 Group which subsequently became the RM8 Club. It is currently (July 2008) preserved as in her 1958 Commercial Vehicle Exhibition appearance, complete with replica posters and blinds.[citation (source) needed][44]
  • The 1000th Routemaster produced, RM1000, was handed over to London Transport with a ceremony at Southall Works on 16 October 1961, and adopted as a showbus by staff at Croydon Garage. This bus passed to the RM1000 Preservation Group for preservation in May 1987.[45]
  • The unique rear-engined, front entrance Routemaster, FRM1, was transferred to London Transport Museum for preservation in 1983.[6] Also in the collection are prototypes RM1 and RM2. RM2 is undergoing work at the Acton Depot to fit a replica of its original front end.
  • One of the last running Routemasters, RM54, was purchased from TfL in April 2006 for preservation by Ensignbus.[citation (source) needed]
London Transport Routemaster Bus

RM1737 in the London Transport Museum collection

  • RM1737 was the show bus of Ash Grove Garage in the early 1980s.[citation (source) needed] It eventually passed into TfL ownership and is displayed at the London Transport Museum
  • RM737 was the show bus at Harrow Weald garage[citation (source) needed] and, despite being in daily service on route 140, was regularly seen at preservation rallies. Purchased by the show bus team when route 140 was converted, it was the first standard example in preservation.
  • RM2217, the last departure on the 159[citation (source) needed] has been retained by Arriva in its Heritage Fleet, along with early Routemasters RM5 and RM6, and the first production RMC coach RMC1453 among others.
  • The last Routemaster built for London, RML2760 is retained by East London Bus Group (formerly Stagecoach London).
  • The first RCL Routemaster to be built, CUV 218C/RCL2218 is now preserved in excellent condition at the Nottingham Transport Heritage Centre.

See alsoEdit

Wikimedia Commons has media related to:


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 FAQ
  2. BBC - h2g2 - The Routemaster Bus - Big, Red and Shiny
  3. 3.0 3.1 "The Bus We Loved" book description, 12 September 2006
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 home page
  5. Buses on screen On the Buses (1972, Reg Varney)
  6. 6.0 6.1 FRM class page
  7. 7.0 7.1 AEC Southall Enthusiast page
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 RML page 1
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 RMC class details
  10. 10.0 10.1 RCL class details
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 11.3 RMF page 1
  12. Northern Routemasters homepage
  13. Image of Northern General 2115 (FPT 585C) in Northern livery
  14. Image of Northern General 2116 (FPT 586C) in Northern livery
  15. Image of Northern General 3105 (FPT 591C) with destination blinds for service X1 to Scandinavia
  16. RMA class page
  17. 17.0 17.1 RMA class page 2
  18. London Transport Museum Routemaster heyday DVD description
  19. 19.0 19.1 RCL class page 2
  20. 20.0 20.1 RML page 3
  21. 21.0 21.1 RML page 2
  22. 22.0 22.1 RML page 4
  23. Image of a Silver Jubilee Routemaster
  24. RML class page 6
  25. 25.0 25.1 AEC Bus Site Routemaster outside London
  26. Image of a Stagecoach Magicbus Routemaster
  27. Autocar re-invents the Routemaster
  28. 28.0 28.1 Information on last day of the Routemaster
  29. 29.0 29.1 29.2 London Bus Page Description of last day running
  30. 30.0 30.1 30.2 AEC Bus Society AEC Buses in service, including London Heritage routes
  31. BBC News
  32. Image of a red Nottingham & District Routemaster logo
  33. Image of a red Nottingham & District Routemaster
  34. 34.0 34.1 Buses Magazine, August 2008 issue, page 41 Letters - "Is Nottingham stifling the potential of its heritage routemasters?", Ian Allen Publishing
  35. Buses Magazine, August 2008 issue, page 5, Ian Allen Publishing
  36. Mac Tours website
  37. Times Online Blueprint for "son of Routemaster", 19 December 2007, retrieved 15 April 2008
  38. Routemaster, London, Fosters + Partners,, retrieved 14 September 2009
  39. "A New Bus for London - Next steps". Transport For London (undated). Retrieved on 20 December 2008. “We will now pass the best designs and concepts on to bus manufacturers, so they can be developed into final design proposals. A competitive tendering process will then determine to which company we award the final contract to build the new bus for London. This should be decided by the end of next year. The first prototype of the new bus will be on the streets of London by 2011.”
  40. RML class page 7
  41. Ensignbus Transport Museum
  42. 42.0 42.1 AEC Southall Society Routemaster 50 Event description
  43. "Jeremy Clarkson causes outrage after blowing up Routemaster", (20 October 2008). Retrieved on 2 December 2008. "Andrew Morgan, chairman of the Routemaster Association, said: "It's just sacrilege and a very sad thing to do. Why pick on a vehicle like that when you wouldn't do it to a classic car like an E-type and there are more of them? There are plenty of other red double-deckers that he could pick on in scrapyards."" 
  44. Routemaster Vol 1Ken Blacker Capital Transport ISBN 1854141317 pub 1981 pp42-43 & Routemaster Vol2 Ken Blacker Capital Transport ISBN 1854141422 pub 1992 pp20
  45. AEC Southall Enthusiast page RM1000 details

External linksEdit

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