Colin Crosby Heritage Tours

Farewell to the Routemaster

The Routemaster bus, one of the great icons of London, was finally withdrawn from mainstream services in the capital towards the end of 2005, on Friday 9th December.

Everybody, it seems, loved the Routemaster, which had been seen in countless film and TV scenes since going into service in 1956.

But although Routemasters were convenient for able-bodied people, who could happily jump on and off the open platforms, they were not very good for people with disabilities, or those with pushchairs etc. In fact, they were pretty useless in those circumstances, and that is why Ken Livingstone and Transport for London decided they had had their day.

Just after they had been withdrawn, I was sitting on a bus going from Anstey to Leicester, when a frail and elderly lady started complaining that “they” were always changing things, and why didn’t they think of ordinary people? It hadn’t occurred to her that she was one of the people for whose benefit the change had happened.

Prior to the last day, Transport for London sent several messages to the media, reminding them that filming would not be allowed on board any of the Routemasters without written permission.

This didn’t stop intrepid Channel Four reporter Zoe Conway. She didn’t want to be mollycoddled, so ignored the rules and carried on filming on the final day on a 159 bus. She fell off.

You will probably be pleased to know that two open-top Routemasters are now in Sri Lanka. The charity Teardrop Relief has arranged for them to be sent, to brighten the lives of orphans.

One has been pressed into service as a mobile play centre, while the other has been converted into a unit to check children’s sight and hearing.

If you still hanker after travelling on a traditional London Routemaster, don’t despair. They are still running on two “heritage routes” in the City and the West End.