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Legendary Routemaster Bus | Red London Buses

Updated on February 24, 2015

The AEC Routemaster was specifically designed for London

The traditional Red Routemaster is one of the famous Tourist Icons of London. Yet it has gradually disappeared from the city's streets, this caused it to be one of the most important issues in the recent election for London's Mayor. The bus is famous for its reliability, it kept being called back into service to replace worn-out modern buses. All the same most of them have been retired and are now used for promotions or adventure transport all over the world.

Warning: Routemaster bus fans are probably some of the most obsessive fans that exist anywhere!

This lens has been awarded a Purple Star

Click How to identify a Routemaster Bus

Symbol of London

The Routemaster bus is famous for its reliability and its open doorway which allow people to hop on and off in slow moving traffic where ever they wanted. It gives you a wonderful sense of freedom when you suddenly realised you could swap to a different bus or go by tube, or jump off and buy a newspaper, or just get off because you'd seen a friend or tourist site you'd like to visit. People also liked the bus because they had conductors (ticket sellers) who were often personalities and offered tourist advice.

photo by Dimity B Creative Commons

New Routemaster Bus Unveiled by Boris Johnson

New Routemaster Bus Unveiled by Boris Johnson
New Routemaster Bus Unveiled by Boris Johnson

The new Routemaster Bus goes into service on Monday 27th February 2012. If there is a conductor on board then the rear door will always be open. It has a double staircase designed to allow people to get off and on the bus at the same time.

History of the Routemaster

The Routemaster bus was developed during the years of 1947-1956 , the brief being to replace London's trolleybuses, which had themselves replaced trams in London, and also the older diesel RT buses. 2875 were built and all but 115 were ordered by London Transport. In 1998 over 600 Routemasters were operating in London. Most surviving Routemasters are 72 seat 30 foot long RML class models, these can be identified by an extra shorter window halfway along both upper and lower decks.

Routemasters operated outside London on the Greenline service had enclosed rear platforms, as an open platform would not of been safe at the higher speeds obtainable on traffic-free roads.

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Bus Poll for Bus Fans

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London Bus in Australia - RTL 547 in Sidney (Not a Routemaster, note the radiator)

Routemaster in the Falklands

Routemaster Toys

The Disliked Bendy Bus

Boris Johnson has vowed that his first act as Mayor of London will be to scrap bendy buses and replace them with a modern-day Routemaster.

Mr Johnson said that the controversial buses were abused by fare dodgers and highly dangerous to cyclists.

How to Recognise a Routemaster - Distinguishing a Routemaster from an RT

Many people think all old Red Buses are Routemasters but in fact there were many more RTs produced. The front radiator is the easiest way to tell them apart. The Routemaster has a wide split radiator grill and the Identification of type RM1111 (Route Master 1111).

The RT's have a tall narrow split radiator grill and are numbered RT1111.

The RT, which served from 1939 to 1979, and of which 4,825 were built, the most numerous class of London bus (just 2,760 Routemasters were built for London). The RT had a 7½ft wide chassis, the Routemaster's was 8ft. There were a number of places in London right up to 1979 that could only be served by RTs because the Routemaster was too wide.

RT's are rather gaunt and stern looking in comparison with the more rounded Routemaster.

RT Bus - (photo Wikipedia Commons by Elsie)

The AEC Regent III RT was a double-decker bus produced jointly between AEC and London Transport. It was the standard red London bus during the 1950s. It was narrower than the Routemaster and was thus be used on certain routes where the Routemaster was too wide

Routemaster Heritage Route 9 and 15

Yes you can still travel on a Routemaster in London

From 2005 there are two Routemaster Heritage Routes 9 and 15

Route 9 : Buses run between Royal Albert Hall via Trafalgar Square to Aldwych

Route 15 : Trafalgar Square to Tower Hill

Even if you are not mad about buses this is the best way to visit London (try to get the front seats on the top deck)

Check London Transport for details

Jeremy Clarkson Blows up a Routemaster Bus

Jeremy presents a successful Motoring Programme on British TV called Top Gear. He hates buses that get in the way of his luxury sports car and decided to blow one up for his DVD. Unfortunately he chose to destroy one of the only 500 remaining Routemasters in the country. Andrew Morgan, chairman of the Routemaster Association, said: "It's just sacrilege and a very sad thing to do.

Routemasters on Film and on Television - Reference http://www.busesonscreen.net/

See the Link above in the Routemaster Web Links for screen shots of over a 100 films.

  • 28 Days Later (2002, Christopher Eccleston)
  • 102 Dalmatians (2000, Glenn Close) with a Dalmatian Colored Routemaster!
  • Summer Holiday (1963, Cliff Richard)

    Does not feature Routemasters but instead Three RTs, RT2305 (KGU334), RT2366 (KGU395) and RT4326 (NLE990) RT1881 with a fake registration number (WLB991)

  • Live and Let Die 1973 James bond with Roger Moore

    AEC Regent III RT type double-decker. This has the famous scene where the top deck is removed when Roger Moore drives under a low bridge. Roger Moore took bus driving lessons for the film.

How to Visit London - Advice for Tourists

Travelcards for buses and tube

The London Travelcard and London Visitor Travelcard are the travel passes for short term visitors to London. The Travelcard is easy to purchase and as well as saving money also saves a lot of time obtaining tickets individually.

You can buy one, three, seven day travel cards. You can save even more money by buying the off-peak version.

Apart from saving you money the travel cards also you a lot of hassle, as you change from bus to tube to bus again freely without having to queue for tickets.

Tip: take a ride on the overground Docklands Light Railway which gives you magnificent views of London (use your travelcard)

Modern Routemaster Design Proposal for 2011 - One of two winning designs

Computer Graphic of New Routemaster Bus May 2010 - Boris Johnson unveils London Routemaster bus design

TFL Image
TFL Image

Routemaster Bus at Ascot Station close to Ascot Racecourse

Creative Commons by Chris J. Dixon

This was not taken during Royal Ascot when the square would be crowded with elegant racegoers. The pub just seen to the right is the the first and last halt of those determined to have a great day out.

Routemaster in London Transport Museum Covent Garden - London Transport Museum Covent Garden a Mecca for Transport fans

The splendid Routemaster, an icon of this great city sadly no longer in regular use- although some still survive as tourist buses. At the London Transport Museum

Photo by Basher Eyre under Creative Commons

Buses in the News : Atheist Bus in London

Didn't know buses could be religious!

A Row Of Wonderful Routemaster Buses

Photo by Elsie Esq.

Routemaster and RT Bus Photo Gallery

Click thumbnail to view full-size
PWL 413 of Oxford Bus Museum Leaving Abingdon Air Show 2009 AEC Regent III 1950Routemaster RM 45 Rear View on Wedding Duty Abingdon 24th May 2009. Rear View of a Routemaster- Back of a bus.VLT45 now re reg to AST415TPark Royal Bodywork Ex London TransportFleet No: RM45
PWL 413 of Oxford Bus Museum Leaving Abingdon Air Show 2009 AEC Regent III 1950
PWL 413 of Oxford Bus Museum Leaving Abingdon Air Show 2009 AEC Regent III 1950
Routemaster RM 45 Rear View on Wedding Duty Abingdon 24th May 2009. Rear View of a Routemaster- Back of a bus.VLT45 now re reg to AST415TPark Royal Bodywork Ex London TransportFleet No: RM45
Routemaster RM 45 Rear View on Wedding Duty Abingdon 24th May 2009. Rear View of a Routemaster- Back of a bus. VLT45 now re reg to AST415T Park Royal Bodywork Ex London Transport Fleet No: RM45

Walkers Crisp Routemaster Advert with Gary Lineker - Gary Lineker maybe doesn't know that he is not the star in the Advert

The advert which is a parody of the Cliff Richard film 'Summer Holiday' shows Gary Lineker eating a bag of crisps and singing along to the song 'Summer Holiday'

How to Tell a Routemaster Bus from an RT Bus

Photo and description to distinguish a Routemaster Bus from an RT Bus

The Routemaster has a wider radiator and a more streamlined cowling. The older RT has a tall radiator and a gaunter more austere look. The Routemaster has twin headlights set into the cowling, the RT has single headlights on stalks.

See the comparison image below

Modern Bus Photo Gallery

Green Park and Ride bus in St Aldates Oxford August 2009.ALX400
Green Park and Ride bus in St Aldates Oxford August 2009.ALX400

Sinclair C5 Electric Vehicle in a Carpark in Basingstoke

What's this got to do with Routemaster's you might well ask!

None really , but one of the reasons the C5 was a failure was that it could not be seen by trucks and buses

London Transport Museum at Covent Garden - Very Handy for Tourists with Uninterested Wives - Lots to see/shop near by!!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Routemaster next to a smart Greenline. (The Greenlines ran from the city to the country)Routemaster with Anachronistic Flower Girl!Routemaster InteriorSought after Rear SeatRoutemaster StairwellTrolley Bus at London Transport MuseumBus Conductor Uniform with Ticket Machine and Range of Colored TicketsThe Rear of RM1737 737 DYELifelike Trolley Bus Conductor with a Pole to Untangle Trolley  CablesClose up of front of a Routemaster Bus
Routemaster next to a smart Greenline. (The Greenlines ran from the city to the country)
Routemaster next to a smart Greenline. (The Greenlines ran from the city to the country)
Routemaster with Anachronistic Flower Girl!
Routemaster with Anachronistic Flower Girl!
Routemaster Interior
Routemaster Interior
Sought after Rear Seat
Sought after Rear Seat
Routemaster Stairwell
Routemaster Stairwell
Trolley Bus at London Transport Museum
Trolley Bus at London Transport Museum
Bus Conductor Uniform with Ticket Machine and Range of Colored Tickets
Bus Conductor Uniform with Ticket Machine and Range of Colored Tickets
The Rear of RM1737 737 DYE
The Rear of RM1737 737 DYE
Lifelike Trolley Bus Conductor with a Pole to Untangle Trolley  Cables
Lifelike Trolley Bus Conductor with a Pole to Untangle Trolley Cables
Close up of front of a Routemaster Bus
Close up of front of a Routemaster Bus

Routemaster Buses in the News

  1. 11 Nov 2009 Strongman Pulls Routemaster Bus with His Hair

    Manjit Singh, a 59-year-old from Leicester, attached a clamp to his thick ponytail and bore the pain of pulling a seven ton vintage routemaster 21.2 metres through Battersea Park to set a new world record .

Routemaster procession at Showbus 2006, Duxford

Routemaster and RT Bus Side by Side for Comparison

Yep that's a Routemaster on the Right!

Routemaster Bus at Leicester Forest East Service Station - Welcome Break Service Station

Routemaster Bus at Leicester Forest East Service Station
Routemaster Bus at Leicester Forest East Service Station

JJD 498D - 1966 AEC Routemaster - decorated in Children In Need Livery, was previously black.

formerly RML2498. First RML2498 AEC Routemaster Double Deck Bus JJD498D, built in June 1966 for London Transport, in service until at least 2002.

M&M's Routemaster Bus RM2561. This has been gutted to make an entrance into M&M World

M&M's Routemaster Bus RM2561. This has been gutted to make an entrance into M&M World
M&M's Routemaster Bus RM2561. This has been gutted to make an entrance into M&M World

Text with BIG Picture - Routemaster RM2050 ALM 50B The Aldwych March 2012

Routemaster RM2050 ALM 50B
Routemaster RM2050 ALM 50B

A working Routemaster on a beautiful Spring Day

Routemaster Bus RML 2430 JJD 430D passing through Abingdon on a Rainy Day

Routemaster Bus RML 2430 JJD 430D passing through  Abingdon on a  Rainy Day
Routemaster Bus RML 2430 JJD 430D passing through Abingdon on a Rainy Day

Red Routemaster Bus in a barn

Red Routemaster Bus in a barn
Red Routemaster Bus in a barn

Old Buses at Kingston Bagpuize including a Routemaster

Old Buses at Kingston Bagpuize including a Routemaster
Old Buses at Kingston Bagpuize including a Routemaster

Routemaster ,RMA 13, NMY 656E acting as Hotel Reception The Crazy Bear Stadhampton

Routemaster ,RMA 13, NMY 656E
Routemaster ,RMA 13, NMY 656E

Fabulous restaurant(s - one Thai brasserie, one British bar) in insanely luxurious boutique hotel (branches also in London & Beaconsfield). Also has farm shop attached. The interior has been done out very luxuriously (the seats have been removed)

Routemaster Bus on Edinburgh Royal Mile - RM281 VLT281

4659426133445745
4659426133445745

There is small fleet of Routemasters doing a guided tour of Edinburgh. Doing a guided bus tour is a great way to learn about a town.

This bus was formerly a London Transport AEC Routemaster RM281 VLT281 on route 253 in Hackney.

ERM 163 Routemaster Cab, Waverley Station Edinburgh

 

The Gay Bus - Some People are Gay Get Over It!

Some People are Gay Get Over It!
Some People are Gay Get Over It!

The sides of Buses are ever popular to advertisers as it it allows access busy city workers, increasingly they are used to get campaign messages such as this across. The secret of this type of advertising is that the bus implies solidity and reliability it is a powerful medium.

AEC Bus Ex AERE
AEC Bus Ex AERE

AEC Bus Ex AERE

(Not a Routemaster)

Routemaster Passenger Feedback - I am a bus fan but not an expert so please be kind!

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    • profile image

      GentlemenGogoVEVO 5 years ago

      I've never seen a bus like your photos..funny.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      I've always been fascinated with the Routemaster buses. Lovely to see such a beautiful tribute page.

    • stickyboard profile image

      stickyboard 5 years ago

      Hey Great lens! I just made a lens on 100 Great things about London and figured you might like it? It's a collaborative thing, so you might even like to contribute?

      Anyway hope you like it - it all based from a blog if you're interested http://100london.blogspot.com/

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I loved your legendary Routemaster before and just got on board for a quick ride after noticing my blessing had worn off....fresh angel dust for a nice shine!

    • Stacy Birch profile image

      Stacy Birch 5 years ago

      You have no idea how much I like Double Decker Buses, I've always wanted to go out on one, but I live in middle America. Awesome Lens.

    • Stacy Birch profile image

      Stacy Birch 5 years ago

      You have no idea how much I like Double Decker Buses, I've always wanted to go out on one, but I live in middle America. Awesome Lens.

    • Anthony Altorenna profile image

      Anthony Altorenna 5 years ago from Connecticut

      Excellent lens! I saw a double-decker bus at work recently in downtown Boston -- could this bus have been a RouteMaster Bus?

    • WriterJanis2 profile image

      WriterJanis2 5 years ago

      Oh I love double decker buses. Great photos!

    • gamecheathub profile image

      gamecheathub 5 years ago

      I've never seen a Routemaster bus that wasn't red before. Seems kinda blasphemous to be any color other than RED. Great lens. I especially liked the guy that blew one up. Fun chaos!

    • Elsie Hagley profile image

      Elsie Hagley 5 years ago from New Zealand

      Nice lens. I like red bus and these look very smart especially the Modern Routemaster Design Proposal for 2011. Thanks for sharing. Blessed

    • Lady Lorelei profile image

      Lorelei Cohen 6 years ago from Canada

      Fantastic images. The sight from the top deck must be absolutely fantastic on the routemaster bus....I have always wanted to ride on one. Best of wishes.

    • profile image

      TravelingRae 6 years ago

      What an informative and interesting lens! Blessed by a SquidAngel 8/14/11

    • LikinTrikin LM profile image

      LikinTrikin LM 6 years ago

      Very nice lens..done in a way that's interesting and enjoyable to read..It gets my blessing for today!

    • profile image

      Pete Schultz 6 years ago

      I recognized the red double decker bus...but did not know any of the history, which is very interesting. A red double decker operates on the north shore of Lake Superior in the summers here in Minnesota. I will be paying attention to the make and model. Nice lens.

    • shellys-space profile image

      Shelly Sellers 6 years ago from Midwest U.S.A.

      Nicely done and super photos! I have to show my son this page...he will love it!

    • makingamark profile image

      Katherine Tyrrell 6 years ago from London

      What a wonderful lens. Routemasters are something visitors to the UK still look out for. Blessed and added to The Best of the UK (in Travel/UK)

      I can vouch for the "get an Oyster card" advice. I saw a major operation to identify fare dodgers just recently. Hordes of transport police stopped a bendy bus, got everybody out on the pavement and checked everybody's fares. It looked like they were charging fare dodgers!

    • KathyMcGraw2 profile image

      Kathy McGraw 6 years ago from California

      Very interesting, I learned a few things and quelled my thought that the Routemaster was a regular double decker bus :)

    • kimbesa2 profile image

      kimbesa 6 years ago from USA

      Love this! I'm lensrolling onto my London travel lens. Thanks!

    • Wednesday-Elf profile image

      Wednesday-Elf 6 years ago from Savannah, Georgia

      What an interesting story about the Routemaster bus. Loved the pictures. Congratulations on your review.

    • profile image

      kimmanleyort 6 years ago

      I really enjoyed reading about the Routemaster bus. This lens is featured today on Squidoo Lens Reviews. Stop by and pick up a badge if you would like. http://blog.growwear.com/a-legendary-bus/

    • sorana lm profile image

      sorana lm 6 years ago

      I am a fan of this bus too. When I lived in London, I used to take the bus and sit at the top, in front. Just loved it.

    • Paul Ward profile image

      Paul 6 years ago from Liverpool, England

      Good lens - you might like http://www.flickr.com/photos/salford_ian/ which I found when I was looking for a pic of a bus to illustrate a lens module

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      A wonderful tribute to an icon that has caught the attention of the world and beautifully accomplished! I've wanted to ride on one of these since I was little.

    • Senora M profile image

      Senora M 6 years ago

      Very cool lens. Looks like a lot of work was spent on it! Congrats on the purple star!

    • TonyPayne profile image

      Tony Payne 6 years ago from Southampton, UK

      Great lens. I used to ride enough Routemasters in the late 70's and early 80's when I was working in London. For bus fans this lens is a masterpiece. Your Purple Star was well deserved.

    • norma-holt profile image

      norma-holt 6 years ago

      Great lens and interesting topic. We had double decker busses in Sydney for years and they were a great favorite. I loved the front seats on the top deck. Made you feel in charge of the world. Featured this on Classic and Vintage Cars and thanks for blessing Plastic is Death.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image

      KimGiancaterino 6 years ago

      When I was in London I absolutely had to ride on a double-decker red bus. I still have my red-bus tote bag from Harrod's. Well-deserved purple star.

    • Christene-S profile image

      Christene-S 6 years ago

      Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • indigogirl lm profile image

      indigogirl lm 6 years ago

      Great lens brought back lots of childhood memories of my daily trips on the number 11 bus along the Kings Road : ) I used to always want to be the conductor with that machine that spewed out the long reels of tickets...those were the days!

    • myraggededge profile image

      myraggededge 6 years ago

      Congratulations on your Purple Star! Well deserved. I love to see enthusiasm for the subject in hand, and yours shines through.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      What a great lens. I remember these buses as a child. I am so glad they are planning on bringing them back in at least an up-to-date version. I was sad to see on the news that they were introducing those new buses, I didn't like the look of those. Is there a time frame in which the new/old buses will be re-introduced?. Thanks for the lens.

    • myraggededge profile image

      myraggededge 6 years ago

      @thesuccess2: By the way, where is the Purple Star this lens should be wearing??

    • myraggededge profile image

      myraggededge 6 years ago

      What a great lens! When we used to go back to Cornwall to visit, my heart would skip a beat at the sight of the old green buses. When we first moved from there to Wales, I couldn't believe how weird trolleybuses were"

    • thesuccess2 profile image
      Author

      thesuccess2 6 years ago

      @LouiseKirkpatrick: CDT I'm thrilled to have a Squid Angel blessing!

    • LouiseKirkpatrick profile image

      LouiseKirkpatrick 6 years ago from Berkshire, United Kingdom

      I'm from the UK and used to go to school on a green Routemaster - lovely memories! Blessed by a SquidAngel :)

    • Kiosks4business profile image

      Kiosks4business 7 years ago

      Fantastic Lens - lots of information and some great photos! Thanks

      http://www.kiosks4business.com/page.php?id=125&...

    • Kate Phizackerl1 profile image

      Kate Phizackerl1 7 years ago

      I think we all still miss them. Blessed.

    • Stazjia profile image

      Carol Fisher 7 years ago from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK

      I loved the old Routemaster buses. Years ago, I worked near Oxford Circus and would usually jump on the bus as the traffic lights there. If I'd gone to the bus stop, I'd have missed it. Like most Londoners, I loved the way we could jump on and off at lights or zebra crossings. Blessed by an Angel.

    • thesuccess2 profile image
      Author

      thesuccess2 8 years ago

      [in reply to Oosquid]

      I must get down there thanks for the tip!

    • profile image

      Oosquid 8 years ago

      Wow, you know your Routemasters. There are a number of RM's parked in Norwood bus garage (SE27) including RM6 which I believe was the first to actually enter service. Great lens 5stars.

    • profile image

      Zion 8 years ago

      Wow! This is a great info for all of us.

      I really like your lens! so I gave you 5*.. how about that?!...

      Please try to stop by my lens. I would really much appreciate if you could rate mine too!

      Thank you so much!

      Zion

      http://www.squidoo.com/effective-best-acne-treatme...

    • dustytoes profile image

      dustytoes 8 years ago

      I like all the pictures...I rode on a double decker (is that the same thing?) at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida a long time ago. My kids thought it was great! I enjoyed your lens!

    • profile image

      RinchenChodron 8 years ago

      Fun lens. Great illustrations

    • profile image

      flaminglacer 8 years ago

      One of my earliest memories is a trip on the bus with my grandfather - so exciting to a tiny girl to get on the 'big red bus'!