London Routemaster buses to make a comeback

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Passengers will get a "greener, light and airy" service when new double-decker buses, based on the old driver-and-conductor Routemasters, start running in London in 2012, it was revealed today.

The new buses will feature two doors as well as an open platform allowing passengers to hop on and off.

The final design of the buses, being made by Northern Ireland manufacturer Wrightbus, were shown off today by London Mayor Boris Johnson.

The buses, which will have two staircases, are made of lightweight materials and the use of glass produces "a light and airy feel" inside, the Mayor's Office said today.

They will be 15% more fuel efficient than existing hybrid buses and 40% more efficient than conventional diesel double-deckers.

The first prototype will be delivered late next year, with the new buses entering service from early 2012.

When he took office in 2008, Mr Johnson vowed to bring back a "greener" version of the Routemaster, which was first introduced in London in the mid-1950s.

The Routemaster was withdrawn from regular service in December 2005, although some still run on a limited basis on two tourist routes in London where they complement the full-time service.

Mr Johnson said today: "This iconic new part of our transport system is not only beautiful, but also has a green heart beating beneath its stylish, swooshing exterior.

"It will cut emissions, and give Londoners a bus they can be proud of, complete with cutting edge design, and the freedom of an open platform.

"I expect to eventually have hundreds of these on London's roads, and for cities around the globe to be beside themselves with envy for our stunning red emblem of 21st century London."