London pulled out all the stops to say good-bye to the Routemaster - the distinctive red bus that was such a trademark of the capital. The gods laid on an approximation of a foggy morning; shoppers applauded; enthusiasts jogged alongside.
It was a fitting farewell - but a timely one. The Routemaster has had its day. Beside its successors, this veteran was a ramshackle, polluting and inaccessible beast. The more athletic may mourn the convenience of its open platform, but for the less mobile, these buses offered no route to anywhere. Its successors open the freedom of London to all.
Keeping a few Routemasters to run on two scenic routes is a good compromise, as is the edict that, although run by different companies, London buses must be red. Today, though, they must also be safe, green and efficient. At more than 50 years of age, the Routemaster is none of these. It deserves its retirement.