July 4, 2008 / 2:34 PM / 11 years ago

London mayor offers double-decker bus design prize

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - London’s mayor launched a 25,000-pound ($49,000) competition on Friday to design a new bus for the capital as part of his campaign to restore the once familiar double-deckers with an open platform.

A Routemaster bus on route 159 drives over Westminster Bridge in London, December 8, 2005. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty

Loved by tourists and locals alike, the distinctive red Routemaster double-decker buses were deemed expensive antiques and phased out in 2005 after half a century of service.

“I made a commitment during the election campaign to hold a competition to design a brand new bus for London, based on the much-missed Routemaster, which was an icon of the capital,” said mayor Boris Johnson in a statement.

“London deserves a bus fit for the 21st century, and I want as many people as possible to submit their ideas.

“Whether you’re a professional designer who can submit a detailed plan or you are someone who uses buses every day and has one great idea that would make your journey better, we want to hear from you.”

Snub-nosed and light-bodied, with the driver enclosed in his cab and a conductor taking the fares, the Routemasters were built until 1968. At their peak 2,760 trundled throughout London but now only a handful are left on so-called “heritage” routes.

The open-door rear, which allowed passengers to hop on and off whenever they wanted was one of their strongest features — albeit one which health and safety officials frowned upon.

The use of the conductor meant that less time was spent at stops because tickets could be checked on the move.

The current fleet of London buses is made up of double and single deckers, with doors controlled by the driver.

Johnson will announce the winner of the 25,000 pound prize at the end of October. More details of the competition can be found at www.tfl.gov.uk/anewbusforlondon

Reporting by John Joseph; Editing by Steve Addison and Keith Weir

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