16/12/2011

First New Bus For London prototype unveiled to the public

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photo © Londonist

The first New Bus For London (NBFL) prototype was seen for first time in the Capital today when the bus was officially launched.

Today the Mayor announced that the first seven prototype buses will be operated by Arriva and will enter passenger service on 20 February next year on one of the Capital's busiest routes, the 38, which runs from Victoria station to Hackney.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, committed to build the bus in his election manifesto and he was one of the first to jump on board today when the bus was driven from City Hall to Trafalgar Square to be unveiled in front of Christmas shoppers, tourists and Londoners.

In just under two years the new bus has gone from the drawing board to a fully functioning prototype. The new bus has been designed, engineered and built by Wrightbus in Northern Ireland with aesthetic design by the London based Heatherwick Studio.

It incorporates the most innovative and cutting edge hybrid technology and will be the most environmentally friendly bus of its kind when it enters passenger service.

A team of 25 engineers and a 40-strong production team at Wrightbus have worked on the first prototypes. But the manufacture of the bus has stimulated industries across the UK and, in a difficult economic climate, the Mayor is confident that when the bus goes into full production it will create many more jobs around the country.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: 'Christmas has arrived early in the form of this revolutionary new bus whose gleaming coat of red paint and sinuous curves will brighten the day of all who see it humming along our great city's streets.

'It is the latest, greatest masterpiece of British engineering and design, and I am certain it will
become a much-loved and iconic vehicle akin to the legendary Routemaster from which it draws so much inspiration.'

The new bus received the thumbs up today when it hosted its first event - as a London radio station broadcasted its breakfast show live from the bus - before it was driven through the streets of the Capital to be unveiled at Trafalgar Square. Children from Kew Riverside Primary School, that won a prize in the original design competition, were also at Trafalgar Square to see the bus arrive.

Transport for London Commissioner Peter Hendy said: 'It is a phenomenal achievement to get a bus of this calibre from the drawing board to the streets of London in just two years and my congratulations goes to all who have worked tirelessly to make this happen.

'This bus has been designed from the wheels up with the complex needs of Londoners in mind; it truly is a 21st century bus. "It's stylish and comfortable, and will ensure a smooth ride for all on board as well as an eye catching spectacle for those who will see it glide through the streets of London.'

Over the next few weeks the bus will undergo testing for certification purposes and will be put through its paces by the Arriva staff who will be responsible for driving and crewing them when they enter service early next year. In total eight prototype buses will enter passenger service in the first half of next year. The prototype buses will be trialled in passenger service and the performance and passenger feedback will be evaluated.

Critical design features include three entrances and two staircases to deliver speedy boarding, a new seat and moquette design, innovative use of new materials and an open platform at the rear, in common with the iconic Routemaster. The rear platform will be open when there is a conductor on board allowing passengers to hop on and off at bus stops. The three sets of doors will ensure easy access on and off the bus and quick access up to the upper deck via the two staircases.