London’s Heritage Routemaster buses could be consigned to the history books as Transport for London has announced plans to scrap the iconic vehicles.
The historic route 9, which runs vintage buses between High Street Kensington and Trafalgar Square, looks set to be taken off the roads in July leaving only the route 15 to continue the service.
When the original Routemasters were axed in 2005, the then London Mayor Ken Livingstone introduced two heritage routes in an attempt to soften public disapproval at the removal of the popular tourist attractions.
Leon Daniels, managing director of TFL’s Surface Transport, revealed the decision to axe them on his blog, he said: “All good things, as they say, come to an end and I am afraid I have to announce that traditional Routemasters will be withdrawn from route 9 this July.”
With 2014 being the 60th anniversary of the Routemaster and the Mayor Boris Johnson launching his Year of the Bus campaign, the timing of the decision is odd.
The plans have been met with dismay from bus enthusiasts, although TFL have said a final decision has yet to be made and that a “consultation period” will now begin.
TFL believe the introduction of the new Boris Buses, which are due to total 600 by 2016, has dampened public interest in the classic models and the money spent on upkeep could be re-invested more effectively.
“We are considering the removal of this service because it costs more than £1m a year to operate, owing in large part to the upkeep of the 60 year old buses, and a low level of use by passengers,” Peter Bradley, head of Consultation Delivery said.