A while ago I did a blog entry about the new "Routemaster" buses used by Transport for London. As it happened I was in London again last week. More often than not, to travel around London, I tend to take buses instead of the Underground (Unless travel involves a long distance). The Underground tends to be a lot faster than the bus, but then I am generally not in much of a hurry. Besides, the view from the top deck of a London bus is arguably a lot better than watching miles of darkness and the occasional rat from the window of an underground train!
But back to the Routemaster buses. Basically I am not impressed. Perhaps they do have better fuel economy than some of the older models. However I find the Routemasters noisier than some other buses. And what idiot decided to equip those buses with non-openable windows? Three times I rode on a Routemaster last week and all three times the air conditioning on the buses did not work. Needless to say the rides were not the most comfortable! I suppose I could have gotten off and waited for another bus...
However the ride on the number 10 route was the most interesting. That line runs from King's Cross Rail Station via Euston Rail Station to the Hammersmith Bus Station. The run takes close to an hour. I got on the bus at King's Cross. No air conditioning, but at least the driver left the rear door on the bus open, so there was some relief.
Things were going ok, albeit slowly. Traffic in London is murder. Sometimes I do wonder if walking would not be faster. We stuttered our way through Oxford Street, congested as usual with buses, taxis and clueless tourists.
Around Marble Arch and Park Lane it became painfully obvious that our brand new Routemaster bus was having some issues, other than a busted air conditioning system. The engine stuttered, the bus lurched and the dwell times at stops seemed excessively long. At around High Street Kensington we sat for quite a while, the driver stopping and starting the bus engine repeatedly. He also opened and closed the front entrance door repeatedly. I am not sure why. But eventually we soldiered on towards the Hammersmith Bus Station.
But it was not to be. At about Hammersmith and Edith Roads the bus just stopped. An eerie silence ensued. Passengers had that "what now look" on their faces. Eventually the driver announced that this particular bus was not going anywhere and that we should all exit and get on the bus following us.
There wasn't any grumbling and we all got off. At that point I decided to walk to the Hammersmith Bus Station, which was only a few blocks away. Once there I caught the 190 to my final destination. Guess what: The air con worked on that old 190 bus.
No, I am not really a fan of the new Routemasters!
Photos by Ralf Meier (Sony a7RII)