Public transportation in London is about to get a whole lot more stylish as the sleek new buses designed by Thomas Heatherwick prepare to hit the streets in early 2012. Heatherwick won a 2008 competition to make over the city’s iconic double-decker buses, and his rather futuristic, rounded design features windows that wrap around from the corners up to the top deck.
Double-deckers have been in use in the United Kingdom since 1829, before motor vehicles were even invented, in the form of horse-drawn omnibuses. A number of manufacturers have produced variations on the design over the decades, including the iconic rear-platform Routemaster of the 1960s and the more recent Red Arrow fleet.
Heatherwick’s new design is a replacement for the Routemaster, featuring a “hop-on, hop-off” open platform on the rear. Modern additions include full handicap access and an electric hybrid driveline. A prototype was unveiled on December 16th, and the first buses will enter service on February 20th 2012, in time for the Summer Olympics.
“It has been 50 years since a bus was last designed and commissioned specifically for London. This has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for a team to look again at the opportunities for a new open-platform bus. It has been an honour to be asked by London’s transport authority to take an integrated approach and design everything that you see and experience from the outside down to the tiniest details of the interior.”