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Five Fun Facts About The AEC Routemaster

Happy Birthday AEC Routemaster bus, arguably the most famous bus in the world, which first graced our streets in February 1956. No picture of a London city street is complete without a red double decker bus and whilst the Routemaster was not the first, it is the most enduring design of all. Let’s have a closer look at some of the reasons why:

Why are London buses red?

When the London General Omnibus Company decided to paint their buses red, they were making a clever marketing move to differentiate themselves from the other 20 or so bus companies in the 1920’s. Little did they know then, that in the 1930’s they would merge with other companies to become the London Passenger Transport Board and the red colour would endure for over 100 years.

What does a Routemaster, and an AGA have in common?

They are two of the most successful British designs and they are both by the same brilliant industrial designer,  William Douglas Scott.

What does a Routemaster, and an airplane have in common?

The Routemaster’s innovative design incorporated techniques used in aircraft production during Second World War, making it lightweight and energy efficient, whilst increasing the number of seats. Other mod cons included a fully automatic gearbox, power steering and power breaks. The bus drivers must have been delighted! Of the 2,876 Routemaster made 1,280 are still in existence, which just goes to show the great design and workmanship.

Why has the Routemaster become an icon of London?

Perhaps the main reason the Routemaster is synonymous with London is that it was in service for such a long time – from 1956 to 2005, to be precise. Even now they are still used on certain tour routes. So popular was the Routemaster that the minute it was taken out of service there were calls to bring it back! The charge was taken up by then London Mayor, Boris Johnson, and a New Routemaster was introduced in 2012, nicknamed the Borismaster.

Can I still travel by Routemaster?

At the time of writing you can have a Routemaster experience on the 15H heritage tour of London, which operates between Tower Hill and Trafalgar Square. If you’ve more money you can hire your very own Routemaster bus for weddings, birthdays and other special occasions. No Routemaster trip is complete without one of our lovely …&repeat City Bus collection, commemorating this iconic British transport design.