London Officially Unveils Hybrid Double Decker Bus for the Future

When I visited England a few years ago, it was a strange juxtaposition of contemporary American culture with a classic British twist. As a car guy though, I naturally paid the most attention to all the interesting and foreign (literally) vehicles around me. While the black cabs nearly clipped me and I saw a runaway Renault crash into a streetlamp, the legendary vehicles that captivated me the most were the red, double decker buses.

Of course, these old, mobile landmarks are pretty much the picture of a bygone gas guzzling era. In an effort to improve the green cred of London, Mayor Boris Johnson unveiled the official new hybrid double decker bus, which will hit the streets sometime in 2012.

There are a number of ways to make a bus more efficient; add more passengers, use lighter materials, and power it with an alternative fuel or hybrid drive train. The new London double deckers take the hybrid route. London already has a sizable fleet of hybrid buses, but this new design will be 15% more efficient than even those buses. Compared to conventional, diesel double deckers (called the Routemaster), these new hybrid buses will be 40% more fuel efficient.

The bus was designed by Thomas Heatherwick. One of the tricks is using lightweight materials to lower the overall mass of the vehicle. One of the main features of the new buses is the extensive use of glass and natural lighting. A “swoop” of glass follows stairs at the front and rear of the bus, providing a dramatic look, and you’ve got to admit these buses look rather futuristic. An open rear platform will allow for easier “hop-on, hop-off” access. The new buses are being built by The Wright Group, which expects to deliver a prototype next year, and have the new buses entering service sometime in 2012… just in time for the Olympics. Imagine that.

Will the new double deckers be as memorable as the original Routemaster? You can watch a video about the process of designing the buses below and check out the press release on the next page.

Source: Dezeen | Images: Thomas Heatherwick

Christopher DeMorro

A writer and gearhead who loves all things automotive, from hybrids to HEMIs, can be found wrenching or writing- or else, he's running, because he's one of those crazy people who gets enjoyment from running insane distances.