The Routemaster
London's icon
The next evolutionary step from the RT, London's Routemaster became the last in the line of London Transport's buses, designed and built in London especially for London.   First operated in service on 8 February 1956, the Routemaster design has now achieved over 50 years' service to London, a truly staggering achievement.
Far ahead of its time and inspired by aircraft production techniques, the aluminium-bodied Routemaster was revolutionary in many ways, including its chassisless construction, automatic transmission and independent suspension, yet was considered by some to be already obsolete when introduced due to its open platform, front-engined design.  Oh well, we can't all be right all the time, or we'd all be Prime Minister.
Limited numbers of country buses and Green Line coaches were built, but the Routemaster was quintessentially a red bus, moving the masses day in, day out.  Seating 64, or 72 in the later RML class, Routemasters started life replacing trolleybuses, moved on to replacing RTs, then in some cases replacing buses that were supposed to replace them. But the economics of providing services to a reducing number of passengers eventually led to Routemaster operation being concentrated on busy central London routes.
Many were re-engined with modern low-emission engines and refurbished internally to extend their lives.  Once ubiquitous in London, the last ten now in service on two central London heritage routes are testament to British engineering.  Had London continued to control its destiny, the rear-engined FRM would have taken over.  But it was not to be, and the rest is history.