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Borismaster: a design triumph…?

Borismaster front

It’s fair to say – there’s nothing on the road quite like the lovingly-named ‘Borismaster’ right now.

These iconic vehicles are, by any measure, an impressive piece of kit.

The first few have entered service on Arriva London route 38 (Victoria – Hackney Central), a route which takes in a big chunk of central London congestion and a hefty bunch of tourists and businessmen alike.

But is it any good? Well it certainly looks the part – look at those gorgeous curves, that striking view as you head down the rear stairs to the open platform. It smacks of nostalgia – a pure, modern take on the classic Routemaster.

But it’s not without its problems.

On our short hop from the Angel, Islington to Piccadilly Circus (on bus LT6), the interior lights failed, the low battery warning light appeared on the dash (these are hybrid electric vehicles – probably not ideal when the battery is low), and of course we never got over 5mph.

But these aren’t the Borismaster’s biggest problems.

No, the biggest single problem lies with the mentality of the modern Londoner.

You see, these vehicles were designed to echo the Routemaster – that rear open platform was an idea of convenience – hurried bankers could simply run after a departing bus and jump on the back. But ever since the Routemaster was cast aside in favour of modern, dual-door buses in central London, the mindset of the Londoner appears to have changed also. We saw hardly anyone using the rear door – most people waited for the bus to stop, and boarded at the front – just like on a conventional bus. And they left via the middle door – just like on a normal vehicle. In fact, the conductor practically had to beg people to use his rear platform.

So, it remains to be seen whether these buses will ever be practical, or whether they’ll work properly, or whether they’ll be ordered in their hundreds.

But as a piece of simply gorgeous, modern design – they’re unbeatable.

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