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My eyes are burning! Here are the world’s ugliest buses

My eyes are burning! Here are the world’s ugliest buses

We’ve done beautiful buses to death on this blog, so here’s something different – a selection of vehicles which only a mother could possibly love. In a post inspired by Brighton and Hove’s newest Streetdecks, we’ve compiled a list of vehicles which give a whole new meaning to the phrase, ‘like the back end of a bus’. Sit back and enjoy our ranking of those vehicles whom really shouldn’t be let out of the depot without a paper bag placed over their heads…

10. Brighton & Hove’s Streetdecks

Brighton and Hove Streetdeck Fleet 816

Argh – kill it now, before it breeds! Done properly, the angular Gemini 3 / Streetdeck can look at least half decent – a turd can indeed occasionally be polished. But not in lowheight form. And certainly not in cream. The unfortunate inspiration behind this whole article, not even Best Impressions can make this vehicle look any less of a dogs’ dinner.

9. Transbus Enviro 300

Stagecoach Manchester 27501 RV52 OGL

‘Gopping’ is probably the best word to describe the original Enviro 300, ‘designed’ entirely by committee at TransBus International (which incidentally also has to be the blandest, most corporate name they could think of for the company at the time). Funnily enough, even TransBus shunned its own design – none of the other vehicles in the Enviro family ended up taking their styling tips from the first-generation E300 (edit: thanks to Daniel Laird for pointing out that actually, this design did somehow make it to another vehicle – the Enviro 500!).

8. Scania OmniTown

Nottingham City Transport 201 YN04 AMK on Locallink L53

A short, stubby little bus which Scania and East Lancs envisaged to be a competitor to the popular Dennis/Transbus Mini Pointer Dart. Built using a chopped-up full-size Scania CN94UB chassis and a butchered ELC Myllennium-style body, the bus never really broke ground on the ‘MPD’, selling in pitiful numbers to only a handful of British operators.

7. Half of a GM Fleetline

Grt. Manchester transport Bury depot single deck Fleetline No.1697.

And speaking of short, stubby little buses…! OK, so technically this bus was never actually ‘designed’ per se, but was the unfortunate result of a laboratory experiment gone wrong. Originally starting life with its head intact as a GM Standard double decker, this unique vehicle hit a bridge and came off worse – but rather than scrap a perfectly serviceable chassis, GM instead decided to give birth to this mutant.

6. Renault Agora

RATP Paris Bus 7284 - 86 Saint-Mande - Demi-Lune - Parc Zoologique to St-Germain-des-Pres 110813

The Agora never really caught on in the UK (sold as the Irisbus Agoraline), and it’s easy to see why. In actual fact, the front of these vehicles, particularly later models is quite refined, perhaps even handsome – but just look at that rear. Bloated, utilitarian, ugly – it’s as if the designers simply went on strike, leaving the accountants to finish the job.

5. Ferqui F5

Ferqui F5

Perhaps the most miserable looking vehicle of all time – from the front, at least. The Spanish-built Ferqui F5 debuted at Coach and Bus Live 2015 in the UK – you can read our thoughts on this particular piece of vehicular offal here.

4. Iveco Turbocity double decker

Bluebird,Middleton J227 OKX

An ill-conceived, badly designed and terribly disguised single-decker by Iveco which attempted to break into the UK double decker market in the early 90s. The unique Iveco Turbocity double decker was actually a single decker chassis grafted onto a heavily-modified Alexander R-type body, creating an ugly, heavy, expensive, and entirely impractical monstrosity of a vehicle. The sole example passed unceremoniously around a number of operators in the UK before being scrapped around 2005 after an accident.

3. Technobus Gulliver


Barely even qualifying as a ‘bus’, the Technobus Gulliver (and later the Pantheon) were battery-electric vehicles operated under contract to Merseytravel in the UK (and elsewhere on the Continent). Perhaps the most miserable-looking vehicles of all time (even more so than the aforementioned Ferqui F5), these buses are the public transport equivalent of the much-loathed G-Wizz electric car. Slow, impractical, ugly and expensive, their usage in the UK was unquestionably an exercise in ‘green travel’ too far.

2. Foster and Partners Routemaster

Foster and Partners Routemaster

Technically, this bus doesn’t actually exist, but inclusion in this list is warranted as it is an abomination which could quite easily have been a stark reality, blundering its way awkwardly around the streets of London. Designed by Foster and Partners in collaboration with Aston Martin (really?!) in response to a competition from TfL, the design was concocted in 2008 only to be trumped by Heatherwick’s ‘Borismaster’. Thank heavens it was beaten.

1. Designline Olympus

Stagecoach 61003.NK05PXM - Newcastle-upon-Tyne

A truly godawful piece of New Zealand-built hybrid-electric hellspawn which rightly takes the top spot in our list of the world’s ugliest buses. Ten of these grotesque vehicles were operated on Tyneside by Stagecoach under contract to Nexus, utilising the ‘Quaylink’ brand. What were they thinking? Incredibly, the entire fleet was scrapped prematurely following their replacement by standard Optare Versas operated by Go North East – a fitting tribute to what has to be quite simply, the ugliest vehicle of all time.

And there you have it – our ‘top 10’ of the world’s most horrendously-designed buses. We’d love to know what would make your list – write in the comments below, or drop us a tweet @transportdsn.

About The Author

Matt Harrison

Matt Harrison MCIM is a communications and marketing expert with over 12 years' experience, specialising in public transport. As Founder of Transport Designed, Matt is on a mission to celebrate and work with the most forward-thinking and innovative transport brands on the planet.


  1. Scott Poole

    Hi Matt.
    I have to agree with you about the low height Streetdeck, it does not look right, compared to the low height 2DL.
    Another suggestion for the list would be the top heavy Marshall bodywork used on Atlanteans for SYPTE and the Leicester Dominators. Even the Folwer bodied Atlantean for Fishwicks.
    Not keen on the Merseyside electric boxes, not the most pleasing of vehicles.
    Another fine article as ever.



    • Matt

      Thanks Scott! Oooh, good shout on the Marshall-bodied Atlanteans – proper munters. I guess if we’re talking Atlanteans, Nottingham City Transport had some pretty dreadful bespoke bodywork on theirs!

  2. Daniel Wright

    Wonderful work as ever, had me chuckling the whole way through, even at the entries I didn’t agree with. The Designline Olympus at number 1? Really? Bless their little cotton socks, I always thought of them as adorable ugly ducklings! Quite agree about number 2, though I’m not much more impressed with the New Routemaster we actually did get in the end. I’m pretty sure that Foster + Aston Martin (definitely a partnership less than the sum of its parts) inspired the Yutong City Master, so the design didn’t go entirely to waste…

    • Matt

      Haha, thanks for reading Daniel. Glad you enjoyed! Ugly ducklings? Well I guess the Olympuses were yellow, after all…

    • Matt

      Ah, completely forgot about the Enviro500 – I stand corrected! Will edit the post accordingly. Thanks Daniel!

  3. David Barrow

    I always thought that the Nottingham design achieved what it’s main aims were , the maximum number of seated passengers in a two door double decker.
    I agree about the low high StreetDeck


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