Classic buses return to London for one day only

Two Routemaster buses were driven through west London today to raise money for Comic Relief.

The old 65 buses, which ran from 1956 onwards, were slowly phased out before being withdrawn from regular service in December 2005.

Routemasters Heritage routes operated in Central London until 2019.

WHEELS ON THE BUS: The two classic Routemasters were driven today in west London

Paul Sainthouse, 55, who today alternated between conducting and driving the classic bus, remarked: “Today it has a nice life. Doing work for charity and other good things.”

The Comic Relief Routemasters service has operated every year for the past three years.

It is free to travel on the bus but voluntary fares are collected which are then donated to charity.

WINNING TICKET: A traditional Routemasters bus ticket

Sheila O’Connell, 76, had not been expecting the old bus but was pleasantly surprised when it arrived: “They were a more comfortable ride than most modern buses because it’s a simpler layout. 

“Also it’s really nice having it open at the back so it doesn’t get hot and steamy.”

Meanwhile, Tony Rivers, 69, had been eagerly awaiting the bus’s arrival: “It brings back old memories of when mum and dad first used to take me on the bus. It’s great.”

Mr Rivers worked for TFL for over 36 years and his father was a professional lorry driver.

He heard about today’s service via social media. “Back then there was a conductor so you had to behave yourself.” Mr Rivers said.

Conductors were a common feature across many bus services before being phased out from the 1970s onwards.

A BUS WITH A VIEW: Richmond viewed through the open rear platform

New buses better-equipped for one-person operation were introduced to cut back on staffing costs.

The conductor typically stood at the rear end of the bus and pressed a bell once to signal a driver to stop, and three times to start.

Keeping to tradition, the traditional ‘bell-ringing’ was carried out on the buses today.

Driver Stuart Mulberry, 61, said he was enjoying the day despite there being fewer passengers than last year, due to the rainy weather:

“Last year summer was phenomenal. The bus was absolutely heaving.”

A few teenagers aboard the bus said: “We were waiting for a normal 65. We weren’t expecting it at all.

“Especially as someone of a younger generation it’s nice to experience something like this. The bus looks more aesthetically pleasing.”

AESTHETICS: A view of the lower bus deck

Ellen Alpsten, 51, is an author and journalist who was also on board the bus. She said: “It’s fantastic, it was such a delicious surprise when it turned up.”

Today’s charity service was organised by Lord Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail and former Commissioner for TFL and Leon Daniels OBE, Chairman of the London Bus Museum.

Donations to Comic Relief can be made at:

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19 March 2023 12:37 pm

Where can I catch the Bus I leave in South East, Charlton

18 March 2023 5:29 pm

A few of us were very disappointed we waited in Brook Street Kingston being told that would be where the RM would. Depart from we waited two hours.

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