New bus for London by Thomas Heatherwick


British designer Thomas Heatherwick has co-designed the replacement for London's iconic Routemaster bus, mayor Boris Johnson announced this morning.

Heatherwick designed the two-storey bus in collaboration with bus manufacturer The Wright Group.

The new buses are due to go into service by 2012. See a video about the design of the bus here.

See also:

A new bus for London competition winners announced (December 2008)

A New Bus for London by Aston Martin and Foster + Partners
A New Bus for London by Matthew Heywood
Welcome Back bus by Héctor Serrano Studio, Miñarro García and Javier Esteban

More about Thomas Heatherwick in our special category.
More stories about transport

Here's some more information from the Mayor of London:

Mayor unveils iconic final design for London’s new bus

New bus to use greenest hybrid technology and enter service in 2012

Futuristic design to become “an emblem of 21st century London”

The final design of the New Bus for London, based on the much-loved Routemaster, was today unveiled by the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and London’s Transport Commissioner, Peter Hendy.

The bus will use the latest green technology. It will be 15 per cent more fuel efficient than existing hybrid buses, and 40 per cent more efficient than conventional diesel double decks and much quieter on the streets.

The pioneering design makes use of lightweight materials, with glass highlighting key features and producing a light and airy feel inside the bus. An impressive glass ‘swoop’ at the rear and offside pick out the two staircases and provide a dramatic visual effect. An asymmetric design for the front-end completes the futuristic look.

The open platform is a defining feature, shared with the Routemaster of old, and allows the reinstatement of a hop-on, hop-off service. Three doors and two staircases will aid speedier and smoother boarding.

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “This iconic new part of our transport system is not only beautiful, but also has a green heart beating beneath its stylish, swooshing exterior. It will cut emissions, and give Londoners a bus they can be proud of, complete with cutting edge design, and the freedom of an open platform.

“I expect to eventually have hundreds of these on London’s roads, and for cities around the globe to be beside themselves with envy for our stunning red emblem of 21st century London.”

Peter Hendy, London’s Transport Commissioner, said: “Designing and building a new bus exclusively for London is an exciting project to be working on and one of which we are all proud.

“This beautifully designed, environmentally friendly vehicle built for the Capital will be loved by Londoners for many years to come.”
Mark Nodder, Group Managing Director of Wrightbus, said: “This project is not just about evolution, it’s about revolution. I think the design is genuinely groundbreaking, people are really going to stop and notice these buses on the streets of London.”

Wrightbus and Transport for London have been working with Heatherwick Studio as a collaborative design partner taking the lead on the styling of the bus to support Wrightbus in the design and development process.

The bus will feature two staircases enabling easier and quicker access to and from the upper deck. There will be two conventional doors and an open rear platform, which has the option to be closed off at quiet times for example during the night.

Wrightbus engineers are working on a static mock up of the bus to be complete later this year with the first prototype to be delivered late next year, the new buses will enter service from early 2012.

See also:


All our stories about
Thomas Heatherwick
A New Bus for London
by Foster + Partners
More transport

Posted on Monday May 17th 2010 at 1:35 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • rib

    very nice design.
    like it.

  • Lee

    Very nice. Contemporary. I look forward to seeing these on London’s streets. Are there any images of the intended interior? Seeing as a bus is a vehicle of transportation and the experience of it will be the passenger inside it would be nice to see what their intentions are for this.

    Thomas Heatherwick is doing so much for British Design, he should be applauded.

  • on the buses

    so what happened to the foster design? thought they won it albeit with the noddy bus

  • hot
    it looks like london’s future

  • j-11


    i look forward to getting run over by it on my bike!

  • george String

    I love heathwerwick , but with due respect , the original route master is symbolic of London . we miss it .

    bring it back .

  • some 1

    i dont like d’ back

  • Damfak

    Why is there Two diferent designs in the pictures? Which is the winner? I love both!!!!

  • i think its quite notable how heatherwick’s design for this bus was used instead of foster’s in the same way that heatherwick did the british pavilion at shanghai, not foster. hoorah for new blood!

  • magic bus

    Why was a competition held if this, the chosen design was not an entry in the original competition? Surely that makes very little sense from the point of view of all the people and companies who put energy into putting forward their thoughts and ideas through the original competition and all the people paying through increased bus and tube fairs.

    Heatherwick or Foster; both buses are a bit disappointing in the context of the ceremony and unveiling that will ultimately follow.

    An ivory tower on wheels.

  • Ian Spat


    Its one design, its just a bus with two different sides, a left and a right.

  • Sabir

    Nothing unique about it really. But the change looks good!

  • it’s very nice, it has smooth lines, I think is better that the one that Fosters did…

  • jim

    a rather slick and superficial ‘reworking’ of the traditional routemaster. Designing a new icon for london would be better served by developing something original rather than merely hanging on to the coattails of a successful predecessor. This design has none of the charm or integrity of the classic, and the swooshes and other stylings will date badly. All a bit of a dissappointment really, though as usual with Heatherwick hyped up enough to send most people into a frenzy

  • m

    I don’t really like the diagonal lines in the back…. on the other hand it’s quite similar to foster’s…

  • Niklas

    I thought the age of the Ipod Design is over. And now that – rounded edges.

  • Pab

    I Liiiiiiiike. Can’t wait to share the experience with the fried chicken and chip boxes, riding on the 38 and 14-Crime Braaap Braaap!

  • Dariusz

    Aren’t there people that appreciate the classic?
    Take Malta for example; the busses there are marvellous – one of the major things that I was excited about when I was there. A bus ticket cost 0.47 cents EURO which is around 0.40 pence!! Incredible! It’s 3 times that amount here in London, and even more when you forget your oyster card.
    The only sure thing these new busses will bring are higher rates. To me, the new busses are purely a facade, with a another problematic door in the rear.

    go see the Malta busses in this photo gallery:

  • Therese Senac

    The back looks a bit odd to me…

  • Duncan

    In keeping with the times, this new design comes standard with security cameras and sharia law.

  • s

    This is a bit sad. Heatherwick is a brilliant designer but this bus looks tacky and slightly outdated even. To much function for form to contend with I suppose, but then Apple manage, don’t they?

  • KaptnK


    I’ve got a much better idea!! Why not a bus which doesn’t have ridiculous fumes and make an outrageous amount of noise!

    This bus looks like a bus, although a reasonably stylish update. Something actually innovative would be more appreciated.

  • why can’t we look out of the back anymore?

  • Wayne Rooney

    Reading London newspapers today it is very interesting to now read the comments from the “design” crowd. Lets not forget that design especially in public functions like this bus, really have to be sensible.

    It looks like the design is of this bus is a streamlined package for something of a very large system. And it looks like the system itself first need a proper tune up before we can give it a nice looking shell. Im afraid millions will be spend, 5 busses on the road and many, many people waiting in the cold for their nightbusses that needed to be cut to justify this project.

    See the Guardian:

  • christian

    I disagree, Fosters bus atleast set out the parameters to what a new bus should look like. They took alot of the idea’s from Foster’s/Aston Martin design I think alot of people have forgotton this??I think the slash at the front looks like a pirates eye patch to be honest.

  • Oscar

    Looks like a very bad copy of the origional; without the simplicity and functional design.

    Look at the position of the rear wheels, sorry cyclists – get ready to be knocked over as it goes around corners

    Look how much of the road it takes up – I bet it’s nearly a meter wider than the original. If it were narrower, buses and cyclists might be able to travel happily together.

    Look at the display on the curve, you can barely read the destination on the render – is that the number 8 to how?! Good job they didn’t use Clapton Pond…

    Maybe I’m missing something, but surely the start is how can we make travelling in London more enjoyable for everyone, not how can we make new bus that people will think is cute because it has a small amount of curvature.

  • as long as it doesnt shudder to the engine frequency like current DD’s then I’m all for it; and even if they come in over budget it will attract tourism anyway so whats the problem

  • Tom Ford

    15% less fuel? I guess that depends on the bus driver’s foot. Why not electric/trolley buses for the future? Superficial design solution only – the emperor has new clothes…

  • ash

    This is great, but it’s not the buses that the City of London should be concentrating on, but the drivers. Have you ever tried to catch a bus in London? Last time I was in London, it seemed like the drivers’ favourite hobby was driving past a queue, or their speciality – waiting for old people and mothers with young children to finally make it to the bus stop, so that they could then drive off and leave them standing.

    I’m sure these buses will be lovely, if the drivers ever deem us worthy of being passengers.

    Please Mr Heatherwick and Wrightbus, design some decent, kind and knowledgeable drivers too.

  • Johnny b

    terrible… where is the london design spirit? why are we not pushing the boundaries any more…?

  • Anyone else really disappointed by this? It looks like a normal bus with a small nod to the Routemaster. The Routemaster was a great icon of London known throughout the world. One this is covered in advertising it will look crap like the current ones. But couldn’t they just make it more beautiful like the old one rather than a big red box with awkward looking windows?… Couldn’t they just make it more like the original? Couldn’t they just make it elegant or interesting?

    As for being 15% more economic than a current hybrid, the original Route master was more fuel efficient than the bendy buses despite being far older. I thought the main reason they stopped the current Routemasters was due to people falling off the open back. Is 15% enough. Why not make them Hydrogen powered?

    The original Routemasters give a far smoother ride than the new buses due to the fact that they pulled away smoothly and stopped smoothly. The new ones are too jerky and make you fall all over the place when they accelerate or stop. I hope they look into this.


  • Rion

    Are architects the best people to be designing buses?

  • not much fun for us tall people getting up the rear stairs then I take it?

    London has some serious issues on pricing when compared to other cities around the world, no doubt these new busses will just drive the ticket prices up.

  • harold spent


    Heatherwick isn’t an architect.

  • adr

    Rise and Shine,
    A couple of practical issues I encounter as a regular user of the London Buses:
    1. One cannot read the bus line number from all sides of the bus, i.e. from the wrong side of the street. As one approaches a bus route laterally from the wrong side but sees buses approaching one cannot understand whether it is the bus one wants or another line, therefore cannot decide whether to run for it or not, init?
    2. What can be done to match the actual departure times of the buses more with the timetable that were written or even with the electronic countdown displays at some of the bus stops?
    Design should serve progress, not just distraction.

  • mark

    much better than the comp winners. Not very much different in looks to an ordinary bus except the diagonals. with all the doors and stairs is there any room for seats? @Lee Newham you are joking about your last point aren’t you? The smoothness of ride is to do with the driver’s foot not mechanics.

  • berny

    thomas you rock! you r my designer of the year!

  • Jon

    Looks like a cheesy rip-off of one of those big white tour busses you’d see parked at Stonehenge or Windsor Castle, except in red.

    Also, I don’t see any open windows. Does that mean the temperatures can go even higher than 40 degrees on a sunny summer day? You know how the British love their public transpo as stuffy and smelly as possible.

  • Ralph Kent

    Still looks unfinished to me. 2 staircases just seems overkill – I think the rear doors will never be open – it’ll be like Adjaye’s Whitechapel Ideas Store where the entrances accessible via the escalator are always closed because there aren’t enough security staff to patrol them all. I also share the concerns that it looks dated and based on Apple-isation of the world. He is capable of better, we know this.

  • Jetwax

    Great looker, but they’ve eliminated my favourite possy on a double-decker, the front seats upstairs d;-)

  • This bus looks so amazing. It would be great to see them in London.

  • Martyn Davies

    Either its back door is incredibly short, or he’s incredibly tall – butit doesn’t look right.

    You’d have thought they’d have spotted that before releasing the mock ups.