London Gets New Bus Design for 2012

London's next generation of buses has been unveiled, bringing with it improvements to the classic red double decker design in time for the Olympics next year.

The company awarded the contract to update the buses to North Irish firm Wrightbus, unveiling the first prototype today. It features a traditional red paint job - though it's a little glossier than the usual one - with three entrance/exits, and a spiral staircase at each end. Windows run along the sides as you'd expect, with extra ones added along the height of the stairs to let extra light in.

Going green with the power, each bus runs on a hybrid fuel system which halves the carbon emissions of current generation diesel buses to 640 grams per kilometre. Miles per gallon comes in at 11.6 which is hardly impressive by a car's standards, but for a double decker operating in a city, it clocks in at more than twice that of the ones in operation now.

The first bus to enter full operation will begin on Route 38 from the 20th February next year. This prospect has pleased the London Mayor, Boris Johnson who said that "it is the latest, greatest masterpiece of British engineering and design, and I am certain it will become a much-loved and iconic vehicle akin to the legendary Routemaster from which it draws so much inspiration."

Earlier this year London killed off the bendy bus with this new generation of double deckers expected to fully take over next year, with a full fleet deployed before the start of the 2012 Olympics.