History & Development of the Routemaster
The Routemaster was developed between 1947 and 1956 by a team directed by AAM Durrant and Colin Curtis, with vehicle styling by Douglas Scott.
The design brief was to produce a vehicle that was lighter (hence more fuel-efficient), easier to operate and that could be maintained by the existing maintenance practices at the recently opened Aldenham Works, but with easier and lower-cost servicing procedures. The resulting vehicle seated 64 passengers despite being three-quarters of a ton lighter than buses in the RT family, which seated 56. The first task on delivery to service was to replace London’s trolleybuses, which had themselves replaced trams, and to begin to replace the older types of diesel bus. The Routemaster was designed by London Transport and constructed at Park Royal Vehicles, with the running units provided by its sister company AEC. Both companies were owned by Associated Commercial Vehicles, which was taken over by Leyland Motors in 1962.
Rear platform of a Routemaster, with updated hand-rails for Heritage Route operation. It was an innovative design and used lightweight aluminium along with techniques developed in aircraft production during World War II. As well as a novel, weight-saving integral design, it also introduced for the first time on a bus independent front suspension, power steering, a fully automatic gearbox and power-hydraulic braking. This surprised some early drivers, who found the chassis unexpectedly light and nimble compared with older designs, especially as depicted on film on tests at the Chiswick Works skid pan. Footage of RM200 undergoing the skid test at Chiswick was included in the 1971 film On the Buses.
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