Belfast Telegraph

Boris hails £7.8m deal for London bus with Ballymena firm

By Margaret Canning

A Northern Ireland bus company will manufacture a “stunning red emblem of 21st century London” in a contract worth £7.8m.

Wrightbus in Ballymena is to build the new bus for London, based on the traditional double-decker Routemaster bus.

Its design was unveiled yesterday by Mayor of London Boris Johnson and Peter Hendy, London’s Transport |Commissioner.

The bus will be 15% more fuel efficient than existing hybrid buses, and 40% more efficient than conventional diesel double decks. Its design uses lightweight materials, with glass to highlight key features and create a spacious feel inside.

Like the old Routemaster, it features an open platform which will also allow a a hop-on, hop-off service.

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.”

Mark Nodder, group managing director of Wrightbus, which will build the bus based on a design by Heatherwick Studio, 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.”

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.

Wrightbus engineers are working on a static mock-up of the bus to be complete later this year.

The first of five prototypes will be delivered late next year and the new buses will enter service from early 2012.

Routemasters ran on London’s roads for 50 years but were phased out because they lacked disabled access. The replacement bendy buses were much maligned over safety issues.

Wrightbus employs 983 people in Ballymena.

Last year it said it would be making 235 workers redundant but following efficiencies only 100 jobs were cut.

Belfast Telegraph

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