FAREWELL TO ROUTE-MASTER
London is a curious place in many senses and many ways, leave aside the curios Prince Charles, his one time and long gone wife Diana, Tony Blair, and John Major who while in power, as Prime Minister, reportedly had time to have regular affairs with Thatcher, the famous nursery about the falling London Bridge, and the news report which appeared some time ago of police arresting a blind person for cruelty to the guide-dog into which the person seemed to have bit teeth.
One of the curiosities of this old city has been its elegantly maintained double-decker bus Routemaster. The bus was inaccessible to wheelchair users and people could injure falling from the open rear platform. If one has to apply these standards, there will be no private and public buses in India.
Routemasters were notoriously unreliable when they entered service in 1958 and required a great deal of servicing. Yet, between 1958 and 1968 as many as 2876 Routemasters were built and pressed into service with modifications from time to time, and the bus symbolized London over its long life.
Probably no bus anywhere else in the world would have prompted an author to describe one. But Travis Elborough wrote The Bus We Loved, a history of the Routemaster. As Elborough would have there are few cities in the world whose sense of self is so intricately bound up with the iconography of its public transport utility; probably because of it is such a beacon of order in a disorderly and haphazard metropolis.
When the last bus in the Routemasters fleet was withdrawn from service today many enthusiasts would have queued up for the last drive, if not theirs, at least of the bus.