IT seems strange that while Palma is ordering more of its “bendy buses” for future service, London is planning to replace theirs with an updated version of the double-decker Routemaster. A prototype of the new Routemaster was unveiled in London on Monday and brought appreciative comment from those who like a return to the chance to jump-on and jump off its two open platforms. It was Ken Livingstone who took the ageing Routemasters out of service in 2005 and it was Boris Johnson who promised to bring them back as part of his election campaign three years later. He has kept his word -- but at a cost. Development work on the new models has run up a bill of almost eight million pounds although it will be spread into the cost of the “hundreds” that are expected to begin to come into service in 2012.

The accessibility of the Routemaster was always one of its most attractive features, especially for younger users and this feature will be reinforced by front-and back platforms and two stairways to the top deck. For visitors to London the red buses were an iconic feature that the bendy buses could not equal. There is something exhilarating about seeing any city from the top of a bus.