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25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses

25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses

25 things you (probably) didn't know about London Buses

Related: 25 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About The London Underground


London buses. It's hard not to love them at the worst of times, even when they do become sweaty sardine tins of groaning despair.

We gained a newfound love for our big red companions earlier this year, after they stepped in to help during the apocalyptic tube strike. You might have noticed it.

So with our adoration of them renewed, we thought we'd bring you a list of the things you never knew about the humble London Bus...

1.

During the week, London Buses carry over six million passengers per day. Just 1% of that would fill the Emirates Stadium to capacity.


2.

Originally established in 1829, the first buses ran between Paddington and Bank. They carried 22 people and were pulled by three horses.


3.

Up until 1907, London Buses were painted different colours to signify their route. Unfortunately someone had the bright idea to use numbers instead.


4.

In 1917 the London General Omnibus Company was bought by the company which owned the London Underground. A combined recognisable sign was created, meaning that the buses ditched their older (and much cooler) winged logo.


5.

During WWI, buses were modified to carry soldiers or, in some cases, homing pigeons.


6.

Charles Dickens once wrote an essay in praise of buses. In it, he said: "from the glass-coach in which we were taken to be christened, to that sombre caravan in which we must one day make our last earthly journey, there is nothing like an omnibus."


7.

There are only three numbers under 300 that are not in use on London buses: 218, 239 and 278.


8.

Routemasters on country routes have been known to be painted green to better fit in with their pastoral surroundings.


9.

Although 1,280 still exist, there are only two classic Routemasters still in service. They run on 'heritage' routes from Trafalgar Square to Tower Hill and from Kensington High Street to Aldwych.


10.

The first ever London Bus fare cost one shilling - that's 5p. A bit cheaper than an Oyster then.


11.

There's a map online where you can track every single London Bus in real time. You can see it here.


12.

Some have claimed that there is a phantom bus that forces drivers off the road at night, last spotted in Cambridge Gardens in 1990. This ghost bus has even been blamed for deaths, after a car burst into flames in 1934 on the spot the bus was usually sighted.


13.

The full Latin "Omnibus", which means "for all". The first recorded use of the word "bus" was in 1932.


14.

George Shillibeer, who is credited with the invention of the first bus in 1829, was not always so successful. One of his lesser-known  innovations is the 'Funeral Omnibus', which combined a passenger vehicle and a hearse. Unsurprisingly, it was discontinued.


15.

Author Ian Fleming is rumoured to have chosen James Bond's codename 007 based on the number of the bus that used to pass by his favourite pub.


16.

Twenty years after Fleming first invented the character, James Bond would find himself at the wheel of a Routemaster in Live and Let Die. Roger Moore had to have lessons driving a double-decker for the role.


17.

Night buses have been running since as early as 1913, and served as the inspiration for J. K. Rowling's 'Knight Bus'.


18.

The Knight Bus from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was constructed by welding together parts from three different Regent III double-deckers.


19.

A talking double-decker is featured in the Disney Pixar movie Cars 2. His name? Topper Deckington III.


20.

In the aftermath of WWI, official London buses ran into a genuine problem with unofficial 'Pirate Buses'. Races between the two were apparently a common site.


21.

According to Top Gear. the fastest type of bus is a double-decker.


22.

Although red is the traditional, special colours have been rolled out twice: for the Queen's Silver Jubilee in 1977, and for the Golden Jubilee in 2012.


23.

Although rarely operational in England anymore, Routemasters have been adopted by other countries. You can still ride them in the US, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, China, Malaysia, Sri Lanka. Columbia, Croatia and the Falkland Islands, 


24.

Before they were scrapped, then-London Mayor Ken Livingstone said in 2013 that the treacherous back platforms of Routemasters were responsible for about twelve fatalities a year.


25.

In 2004, you could have had a London Bus of your own for just £2,000. Bus dealer Ensign were disposing of a spate of Routemasters, but they raffled off 32 to buyers who could prove they had the space and money to care for them.


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