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London gets its first hybrid double-decker bus

The first prototype of the new Routemaster-style busy was unveiled last Friday in Trafalgar Square.

London's bus service is going back to its roots -- with a splash of twentieth century tech, for good measure. The city just received the first prototype in a new line of hybrid double-decker buses.

Mayor Boris Johnson, who spoke of introducing this kind of bus during his election campaign, emphasized the vehicle's British roots. "It moves off very smoothly, it's got a hybrid engine and the most incredible thing of all is this is a bus that is built with cutting-edge British technology," the mayor said. "It sends a message to the world that we can not only design beautiful buses but we can still build them in the UK."

The new bus, inspired by London's legendary Routemaster and designed by Northern Ireland's Wrightbus, boasts three entrances, two staircases, and a hybrid drivetrain developed by Volvo. It emits 640 grams of CO2 per kilometer, half as much as the 1295 grams per kilometer emissions of diesel buses currently in use.

Unveiled in Trafalgar Square last Friday, the bus will start taking passengers on February 20. The initiative has not gone flawlessly, however. On Monday, drivers along the M1 motorway may have caught a glimpse of the double-decker parked on the road's shoulder. The highway proved too much for the battery, and the bus driver had to pull over while the battery recharged.

According to Transport for London, the city's transit agency, said the bus' battery was designed to recharge automatically while stopped in city traffic, and it does not perform as well over long distances.

Londoners can expect to see eight buses in service by mid-2012, with more to come if the initial rollout is successful.

Photo: Transport for London

via [Wired]

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com