Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Day 8 - Taking a night tour of London

Today we decided to take a night bus tour of London.  Rich captured a few pictures and I captured some videos that I need to view to see if I got any shots that are worth sharing.

On the bus we met a gentleman from Pittsburgh and one from Dubai who were attending a trade show in London.  We chatted with them for a bit and realized they were new to the city.  So, as we listened to the commentary, we added a few tidbits that were missing or the recorded commentary was badly timed with the ride.  It's a fine line between being helpful and annoying, and we succeeded in being helpful..

We started out at Victoria station and rode one of the old Routemasters (pronounced rootmaster).  These older buses required a driver and a fare collector.  When they switched over to accepting the Oyster travel card, versus having most of the passengers pay with cash, the powers that be thought they could make the fare collector redundant.  However, with the new buses you can enter from the front (where the driver is) from the middle and from the back, and people were neglecting to press their Oyster card against the readers, so they were losing revenue.  That meant the new "Routemaster" bus we took today had a driver, a person in the back who hopped out at each stop to help the passengers alight or exit, and a fare checker, who asked everyone to either show their ticket or press their Oyster card on his machine to make sure they were legally riding the bus.  Oh, well.

Original Routemaster bus
Another idea that didn't work well for London was the "bendy buses," which were single decked but two buses in length.  That meant they took up more road space, which is at a premium in London.  They were still in service in 2010 and totally removed out of service by 2011.

Bendy Bus or Articulated Bus
According to Wikipedia, articulated buses take up (18 metres or 59 feet long compared to 9.1 metres or 30 feet for a Routemaster and 10 metres or 33 feet for a double decker).  What's worse, during late 2003 and early 2004, a series of onboard fires on the bendy bus led Londoners to humorously nickname the articulated buses "the chariots of fire."  In addition, when the bendy bus made up approximately 5% of the London bus fleet, they were involved in 20% of all bus-related deaths, which has led to their replacement with the "New Routemaster."  So, we're back to where we started, almost....

New Routemaster
Anyway, for our tour we rode an open-topped old routemaster, the only one left in the city, and we traveled the following route.

So first we got a picture of Apsley House that was once the home of the Duke of Wellington and is known as #1 London.

Apsley House

Next we captured Picadilly Circus, which had so many people about, we thought maybe a party was going on that we weren't invited to, which is totally unacceptable.

Picadilly Circus
Next on the route was St. Stephens Tower that houses the bell known affectionately as "Big Ben."

Big Ben's Tower
Lastly we captured Tower Bridge lit up in all its glory at night.  Once I get a chance to go through my video camera, I may add some photos from there.

Tower Bridge
In the meantime, it's 1 AM here, so I'll sign off for the night.

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