When London's classic hop-on hop-off (and sometimes fall-off) Routemaster buses were taken off the streets of London a few years back (save for a few still operating on the tourist routes), many Londoners were sad to see them go.
For some, the sadness turned to frustration and anger when they saw what they were being replaced with - the bendy bus.
The bendy bus was like two single-deckers joined together by a bendy bit in the middle, hence the clever name. Unfortunately for some passengers, the bendy buses occasionally caught fire, earning them the nickname chariots of fire.
But it was their poor safety record involving pedestrian- and bicycle-related accidents that eventually led to the decision to take bendy buses off the narrow and difficult-to-navigate streets of the capital.
In May last year, mayor of London Boris Johnson unveiled the design for its replacement, the New Bus for London. Inspired by the look of the old Routemaster, the New Bus for London will next year go into service for the very first time. And now you have a chance to check it out before it does so.
In the first week of January, the brand new bus will go on view at various locations in the capital for everyone to see, with staff on hand to answer any questions. Here is the full list of places and times where you can take a look:
Wednesday 4th January 2012: Bexleyheath Broadway from 10:00 to 12:00 Wednesday 4th January 2012: Bromley, High Street from 14:00 to 16:00 Thursday 5th January 2012: Romford, High Street from 10:00 to 12:00 Thursday 5th January 2012: Ilford, High Road from 14:00 to 16:00
- Friday 6th January 2012: Ealing, Haven Green from 10:00 to 12:00
- Friday 6th January 2012: Golders Green bus station from 14:00 to 16:00
- Saturday 7th Janaury 2012: Sutton, High Street from 10:00 to 12:00
- Saturday 7th January 2012: Kingston High Street (outside Guildhall) from 14:00 to 16:00
The bus's special design incorporates a range of lightweight materials and makes use of the very latest green diesel-electric hybrid technology. According to Transport for London, the new bus is twice as fuel efficient as conventional diesel buses and produces less than half the CO2 and half the NOx emissions.
There are three sets of doors on the new bus, with the ones at the back staying open when a conductor's on board, allowing passengers to once again hop on and off - just like with the old Routemasters!
So when can Londoners and tourists actually start using them? Well, from February 2012 the prototype will enter service on route 38 between Victoria and Hackney, and by May seven more will be in service.
For anyone interested in the capital's rich transport heritage, a sneak preview at the first bus in 50 years to be designed specifically for the streets of London is an absolute must.