The original Routemaster lives on – in Dubai


By Annabel Kantaria

Six weeks after London saw the launch of its brand-new Routemaster bus, I stumbled across an original model, dating back to 1962, in an unlikely location: a residential community in Dubai.

To be honest, it looked a little incongruous lumbering up the dusty desert street, its throaty diesel engine scaring birds more used to the soft purr of modern-day cars, but the 50-year-old Routemaster was an eye-catching sight as it became the venue for a birthday party. And, while children enjoyed the thrill of the hop-on, hop-off platform, jumping onto the bus was a nostalgic moment for all the ex-Londoners.

True, the interior looks a little different today, its twisting stairs painted lavender and its remaining seats upholstered in black vinyl, but every adult who took a peek inside remembered the feel of swinging on the rear pole as they jumped on board. “This was my favourite seat,” said one ex-commuter, scrunching into the corner opposite the rear platform. “I still remember that lurch as you stood up to ring the pull-string bell and the sound of the conductor’s ticket machine.”