Routemaster Short - RM54
64 (36 upstairs and 28 downstairs)
PA system which makes this bus ideal for tours of London.
A Routemaster with a unique claim to fame! New in 1959 this, the 54th RM, became the very last one in regular London service when it ended its last journey on the route 159 a few minutes after the official last RM had completed its journey. Having been completely overhauled by TfL shortly before its moment of fame in 2005, it benefits from having a low emission engine than makes this bus ideal for slightly longer journey’s or those involving extended stints on fast roads or those in environmentally sensitive locations. Now returned to the original type of seating style this RM also retains its original open platform boarding area and thus blends the old with the new, on one of London’s most famous buses.
Routemaster Class History:
The Routemaster or RM is without doubt one of the most famous types of bus ever to run in the capital. The original necessity was for vehicles to replace the Trolleybus which was due for replacement in 1959. Following a lot of research it had been decided to increase the capacity of London’s buses from 56, such as the RT, to 64. Following numerous changes and nearly five years of development the RM finally entered service.
By 1962 the entire Trolleybus fleet had been replaced almost exclusively by Routemasters. In this period RM8-879 were all built and had entered service. Increasing the length and capacity of the RM was another contentious point, with both the Unions and Met Police being against the idea. However in 1961 a batch of 24, 30’ long 72 seat versions, known as the RML or Routemaster Lengthened, were built to trial. These took the numbers of RML880-904. Following this batch, whilst the trial continued with the longer versions, production continued on the standard length RM producing numbers RM905-1452.
The next version was the batch between RMC1453-1520, which were built as Routemaster Coaches (RMC). These had such delights as deeper more comfortable seats, Green Line livery, powered rear doors, twin headlamps and interior luggage racks and were far quicker.
Following this batch production again returned to the standard RM which ran through from the number RM1521-2217 which became the very last standard length RM built.
Following the success of the RMC’s the next batch to be built, which were by many, seen as the zenith of RM design being the RCL’s. These took the numbers from RCL2218-2260 and were built to replace the Green Line RT’s on the busy (but declining) routes from Essex into Aldgate. Similar in comfort levels to the RMC they were a longer and more powerful version
Permission had now been granted to run the longer RML’s in Central London and the final production batch ran from RML2261-2760 were all built to this specification. Two batches of 50 of these RML’s were built for the Country Area and were delivered in Green being RML2306-2355 and RML2411-2460.
The final type of RM to enter service with London Transport was the RMA, or Routemaster Airport, version which originally ran for British European Airways bringing passengers to and fro between Central London and Heathrow before the Underground was extended there.
The Routemaster was gradually withdrawn from London in the 1980’s before a change of plan saw many of the longer versions (and some standard length ones) be refurbished in 1990-92 when they received new engines, lighting and seating. In 2000-01 some had another refurbishment where they were fitted with more environmentally friendly engines and new gear boxes.
However, the policy changed in 2003 and the final 20 routes were given warning that at next change of contract the vehicles required would not be RM’s. One by one these routes were withdrawn with the very last, the 159’s, finishing on December 9, 2005. However, such is the popularity of this type of vehicle that around 16 were retained for use on two heritage routes in Central London.
For more on this class why not visit Ian's Bus Stop
RM54 entered service in September 1959 at Hackney Garage, its stay was short lived moving quickly to Bow, before again moving on to West Ham. Its status as an East London bus would be continued with stints at Poplar, West Ham and Bow right up until 1976, when it transferred to Streatham. The tail end of the 1970’s would be spent at Clapham and Sidcup as well as Streatham, before moving on to Peckham and then going into storage prior to disposal by London Transport in August 1985.
Like many of its class it avoided the scrap man by being sold on for further use north of the border, in this case to Clydeside and then Western Scottish before being sold by them to scrap dealers PVS in September 1990. RM54 cheated scrapping again being sold into private ownership in March 1992, where it was presented in the livery of Blackburn Corporation.
In 2002 in response to London’s policy change to increase its fleet of Routmasters on some key routes, 54 was reacquired by Transport for London. One of the last ones to be restored back to service it gained the new engine and new gearbox of these reconditioned Routemasters but managed to somehow keep many of its other original features before being sent to Battersea to work on the 19’s in summer 2003. From here it moved across to Brixton for use on the 159s which was set to be the very last route to operate Routemasters and paved the way for RM54’s moment of fame, when running in late and thus finishing behind the last ‘official’ Routemaster it alighted its passengers a few minutes after the main event thus making it the last RM in service.
Withdrawn from TfL it awaited disposal before passing to Ensignbus, being the last RM in service it sits comfortably alongside our last RT is service (RT624) and the very last RLH (RLH61) which are all part of the Ensign collection.
Date of first registration: 14 September 1959
Chassis: AEC Routemaster
Chassis number: RM 54
Engine: Cummins B series Euro 2
Fuel: Diesel Chassis/
Body Code: tbc
Body: Park Royal
Body Number: B31
Seating: 64 seats (36 upstairs & 28 downstairs)