Tourist guides may wax lyrical about such attractions as the London Eye, Harrods and the mysterious chestnut vendors that clog the thoroughfares around Oxford Street in Q4 of every year, but for Mediolana’s CSO there is one London ‘event’ that is not merely accessible – entry can be yours for the price of a humble bus ticket – but revelatory: a journey through town on the seats closest to the open entrance of a ‘New Routemaster’ or NB4L type bus. These new queens of the road are presently only operational on route 24 (Hampstead Heath – Pimlico via Just About Everywhere), but over six hundred of these iconic vehicles are scheduled to be rolled out across the United Kingdom’s capital by 2016, with route 11 the next to be converted to NB4L from 21st September 2013.
The seats closest to the open entrance – which for now becomes an automatic door from 2000 hours onwards, as illustrated by our above video – give a fantastic view not just of the London streets via both the glass rear panel and excellent side-view sightlines, but of passengers getting aboard and alighting, as well as the conductor, presently permanently stationed by the airiest of the three gateways. This means that as well as near-panoramic ground-level vistas of the capital, every interaction between the conductor and their passengers – including those relating to transportation cards, routes and endlessly enthusiastic questions about the NB4L – can be witnessed from this vantage point. As a frugal alternative to the theatre or a football match, it is frankly peerless.