Shop Linker Routemaster
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Notes About This Vehicle

Commemorative and special purpose liveries have been applied to many London buses over the years, some more successfully than others.
In 1978 and in anticipation of the 150th anniversary of the first horse bus service run by George Shillibeer, prototype RM2 was re-painted in a particularly attractive interpretation of its forebear. This was done to sell sponsorship for what turned out to be twelve Routemasters and one DMS that operated all over London between March and November 1979.
Also in 1978, London Transport painted RM59 in the bright red and yellow colour scheme portrayed in this drawing. It was followed by an extensive advertising campaign of radio, television, newspaper, leaflet  and poster commercials.
In due course 16 newly branded ‘Shop Linker’ Routemasters took to the streets on 7th April 1979, designed to serve many high profile shops and department stores, and indeed many of these buses carried commercial advertising for the shops the route passed.
The route operated as a circular service in both directions, taking in Kensington, Knightsbridge, Marble Arch, Oxford Street and Regent Street. Along the way the bus stops served had red on yellow plates applied.
Buses were scheduled to run between 9am and 5pm Mondays to Saturdays, with buses running until 8.30pm on Thursdays. The 24-hour shopping culture was still some way into the future and, at the time, different parts of London often had one late-night opening day, most commonly Thursdays.
A flat fare of 30p was charged (10p for children) and this was quite high for the time. The decision to display the fare in the customary position of the front route number caused some confusion, with some passengers thinking the bus was on route 30; this was compounded by the 30 being a central London route. This broke one of the golden rules in graphic communication: never portray one thing two different ways and never portray two different things the same as each other.
Being subjected to heavy central London traffic the service frequently suffered from bunching; staff shortages at Stockwell garage, from which the whole fleet operated, didn’t help.
It is a pity these colourful buses plied their trade for such a short period, with the last one running on 28th September of the same year. Similar initiatives to link alike traffic objectives (for example main line railway stations) don’t seem to work. The real question is: how many people want to visit several similar places on the same day?

Notes About This Drawing

The drawing is based on a Chiswick Works general arrangement drawing from 1961, (‘ER001.Z.1’) revised a few times to 1965. This type of black & white sketch drawing, as implied by the name, is not intended to define detail but as a specification guide to builders.
All the fine detail has been interpreted from contemporary colour photographs kindly supplied by Mike Harris and attempts to show the vehicle as closely as possible to how it looked at the time it ran in service. None of the detail can be regarded as definitive.
It should be understood that all four elevations are seen here as one would see each part of the vehicle at a truly perpendicular angle. In real life this is of course impossible.
 
drawing copyright Douglas Rose September 2018
 
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