The bright red double-decker bus has become an icon of London. It is now a unique and instantly recognisable international symbol of Britain's capital city. But its origins go back nearly 200 years to a quite different single deck vehicle, which was painted green and drawn by three horses. This was George Shillibeer's Omnibus, a name meaning `for all' in Latin, which he first put on the streets in 1829. A more compact design of horse bus with an open top deck soon evolved and dominated the streets of London throughout the nineteenth century. A reliable motor bus, the B type, first appeared in 1910, and had replaced all the city's horse buses by 1914. A succession of ever-improving buses followed, most of them designed and built for London by the Associated Equipment Company (AEC). They acquired covered top decks, pneumatic tyres and comfortable cushion seating, setting a standard as the best and largest bus fleet in the world. The final design for London Transport was the classic Routemaster (RM), introduced in the late 1950s and not finally retired from normal service until 2005. By this time London's modern buses were essentially almost identical to buses everywhere else.
In 2010 the Mayor of London held a competition to find a distinctive successor to the RM. The winning design by Thomas Heatherwick Associates and built by Wrightbus was launched in 2012. The New Routemaster combines the curved elegance and comfort of the original RM with essential modern features such as low floor access and a hybrid diesel-electric drive unit.