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Hybrid Routemaster bus runs its first route in London

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The first redesigned Routemaster hybrid bus, part of the New Bus for London program, will take its first passengers today.

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For the first time in years, riders of London's 38 route may be taking one of the city's iconic Routemasters to their destination. The first redesigned hybrid Routemaster bus starts service today as part of the New Bus for London program, which both reintroduces classic elements like the open entry platform and adds more hybrid vehicles to the city's public transportation system. Every two weeks after this, another of the prototype buses will be added for a total of eight on the line. The new hybrids have a fuel efficiency of 11.6 miles per gallon, more than twice that of ordinary diesel buses.

According to Transport for London's website, about 225 of London's 7,500 buses are hybrids, a number it hopes to increase to 300 this year. These new buses — designed in a 2008 contest — are supposed to be 15 percent more efficient than the current hybrid vehicles on the road, and emit less than half the carbon dioxide and nitrogen of a traditional diesel bus. You can watch one of the prototypes being built in the video below.