The name Colin Curtis is synonymous with the Routemaster. He worked as an engineer for London Transport for 40 years and was deeply involved in the creation and development of what became the world’s best loved bus.
I had the pleasure of meeting Colin in the apt setting of the old Cobham Bus Museum, Surrey, in 2010, where he was a regular visitor, happy to dispense wisdom on mechanical matters. Then in his eighties, surrounded by friends and former LT colleagues in the canteen, he told me about his fascination with buses from childhood and how the Routemaster evolved out of decades of bus design for the capital.
He was pretty scathing about the “blasted Boris bus” – the so-called new Routemaster then in development at the behest of the London mayor. This was not sour grapes but more out of frustration at the way a deregulated industry had ditched all that priceless expertise. He was proved right – the new hybrid bus has been beset by problems with ventilation and batteries, plus cost, and no more orders will be placed.
Colin died five years ago but his legacy lives on. If you would like to know more about his life and career, here are two obituaries I wrote at the time.
— Sam Phipps, co-owner of The Red Bus