Thursday, July 7, 2022

Efforts to Restore Routemaster Double Decker Buses Continue

By Alyssa Schnugg

News editor

alyssa.schnugg@hottytoddy.com

One of Oxford’s iconic Routemaster double decker buses on the Thursday before the Double Decker Arts Festival. The bus broke down the next day and is currently being repairs. Video provided by Jason Plunk

Editor’s note: After the story ran, a representative with the London Bus Museum said the buseswere built at Park Royal Vehicles factory in north west London and overhauled at LT’s Aldenham Works – a depot built for Underground trains, converted to be a bus overhaul facility and which during the war built aircraft.

At least one of Oxford’s iconic Routemaster double decker buses will be back on the road for tours in the near future.

The two buses have been lovingly nicknamed, Cain and Abel, by Jason Punk, a member of the Oxford Tourism Council that has been spearheading the effort to get the buses back on the road and safer for their riders.

Cain was built in 1960 and the city of Oxford bought it in 1994. Abel was built in 1962 and bought by Oxford in 2009.

Cain was on the road until the day of the Double Decker Arts Festival.

“We drove it several times prior to Double Decker but on the first day, it broke,” said Scott Cofer, director of transportation for the Oxford School District who is working on repairing the two buses. “The injector pump broke but it’s about to be back in service.”

Abel, however, is going to take a lot more work before it can be put back on the road.

Earlier this year, the Oxford Board of Aldermen approved spending up to $200,000 to repair the bus and to make duplicate parts to repair other buses.

The city has two other double decker buses, one from 1983 and one from 1986; however, they aren’t the original Routemaster models.

“The Routemasters were phased out in ’90s after they started privatizing the buses in England,” Plunk said, who has been enjoying researching and learning about the old double decker buses from other Routemaster enthusiast groups in England. “After World War II they built these Routemasters in an old airplane hanger.”

There were 2,600 Routemasters made and they survived for more than 30-plus years because every four years, in England, they were completely restored.

“They would pull them in, tear them down and repaint them. Put new seats in them and overhaul the motor and transmission,” Plunk said.

Abel will soon get a complete resto-mod. A resto-mod is a classic vehicle that has been restored but modified with modern parts and technology. Aesthetically, the vehicle looks the same until you look under the hood.

The Oxford School District is giving the city an older ADA bus that they didn’t need any longer that the city will use to refurbish the bus.

“We will utilize parts (from the ADA bus) where we can,” Cofer said. “It’s a large challenge. But at the end of the day, we’ll be able to go into any local parts store to replace any part needed in the future.”

Any parts that will be built for the buses will be made in duplicate.

Cofer said he hopes to have Abel back on the road within a year’s time.

The funds to repair the bus will come from the 2 percent food and beverage tourism tax.


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