Boris Johnson has driven the first of London’s new buses off of the production line, ahead of eight prototypes entering testing early next year.
In his 2008 election manifesto the Mayor promised to introduce a new bus designed for the capital’s streets.
The final look of the bus was unveiled last May after a public competition to come up with the design.
Visiting the Wrightbus factory in Ballymena, the Mayor said the new bus “is an improvement on standard double decks in every respect and has been designed with this city and its wonderful population in mind.
“It showcases the very best of British manufacturing and design and simply oozes with quality.”
City Hall says an engineering test bus has exceeded expectations of fuel economy and environmental emissions performance.
Last month the London Assembly was told the buses would not go into full production until at least Summer 2012.
Leon Daniels, Transport for London’s MD of surface transport, told the Assembly Transport Committee that the prototypes would have to undergo “thousands” of miles of testing before an order for a full fleet could be placed.
The Mayor has faced criticisms from London Assembly Members over the £11.37m cost of the buses at a time when he has introduced a series of fares increases.
Val Shawcross, Labour’s transport spokesperson and Ken Livingstone’s 2012 running mate, says “Londoners will face even higher fares to pay for them” and branded the new bus “a vanity scheme we just can’t afford.”