London’s new bus will enter passenger trials from from February 2012.
The trials will allow Transport for London to assess performance and gather passenger feedback before deciding whether to place a full order.
In October, Leon Daniels told the London Assembly the buses needed “thousands of miles” of in-service testing and would not go into full production until at least Summer 2012.
The trial will be conducted by running eight buses on part of Route 38, between Victoria Station and Clapton Pond.
TfL say: “If the trial is deemed successful there could be hundreds of these buses operating across London in the coming years.”
Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “Christmas has arrived early in the form of this revolutionary new bus whose gleaming coat of red paint and sinuous curves will brighten the day of all who see it humming along our great city’s streets.
“It is the latest, greatest masterpiece of British engineering and design, and I am certain it will become a much loved and iconic vehicle akin to the legendary Routemaster from which it draws so much inspiration.”
The new bus was a 2008 manifesto commitment by Johnson who held an open competition to develop the design but the Mayor has faced criticism for spending £8m on the project while implementing a series of fares increases.
The vehicle is the result of collaboration between Wrightbus, Transport for London and the Heatherwick Studio.
TfL Commissioner Peter Hendy said: “It is a phenomenal achievement to get a bus of this calibre from the drawing board to the streets of London in just two years and my congratulations goes to all who have worked tirelessly to make this happen.”
London Assembly Member Darren Johnson said the Mayor “has built a new bus for people who like looking at buses, rather than using them.”
Mr Johnson added: “This vanity bus has blown the budget for ensuring that all buses are hybrids. Pound for pound this is a bad deal for London’s environment.
“The failure of the Mayor to stick to his commitment on every new bus being a hybrid from next year, means that the manufacturers have not dropped their price. Instead, he has invested in a new bus that looks nice , but will never be mass produced and will remain an expensive London curiosity suitable for tourists.”
Val Shawcross, Labour’s transport spokesperson on the London Assembly, said: “What London fare payers need to ask themselves is whether spending millions on re-designing buses when we’re on the verge of another recession should really be a priority.
“The Mayor is hiking up fares, making getting to work and back practically unaffordable for many people. Going ahead with this, spending millions on this shiny vanity project, is an insult to those in this city who are really struggling at the moment.”