SLEEK, shiny and curvy the capital's new Routemaster could not help but stand out when parked among the borough's regular buses at the stands in Haven Green.
But the design is not just about looking pretty and harking back to the past, said David Hampson-Ghani, manager of the project for Transport for London, proudly showing people round on Friday (January 6).
He admitted that at capacity of 87 (22 seats downstairs, 40 upstairs and 25 standing) it can carry less passengers than the bendy bus. But said it was never meant to be a replacement for it and with three doors, the same amount as a bendy bus, and a staircase at either end, passengers would be able to board quickly, with faster boarding meaning faster journeys.
Everything has been created with function in mind, from the lightweight materials and efficient hybrid engine helping the bus run on less fuel, to the colour scheme on the floor helping to hide marks and muddy footprints. Even the stop buttons are wireless and generate their own electricity with each press.
This attention to detail has not been lost on the colour scheme of the interior. The burgundy seats and walls with gold handrails gives it a retro feel but Mr Hampson-Ghani says this was not the intention. He said the colours were to help create a "calming ambience", contrasting with the more garish, "playmobil" style colours of other buses. He said the design team had done their research and there was still enough contrast for the partially-sighted to spot the handrails and seats.
This calming effect may be needed if some residents comments are anything to go by. Many pointed out the low roof on the top deck will lead to a lot of bumped heads, especially for those with a window seat where the roof curves in.
But if the top deck is claustrophobic, others complimented the large windows creating a feeling of space below. And everyone I spoke to were pleased with the amount of leg room both above and below.
A conductor will also be a welcome sight. There will be one on board for 14 hours out of the bus's 20-hour working day, mainly to make sure no one fall's off when the back is open. They will not sell tickets but will deter fare dodgers and provide a reassuring presence.
The first eight of the new Routemasters will enter service on route 38 from Victoria to Hackney on February 20.
If the pilot goes well, more will be rolled out next year.
But residents hoping to see one driving through the borough any time soon will be disappointed. With its hop-on, hop-off open back the Routemaster is designed to be a central London bus where the traffic is slower and there are more reasons for passengers to want to get off before the next designated stop.
Patricia Wood, of Berry Way, South Ealing, said: "I think it's brilliant, a really good investment. It'll be good to have a conductor on board. I remember them as I grew up with the old Routemasters. It's a shame we can't have it here yet but it has to start somewhere. I might go to Victoria when it comes into service to ride the route myself."
Hayden Davies, of Rugby Avenue, Greenford, said: "It's very nice. It's got a good ambience downstairs and good leg room as well. The larger windows give a feeling of more space. But one of my main concerns is the roof line upstairs. The air conditioning panel brings the roof down to about 5ft, when you get up from your seat you're likely to hit your head. I can't see how that can be altered."
Edwin Parsons, of Glenfield Road, Northfields, said: "I think it's very good with excellent seating, a variety of high and low facing forward and back.
"There's good headroom downstairs and it's easy to board. I like the internal colour scheme. My one criticism is that the rear stairs are a bit narrow, particularly towards the top. The front stairs are good though.
Victor Erukhimouich, of Loveday Road, Northfields, said: "I like it. There's more light because of the big windows. The upper deck is a bit low, it's ok for me but for some people it might be a problem. But overall I think it's very nice.
Helen Gardner, of Hounslow, said: "I think it's an awful lot of money for a bespoke bus London doesn't need, there are plenty of existing hybrid buses. It has three doors and oyster readers, it's not much different from a bendy bus. Upstairs there's very little headroom, especially if you're sitting in a window seat, you're going to hit your head."
Mike Jordan, of Cawdor Crescent, Hanwell, said: "It's very claustrophobic upstairs, as I stood up out of my seat I hit my head. The fact the glass comes down so far at the back must be a nightmare for women wearing skirts coming down the stairs, people will be able to see up them. There are a lot of high level seats downstairs. I think there should be more low level seats for elderly and disabled people."