I hailed my first bus today! Yes, oddly, in London, the buses do not automatically stop for you, but rather, you must stick an arm out to let them know that you are at the bus stop for that specific bus. It's quite intimidating and certainly feels like an honor when this massive, double-decker red bus stops just for you! I thanked the driver, who nodded in approval of my matching long red coat and swiped my Oyster card. Triumphant!
Turns out, the iconic red 2-level London buses have recently received a green upgrade. The environmentally conscientious buses, introduced as early as 2006, operate on 38 routes across London. These are diesel-electric hybrid buses which utilize regenerative braking, like a Toyota Prius does. They use less fuel, produce less pollutants and greenhouse gases, and they are quieter than the older buses. The Mayor of London has promised to roll out 600 new buses for London (TBfL) by April 2013 (NOW!) which will be even more improved and will look a bit sleeker. I'm not sure if I have been on one yet. And to take it one step further, by 2015, buses will be retro-fitted with NOx (Nitric oxide and Nitric dioxide) reducing technology. They are really ontop of this!
And they should be. There are an astounding 19,500 bus stops and stations across London which have the capability of serving up to 90% of the city population. Impressive!