How many Routemaster bus seats would it take to fill Wembley Stadium?

Potential Reg Standards Soviet entry? Let's take a closer look

By Gareth Corfield

Posted in Bootnotes, 18th January 2018 09:27 GMT

A strong contender has emerged for an addition to The Register Standards Soviet's list of officially approved weights and measures: the Routemaster Fleet.

In a tweet yesterday, a secondhand printer cartridge company said: "There were a combined total of 184,064 seats within the Original Routemaster Fleet. That's enough seats to fill Wembley Stadium twice – with 4,064 spare!"

184,064 seats sounds like an awful lot. Naturally, your intrepid standardisation folk here at El Reg started looking round t'interweb to see if this was true.

The first, and inevitably least reliable source, is Wikipedia. This tells us that the AEC Routemaster bus – the famous mid-20th century Red London Bus, cultural icon and all that – had 64 seats. However, it also tells us that there were no fewer than seven sub-fleets of Routemaster, each with different numbers of seats in it. Sod counting all those up, especially because it's Wikipedia and some nerd is probably altering the figures halfway through the adding-up.

A quick shufti around takes us to the website of the Routemaster Association (yes, it's a real thing) which informs us that 2,876 Routemasters of all types were built. That figure multiplied by the notional number of seats per bus (64) gives us the 184,064 seats sum. Is that conclusive?

Transport for London disagrees – and they ought to know, being the successor to London Transport as the capital's state-owned transport authority. Their "corporate archive subject guide" to Routemasters (PDF, 4 pages) reckons that only 2,760 Routemasters, each with 64 seats, were built. The sum of those gives us 176,640 seats.

Further reading, however, gets us to the London Bus Company's website, which says they operate a "72-seat" Routemaster. Bus hire company Ensignbus has a bewildering array of red and non-red Routemasters (and other old buses) for hire, which are listed as having anything between 58 and 72 seats.

As the Vulture Central anorak has gone AWOL, meaning we cannot risk consulting an actual bus expert, we are sadly forced to conclude that the 184,064 seats figure is not reliable enough for inclusion in the official Vulture Central Standards Soviet measures – or, for that matter, in Wembley Stadium twice over with 4,000 to spare, whatever that means.

Disappointed readers can console themselves by working out how many Bulgarian funbags it would take to fill Wembley Stadium, courtesy of the one and only Reg standards calculator. ®

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