The YOTB was announced very quietly, you may remember, at the end of last year. It was to be the follow-up to 2013's highly successful 150th anniversary of the Underground, this time hanging on the 60th anniversary of the Routemaster and the 75th of the RT. But as 2014 began nothing much bus-related actually happened. Tube 150 had the huge advantage of kicking off with a bang with the actual anniversary in the second week of January, whereas the YOTB began with a campaign resembling tumbleweed. Some fashion photos went on top of some bus shelters along Piccadilly, and a New Bus For London got painted silver, but other than that things were rather quiet.
And then these stickers appeared.
Someone had finally come up with a logo for the YOTB, better late than never, and started slapping it on bus stops around the capital. I think it's only ever appeared inside Zone 1, there being too many bus stops throughout the rest of London to justify the expense. It's not exactly a top quality sticker either, more some vinyl that'll peel off easily later, and too small to cover the entire board, and not always stuck on very accurately either. That St George's Circus example above is a bit of a mess, for example.
And then the YOTB logo started appearing on the side of buses.
This doesn't appear on all buses, indeed I'd say a minority, but watch out next time you're boarding in case yours has this emblem stuck on the side. It's a peculiar graphic, in that only half is given over to the YOTB logo, and the other half is devoted to promoting an advertising company. Exterion Media is TfL's outdoor advertising partner, formerly known as CBS Outdoor International (having being rebranded following a private equity takeover in January). It's telling that TfL weren't able to add a logo to the exterior of their own buses without including an advert alongside... or else it's a sign that nobody at TfL would have wasted the company's money on YOTB branding had not a commercial concern stepped in to pay.
I didn't make that last one up, by the way. But it is the only genuinely YOTB-related tweet. The digital clock that's appeared on the iBus display in the last fortnight isn't really a YOTB initiative, for example, it would have happened anyway. Indeed up to this point I'd say there's been something of a feeling of desperation in the Year Of The Bus's promotional narrative.
For people who like modernist architecture, the really exciting one on that list is StockwellBusGarage whose concrete roof is a post-war classic. And for everyone else, the highest profile event takes place the following day in the heart of the West End.
It takes a lot of clout to close Regent Street for the day, not least because it buggers up the buses, so this is clearly The Big One in terms of PR mileage and public consciousness. You might well want to mark the third weekend in June in your diary now. You might also note the full-on 60th birthday party for the Routemaster scheduled a few weeks later.
A number of smallerevents are planned later in the year, notably the restoration of a 100 year-old Battle Bus to commemorate the centenary of the First World War. But all the best stuff appears to be happening in June and July. Calling it The Year Of The Bus may be overstretching things somewhat, but the Two Months Of The Bus promise to be rather special.