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Bring Routemasters to Bankside say Lib Dems

Lib Dem members of the London Assembly have called on Transport for London to reconsider its planned tourist Routemaster bus routes to incorporate Bankside's attractions.

Apart from two proposed heritage routes, Transport for London and the Mayor have taken the decision to remove all the Routemasters from the capital's streets by the end of 2005.

Lib Dems complain that the Mayor's planned routes miss out key tourist sites like the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace, Tate Britain and the British Museum.

The Liberal Democrats have suggested changes to the two routes and put forward a third route that would link Baker Street with Bankside, entering SE1 via Westminster Bridge and running via York Road, Stamford Street, Southwark Street and Sumner Street to terminate in Park Street.

"The Mayor's plans are seriously defective," claimed Liberal Democrat London Assembly transport spokesman Geoff Pope. "It is simply staggering that the routes put forward by Transport for London ignore the most obvious tourist attractions in the capital. After all, Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Westminster Abbey would be on any tourist's list.

"It is excellent news that the famous old Routemasters will be used on tourist routes in central London. However, questions must be asked as to why planners think that the iconic red double-decker should not drive past Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament?

"The three routes put forward today would make sure that the much loved Routemasters will still be seen throughout central London and outside all the major sights in the capital.

"It is time for the Mayor to listen and rethink his plans. The last thing anyone wants is for this scheme to be a flop."

TfL's proposed routes link Piccadilly Circus with Tower Hill and the Royal Albert Hall with Aldwych. A spokesman for the transport authority dismissed the Lib Dems' attack: "One can hardly claim that the proposed routes do not go past major tourist sites." He insisted that further consultation would be carried out before the tourist services are launched.

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