UK bus promotes business with Korea

October 22, 2013
British Airways staff stands on the steps of a double-decker “routemaster” at Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul, Friday.   / Korea Times photo by John Redmond

British Airways staff stands on the steps of a double-decker “routemaster” at Gwanghwamun Square, Seoul, Friday.
(Korea Times photo by John Redmond)

By John Redmond

A British double-decker “routemaster” bus on the Asian leg of a world tour, themed “GREAT Britain,” was driven around central Seoul Friday as part of an event to promote trade between Korea and the United Kingdom.

Sponsored by British Airways, the bus picked up invited guests from Gwhangwhamun Square, including British Ambassador Scott Wightman, for a special outside broadcast of the popular KBS radio show “Good Morning Pops” featuring hosts Jake Lee and John Valentine at 5 p.m.

The special two-hour performance included a song performance and an interview with Pentasonic singer Ben Akers who hails from Leeds in West Yorkshire in the north of England.

The latest version of the popular routemaster can carry up to 87 passengers. It was built and is owned by Wrightbus based in Ballymena, Ulster. It can use the latest green diesel-electric hybrid technology and produces half the carbon dioxide of a conventional diesel bus.

Renowned British designer Thomas Heatherwick designed the bus and provides full disabled access.

Although the vehicle was technically allowed to travel in the bus lane, Seoul has many overhanging trees and low signposts, meaning a lot of time was spent idling in traffic jams in the middle lanes, just as buses do in central London. The vehicle was provided with a police escort because the picking up and setting down of passengers was done in the center of the street (passenger access is from the left hand side of the bus).

The tour included gifts from sponsors ― Jo Malone (perfume), Meantime, the Brewing Company (craft beer), and Chevening U.K. government scholarships information packs.

Korea was the first stop in Asia for the tour from where it will move on to Singapore by ship. The bus will visit four continents and 16 countries, including Indonesia, as part of a drive to promote Britain as a world-class destination for business, tourism and education.