Transport for London (TfL) has today unveiled a rainbow-adorned double-decker bus to commemorate the tenth anniversary of TfL’s LGBTI staff network, OUTbound.
Emblazoned with the slogan, ‘Ride with Pride’, the initiative follows others that TfL have taken to celebrate LGBT issues, including the creation last year of a rainbow zebra crossing to mark Pride in London.
Commenting on the arrival of London’s rainbow bus, Martyn Loukes, Chair of OUTbound, said: ‘Following on from the fantastic success of the rainbow crossing last year, we wanted to create a new LGBT icon for London.
‘What could be more iconic than a big red bus with the rainbow flag emblazoned on it, celebrating diversity and 10 years of our LGBT+ network at TfL.’
The bus, which will be in service for a year, will run on the number 8 bus route between Bow Road and Tottenham Court Road, regularly passing some of the UK capital’s most iconic sights.
To the surprise of some LGBT advocates the rainbow vehicle – a new Routemaster – has been sponsored by the bus and coach company, Stagecoach.
Stagecoach was founded in 1980 in Scotland by Brian Souter and sister Ann Gloag. Souter prompted controversy in 2000 when the Scottish parliament discussed repealing Section 2A. Known as Section 28 in England and Wales, this was legislation that banned local authorities from ‘promoting homosexuality’.
Souter invested a reported £1million of his own money in launching a ‘Keep the Clause’ campaign. The campaign was unsuccessful and the legislation was repealed in Scotland in 2000 (followed by the rest of the UK in 2003).
Souter remains the chairman of the board of Stagecoach. Stagecoach London, which is a subsidiary of the Stagecoach Group, operates several London bus routes.
Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport said: ‘The rainbow bus is a great addition to the streets of London and is a fantastic way for us to celebrate diversity in this great city.
‘London is the tourism capital of the world and it is fantastic that everyone who lives, visits or works in London will have an opportunity to see this bus while it’s in service.’
A spokesperson for LGBT campaigning group Stonewall commended TfL on the initiative but were more circumspect about Stagecoach’s sponsorship.
‘We’ve seen through Transport for London’s work within our Diversity Champions program that they’re extremely committed to their lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans equality staff.
‘After the success of their ‘Rainbow Crossing’ in 2014 – it’s encouraging to see that they’re celebrating their diverse staff so publicly once again with this bus campaign.
‘No doubt the gloomy London commute will made a little better for many Londoners knowing that a Stagecoach bus, owned by notorious opponent of LGBT equality Brian Souter, is emblazoned with a rainbow flag and promoting a message of equality across London.’
Mark Threapleton, Managing Director for Stagecoach London said in a statement: ‘We’re delighted to be able to support this important TfL project by wrapping one of our iconic buses for the year.
‘This will be a travelling advertisement, spreading the message of diversity to the hearts of our communities and to visitors from across the world. We look forward to the bus raising a smile and awareness wherever it goes.’