The colourful New Routemaster double-decker has taken to the streets to mark the 10th anniversary of Outbound – Transport for London’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) staff network group.

The bus is decked with a livery based on the iconic rainbow flag and will run for the next year – mainly on route eight, which passes by famous landmarks such as St Paul’s Cathedral and Brick Lane as it travels between Bow Church and Tottenham Court Road.

The unveiling of the rainbow bus follows on from the success of London’s first rainbow zebra crossing, which was rolled out by Arsenal tube station during Pride in London 2014 to back the anti-homophobia in sport campaign. It was then used in Trafalgar Square to mark the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

Transport for London (TfL) has teamed up with bus operator Stagecoach London to create the rainbow bus, which will also appear at events including the Pride in London parade on June 27.

Leon Daniels, managing director of surface transport for TfL, 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 in, visits or works in London will have an opportunity to see this bus.”

Outbound is credited with making a big contribution to improving the way in which TfL staff and members of the wider LGBT community are treated when travelling on London’s transport network.

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 a rainbow flag emblazoned on it?”

The London Evening Standard reports that TfL’s decision to partner with Stagecoach – whose chairman has previously denied allegations of homophobia – has caused concern in some quarters. Stagecoach chairman Sir Brian Souter opposed the repeal of section 28 – which forbade local authorities from promoting homosexuality – and has spoken out against gay marriage.

But Mark Threapleton, managing director of Stagecoach London, says: “We are 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 this bus raising a smile and awareness wherever it goes.”