You’ll have figured out by now that I’m pretty much done. Nothing else to say, really – that last post in December was the last time I even went to London, and I’ve found I don’t miss it. Interests change, and London’s present scene just doesn’t interest me any more.
To which end, instead of traipsing up to town to risk my sanity taking photos in the current climate of police harassment and unfriendly travelling conditions, I’ve stayed at home to write books – that’s what really matters to me; they’ll last longer, after all. The London Titan hits the shelves tomorrow, and this time next year it’ll be followed by The London Metrobus.
Thanks for visiting both this site and the last. You can continue the interest better than I can by starting your own blog – I do recommend WordPress, which this was based on. I promise I’ll visit!
From Metrobus the vehicle to Metrobus the company. On 8th December they acquired the entire First Orpington Buses network, buses and all. Demonstrating a number change at a bitterly cold Orpington Station forecourt that first afternoon is 10.1-metre Dart 381 (LK51 JYL), renumbered from DML 41412 and displaying both numbers.
Twelve years ago, the award of much of the Orpington-area network from Roundabout (latterly part of Stagecoach Selkent) to what was then CentreWest came as one hell of a surprise, but it demonstrated that the newly independent former subsidiaries of LBL didn’t have to be constricted by their geographic fate. With First selling off what remained of that network, maybe expanding far from their roots is not such a good idea after all.
Of course, tendering was what made it no longer viable; the loss of the T31 and T32 to Arriva London South not long ago and the 61 to Selkent before that weakened the St Mary Cray operation, with the inevitable result. It is a shame tendering has always failed to take into account local needs in that staff are likely to have ambitions and commitments lasting for longer than five to seven years. In this case, however, the staff, as much fixed assets as the buses, have been transferred themselves, ensuring a little more stability.
However, demonstrating the further lunacy of tendering (or at least the whims of whoever makes that decision – one we’ve never been allowed to see), Metrobus has now taken a hiding itself, losing three of its original routes!
Yes, the Metrobus is a London bus.
If it was new to London Transport, and that covers everything that was delivered up to 10th January 1995 (the date of the completion of South London’s sale to the Cowie group), it’s a London bus. (The Upton Park SLWs, delivered right across the cusp of their subsidiary’s privatisation, thus find themselves in two camps). Everything after is only half-valid – it’s a ‘bus in London’, in the way that Transport for London only obliquely counts as London Transport.
Found a picture of M 1353 (C353 BUV), that’s been talked about a fair bit; while Hammersmith Bridge was undergoing another protracted period of repair during 2000, a route numbered 509 was commissioned to take people from the station to the north side of the bridge. The fact that the route had to come seven miles from Hounslow just to take people a hundred and fifty yards was spectactularly wasteful, but it was worth photographing, so I have a few shots of the route. This one is at Hammersmith on 29th October 2000.
I remember M 1353 best as a Sidcup crew bus, allocated to convert the 21 from RM in November 1985 alongside the garage’s existing Ts (representing an extremely rare mixed-type operation that became more common as standards slipped). Once Ls came to replace the Ms, it was off to Stamford Brook and settled in what became London United territory, eventually working from Hounslow (as here), Fulwell and Hounslow Heath.
Would the pair of you that’s been arguing fit to burst over the merits of the Routemaster versus the Metrobus shut up a minute and pay attention? I thought of deleting your posts outright, because they’ve been getting on my nerves, but I can do better than that.
Having just finished and handed in The London Titan, the book I’ve written on the type to come out in April next year, I’ve since been given the nod for one on the Metrobus in the same style. So there goes another summer, spent sat in front of a computer…
Where my standpoint lies is pretty much exactly in between the old guard of solid open-platform fans and the younger generation that has felt, quite rightly, that its own favourite vehicles have been ignored or belittled. I had the best of both worlds in that there were still plenty of RMs around when I was getting into this crazy pastime, while the very last of the London Transport stuff was coming on stream – the Ts and Ms, both of which I was hugely fond of. Even the DMS, which I grew up taking to school and back, didn’t give me any trouble. They all deserve writing about, and now that I’ve done two RM books it’s given me a bit of credibility to pursue the newer stuff that just hasn’t been tackled – the Titan book is the first manifestation of that, and now I’m getting to do the M! So everyone wins.
New route 332 was introduced last Saturday; operated by new Enviro400s from Metroline’s Cricklewood garage (or the temporary outstation across the road, at least), it links Paddington (not Marylebone as I said the other day – sorry about that) with Neasden, via the 16 and 316.
Here leaving Paddington on Sunday 14th October is TE 835 (LK57 AXP).
From time to time I look at my search statistics and see if anyone’s asked questions that brought them here, and whether I might be able to answer them. One I just saw is ‘Will the 316 gain double-deck buses’?
No, and yes; from 13 October it’s being split in two and the northern section handed over to new double-deck route 332, which will provide a further link towards town as far as Marylebone. The 316 was already part of a split route, the old 16, which was curtailed at Cricklewood garage this time ten years ago. Once the White City complex is in place, the 316 will be projected southwards towards it. The 316 started under Thorpe’s late in 2002, but the subsequent movement of that company under Metroline brought in its existing Darts like DLD 110 (T39 KLD), seen swinging into Ladbroke Grove Sainsbury’s on 3rd March 2007.
I’m a fan neither of route branding (tacky, patronising, impractical) nor of the Enviro400 (dull, dull, dull), but this Stagecoach Cambus trio manage to make both look really good. The last set of schemes for the Cambridge Park & Ride was pretty decent as well, and Ray Stenning’s taken care to adapt the new version to the lines of the bus.
From left to right are 19298 (AE07 KYY), 19314 (AE07 KZR) and 19302 (AE07 KZC).
Blazefield was an outfit that knew what it was doing – elegant liveries, decent blinds (look how they’ve actually used all the wasted space!) and competent buses. Transdev, who took over their operations a while ago, haven’t damaged them too badly, so far sticking to a plain fleetname. Keighley & District Volvo B7TL 2701 (Y701 HRN) demonstrates.
A superb day – wall-to-wall sunshine (sufficient to cause sunburn!), not a hint of rain and perhaps a few buses less this year, making it easier to photograph throughout the enormous expanse of Duxford.
This is West Midlands PTE MCW Metrobus 6832 (SDA 832S), forerunner of the second-biggest fleet of Metrobuses outside London Transport. It’s been restored to the original livery, based loosely on Birmingham City’s colours, but unfortunately, due to the lack of imagination in legislation, the registration number characters are incorrect.
More Showbus a little later.
From 7th September’s Currant Bun.
And there was I thinking painting bus roofs white was a waste of time. Top marks to the painters!