The London Bus Page In Exile

Saturday 6 January 2007

Farewell to Armchair

Filed under: Companies, Historical, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 6:34 pm

Armchair Leyland Olympian G364 YUR at Richmond, 08/09/01.jpg Armchair Dennis Dart SLF DP 1027 (KP02 PVL) at Richmond, 19/03/05
As promised, I told you I’d eulogise Armchair as they too pass into history – they are the other company put to sleep by owners Metroline this weekend.
Armchair had operated coaches in west London for many years, but their big step into London bus operations came in 1990 when they took over the 260 with Alexander-bodied Olympians. Next came the 65, another important service, for which the fleet consisted of new all-Leyland Olympians. In both cases Leyland Atlanteans served as back-up. Out of town, a number of services in Middlesex and Surrey were operated (including my now-local 555 and 556, then operated with Leyland Swifts).
The first retender of the Ealing area network in 1996 brought Armchair the E2 and E8, both of which are still operated by the company. Dennis Dart SLFs introduced low-floor buses to the company, but TfL’s ever-changing standards necessitated a new batch of identical buses (other than being dual-door) taking over; the Alexander-bodied Darts based on the 209 were already dual-door and did not need replacement. Meanwhile, the 260 was lost and a new contract replaced it in the form of the 237, which was eventually restocked with new Dennis Tridents. The 65 departed in 2002 to London United. Other routes operated by Armchair included the 117 and 190, with the 485 since lost to London General.
As examples of Armchair I have included G364 YUR, an Alexander RL-bodied Olympian from the 260’s batch but later based on the 65, and Dennis Dart SLF DP 1027 (KP02 PVL), which not only had an 80%-red livery but dated from after when the company had introduced class codes to the fleet. The Olympian is seen at Richmond on 8th September 2001, while the Dart sets off from Ealing on 19th March 2005. Both were based at Brentford, which will remain open under Metroline.

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6 Comments »

  1. As a previous employee of Armchair, ousted when Metroline took over I am sad to see the company name disappear. Over the years we did a good job and figured well in LBL performance charts only to see our good work wrecked by Metroline and standards dropped to a new low. I take great pleasure is seeing Metroline losing routes and business as they renaged on promises made when they took over at Brentford. I wish all my former colleagues well.

    Comment by Greg Ward — Thursday 18 January 2007 @ 11:40 am

  2. Ah the 260’s! That takes me back.
    Used to check them now and again when I was a revenue inspector.
    I was thrown in at the deep end when I passed my inspector training at Q [Camberwell] and had to monitor the newly tendered services in Harrow etc.
    On the 260’s I’d usually check buses between North Finchley and Golders Green or Cricklewood.
    I always found it to be one of the better run routes, unlike say Atlas who operated the 112’s.

    Comment by bill — Sunday 21 January 2007 @ 7:48 pm

  3. I couldn’t agree more with the first commenter. Metroline do see to have incredibly low standards (even when compared with other not-so-good operators!). Their vehicles SEEM to always be dirty and bashed up and generally poorly maintained, their fleet numbering system is idosyncatic at best, and the garages never seems to know what the other is doing! I have travelled on Comfort Delgro’s operations in Singapore, which were exemplary in all respects. A real shame they can’t make the same effort with London’s buses.

    Comment by ejc — Thursday 25 January 2007 @ 4:34 pm

  4. i agree with the two comments,i worked for armchair for a short time before going back on the post,the buses were clean inside and out the olympians i drove were as good as you could get at the time,as for now,i’ve seen cleaner dustbins the lads and ladys there deserve better,its a great shame.

    Comment by mark — Tuesday 6 February 2007 @ 3:44 pm

  5. This adds another dimension to the only joke I know that combines buses and surrealism – a picture of an Armchair bus with the caption: “ceci n’est pas un fauteuil” (with apologies to René Magritte)

    Comment by Dick — Wednesday 7 February 2007 @ 5:11 pm

  6. As an ex Metroline PB Employee(MTL), i must say, the company performed well when i was there

    I felt Metroline Travel(the real Metroline) were always a poor second!

    As a business it is strong and growing. reliable and i find still using PB and HT buses clean and tidy on the whole. good luck to them

    Comment by Steve — Monday 26 March 2007 @ 7:07 pm


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