Chase Coaches of Walsall have been bought by Arriva.
This company was fascinating for its large fleet of unaltered Leyland Nationals, 24 of which were London Transport LSs and three London Country SNBs with a handful from Hampshire Bus and Ribble rounding off the set. The decent presentation of former London Country B-series National SNB 478 (BPL 478T) entering Walsall bus station last 16th November begs the question as to why operators spent so much money on getting Greenway conversions done when the original would have lasted them thirty years?
Tuesday 27 February 2007
Chase Coaches of Walsall have been bought by Arriva.
Tuesday 20 February 2007
During the early 1990s London Buses Limited experimented with the full-size single-decker now that these vehicles were coming back into fashion. 59 Dennis Lances were taken, to the following combinations:
- LA 1-16 (J101-110, 411, 112-116 WSC) – Alexander PS bodywork, for the 36B at Catford (Selkent).
- LN 1-31 (K301-331 YJA) – Northern Counties Paladin bodywork, for the 113 at Cricklewood and the 302 at Willesden (Metroline).
- LV 1-12 (L201-212 YAG) – Plaxton Verde bodywork, for the southern half of the 208 at Catford (Selkent).
It’s the third of these classes that I’m picturing today in the form of LV 12. After spending three years on the Catford to Orpington section of the 208 with its eleven siblings, it was transferred to Bromley on 8th November 1997 and took over the 227, a far better route for these ungainly but surprisingly amenable buses. All-red repaints replaced the superb Selkent livery not long after privatisation under Stagecoach, and withdrawal occurred in 2000 after just six years. Stagecoach South took on the class, soon cascading them to what is better known as Ribble – but then disaster struck! On 8th January 2005 flooding of the River Eden inundated the Stagecoach garage at Carlisle, submerging all twelve former LVs up to seat level. Early reports were saying that over eighty buses would have to be scrapped, including some brand-new Darts, but as it turned out all that was required was a thorough hosing down and refurbishment and they were good as new. Having already been subjected to two changes of registration (from L212 YAG to WLT 461 soon after delivery, and thence to L942 RJN in March 2000) LV 12 pitched up with Diamond Bus, becoming its 368. It is seen in Birmingham on 16th November 2005; other examples of the LV class can be sighted in Walsall, working for A2Z.
Friday 16 February 2007
You last heard about the 7 from me the day it lost its RMLs, 2nd July 2004, and since then it’s been just another anonymous OPO route with unremarkable Dennis Tridents like TNA 32952 (W952 ULL) – although one individual took it upon himself to deplete the route’s stock by setting fire to Westbourne Park garage, a crime for which he got no punishment whatsoever. However, it’s just been awarded to Metroline for takeup in June or July this year. OPO conversion had been introduced midway through its five-year contract, and to be fair it was almost one-manned at the start of it.
Metroline’s joy at winning such an important route caught swiftly in their throat with the news that they have lost the 24, one of the most important central London routes and one stocked with brand new vehicles; although not speculating about from which garage they could operate the 7 (none are within five miles of any point on the route!), Holloway will soon have some space! Still, there will be four or five months separating the 7 and 24 changeovers, not to mention that each contract bid specifies an operating garage, so we can worry about that when the time comes. The vehicles will comprise Scania N270UDs with East Lancs Olympus bodywork.
Wednesday 14 February 2007
Just another example of what I think is good practice in the programming of LED blinds – but in this case, helped by having a short destination and an even shorter intermediate point! Good thing I didn’t photograph any Yorkshire Coastliners going in the other direction (Scarborough) that day.
The 843’s a superb thrash, by the way – a foot-down charge through the Yorkshire countryside at breakneck speed. I took this bus (Yorkshire Coastliner Volvo B7TL 406 (YK55 ATO) as part of my journey to Sheffield to cover the last Dominators for Bus & Coach Preservation magazine on 25th June last year (yes, I know Sheffield is south of York, but to get there on an overnight coach the only way to do it was to overshoot, hence I ended up at York at half past four in the morning, and York is so fascinating that it was well worth it).
Sunday 11 February 2007
Over the past few weeks, my local bus operator Travel London (West) – formerly known as Tellings-Golden Miller – has been re-equipping its Byfleet-based fleet of Dennis Dart SLFs with LED blinds. DP 703 (R503 SJM) is just the latest example, and it’s sure to kick off a debate in these pages that I hope will be as involved as that set off by my mention of Metroline a few posts back.
Most operators around the country have adopted LED blinds as standard, especially since the technology has improved considerably from the first generation of vulnerable and error-prone flip-dot displays, via dot-matrix panels that were subject to the same vulnerabilities, to today’s versatile units that seem to be programmable with just about anything, and which, most importantly for the photographer, don’t just reproduce as two unintelligible single lines. It’s not just the enthusiast who found this a nuisance – think of publicity photographs for operators and the manufacturers, who would be looking pretty daft with their products showing themselves up this way. The previous generation of LED panels would not show at shutter speeds above 1/60, which ruled out pictures in any level of sunshine! Even so, I’ve always kept my camera on burst mode, so that out of a round of five shot off, one would work. This picture shows that the blinds displaying satisfactorily were the least of my worries (despite the fogged glass panel) – there was a lot more traffic than you’d expect for a Saturday morning and I had to shoot through it.
Transport for London, of course, have a different way of going about things. They don’t, and don’t intend to, adopt LED blind technology on their contractors’ vehicles. Given that the standard of blind display since the secretive and highly intransigent ‘BBC’ (Bus Blinds Committee) have come into being is totally inadequate to the point of negligence, with no via points allowed and just a destination (without the benefit of any qualifiers) expected to offer passengers what they need to find out, this is inexplicable. I may be something of a traditionalist, but I’ll declare myself a big fan of the latest LED panels – TfL don’t know what they’re missing and are mad to write off the possibilities this technology offers. For instance, even though this 461 just displays ‘Kingston’, other boards for the 218 in the same region display ‘Kingston’, with ‘via Esher, Walton-on-Thames, Shepperton and Laleham’ scrolling by leisurely underneath. It’s all legible, and from a considerably greater distance (especially at night) – and since I’ve had lousy eyesight since I was born, surely I have a better claim on what is legible and what isn’t.
There’s great potential in this. With GPS technology already coming into play for the successor to Countdown (known as iBus), is that once the bus crosses a point on the route the system can knock out the appropriate via point from the display, thus nullifying one of the objections to via points. Buses can also display them in the opposite direction, without the need for expenditure on linen (or Tyvec); since operators never seem to trust drivers to change the blinds anyway (and the unions reluctant to let them without a little something in return), all this doesn’t even need to be done at the push of a button. You can even have different colours for route numbers, like the panels on buses in Reading.
So give it a try, TfL. I have a feeling that in ten years or so all London buses will have LED displays.
Thursday 8 February 2007
This may be a London-oriented page, but I reserve the right to leave the crazy place behind once in a while and explore what else is to be found up and down the country. After all, the general consensus seems to be that right now London’s bus scene is at its very lowest ebb in terms of quality and appeal. Still, the cascade of vehicles out of the capital has led to them leading often more eventful (and certainly longer) lives in the provinces than they ever would have in London.
This time last year the rule of the Leyland Titan in Liverpool finally came to an end when GTL retired its last four serviceable examples amid ceremony on Saturday 4th February 2006. The Gillmoss garage that was separated from the old MTL North (formerly Merseybus) when Arriva bought the majority of the company had continued on as GTL (Glenvale Transport) and even found itself acquiring an equally sizeable neighbour, CMT, adopting that company’s all-red livery but maintaining the GTL tradition of naming buses after employees’ children or pets (which produced some wacky titles that were fun to collect!). However, in 2005 Stagecoach swept in and within six months the company was unrecognisable – out went all the ex-London Metrobuses and Titans, together with the motley collection of Dart and Volvo B6 single-decks scraped together from all over the place, and in their place came seventy new Dart SLFs. With Arriva and Stagecoach now effectively sharing Liverpool between them, the scene is considerably duller, but the Titans represented a more carefree sort of time. Liverpool’s certainly a nice surprise – friendly people, smashing buildings and certainly worth visiting.
From a peak of over 250 vehicles a decade ago, by February 2006 only four Titans were left – identified first by their Stagecoach numbers they were 10046 (WYV 46T – formerly 2046, T 46), 10337 (KYV 337X – 2337, T 337), 10624 (NUW 624Y – 2624, T 624) and 10850 (A850 SUL – 2850, T 850). Of this quartet only 10337 was red and had been converted to single-door. The latter two were comparatively recent arrivals from Stagecoach Selkent’s final clear-out in 2001, but T 46 had been one of the first Titans to leave London for Merseybus. Unfortunately, it proved unserviceable on the last day, so the farewell tour mounted by Gillmoss’s staff was led out by the other three. Joining for the day were a handful of other Titans, like T 1 from Stagecoach East London and 10698 (T 698) in Stagecoach corporate. T 910, preserved in London Transport condition, was also present, and of the non-Titan types you could see Atlanteans and even RML 2716. In this convoy a couple of dozen enthusiasts were taken round town over some of the numerous routes to have been operated by Liverpool’s Titans thirteen years of operation. The main picture shows a successful attempt to cram four of them into the width of the seafront road at New Brighton after a trip through the Mersey Tunnel, while the inset shows 10850 bringing up the rear of a static display at Pier Head.
A belated thanks to Gillmoss’s people for putting on the event – it was a lot of fun!