The London Bus Page In Exile

Saturday 31 March 2007

Routemaster Retrospective BOOK is out!

Filed under: Announcements, Book — londonbuspageinexile @ 8:52 pm

070331.jpg My second book and my second collaboration with Geoff Rixon, Routemaster Retrospective, comes out tomorrow, published by Ian Allan. Its debut will be at Cobham (or Chobham this year, as the event is being held at Longcross test track). I’ll be signing copies at the Ian Allan stand at 11 am and 2 pm if you want to come along.
It’s a prequel to Routemaster Requiem in that it covers the previous tranche of RM family withdrawals from 1980 until 1998, thus tying in with the beginning of the previous (or next) book. Loads of info in the captions and text about the adventures and fates of the buses photographed (like the last one, in route-conversion order), and of course the high-quality pictures.
I hope you like it, and I’d love to hear in the comments section about what you think of not only Retrospective, but Requiem as well.


Wednesday 28 March 2007

Twenty Years of OPO on the 207

Filed under: Historical, Routes — londonbuspageinexile @ 8:11 pm

First Uxbridge Buses MCW Metrobus M 337 (EYE 337V) at Ealing Hospital, 18th March 2000 28th March 2007 marks 20 years since the 207, once one of the most heavily-trafficked routes in London, was converted from RML to M OPO.

The OPO conversion was bitterly opposed and certainly slowed down this extremely busy route, but back then we didn’t think there was anything much worse for a route than one-man operation – now of course it’s been dealt the ultimate blow with its conversion to articulated buses. The one time I tried these things out on the 207 shortly after its conversion, the bus became grossly overloaded by only the second stop, on a Sunday afternoon, and I had to stand in discomfort for 45 minutes – never again.

Further back, of course, the 207 was known as the 607 and fielded trolleybuses, and before then it was trams, the possible revival of which that is being fought over with some vigour in the locality. I don’t mind either way, given that Croydon has shown that trams can be a useful addition to bus services without detracting from them, but I think that to avoid the overcrowding that now plagues Tramlink, any future trams will have to be double-deck, if anyone even builds such a thing.

Speaking of the 607, the one ray of light in the 207’s demise (which has also seen it split into two over the years and the western end, still thankfully operated by double-deckers, renumbered 427), has been the express route which covers the old 207 in its entirety but only stops at major points along the Uxbridge Road. The Olympians that provided comfort more appropriate to an express route have unfortunately given way to the stiff-seated TNLs cascaded off Uxbridge’s bit of the 207, but if you want to head west in a hurry you needn’t bother with the 207 any more.

At the end of Metrobuses’ thirteen years on the 207 is Acton Tram Depot’s M 337 (EYE 337V), seen drawing up to Ealing Hospital on 18th March 2000. This garage replaced Hanwell, which with Uxbridge in partnership, shared the 207 from its inception with RMs, via upgrading to RMLs, four years with DMs and then seven more years of Routemasters. The 427 is now its sole responsibility.

Thursday 22 March 2007

VNs Survive!

Filed under: Historical, Travels, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 8:13 pm

Solent Blue Line Volvo B10B 630 (K130 BUD) in Southampton, 11th March 2006Not so very long ago I talked about the LV-class Dennis Lances, one of the types ordered when full-size single-decker chassis came back into fashion briefly in 1992-1994. Dennis wasn’t the only chassis the dying London Buses Limited was experimenting with, as they took thirteen Volvo B10Bs as well; the VN class came adorned with Northern Counties Paladin bodywork of a taller and wider variety than hitherto seen on Darts and Lances.
Less than a year after its OPO conversion that capped a long decline from what used to be a long and busy trunk route in and out of town into a stub of a route, the 88 at Stockwell (London General subsidiary) was selected for conversion from M to VN operation, and the thirteen B10Bs duly entered serivce on 15th May 1993. VN 1-13 were adorned with personalised registrations that immortalised London General’s managing director of the time, Keith Ludeman (since gone on to bigger and better things after London General fell within the Go-Ahead Group), and an effort was made to personalise the buses themselves with a ‘The Clapham Omnibus’ motif to the London General house style.
Unfortunately, single-deckers just don’t work on trunk routes, but London Buses kept making the same mistakes that LT had with Merlins and Swifts and that their successors are making with artics. In the case of the 88, it wasn’t the reduced capacity that did for the VNs, but the excessive length of the vehicles, which was causing them difficulties in the narrow streets around Millbank where the Tate Gallery is. In 1997 they were removed from the 88 and replaced by returning Ms, which were really starting to knock on by then!
Off they went to Oxford, now a fellow Go-Ahead company, where the smart livery and commonality of purpose with a large number of existing B10Bs in the fleet ensured them a long career, and it is only recently that the input of Citaros into Oxford has caused them to move on again, this time to Southampton where they operate for Solent Blue Line on the key route 1 into Winchester.
Upon their exit from London they lost their K-KLL marks (where have those gone, if anyone fancies perusing the RAC and AA websites) and gained contemporary Oxford plates K118-130 BUD. Hence what is now Solent Blue Line 630 (K130 BUD), seen in Southampton on 11th March 2006, was once VN 13 and spent the middle of its career as City of OXford 656.

Saturday 10 March 2007

New Darts for Epsom Buses’ S1

Filed under: Companies, Routes, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 10:17 pm

Epsom Buses Dennis Dart SD 46 (PE56 UFL) at Sutton, Saturday 10th March 2007 New East Lancs-bodied Darts have entered service on the S1 (Mitcham-Banstead) from Epsom Buses (who trade as Quality Line). That is, I think they’re Darts… the split between the last of the Darts and the first of the Enviro200Darts now going into production is a little confusing.
The Esteem body is considerably more attractive than its competition at the moment, particularly on the Scania OmniTown, but on these Darts falls down somewhat in that they’ve extended the fairing downwards to cover the wheelchair ramp (which is slung underneath in a cassette), meaning that the front bumper and the side panels don’t match – they look a bit like the Wilts & Dorset Bristol LHs with the enormous cutout to enable them to come on and off the Swanage ferry!
Compare brand new SD 46 (PE56 UFL) with an earlier East Lancs-bodied Dart, SD 41 (PL05 PLV) as both come round the Sutton one-way system at ten past four.

Monday 5 March 2007

Taking Es in South East London

Filed under: Companies, Routes, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 6:45 pm

London Central Enviro400 E 47 (LX56 ETR) at Greenwich Peninsula, Saturday 3rd March 2007 Not so new, you may quip, they’ve been taking Es in that part of town since 1988!
No, after Saturday’s post where I wasn’t terribly enthusiastic about Travel London’s interpretation of the Enviro400, here’s a few words about the Go-Ahead variety entering service with Londons Central and General.
The 486 (North Greenwich Station-Bexleyheath) has completed its conversion from MD-class DAF SB220s, with the last of the Millennium Dome-branded single-deckers leaving service on 27th February; the three natural gas-powered variants preceded them by some months (so much for attempts to find alternative fuel sources!).
This shot of Bexleyheath’s E 47 (LX56 ETR) calling at the bunker-like Sainsbury’s that lies in the middle of what they call Greenwich Peninsula shows the considerable work necessary to make the Enviro400 look more attractive. London Central & General’s skirt colour is probably the key here; its charcoal grey is an improvement on the bland grey it replaced at the turn of the century while not being as harsh as black. That colour is reserved for the window surrounds, thus camouflaging some of the more awkward shapes.
Get the 486’s Es while they’re still intact, as the locals treat their buses viciously and will have reduced them to wreckage within weeks.

Saturday 3 March 2007

Return to the 452

Filed under: Companies, Routes, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 10:37 pm

Travel London Alexander Dennis Enviro400 ED 11 (LJ56 VTN) at Ladbroke Grove, Saturday 3rd March 2007 This route’s popularity (or not) among readers has led me to visit it again, not least because it’s finally received its full complement of Enviro 400s.
Having also been to the other end of town today and covered the 486, which has also converted to this new type of double-decker, it’s clear that it takes a fair bit of modification to get the best out of the rather amateurish design – London Central have accomplished this admirably, by plastering the flat sides with black masking to camouflage the frail-looking square-cornered gasket windows and excessively large straight staircase, but Travel London have done nothing of the kind; as evidenced by Battersea’s ED 11 (LJ56 VTN), the chrome faux grille and headlight surrounds have been overpainted, leaving the whole thing looking entirely miserable. On this evidence the E400 really isn’t a great-looking bus, and Alexander Dennis ought to be able to do a lot better.
The 452 wasn’t that reliable today either in the 45 minutes or so I spent at Ladbroke Grove – by the time I’d moved one stop south to an absolutely perfect pitch with exactly the right angle and waited half an hour for the 452s that were supposed to be eight, sixteen and 24 minutes behind this one, the sun had gone in and it had started raining. Oh well.

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