The London Bus Page In Exile

Wednesday 7 November 2007

The M defended.

Filed under: Announcements, Book, Historical, Routemaster, Uncategorized, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 8:56 pm

Arriva London North MCW Metrobus M 765 (KYV 765X) at London Bridge, 07.07.00

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.



  1. That’s good news! I look forward to the forthcoming Titan book, and the subsequent Metrobus. As the publishers seem to be on your side, what else would you pitch? Would you consider a book on the DMS class? Given the numbers that would be quite a piece of work, but would be a significant contribution to the recent history of London buses – around 20 years in service?

    Comment by nick parish — Wednesday 7 November 2007 @ 10:43 pm

  2. One thing has struck me recently in the Metrobus v Titan debate. I am a relatively new driver of just 18months experience though in that time I have driven a wide range of vehicles including both Titans and Metrobuses.

    From a drivers point of view I dont mind either though I think they would both have to go a long way to beat the L10 engined Olympian. But it seems to me that most drivers are either Metrobus or Titan fans and not very often both. when I have asked them, it all seems to boil down to the steering wheel. Some like em big, some like em small. Strange is it not what shapes our views.



    Comment by Colin Janes — Thursday 8 November 2007 @ 3:53 pm

  3. well colin im a fan of both,i’ve driven both on my short career as a bus driver,they both have there good points some loved to work others did’nt i miss that kick in the back you got on a metro if you took your foot off the gas just as it was changing up,the airbus metros were better,running light back from camden to the bush when the 27s were there 70mph on the westway, great,the titan was a solid comfy bus to me anyway

    Comment by ollie — Thursday 8 November 2007 @ 4:17 pm

  4. Hi guys, just a question about Arriva London, Since the bendies gone on the 38’s and transfered to Ash Grove Garage (AE), They have started putting garage codes on there buses, but they are putting Clapton Garage (CT) codes on them? can someone help me on this, be very greatful.

    Cheers Richard.

    Comment by Richard — Thursday 8 November 2007 @ 10:18 pm

  5. A well-set up Titan was great. That revolutionary Leyland cab layout and being able to operate in semi-auto.

    Always seemed much more a real bus to me than the whining and rattling Metrobus.

    Comment by Steve23589 — Thursday 8 November 2007 @ 10:47 pm

  6. I think that the debate raging regarding Routemasters v Metrobus/Titan/Olympian has been mildly ammusing personally! Whilst I wouldn’t put it in such an enraged, RM-bashing sort of way, the anti-Routemaster brigade do have a point. The Routemaster certainly benefited from some preferential treatment, especially in the 70’s when teething problems encountered by later types were dealt with by cannibalisation and early replacement whereas a decade earlier the Routemaster was MADE to work.

    Fortunately, by the time the Titan’s and Metrobuses were being introduced, the luxury of letting the taxpayer foot the bill for early fleet replacement was coming to an end and subsequently both types enjoyed long careers. It is also true that the thorough overhauls given to Routemasters throughout their first two decades and the refurbishments of their latter years would have lead to a lifespan of 40+ years for most types of bus.

    I think that the Routemaster suffers from overkill to a certain extent too. At any rally or running day it is Routemasters that dominate, not helped of course by the fact that most of them are painted red with a cream band (some of them that were built after the change to flake grey relief even!). I would be the last person to decry the efforts of anyone who takes on the mammouth task of restoring a bus, but I do think that a certain amount of natural selection needs to take place and for the volume of near identical buses in preservation to be whittled down as has happened to the RT’s and RF’s over the last 20 years or so.

    It has got to the stage where one sees another newly restored Routemaster and you think “Oh God not another one” no matter how much time and effort the owner of said bus has put into it, whereas there is a real buzz around seeing the likes of DM2646 and V3 making their debutes last year as I am sure there will be when MB90, DM1001 or SM106 eventually make their grand entrances as equally valid pieces of London’s transport history.

    Comment by Phil McAvity — Friday 9 November 2007 @ 11:45 pm

  7. Being a South West London chap and growing up with London General and London United metrobuses I look forward to your write up on the London Metrobus. Sure making the most of them riding them on South West Trains rail replacements!

    Comment by wongers — Saturday 10 November 2007 @ 7:45 am

  8. #6 I agree, as far as the RM is concerned “the party’s over”. That this site exists is a sure sign.. It wouldn’t be here if the RMs were still in service.
    It’s time for us to let them “Rest in Peace”.

    In the M contra T debate,
    I have to come down on the side of the Titan. For me personally, the Metrobuses always had a “provincial” feel about them. BUT the Titans were London through and through. They had LT in their genes!
    I remember going for an Interview at WW and the Forest Area Manager (I think that’s what he was) proudly took me around the depot showing off all “these wonderful new machines”(Ts). I seem to remember that in contrast, the Ms looked like rather cheap “nasty off-the-peg vehicles”.

    Lastly, I’d like to add to the list of vehicles that deserved to be preserved.. I always thought it sad that not one XA stayed on in London. A preserved one now would be worth at least fifty RMs!! They were such an important landmark in London’s bus history.. I remember “bouncing” along in them on the 67,76 & 271s. For a London kid of the 60s, brought up on RTs & RMs, it really was like travelling on a “spaceship” – an “alien experience”.. 🙂

    Comment by IsarSteve — Saturday 10 November 2007 @ 8:28 am

  9. IsarSteve,

    I did once hear that an XA (4 I think?) was owned by a preservationist in Hong Kong but that was about 15-20 years ago. I agree though, it is a shame that of the experimental types from 1965/66 that pioneered all of the modern types of bus and coach that followed them (the XA’s, XF’s, XMS/B’s and RC’s) only XF’s 1 and 3 survived.

    I have to agree with you concerning Titan’s v Metrobuses. As someone who lived on the Middlesex side of the River Lea in the 1980’s I did look over to our Essex cousins with their wonderful Titans with envious eyes. It’s not that the Metro’s were a bad bus, I just thought the Titan’s were better. There were very few Titan routes which crossed the Lea where I lived (34, 123 and 144) and two of them were partially Metrobus anyway, although the 144 did become 100% Titan when the 144A started, but I would always catch the Titan if there was a choice between the two.

    By the way Matt, I forgot to say good luck with this book too, I know sitting in front of a screen for hours on end writing for our benefit is a bit of a chore, but it has got to be better than watching Leeds play surely!

    Comment by Phil McAvity — Saturday 10 November 2007 @ 11:55 am

  10. I did of course forget the other survivor from the ’65/’66 experimentals, the one bus that could possibly get the anti and pro-Routemaster brigades to some sort of agreement……….FRM1!

    Comment by Phil McAvity — Saturday 10 November 2007 @ 12:06 pm

  11. metro v titan;tough one to call,as i like both.would have to say,as more were built,the metrobus would probably just shade it.both excellent buses in their time,and now getting the recognition they fully deserve in their part in london’s bus history.

    Comment by mark o'neill — Saturday 10 November 2007 @ 12:38 pm

  12. Oh dear, I’ve sinned…how could I, as an ex LT-employee and former Tottenham & Woodford Green boy write in #8 about a “Depot” at WW….??

    Of course I meant “garage” or “garidge” as it is usually known..

    I’ve definitely been away too long..

    Comment by IsarSteve — Saturday 10 November 2007 @ 1:07 pm

  13. I wouldn’t beat yourself up about it IsarSteve (#12) as LT always used the term “depot” for trams and trolleybuses, so historically anyway, Walthamstow was a depot and not a garage!

    Comment by Phil McAvity — Saturday 10 November 2007 @ 1:42 pm

  14. Is there a secret forum on here for discussion and news that i don’t know about?? !

    Following this with great amusement,having worked on M’s and their simplicity and ease of repair, its def M’s for me, i did work on T’s briefly but didn’t take to em!!

    Comment by Jon O — Saturday 10 November 2007 @ 3:10 pm

  15. #14 I’m not sure I understand what you mean about “Secret Forums”?

    I hope Matthew doesn’t mind me plugging my blog: I managed to photograph M1387 when it visited Berlin in 1986. The quality of the shots is not that good, but they do record a visit of a Metrobus behind what was then the “Iron Curtain”

    Click on “Comment by”here and then on “tag” “london buses”

    Comment by IsarSteve — Sunday 11 November 2007 @ 4:34 pm

  16. #9, I think it’s a case of the grass is always greener. I grew up in staunch Titan territory (London Central/Selkent), and I always looked across towards London General and their Metrobuses with envy.

    To me as a child they always seemed much more sophisticated with their purring, whining engines and smooth gearboxes. The Titans by contrast always seemed more agricultural- growling engines and jerky transmission.

    However, now I’m all grown up I can appreciate the merits of both- the M may have sounded nicer, but the interior of the T was far superior. Now we have neither I miss them both! I guess sometimes the past just seems better, even if it wasn’t!

    Comment by ejc — Monday 12 November 2007 @ 10:33 am

  17. As an employee of London General I have driven loads of M’s. In 11 years of working I have only driven a titan once, half a duty on the 196 on loan to Q! I guess by the nature of allocations a lot of other drivers only ever really drove one or the other.
    I actually preferred the sound and ride of the M. Heavily grinding brakes are a strong memory of mine as regards the titan. One of my favourite London Bus memories since I moved in here in 1996, though, was the lovely purr of the AEC engined RM’s on route 36 before they were all replaced with Scanias. I miss that sound!

    Comment by Simon — Monday 12 November 2007 @ 8:49 pm

  18. It’s a dirty job but someone has to do it… no, not referring to Matt’s latest mission here but to the task of mentioning that unique hybrid T684, the Titan with Voith gearbox, a bus I hope that Phil at #6 would agree to be a stand-out entry should it make it (as many hope) onto the preservation scene. As for the debate, I like both types, but a well-set up Titan was always classier from a driver and passenger point of view than a Metro.

    Comment by Andrew Jeffreys — Tuesday 13 November 2007 @ 11:21 am

  19. I think what #18 says is right.
    Metrobuses always looked a bit ‘tatty'(certainly late in life they were the more run down looking of the two types). It might have had something to do with the asymetrical windscreen, but the Titan always looked a more complete vehicle (less provincial) and had its routes(!) as a London Bus (B15 – anyone remember that on the 24).
    The deeper lower deck windows, and the incrreased headroom upstairs were an innovation of the time.

    Comment by pvc — Wednesday 14 November 2007 @ 2:11 pm


    Im glad that my initial rant started some debate on the RM v M/T/L/DMS etc… debate and im doubly glad that there is people who totally agree with me and it has resulted in this page being created. There is some extremely vaid points being made now and long may this debate continue.

    The Metrobus book is hotly anticipated and i’ll be first in the queue.

    Keep up the good comments and thanks for this page and showing that these quality buses do deserve credit and attention.

    Andy Moore

    Comment by Andy Moore — Wednesday 14 November 2007 @ 2:49 pm

  21. Well.. I make that 7-all at the moment..

    or was it 8 – 7 to the Ms? 😦

    Comment by IsarSteve — Wednesday 14 November 2007 @ 4:06 pm

  22. Andrew (#18)

    To be honest I don’t think I ever saw (or heard) T684 and I certainly never photographed it, so I would love to see it preserved if only to finally catch up with it. The Voith gearbox certainly has a unique sound. I was at a funeral back in my native Enfield a couple of weeks ago and a DLA decelerated with that distinctive whine as it aproached the stop outside the church. I instinctively turned around expecting to see an M! One other characteritic I remember from Metrobuses when they were new was a smell of hot rubber/plastic that I don’t recall the Titan’s ever having.

    Comment by Phil McAvity — Wednesday 14 November 2007 @ 6:56 pm

  23. At last. Credit and recognition for MCWs, Titans, Olympians and friends. Cant wait for the book! 🙂

    Comment by Edward Pearce — Wednesday 14 November 2007 @ 10:58 pm

  24. #17, I always liked the Scania-engined RM’s on the 36 and latterly the 12. You could hear them coming from miles off, but boy were they fast for 40 year olds!

    #19, I think the reason the M’s seemed tattier towards the end is that there was more of them.
    Stagecoach started withdrawing their Titans en masse pretty much as soon as they took over Selkent and East London in 1994. London Central also took a sizeable chunk out of their fleet from 1996 with the arrival of the NV class.
    Whereas in Metrobus land there were no comparable large scale wihdrawals until the low floor revolution began in the early noughties. The M fleets were progressively run down in maintainence terms, thus the fall in quality was far more noticeable than in the small handful of remaining Titans.

    Comment by ejc — Wednesday 14 November 2007 @ 11:19 pm

  25. P.S Anyone who wants an MCW ‘fix’ go to U Tube. Some superb footage filmed on board an MCW in Newcastle. Oh those beautiful sounding retarders! :-))

    Comment by Edward Pearce — Wednesday 14 November 2007 @ 11:32 pm

  26. Sorry filmed in Manchester!

    Comment by Edward Pearce — Wednesday 14 November 2007 @ 11:34 pm

  27. RM’s are great, the RT family is much better – however I have a great fondness of the M’s, L’s T’s and DM/DMS’s as I grew up on these – particularly M’s and DMS’s as they all ran on the 44/77/270, my local routes. I can’t wait for EFE to release the 1/24 scale metrobus!

    Comment by Russell — Thursday 15 November 2007 @ 1:08 am

  28. Yes, it is great to see even the model companies taking an interest in the Metrobus.
    The 24th scale model is long over due.
    Only problem is the price, £199 is the cheapest ive seen so far.

    Its almost cheaper to buy the real thing.

    Comment by Andy Moore — Thursday 15 November 2007 @ 1:53 am

  29. Ref comment #10

    I knew someone would throw a spanner in the works…..namely the rear engined RM. I take it this is the RM supporters answer/suggestion to those of us that like rear-engined buses. Drat!!!!!

    I travelled on this at the Leyton Garage open day several years ago and found it to be a fairly good bus but obviously it was “too Routmastery” for my liking.

    I must admit that if LT had managed it, the FRM could have been a reality and could have been a substantial fleet and probably would have meant this debate on RM versus Titan,Metrobus,Olympian may have been avoided.

    Comment by Andy Moore — Thursday 15 November 2007 @ 2:01 am

  30. Cant we talk about buses without mentioning the ‘Romeo Mike’ things please? I was in Birmingham yesterday and it was wonderful to see MCWs in action. But for how much longer?………….

    Comment by Edward Pearce — Thursday 15 November 2007 @ 10:12 am

  31. Well, what can i say.

    Rear engined buses do indeed have followers here on the WWW !.

    M v T ?. Now that is a hard one to call. Im afraid i like them both but my loyalty is with the M …. but only by a fraction.

    I seem to recall only a few years ago East London seemed to be the domain of the T. Barking, Romford, Stratford & Ilford was awash with T’s. (not forgetting Lewisham & Catford). Now it all seems to be ALX or Darts.

    My favourite area though was North & South London where the lovely M seemed to rule the roost. The 29, 149, 144 & 279 routes in the north & down in the south the routes radiating out of Croydon were just Metro heaven.

    I can still picture the 130 & X30 routes out to New Addington now with M’s on it every 3 to 5 mins slogging their guts out up and down Gravel Hill !!.

    What about those 2 South London celebrities, M1441 & M1442. What beauties they were.

    And before someone picks me up on it, i hav’nt forgotten South Londons L’s either. What stalwarts they were too to the south london scene. Routes 249 & 432 from Anerley to Balham & Brixton. Boy did those Olympians struggle up Anerley Road towards Crystal Palace.

    All but a distant memory now … sadly.

    Comment by Terence Moore — Thursday 15 November 2007 @ 11:37 am

  32. hi all this topic is getting better,question some years ago there was talk about a mk 3 metro anyone know what it was going to look like or are there any plans/pictures out there please,a new metro with the white upper deck surround to me was a nice looking bus,why did they go back to plain red after i think M54,money maybe

    Comment by ollie — Thursday 15 November 2007 @ 8:13 pm

  33. Andy (#29),

    The FRM is one of the great “what might have beens…” but that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate on how things would have panned out if the project had been seen through to production. I believe that far from being a bit “Routemasterish”, the production versions would have been more like an AEC version of the Titan. It is well known that when the B15 project started, Leyland and LT used much of the development work from the FRM in their new design and if you bear in mind the way that rear engined bus design was revolutionised by the Mancunian, it is fair to suggest that by 1969/70 the production “FRM” would have looked much more box-like than the prototype and would certainly have been dual-door. I think it is fair to say that the finished article would have looked much like the Titan or DMS and we would probably have had a fleet of 3,000 or so “FRM’s” rather than the DMS. Who knows, if LT were happy with the design and AEC were able to meet demand, Southall may have survived for longer and LT may never have bought Metrobuses?

    Ollie (#32),

    When LT bought M1441 & M1442 to evaluate the mark 2 version of the Metrobus a third bus to have been M1443 was conceived as a mark 3 prototype, but with deregulation around the corner and MCW going through financial difficulties that had threatened their closure in the 1970’s and eventually killed them off in 1989, the project was stillborn. As far as I know work was never started on construction but hopefully an ex-MCW employee could confirm that. The change to all red by the way was from M56 and T32 and was definately down to cost saving. Shame really, it was one of my favourite LT liveries too.

    Comment by Phil McAvity — Thursday 15 November 2007 @ 11:06 pm

  34. phil(33)
    thank you for your help

    the production FRM i,ve wondered what it might have looked like too,maybe a new book of what might have beens,there is an aircraft version ,how about one for buses.

    Comment by ollie — Friday 16 November 2007 @ 10:30 am

  35. Just found the site.

    A bit late I know, but, I thought i’d add my bit regarding the MCW-v-Leyland Titan (or Olympian…) debate.

    I’ve driven Metrobuses both in and outside of London. In London, it was the infamous MK1, and outside, it was the MK2.

    I’ve driven ex-London Titans, and “provincial” Olympians outside of London.

    Personally, I prefer the Metrobus. It felt more solid, and usually quicker (well, the Go-Ahead Northern Gardner 6LXCT engined ones were.. In fact they were well rapid, but thats another story).

    But, thats it. Person taste. At the end of the day, they both did what it said on the tin.

    Either way, I reckon they are both far superior to the all singing, all dancing Dennis Tridents…

    Comment by John — Friday 16 November 2007 @ 6:36 pm

  36. Ollie (34),

    That is a very good idea. Now that AEC, Leyland, MCW and indeed Chiswick works are no more, there are probably hundreds of stories tht can be told without breaking any industry secrets. Is there anyone out there with an interesting tale to be told?

    Comment by Phil McAvity — Saturday 17 November 2007 @ 11:02 am

  37. Didn’t the Mk3 Metrobus actually appear albeit desguised….and was known as the Optare Spectra.

    The Spectra certainly sounds like one, and i do believe that Optare actually basically had the blueprints of a Metrobus and aside from the bodywork, a Spectra was more or less a Metrobus underneath.

    Comment by Andy Moore — Saturday 17 November 2007 @ 4:39 pm

  38. Terry (#31)

    Yes, 2 celebrity buses at Croydon Garage (M1441/M1442) just a shame that M1442 is no longer around.

    M1441 is still with us though.

    Comment by Andy Moore — Saturday 17 November 2007 @ 4:48 pm

  39. Phil (#22),

    T684 was very deceptive because you expected the usual pull-off but got a bit more oomph than you expected! Metros did perform better in this department than Titans so from a timekeeping point of view that was a distinct advantage; Titans were more leisurely but the semi-auto box made them more driver-friendly / capable when drivers chose to actually use the gears – although regrettably few seemed to).

    Andy (#37),

    I think there’s another theory that the Metrobus Mk 3 became the DAF DLA-class or similar creatures…


    Comment by Andrew Jeffreys — Sunday 18 November 2007 @ 2:19 pm

  40. I managed to get a ride on Sullivans MT2 on the Northern Line replacement yesterday. It sounded great, and was in very good form, especially when we overtook an Enviro 400 going uphill! I wonder how long TFL will allow these older buses to be used on rail replacement services?

    Comment by Ian Y — Sunday 18 November 2007 @ 8:30 pm

  41. #40 Ian,

    I cant believe what i just read, a so-called “clapped-out” near on 30 year old bus overtaking a brand new plastic bus on an uphill grade.

    Excelent Stuff….!!!!

    And as for TfL specifying “older buses not to be used”, i think you are right.
    These will probably be solid low-floor guff before long.

    I remember some Travel West Midlands Metrobus (in full TWM livery) turning up once on a Stonebridge Park – Queens Park Rail Rep, top machine, thrashing all the way.

    Comment by Andy Moore — Sunday 18 November 2007 @ 10:06 pm

  42. It really does seem like yesterday when the MCW reigned supreme. I can remember when I used to do Red Bus Rovers in the early 80s. The MCWs were new to routes like the 183 to Golders Green. And all this was when the Leyland National was the stalwart of Harrow Weald garage. Oh how I wish we could turn back time!

    Comment by Edward Pearce — Monday 19 November 2007 @ 2:22 am

  43. #39, The DLA/DLP/DW class DAF’s are all on the DB250 chassis, as was the Optare Spectra…..(at least the LT ones were anyway)

    Comment by ejc — Monday 19 November 2007 @ 10:55 am

  44. #42 I hate to spoil the fun, but at the time it was new in service, the M just wasn’t a (typical) London Bus.. Come to that, the LSs (which I loved dearly) weren’t either.

    The M working in London could be compared with RMs working in Birmingham… not a pretty site!!

    Yes, the Ms along with the earlier MDs were an important part of London’s Bus Heritage… BUT they were certainly not “London Buses”!!

    Comment by IsarSteve — Monday 19 November 2007 @ 11:26 am

  45. Good comments 44. You have a very valid and indeed a fair point 🙂

    Comment by Edward Pearce — Monday 19 November 2007 @ 11:22 pm

  46. Gosh!! What a lot has gone on since I posted my original comment on this thread. Its been one of the most interesting I have ever read. Well done all.

    To throw something else in to the mix, I regularly drive M1067 on private hire and rail replacement for Alder Valley Travel. She is a beauty with a 4 speed box that will do 60 on the flat (though it takes a long time to get up there). But also at AVT we have ex Reading Spectra 705. Also a lovely drive and very M like in many ways. But looking at the interior of 705 and then looking at modern deckers, I cant help thinking that we have realy taken a backward step as far as passenger comfort and interior are concerned. Also, can anybody comment on the M’s with the L10 engine? How did they compare to the Gardiner. What about the Alexander body too? Finally, has an L10 ever been tried out on a T?



    Comment by Colin Janes — Tuesday 20 November 2007 @ 1:37 am

  47. Isar Steve,

    By your definition, does the DMS qualify as a London bus? On the plus side it had an (almost) unique to London body design, many of which were built by Park Royal. The chassis though were built in Coventry and Leyland and about half of the bodies in Birmingham. Does that make it a semi-Londoner (pardon the pun) then?

    Comment by Phil McAvity — Tuesday 20 November 2007 @ 8:43 pm

  48. #47 Whoaaah.. My definition?

    This here Page isn’t supposed to be anything definitive is it? I thought it was just “a space” where we (BOFs?) could chat on about Buses..
    BUT, seeing as you asked, No I don’t think the DMS was really a London Bus. That is, in same way that in the previous generation, the Austerity “Ds” or “TDs” weren’t London Buses either. YES, they all worked in London, but they weren’t “Born and Bred” in Chiswick, if you know what I mean?

    The fact that LT felt the need and tried to christen the DMS “The Londoner” is a sure indicator that it wasn’t actually considered such! (Most countries with “Democratic” in their titles tend not to be Democratic either!).

    I would also like to point out that the early Metro-Cammel bodied DMSs were an absolute disaster in London… If I remember correctly, DMS 1248 onwards (delivered 1972) had Birmingham built bodies and it was exactly these buses, allocated to the 106 at AR & H, that decimated the reliabilty of that route, as well as the credability of the DMS overall. They were also among the first of the class to be sent for scrap. The Park Royal bodied buses did “slightly” better, but I’ve no idea why.
    In fact, LT didn’t even bother to overhaul most of them, that says something about their quality. They were, together with the MBs & SMs, the first of the “throw-away” generation of Buses.

    On a personal note, I’m not quite sure if you are refering to me as (semi-Londoner)? In actual fact, I’m not quite there yet.. 28 years in London, 25 in Germany.. so I’ll become semi-Londoner in 2010!

    And as for you Mr McCavity, am I to presume that by your name, you are responsible for the continuity here? 🙂

    Comment by IsarSteve — Tuesday 20 November 2007 @ 10:57 pm

  49. #48 to be really anoraky (if there is such a word), the first MCW bodied DMSs in the batch 1248 – 1260 -ish operated on the 213 in August 1972 alongside DMS 415 – 420 (although some saw a few weeks’ service first on the 61) It is just one of those irrelevant things I remember!

    Comment by MT — Wednesday 21 November 2007 @ 7:43 pm

  50. #44, very valid point re “is the Metrobus a london bus”

    I suppose those enthusiasts in birmingham would consider the Metrobus to be Birmingham born and bred, yet those of a London interest may consider them to be more of a London bus.

    Im sure it really depends what your tipple is and what area you “bash”.
    I will always see the Metrobus as as a London Type, but i do consider the Original TWM liveries “red stripe” far superior.

    Comment by Andy Moore — Wednesday 21 November 2007 @ 8:12 pm

  51. Does anyone know the whereabouts of M1353 C353BUV. A personal favourite of mine.

    Some of you may remember this bus when it was based at Hounslow and had the Dennis Handbrake Conversion.

    Whenever she pulled up and the driver applied the handbrake, she would give off a very distinct….. “tussssssssssssssssssssss vrrrrrrrruuuuupppppppppp”. I dont recall any other Metrobuses in London doing this.

    Anyone beg to differ or know what happedned to her. (Please dont tell me she is in the big bus depot in the sky)

    Comment by Andy Moore — Wednesday 21 November 2007 @ 8:18 pm

  52. #49 (MT) That’s what happens as the years go by.. But you were nearer the mark than I was.. But I had to get my 1972 TLBs out to check.. So according to TLB97 August 1972: DMS 415-420 went to NB for the 213.. DMS 1251,1253-54, 1256-1260, 1262,1266, 1269-1275 all went to A, also for the 213.
    AR received 1249, 1277-86 for the 106.
    BUT, I stick to my point.. they were all from the same batch and a lousey lot they were. Do I remember talk about them being stored outside in the damp, causing electrical problems? Or was that the MBs?

    Comment by IsarSteve — Wednesday 21 November 2007 @ 10:22 pm

  53. Hi IsarSteve,

    Thought I’d respond to your comments in an attempt to cheer me up after watching that pathetic performance by the over paid, under performers who represent my country at football so here go’s:

    I think that you’re probably right about the DMS’s London credentials, as much as I liked them. I’m not sure whether the MCW’s were any worse than the PRV’s though, it was just that they were chosen for disposal first which was strange as they could have their bodies separated in the usual Aldenham way which the PRV’s couldn’t. Whether or not they were a bad bus though, the long lives that those which made it to Hong Kong had in much more arduous conditions would indicate otherwise!

    The semi-Londoner thing, no it wasn’t aimed at you, it was indeed a play on words on the unfortunate name which they were christened with when new. Twenty five years in Germany eh? I’m looking for someone to cheer at Euro 2008, do you think they’ll have me? -)


    I think you’ll find that most Leaside District M’s had Dennis air brake conversions in the late 80’s. I don’t remember M1353 ever being a Leaside bus but if it was then that would explain how she came to get the conversion. As for her whereabouts today, my records have her last recorded in Wales in 2004.

    Comment by Phil McAvity — Wednesday 21 November 2007 @ 10:32 pm

  54. Thanks for that “Phil McAvity”

    Any idea which company she was last known at.
    I’d love to see the “old girl” again.

    I remember spendings everal hours “bashing” her back and forth about 3 or 4 times each way between Hammersmith Broadway to Aldwych on the 9 way back about 8 years ago. If it wasnt for getting home to North Hertfordshire, im sure i would have stayed with her to do her whole duty that day. Ahhhhhhhh memories.

    (Even mangaed to have her in the bag, “out of service” from Hounslow garage to Hammersmith Braodway to take up duty).

    There is even a small story of how the bus ended up on the No:9 that day, instead of her booked working off Hounslow……
    But that is for another day.

    Comment by Andy Moore — Thursday 22 November 2007 @ 12:53 pm

  55. andy (51)
    metro 1001 did the same,well it did when i was driving duty 520 on the 220s, i don t get the same one my post van, now i’ve gone back on the post

    Comment by ollie — Thursday 22 November 2007 @ 3:05 pm

  56. If anyone out there still wants to sample the Metrobus Experience, here in the W. Mids, and especially in Walsall, you can still do so. Also, try one of A2Z’x Olympians. (Before VOSA catch up with them…)


    Comment by Tony — Thursday 22 November 2007 @ 10:47 pm

  57. 55 and 51

    M1067 does it. Somebody told me it is either something to do with the quick release valve or it could be the extra valve she has because she used to be a trainer. You know, the one the instructor would have used.

    She also still has the repeaters for the trafficators above the windscreen.

    (My mates ex Alder Valley LN does it too).



    Comment by Colin Janes — Friday 23 November 2007 @ 10:20 am

  58. Again, anyone know of any Metrobus Groups.

    Comment by Andy Moore — Wednesday 28 November 2007 @ 11:22 pm

  59. Phil (#22), Andy (#58)

    I’ve not come across any Metrobus groups but the Titan Yahoo reports that T684 is to be withdrawn imminently by Stagecoach Lancaster who would like to see it sold into preservation. Bit of bad timing what with Christmas and all that, but maybe the ultimate present for someone?!

    Comment by Andrew Jeffreys — Friday 30 November 2007 @ 2:52 pm

  60. Just to add my two pence worth….

    All time favourite is the RM, but following on the heels is the T. As a South East London boy, the 184, 185, 176 routes round E Dulwich were T operated and I preferred them to the occasional M’s that I went on. I didnt like the M’s whiny engines that never seemed to get out of first gear, and the horrid dark brown interior panels. The T’s were more cheerful inside and I found them a better ride. I guess the first time I rode a T was on the old 10 route from Stratford to London Bridge. Compared with the DMS it was a leap forward, and once they came to the 185’s, my Saturday trips to Lewisham were on T’s for a number of years, as were school journey’s to Camberwell up to 1985. So its the T for me, all the way!

    Comment by Steve W — Sunday 9 December 2007 @ 8:58 pm

  61. Remembering my youth growing up in Grove Park and going to school(s) on a variety of buses – RT’s on the 94, DMS’s on the 124,126,141 – and ‘that feeling’ I had when I saw my first Scania Metropolitan on the 36B I’ll never forget!

    That quiet whirring noise of the engine coupled to the 2 speed gearbox (compared to a growling ‘fumey’ lethargic DMS) – I recall sitting on the bench seat over the nearside front wheel arch (you couldn’t do this on a DMS as the self service ticket machines with their milking stool turnstile occupied that space) and the front of the bus used to lift up when the driver put his foot down brings back some queasy memories! I was most upset when they put the RM’s back after a couple of years!

    And as for the DMS’s and the MD’s, they were unloved and uncared for by the 1970’s LT – DMS’s soldiered on for many years after LT withdrew them – strangely enough in central London as sightseeing buses – if they were billed not to be able to cope with the harsh London enviroment how comes they survived their service life with LT there twice over, and also in Hong Kong too!

    And stories of the MD’s at NX having their foglights stolen!! Luckily their twilight days at PD saw a bit more TLC and pride lavished upon them!

    Now there’s a bus for the preservation scene – I’ve no knowledge of any London ones saved?

    And Grove Park was a great place to kick off a long distance red bus rover Saturday outing – the 141 to Wood Green & the 36B to West Kilburn – the 141 must have been one of London’s longest routes, especially when it used to go all the way to Winchmore Hill!! I remember the service got split into 2 halves in the early 80’s, Grove Park – Newington Green & Moorgate – Wood Green.

    Comment by Jason Jones — Tuesday 11 December 2007 @ 1:31 am

  62. Ah, the MDs, now your talking! I used to ride those magnificent beasts on the 63 from Kings Cross to Peckham, when I worked at Peckham Garage for a year or so. Went like the wind and had a lovely soft ride that ironed out all the bumps, but could be a bit bouncy if the steersman had lead feet. They were not popular with LT due to the high fuel consumption (about half as many MPG as a DMS) and there propensity to rot quickly, which is presumably why none exist now. An interesting result of the type of two speed transmission fitted is that you could presumably go up the speeds in reverse as well as forward drive, unless anybody knows differently.

    Comment by Doug Ely — Sunday 16 December 2007 @ 3:42 pm

  63. 48

    Throwaway buses! Working at NBC in the 1970s, I would have agreed with you about the SMs, which seemed to spend more time against the garage wall than on service.

    However, those which were exported to Malta in the early 80s are mostly going strong, although they have been customised somewhat. Not bad – up to 10 years service for the original customer, over 25 for the lucky recipient of a cheap throwaway.


    Comment by miken19 — Tuesday 1 January 2008 @ 11:45 pm

  64. I dont know what type of Merlin/Swift (I always get it wrong)it would have been but I remember one being on static display at Hounslow Garage shortly before their introduction on the 110 and 111 and they were giving demostrations on how to use the ticket machines. Being only a little lad at the time I thought they were wonderful. I was an RT user on the 232 at the time. I remember on the first day of operation, me and my brother walked the extra mile in to Heston to get one to Hounslow rather than use the 232. I remember it was the length of the things that struck me. Sitting in the back seat and watching the front end swing round the tight corner by Heston church was a very strange experience. Of course in later years I realised how awful they really were along with the DMS’s that replaced the RT’s on the 232.

    I remember one awful trip on an SMS on the 91 from Hounslow West to Hammersmith. If the poles and window frames rattled like that on a bus I was driving I would fail it straight away!!!

    Having said that, I did enjoy a drive of an SM (I think) at the Alton bus rally some years later.

    Never managed a drive on an RT though which is a real shame though I do drive an RF fairly regularly so I am part way there.

    Also, went on a swift in Malta. different engine and a manual box but it was still a swift. Amazing how they keep them cool over there when they always boiled up in this country.

    Could have been worse though. It could have been a Leyland Panther!!!!



    Comment by Colin Janes — Friday 4 January 2008 @ 7:47 pm

  65. Colin,
    The 110 and 111 were converted to MBS (Merlin) operation on 23 August 1969 using afc fitted MBS 550-559.
    A new route 211 (Hounslow-Hampton-Kingston) was introduced at the same time, albeit with RF operation.

    I personally think that the MB(later SM) types were at their zenith at the time of this changeover (August 1969), but after that it was downhill all the way.

    BTW, The first OPO bus that I drove in service was SM12 on the 235 to Theydon Bois and back, with if I remember correctly “no heaters”. That dates me!

    Comment by IsarSteve — Saturday 5 January 2008 @ 10:09 am

  66. #65 as a postcript, I was the youngest Driver – Driver/Operator at T at that time.. (1978-1979) 🙂

    Comment by IsarSteve — Saturday 5 January 2008 @ 10:18 am

  67. Question to mechanics or anyone who knows! What is it that made so many metrobuses “tick?” Is it a fault or just a characteristic of the Gardner Engine?

    Comment by Andy — Monday 14 January 2008 @ 10:56 am

  68. I am delighted to see that someone is doing a write up of both the Titan and the Metros.

    I have spent the best part of 5 years trailing around the country following both after use in town (and these days the Olympians)and I wish I had done the same for the DMS’s so it is really nice to see that I am not the only one!

    As for “is XXX a proper London bus” well to be brutally honest I couldn’t care less, anything which ran in London was a London Bus as far as I am concerned and right up until the last of the 70’s and 80’s machines finish I will be around getting my Gardener fix!.

    I do feel as a South Londoner that the L’s do get left out in most debates. OK, to be fair they were a much smaller order than the Titans and Metro’s but down here they were a part of the scenery for nearly 20 years and until the DLA’s were the last new double deckers for the old South London garages.

    The very last thing that got me interested in London happened to be my local route, the 249, which luckily enough was the last route to use what I concider to be proper buses becuase I just couldn’t care less about the soulless garbage which plagues the streets these days.

    The heartbreaking thing is that from July the streets of London will probably never see a Metro or a Titan or an Olympian again and from my view this is what has stopped me preserving an L or a Metro. I already own B359LOY which will get a run in town before the emmissions ban but to be honest once it becomes prohibitly expensive to run where it matters I have to ask whether its worth keeping.

    Very sad days but good luck with the Metro book (and I for one would love to see one of the L’s too!!!)

    Comment by Tom C — Thursday 21 February 2008 @ 12:23 am

  69. I grew up in S E London in the 80s, which was awash with Titans. I really took them for granted until they started to disappear at the turn of the Millennium, now I wish we had them back! We did have a few Metrobuses at Sidcup Garage and I do remember riding on one of the C reg examples on the 51. The gruff Gardner engine of the Titan is really missed as is the characterful whine of the Metrobus.

    I doubt anyone will care when the current generation of DAFs, Tridents, Volvos, bendyboxes come to the end of the road!

    Comment by Rob G — Wednesday 23 April 2008 @ 1:21 pm

  70. Glad to see that the debate we started is still going strong.

    It proves my point that rear-engined buses, be it Metrobus, Titan, Olympian or DMS…all have a dedicated following.

    Thanks to “London Buses in Exile ” for creating this page and those who have given comments…

    Comment by Andy Moore — Tuesday 10 June 2008 @ 1:22 pm

  71. Anyone know the current “hot-spot” for Metrobuses be it Ex-London or Provincial!!!

    Comment by Andy Moore — Tuesday 10 June 2008 @ 1:26 pm

  72. They are running in High Wycombe, Borehamwood and in Harlow I believe. Durham and Newcastle still?

    Comment by Edward Pearce — Tuesday 10 June 2008 @ 1:38 pm

  73. Just stumbled across this site while searching for Metrobus info. I was bought up on Metrobuses (and Routemasters, LS’s and BL’s) as an electrician at the then Cardinal district first at Norbiton and then Hanwell plus as a cover electrician in the other Cardinal garages and finally at the Stamford Brook accident centre. To me they were the best off the peg bus ever purchased by LT. They were the longest running large fleet of buses since the RM, the DM may have been a larger fleet but size times longevity puts the metro way ahead. The Titan was more than 300 vehicles less in size and withdrwals began long before the Metro. That to me is success. Of course they cannot touch the RM but as an owner of one of each I still secretly prefer the Metrobus.

    Since leaving LT I have worked on all of the types they owned (As London Transport) up to privatisation including the Titan. The Titan is still a genuine London bus and I hope to own one in the very near future (subject to space and my wifes approval) but the Metro will always be the one. I look forward to the book being completed. As I haven’t yet read the Titan book I do not know of it’s content but hope that it and the Metrobus book look deeper into the subtle (and hidden) differences between the batches. If this is not readly available please let me know and I can certainly find technical (especially electrical) details as well as work procedures such as rotas, testing, modifications etc that may enhance the details usually published.

    Comment by David — Saturday 9 August 2008 @ 5:32 pm

  74. good to see the page is still going.. anyone know of any preservation groups solely for metrobuses.

    any gen gratefully received.

    Comment by andy moore — Monday 29 September 2008 @ 7:07 pm

  75. I loved driving Metrobuses ,and conducting in previous times as well. They made a pleasant change from sitting in a freezing RM cab in winter I can tell you.
    I also think they were a better drive than the NVs I later drove and particularly enjoyed a run out on the 420 when the chance arose to escape the 93.

    Comment by Al Norman — Friday 28 November 2008 @ 8:40 pm

  76. Does anyone have a full list of preserved Metrobuses be it london or outside…

    Comment by Andy Moore — Wednesday 31 December 2008 @ 3:21 am

  77. I love the Metrobus and the Titan. The Titan had a fantastic engine sound i loved the gearchange noises. The metrobus had a more squeely engine noise on the early models especially on slowing down, The C Registration models that appeared at Tottenham (AR) and Wood Green (WN) had a much different engine noise when it reached a speed it would give a wail, but as they got older it was was less noticable.
    The Titan shades it for me, it was more comfortable, Arm rests on the rear lower deck back seat, and lots of warmth from the engine. The stair position and missing bench seat on modern buses is a not preferential. My favourte journey was the Old 144 from Edmonton to ilford. The 144 and 123 used to turn off early and come round the back to park in a side street.

    Comment by Danny Gillespie — Thursday 9 April 2009 @ 11:43 pm

  78. Best bus route in London: ROUTE 73
    Best Bus from the 90’s: Stamford hill’s Leyland Olympians J…BSH Models Alexander body (Last ever Leyland buses bought in London)

    Comment by Danny Gillespie — Thursday 9 April 2009 @ 11:46 pm

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  82. Hi – Great page of anecdotes and comments on the old favourites.
    Can anyone tell me if M633 (later converted to open top and seen initially in Harrods livery), later deepscoop/ luxury sightseeing tours, has a four speed gearbox?
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