The London Bus Page In Exile

Thursday 20 December 2007

‘Roundabout’ roundabout

Filed under: Companies, Routes, Service Changes — londonbuspageinexile @ 10:29 pm

Metrobus Dennis Dart SLF 381 (LK51 JYL) at Orpington, 8.12.07From 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!

Thursday 22 November 2007

Last of the London buses

Filed under: Companies, Historical, Uncategorized, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 8:23 pm

London United MCW Metrobus M 1353 (C353 BUV) at Hammersmith, 29 October 2000Yes, 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.

Monday 8 October 2007

Will the 316 gain double-deck buses?

Filed under: Companies, Routes, Service Changes — londonbuspageinexile @ 9:23 pm

071008-s.jpg

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.

Friday 21 September 2007

Showbus 2007, part 3

Filed under: Companies, Special Events, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 6:52 pm

Three Stagecoach Cambus Enviro400s at Showbus, 16 September 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).

Thursday 20 September 2007

Showbus 2007, part 2

Filed under: Companies, Historical, Special Events — londonbuspageinexile @ 7:11 pm

Transdev Keighley & District Volvo B7TL 2701 (Y701 HRN) at Showbus, 16 September 2007Blazefield 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.

Sunday 29 July 2007

Double-Deckers for Epsom Buses

Filed under: Companies, Routes, Service Changes, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 5:42 pm

Epsom Buses Enviro400 DD 04 (SK07 DZD) at Kingston, Saturday 30th June 2007 Epsom Buses Enviro400 DD 10 (SK07 DZL) at Kingston, Saturday 30th June 2007
Two contract awards on 30th June placed the 406 and 418 with Epsom Buses, who trade as Quality Line. This brought them their first double-deckers, in the shape of ten Enviro400s (four each and one spare). Here at Kingston on the traffic-plagued first day are DD 04 (SK07 DZD, left), and DD 10 (SK07 DZL). Just visible behind the second bus is an example of the other contract change to take place on that day, the transfer of the 465 from Travel London (West) back to Arriva Guildford & West Surrey with six new Enviro200Darts.

Sunday 24 June 2007

7 Changes Hands, 297 Doesn’t

Filed under: Companies, Routes, Service Changes, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 12:03 pm

Metroline's hired First TNL 32905 (W905 VLN) at Wembley Park Metroline's hired First TAL 32941 (W941 ULL) at Ealing Broadway
Metroline TP 298 (LR02 BFJ) at East Acton Metroline TPL 242 (LN51 KXV) at Marble Arch

The 7 duly passed from First to Metroline on Saturday 23rd June, but with its Scanias not ready yet, the real interest of the day lay in the route that supplied the 7’s temporary batch of TPs – the 297. This fellow Perivale-based route saw a mix of TALs and TNLs hired from First plus a couple of Metroline’s own TPLs pulled from the iBus float.

The sceptic in me would wonder if the fact that the 297’s service crumbled during the day swung public opinion against ‘First’, the name on the buses (and not removed, as is usually done during hires). The poor passenger tends to curse the operator without knowing the reason why the service is the way it is. It’s taken a long, long time for the blame to be heaped upon whoever runs the companies rather than ‘London Transport’, but the divide and rule thing didn’t work in 1986 and still doesn’t today. Companies are more and more willing to co-operate by hiring vehicles back and forth, like today, and the pettiness of refusing entry to ‘enemy’ garages as termini is falling away (though the 33’s withdrawal away from Fulwell garage when transferred to NCP severed an important link in that area), so there ought to be less objection to just doing the decent thing and reunifying what never should have been split asunder in the first place.

Poor old First have been battered in the tendering stakes as it is and the 7 is a severe loss, but Westbourne Park is bursting with buses and will appreciate the space. After helping out on the 297 (and perhaps the 460, though there wasn’t any evidence of that today), the TALs at least will be heading off to Glasgow, a city where the passengers mete out even more vicious treatment against their buses than London! And by next week the first few Scanias should be in service on the 7.

Covering the 297 are TNL 32905 (W905 VLN) at Wembley Park and TNA 32941 (W941 ULL) at Ealing Broadway, while inaugurating the 7 are TP 298 (LR02 BFJ) at East Acton and TPL 242 (LN51 KXV) at Marble Arch.

Wednesday 20 June 2007

Change afoot on the 7

Filed under: Companies, Routes, Service Changes, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 6:41 pm

First London Volvo B7TL VNW 32296 (LK04 HXE) in Oxford Street, 12 November 2006 Change is afoot on the 7. Actually had a hard time finding any pictures of the route as it is now, as I only seem to have taken thirteen since its OPO conversion – that’s how little it matters any more.

At the moment it’s Trident-operated from Westbourne Park at First London (aided by Volvo B7TLs of varying bodywork and classification, like the 28 group’s VNW 32396 (LK04 HXE) in Oxford Street last 12th November, but on Saturday 23rd June Metroline take over with new East Lancs Olympus-bodied Scanias. Or will be once they’re delivered – the first few days will be accomplished with fleet TPLs while the First TNAs are hired and tucked away out of sight on the 297 and 460.

More on or shortly after Saturday’s changeover.

Wednesday 13 June 2007

PSV RIP

Filed under: Companies, Historical, Service Changes — londonbuspageinexile @ 8:58 pm

Arriva Croydon & North Surrey M 521 (GYE 521W) Southdown PSV 388 (X188 BNH) Metrobus 376 (Y376 HMY)
On 2nd June, after little more than a year of operation, Southdown PSV gave up two of their three Surrey routes, the 409 and 411. They went straight back to Metrobus, who had operated them before, and they of course derive from London Country and London Transport Country Area services south of the border towards Redhill and East Grinstead.
Blame the free travel for pensioners – or at least that offered by the parallel-running 405 operated as a TfL contract by Metrobus; the affected age group would pass the 409s and 411s by, as would the other segment of the population being funded, under-18s, with the result that the 405 became so overcrowded it had to be converted to double-deck, while the PSV routes withered. As they couldn’t hope to break even with this going on, they made a tough decision to get rid of the routes before the routes got rid of them. All they have left is the 410 operating further to the south, and the core business of bus sales is unaffected.
While I’m happy with free travel for pensioners (who’ve not only worked to secure a little relief, but are better-behaved), I’ve never been thrilled about that concession having been offered to under-18s; while not wishing to resort to any headline-grabbing, there is a palpable perception that it’s increased the level of rowdiness on buses. Certainly in London bus travel is often noisy and at times outright threatening. It seems a shame that this sort of official irresponsibility is driving away the very small firms that TfL have always said they wanted to invite to compete.
For now, here’s a line-up of three operators of recence on the 409, all taken in Croydon: Arriva Croydon & North Surrey Metrobus M 521 (GYE 521W) on 11th May 2000 (left), Southdown PSV Dennis Dart SLF 388 (X188 BNH) on 22nd April 2006 (centre) and lastly, Metrobus’s Caetano-bodied Dart SLF 376 (Y376 HMY) on 9th June 2007.

Wednesday 16 May 2007

Random Routes – 273

Filed under: Companies, Equipment, Routes, Service Changes, Uncategorized — londonbuspageinexile @ 7:43 pm

Selkent Enviro200Dart 36004 (LX56 DZY) at grove Park, 11 May 2007
It’s an elusive sort of route, the 273, its most recent upgrade bringing it to only every twenty minutes rather than every thirty – but at one point it disappeared entirely for three years!

In the late 1980s a large number of second-echelon routes in south-east London went over to minibus operation, some being rerouted through isolated estates, and the 273 was introduced to capitalise on this trend, building on a Christmas-only route numbered L1. Commencing at Lewisham, it introduced buses to Manor Park near Hither Green and to the Horn Park Estate off the Burnt Ash Road south of Lee, terminating at Grove Park. SRs from Catford were used, later to be joined by the MWs that had taken over the 124 (plus new offshoot 284) at the very end of 1989. However, it was withdrawn in 1991, only to make a comeback in exactly the same form three years later. SRs were still going at Catford, though they were replaced in 1998 by three MBs – O.814 Varios with Plaxton Beaver 2 bodywork. In 2002 the contract was lost to First, whose Orpington Buses subsidiary had to run its DP-class Darts (and later DMS-class Dart SLFs) a considerable way from St Mary Cray to reach the 273 roads, and perhaps with an eye to this the routeing was amended to incorporate a long extension over the parts south of Chislehurst that never really worked as part of (successively) routes 161, 161A or 162. Thus the route now terminates at Petts Wood Station – just in time for the contract to change hands again and go back to Stagecoach Selkent at Catford. A dedicated fleet of Enviro200Darts is now in use, exemplified by 36004 (LX56 DZY) at Grove Park on 11th May.

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