The London Bus Page In Exile

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.


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.

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.

Wednesday 19 September 2007

Showbus 2007, part 1

Filed under: Historical, Special Events — londonbuspageinexile @ 5:58 pm

Preserved WMPTE MCW Metrobus 6832 (SDA 832S) at Showbus, 16 September 2007 A superb day – wall-to-wall sunshine (sufficient to cause sunburn!), not a hint of rain and perhaps a few buses less this year, making it easier to photograph throughout the enormous expanse of Duxford.

This is West Midlands PTE MCW Metrobus 6832 (SDA 832S), forerunner of the second-biggest fleet of Metrobuses outside London Transport. It’s been restored to the original livery, based loosely on Birmingham City’s colours, but unfortunately, due to the lack of imagination in legislation, the registration number characters are incorrect.

More Showbus a little later.

Monday 20 August 2007

Titan Book Progress

Filed under: Book, Historical, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 8:27 pm

Stagecoach East London Leyland Titan T 517 (KYV 517X) at Barking, 24th March 2001The next book is about halfway done – it’s called The London Titan and is what I hope will be the definitive history of the Leyland Titan’s operations with London Transport and its successors between entry into service (1978, including the two prototypes) and exit (2003, with reference to the later school routes).

Here is T 517 (KYV 517X), which spent its last eight years with Barking and thus fell under Stagecoach East London upon privatisation. It is seen on 24th March 2001, shortly before withdrawal, after which it became one of Blackburn Transport’s fleet (which also included T 1018, the last in service).

The book will come out in time for Cobham 2008, so I have to get it finished by October!

Wednesday 13 June 2007


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.

Thursday 12 April 2007

Longcross 3 – Smashing Veterans!

Filed under: Companies, Historical, Special Events, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 7:56 pm

Southdown and Southern Vectis vintage buses at Longcross, 1st April 2007 Isn’t this what buses should look like?

Examples of Southdown and Southern Vectis pre-war machines in classic liveries parade at the other end of the Longcross complex. The Southdown motor is 873 (UF 6473), an all-Leyland TD1 of 1931, while the Southern Vectis bus is 502 (CDL 899), a 1939 Bristol K5G whose ECW body was converted to open-top circa 1958.

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.

Tuesday 20 February 2007

LVs Survive!

Filed under: Companies, Historical, Travels, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 8:57 pm

Diamond Bus Dennis Lance 368 (L942 RJN) in Birmingham, 16th November 2006 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.

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