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!

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Thursday 18 October 2007

New Route 332

Filed under: Routes, Service Changes — londonbuspageinexile @ 7:46 pm

Metroline Enviro400 TE 835 (LK57 AXP) at Paddington, 14th October 2007 

New route 332 was introduced last Saturday; operated by new Enviro400s from Metroline’s Cricklewood garage (or the temporary outstation across the road, at least), it links Paddington (not Marylebone as I said the other day – sorry about that) with Neasden, via the 16 and 316.

Here leaving Paddington on Sunday 14th October is TE 835 (LK57 AXP).

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.

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 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.

Thursday 10 May 2007

MMs Return to Metroline

Filed under: Companies, Routes, Vehicles — londonbuspageinexile @ 10:13 am

Metroline MAN 12.240 MM 779 (LK07 AYJ) at Arnos Grove, 8th May 2007.jpgThe MM class has returned to Metroline – the last holders of this classification were two batches of Marshall-bodied MAN 11.220s inherited from MTL London. Now the chassis is longer and uprated, and known as 12.240, while Marshall rose from the ashes to become MCV, and is starting to pick up orders.

Eleven MCV Evolution-bodied MAN 12.240s have been taken, somewhat¬†unexpectedly, by Metroline and are now in service on the 251 out of Edgware. They’re not that bad-looking buses in their red and blue colours. On Tuesday 8th May MM 779 (LK07 AYJ) swings out of Arnos Grove Station.

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.

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.

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