Acton Very Green

It's been a while, hasn't it?

NEW: London United BCE47003 on Route 94, Acton Green
BCE47003 on a very wet first day of electric bus service on Route 94.
© Aubrey

On 31st January 2020, the 94 received its brand new electric double deckers, intending to be the third fully electric double decker bus route (albeit the 134 has not fully converted yet) in London. 29 of these BYD-ADL Enviro 400EVs were ordered by London United RATP as part of the new 94 contract. This makes the route the third electric route at Shepherd's Bush Garage, after the 70 and C1.

London United BDE47003 on Route 94, Piccadilly Circus
BCE47003 at Charles II Street awaiting departure for Acton Green
© Aubrey

These ADL Enviro 400EVs were initially introduced as two buses within the mix of the conventional hybrid buses, but due to an imminent Piccadilly line closure where extra buses were required on Routes 9 and 391, the route was very quickly converted to electric. 13th-14th February marked to be sudden full conversion, with the 94 turning electric both day and night.

Oxford Circus Stack
Due to roadworks on Regent Street, 94 was curtailed to Oxford Circus, but still ran with the full schedule towards Piccadilly, hence a stack of 5 BCEs on stand in Oxford Circus.
© Aubrey

This makes the 94 the only electric bus route on Oxford Street, after the trial BYD double deckers on Route 98 moved to Uno ahead of their school route acquisitions. A tad ironic considering that the only no local emission route on said street is the one that TfL mooted to cut to reduce the pollution and amount of buses on Oxford Street.

London United BCE47015 on Route 94, Oxford Street
BCE47015 passing Selfridges enroute to Oxford Circus.
© Aubrey

Obviously, the introduction of these buses meant a bunch of ADHs and VHs have shuffled round. Some of the ADHs have moved to the Quality Line subsidiary for Routes 406 and 418, replacing 2007 Enviro 400s.

London United VH45124 on Route 306, Hammersmith
VH45124 was the odd old style Gemini 3 at Shepherd's Bush, moving to Stamford Brook for the 306 and E3. It is seen approaching Hammersmith Grove on the 306.
© Aubrey

London United VH45124 on Route E3, Turnham Green Station
The same bus is also seen on the E3 at Turnham Green Station, this time not too far from its old haunting grounds of the 94, and prior the H91 when it was at Hounslow Heath.
© Aubrey

The ride inside the 94 BCEs seems smooth enough, with a very quick acceleration. This is certainly aided by the electric drive providing a lot of torque immediately.

Lower Deck interior of London United BCE47007 on Route 94
As with all electric buses in London, the USB chargers come as standard, as well as the cramped rear interior layout on these BYD/Enviro 400EVs. BCE47007 is the example shown here.
© Aubrey

Upper Deck interior of London United BCE47003 on Route 94
BCE47003 shows the upper deck layout, complete with very visible air vents on the upper deck and the USB chargers on every seatback.
© Aubrey

It is good seeing electric buses in our cities, with London certainly ramping up their efforts. However, of course, there are the heavy environmental impacts in creating the batteries in the first place. One must be mindful of this, as production in itself produces a lot of pollution.

The Chinese company BYD certainly has a massive foothold in the UK with their buses, having been there first. They do dominate the electric market, with only Abellio, Arriva and London United having non-BYD electric buses.

We are slowly returning back to blogging, after a 6 month hiatus.
New posts will be alerted on my personal Twitter, @L1Group

Post by Aubrey

All rights reserved © WLTMTB 2020


Streetlites Are Good?

Honestly, this was a title I was not expecting to type when it was announced that the 232 was going to be allocated Streetlites upon Go-Ahead taking the contract up on 3rd August 2019. Yes, this post is delayed by 3 months, but at least it's here.

London General WS143 on Route 232, Brent Cross
WS143 entering new territory for Go-Ahead at Brent Cross
© Aubrey

Route 232 has been with Metroline and its predecessors (London Northern, MTL London) since August 1994, based in Potters Bar (PB), Cricklewood (W), North Wembley (NW) and Perivale West (PV). It has been with no other operator, apart from certain school journeys operated by Leaside Travel/Arriva London for a time in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Last Metroline 232
The last few years of Metroline operation was with an allocation of Enviro 200s, like this example performing the last Metroline operated journey.
© Aubrey

When the tender was announced that Go-Ahead London General were to win the 232, with Wrightbus Streetlites as the order, many enthusiasts were surprised, as well as skeptical about the performance of the buses on the route, especially as the route transverses the A406 North Circular Road. This road is fast, with multiple 50mph + sections. Dual carriageway. Nearly urban motorway standard roads, even.

London General WS131 on Route 232, Colney Hatch
WS131 enroute to St Raphael's Estate, at Colney Hatch on the North Circular Road.
© Aubrey

Surprisingly, these buses perform very well on the fast sections of the A406. The acceleration and performance of these buses are positive, and it can climb the hillier section in the western end of the route near Neasden pretty well. Considering that the reputation of the Streetlite is quite negative, to have one overtake cars between Colney Hatch Lane and Temple Fortune is a nice surprise.

London General WS133 on Route 232, Turnpike Lane Station
WS133 approaching the final stop at Turnpike Lane Station
© Aubrey

This is the first time that the route has been completely run from the eastern end, as the Metroline operations have been from the western end of the route, with changeovers at Brent Cross frequently used. It is run from Northumberland Park (NP), which is about 15-20 minutes dead run from the eastern end of the route at Turnpike Lane. Incorporated into the new timetable is the frequency increase to every 12 minutes for this popular route, from an every 15 minute service. Thus, there has been an increase of PVR, and thus more buses required for the route. WS131-148 are allocated (near-solidly) on the route, with a PVR of 16.

London General WS135 on Route 232, Brent Cross
WS135 departs Brent Cross enroute to St Raphael's.
© Aubrey

Inside, it is to the newest TfL specifications, which includes USB chargers behind seats, which work fairly well when new. Thus, one can be charging their phone whilst being whisked along fairly quickly (when traffic allows) across North London. Thus one can catch up on the latest Aus and Mini Podcast on the bus, or message their good friends. Or even annoy them by telling them how good the buses are, yet how far behind TfL are compared to the rest of the commercial networks even just outside of London. However, even in this era of heavy cost-cutting, London is finally catching up a little, albeit inexpensively.

London General WS141 on Route 232, Brent Cross
WS141 curtailed to Neasden Shopping Centre
© Aubrey

Hopefully, Go-Ahead London General will be able to maintain these buses to a level where the performance on the route can be maintained. Thus they will be able to run the route well. During the hiatus of this blog, the route has lost one of its allocated buses, thus WS66 was transferred from the 39 to run on the 232 as the sole non-USB charger equipped bus on the route.

This batch of Streetlites is the first that I've been impressed by, which is quite concerning as Wrightbus has been building the Streetlite since 2010. Performance of these buses on rides that I've experienced has been pretty good. Soon after the buses were delivered, Wrightbus did enter administration, and is now currently under the ownership of the Bamford family, whose holdings include JCB.

Post by Aubrey

All rights reserved © WLTMTB 2019

RIP Cameron.W


Universal Serial (Metro)Bus

On 31st August 2019, Metrobus gained the 197 off Arriva London South, using new ADL E40H/Enviro 400MMC buses.

Metrobus EH335 on Route 197, Penge West
EH335 running downhill at Penge West, curtailed to East Croydon
© Aubrey Morandarte

These buses are based at Croydon (C), being the second type of hybrid double deckers to be allocated to this garage, after the Volvo B5LH/Wright Gemini 3 for the 119 and 202.

Arriva London DW113 on Route 197, Peckham
DW113 on the last day of Arriva operation on Route 197
© Aubrey Morandarte

This operator change has allowed further older buses to be removed from Arriva London's portfolio, with these DAF DB250LFs with Wright Gemini 1 bodies being the prior main allocation on the route. Having been operated by South London (now Arriva) between 1989 and 2019, this change ends 30 years of the latest spell of operation at South Croydon (TC) depot. Prior to 1989, the route was one of the first bus routes to be tendered, when it went to London Country (later LC South West) in 1986.

Metrobus EH333 on Route 197, Norwood Junction
EH333 about to serve Norwood Junction Station
© Aubrey Morandarte

Although these are one of many Go-Ahead hybrid buses, these are the first hybrid buses in London to have USB charging ports. As part of a newer Transport for London specification, new buses are receiving USB charging ports, which work.

Metrobus EH335 on Route 197, Croydon Fairfield Halls
EH335 starting its journey to Peckham at Fairfield Halls
© Aubrey Morandarte

Are TfL improving services? Partially in some areas, but cutting in so many others. At least in this case, the route will experience some sort of passenger experience improvement, even though in so many places outside London, this has been a normal feature for many bus routes. Not all, but certainly from the bigger companies and premium services.

Metrobus EH336 on Route 197, Norwood Junction
EH336 at Norwood Junction, towards Croydon
© Aubrey Morandarte

The route is usually operated by its allocation, but there have been strays of 119/202 B5LHs on the route already. The first day had some irregular gaps, as per usual of a first day of a new operator on a route. Since then, the operator should be able to improve to run a normal service.

Post by Aubrey Morandarte

All rights reserved © WLTMTB 2019