Long Citaros for Long Route 358

Route 358 has its 53-reg Scania Omnicity single deckers replaced - the first time this route has actually gotten new buses to replace buses ordered under a TfL contract for this route. Prior to 2003, the route was under either a temporary contract to TfL or a Metrobus commercial service. The route started in 1989 as a commercial route with just two return journeys. It is now a high frequency TfL contracted route.

Citaros for the 358
Metrobus MEC61 on Route 358, Crystal Palace Station (© Aubrey)

The first day of service was with about 4 Citaros, all initially having no destination displays. However, by lunchtime, this had been sorted as seen.

Metrobus MEC58 on Route 358, Elmers End Green
Metrobus MEC58 on Route 358, Elmers End Green (© Aubrey)

The route is now one of two bus routes that use the Citaro due to the Shortlands Station bridge. The other route is the 227, running only between Crystal Palace and Bromley North (which is also served by the 358 too).

The second day of Citaro service on the 358 brought more Citaros.

Go-Ahead London (Metrobus) MEC57 and Stagecoach Selkent 23106 at Crystal Palace
Metrobus MEC57 on Route 358 and Stagecoach Selkent 23106 on Route 227, Crystal Palace (© Jacek)

Rides on it were actually pretty good. Very quiet as well!

You Go First! No YOU Go First!
Metrobus MEC61 & MEC57 on Route 358, Orpington Station (© Lewis)

They were phased into service over that initial weekend of the 11th/12th September 2015, all without front logos (which they have since gained).

Testing, Testing: 1, 2, 3
Metrobus MEC59, Green Street Green (© Lewis)

Some buses were still being delivered to the garage or were out for testing when they started entering service.

Go-Ahead London (Metrobus) MEC57, BF65HUY in Orpington on route 358
Metrobus MEC57 on Route 358, Orpington Station (© Jacek)

They look smart, look the part, and hopefully will do well in intensive service over the next few years, travelling along the joint-longest day stopping bus route (joint with the 111).

Green Street Citaro
Metrobus MEC54 on Route 358, Green Street Green (© Aubrey)

At least some have the front logos applied correctly.

Turning Citaro
The same bus is then seen returning to Crystal Palace at the same place (© Lewis)

Lewis and I got on that bus, and then suddenly we didn't have a nearside wing mirror.

Metrobus 566 overtakes MEC54 on Route 358, Green Street Green
Metrobus 566 overtakes MEC54 on Route 358, Green Street Green (CC Aubrey)

The bus had somehow smashed the wing mirror against a sign or something else. This was also just after a driver change as well, thus it had that incident before the driver's first stop!
We let the Omnicity to pass so we could get on another Citaro. It ended up being a Citaro bunch race between me/Lewis and Jacek (who got on the Citaro behind from Orpington Station) until Crystal Palace!

Overall, it's a positive opinion towards these buses.

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