16/01/2016

After The Apocalypse - the 94 and the lion

Yes, this post is a few months late. Really late. Oh, well. University, computer problems, exams and the odd difficulty in organising a trip to Reading until December means this post is severely delayed. Have fun reading it!

The Two Day Only Side-by-side.
Reading Buses 805 on Route 90 via John Nike
Stagecoach South 34531 on Route 94
Both seen, with a Courtney Versa on the 194 at Bracknell Bus Station (© Aubrey)

That is all that's left at Bracknell. Reading Buses, Stagecoach and Courtney. And the latter two are in a bus war on the Bracknell-Camberley corridor, so I'll speak about the 94 first:

Stagecoach to the Rescue.
Stagecoach South 34531 on Route 94, Bracknell Bus Station (© Aubrey)

Stagecoach South 94 is the direct descendant of First Berkshire 94, running every 20 minutes between Bracknell and Camberley running more direct that Courtney's 194.

Stagecoach South 34634 on Route 94, Bracknell
Stagecoach South 34634 on Route 94, Bracknell (© Aubrey)

Initially, Darts from spares were used on the 94, but as Stagecoach settled in on the route, newer Enviro 200s from Winchester were transferred to be route branded for the 94. Could it get an even bigger, more executive upgrade in a few years? Probably not.

90/94 side by side
Reading Buses 1211 on Route 90 and Stagecoach South 34637, Bracknell (© Aubrey)

Both the 94 and the 194 has had its fair share of double deckers (Tridents for the 94, the ex-coffee/chocolate 189 deckers for the 194), but even Courtney are starting to up the quality.

Courtney Buses YJ62 FLD on Route 194, Bracknell
Courtney Buses YJ62 FLD on Route 194, Bracknell (© Aubrey)

This is what the 194 allocation will partially be, albeit new Versas (YJ65 EVM/N) with wi-fi, USB chargers and branded in British Racing Green. There are also Enviro 300s for the route too, which will get the same treatment.

Meanwhile, the buses for the 4/X4 started out as:

Reading Buses 214 on Route 21, Reading Station
Reading Buses 214 on Route 21, Reading Station (© Aubrey)

Then they were refurbished with new seat covers and USB seat chargers, and went out initially partially branded on the 90 as more buses were being refurbished:

The Partial Lion
Reading Buses 217 on Route 90 via Southern Estates, Friar Street (© Aubrey)

Then, as the 4/X4 launch was getting closer, most of the 90 buses started to become the fully branded Lions:

Reading Buses 212 on Route 90 via Southern Estates, Bracknell
Reading Buses 212 on Route 90 via Southern Estates, Bracknell (CC Aubrey)

Then, on Bank Holiday 31st August 2015, the 90 was finally renumbered 4/X4. And it still was numbered 4/X4 by the time I got it covered, finally. In December.

Reading Buses 214 on Route 4, Reading Station
Reading Buses 214 on Route 4, Reading Station (© Aubrey)

Yep, that's the same bus as that Claret one seen above. At nearly the same spot.
The hybrids were initially used on the 21a, but older Scanias from the 5/6 were refurbished as the "Claret Spritzer" buses with the interesting set up on the upper deck. The hybrids were then sent to more used pastures on the 4/X4.

Colour Reversal
Reading Buses 217 on Route X4 ahead of 429 on Route 3, St Mary's Butts (© Aubrey)

Notably, the Wokingham services are of the same two colours, just reversed for the 4/X4 from the 3. Both are branded after animals (leopard 3 and lion 4/X4). Both go to Wokingham. Not a coincidence at all. This was planned all along.

Reading Buses 1210 on Route X4, St Mary's Butts
Reading Buses 1210 on Route X4, St Mary's Butts (CC Aubrey)

There are also two ex-University of Portsmouth Enviro 400 diesels that were refurbished too for the 4/X4. And they had arrived at Reading in all over white.

Roaring Butts
Reading Buses 213 on Route 4, Reading St Mary's Butts (© Aubrey)

Overall, for the 4/X4, Reading Buses have done a predictably great job, along with the predictable styling from Ray Stenning. Again. No wonder Reading Buses are award-winning! I suspect the wild cat theme has migrated from Yorkshire Tiger onto the Leopard and Lion...

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