Tower 69 Plus 26 (inc NBAD 11)

Tower Transit gain the 69, at the expense of the 26. This means that the 388 and 26 are with the same operator (which is a similar corridor), and the 69 moves away from Stagecoach to a garage called HO (also LI, Lea Interchange). The 69 via Hoe Street, run by Tower Transit, from HO. Yeah...

CT Plus 2501 on Route 26, St Paul's Cathedral
CT Plus 2501 on Route 26, St Paul's Cathedral (© Aubrey)

However, this post will start with the transfer of the 26/N26 to CT Plus. This has brought about interesting blind displays, but here is the first E400H City in service on the 26 on June 10th 2016. No logos or fleet numbers yet.

CT Plus DN33644 on Route 26, Waterloo Bridge
CT Plus DN33644 on Route 26, Waterloo Bridge (© Aubrey)

Initially, the 26 started its life at CT Plus with hired Tower Transit Enviro 400s intended for the 69, transferring early on 27th February 2016. Yes, it was pretty long ago, but other than "on hire to CT Plus" paper legals on these buses, not too much difference otherwise.

CT Plus DN33635 on Route N26, Charing Cross Station
CT Plus DN33635 on Route N26, Charing Cross Station (© Aubrey)

A similar circumstance befell on the N26, which led to the odd Tower Transit vehicle being operated by CT Plus on a CT Plus route. Initially, some Scania vehicles did stray onto the 26, which meant for the first time, company vehicles were used on the 26.

CT Plus SD4 on Route 26, St Paul's Cathedral
CT Plus SD4 on Route 26, St Paul's Cathedral (© Aubrey)

However, after the first one on the 10th, more and more E400H City buses entered service, until where nearly the whole 26 (and most of the N26) has the new buses, with logos.

CT Plus logo on 2504, Route 26, Waterloo Bridge
CT Plus logo on 2504 (© Aubrey)

The usual, coloured "this bus is operated by CT Plus" logos are applied. Most drivers wear Tower Transit uniform still. This brings an odd mix of uniform and bus into each other. CT Plus are not new to the Enviro 400 hybrid, having experience with HEA1. The service is not too bad, decently run like it was before. And Shoreditch is still Shoreditch for night life.

CT Plus 2504 runs ahead of 2501 on Route 26, Waterloo Bridge (© Aubrey)

Apart from bunching that was captured under my lens, the E400H City buses are quite decent. Rides like a typical E400H City, and is a decent bus overall. Presentation for the day service is immaculate once logos have been applied. The buses are in a good condition.

Little Paper
CT Plus 2509 on Route N26, Strand (© Aubrey)

But at night, standards slip. Heavily. The only way you can say it is on the N26 is the little paper handwritten note on the dashboard. The destination piece of paper says:


A lot of confusion in my books, definitely, hence not as many people that should have gotten on, did get on. Overall, other than the N26 incident, presentation and performance seems decent for both the 26 and the N26.

Now, to do 69. No, not that.

Tower Transit DH38502 on Route 69, Canning Town
Tower Transit DH38502 on Route 69, Canning Town (© Aubrey)

The first part to hand over to Tower Transit was the additional, trial, battery-hybrid electric buses on the 69 in November 2015. DH38501-503 initially was supposed to be handed over to Stagecoach but as the 69 was gained by Tower Transit, it made sense to give this errant allocation to Tower Transit to allow the route to be learnt, as well as letting these buses be tested out. They are hybrid buses that rely mainly on electric power from batteries, charged by induction pads at each terminus. Unfortunately, the one at Canning Town has been fitted, and worked on for quite a while, so the buses have been running on more of a hybrid bus system.

Tower Transit DH38503 on Route 69, Stratford
Tower Transit DH38503 on Route 69, Stratford (© Aubrey)

These buses are supposed to be in electric mode in more polluted areas, such as where the bus is shown above, in Stratford. However, due to a lack of charging facilities and the traffic on the 69, the buses mainly run as hybrids, rather than in electric mode. Once Canning Town works have been sorted, these buses should be even less polluting than what they currently are.

Tower Transit DH38501, SN65ZGO at Canning Town on route 69
Tower Transit DH38501 on Route 69, Canning Town (© Jacek)

They are a decent ride with high backed seating all around, and an interesting generic interior of blue seats and yellow poles. The buses have now been integrated into the main schedule of the 69, and after an initial spell of not being out after Tower Transit took over, they are now commonly seen on the route.

Loan - Tower Transit 18239, LX04FYF at Canning Town on route 69 to Walthamstow Central
Tower Transit 18239 on Route 69, Canning Town (© Jacek)

The rest of the 69 was handed over to Tower Transit early in February 2016. This meant Stagecoach had to loan its Tridents over for a bit, but Tower Transit also needed to loan some buses to CT Plus for the 26. In a very confusing series of fleet movements, the 69 had the Tridents for a bit, while the 26 soon after had some of its DNs loaned to CT Plus. To allow the Tridents to return early, and cover a few DNs going on loan, some VNs ex-295 went to LI and could be found usually on the 25 or 30. Some weeks later, new VHs arrived at AS allowing their VNWs to be replaced. These VNWs went to the 23, freeing some DNs to go to LI allowing the loaned Tridents to return to Stagecoach. By the start of June the new E40H City for the 26 started to enter service freeing the loaned DNs to return to Tower Transit.

Tower Transit 18243 on Route 69, Canning Town
Tower Transit 18243 on Route 69, Canning Town (© Aubrey)

The logos of the Tridents were painted over during the loan. When they returned to Stagecoach, most of them did not return into service, and went to dealerships instead. Enviro 400s were taken to replace these buses.

Tower Transit DN33639 on Route 69, Canning Town
Tower Transit DN33639 on Route 69, Canning Town (© Anthony)

This is now the allocation on the 69. Well, technically, the DNs from the 26 are allocated to the 69, after refurbishment.

Tower Transit VN36292 on Route 69, Plaistow Station
Tower Transit VN36292 on Route 69, Plaistow Station (© Aubrey)

This was one of the Volvo B9TLs that were transferred to LI to cover for loaned Tridents, but it has now returned back to its home on the 266.
Overall, this set of changes was one of the longest to do, and one of the most complicated set of loans but as things settle as the dates get closer to the actual contract change date (as opposed to the earlier handover). All seems well on these changes, so far.


Not "not technically feasible" (inc NBAD 11)

BYD have done what some (specifically Boris Johnson) thought would not be possible and built electric double deckers. These BYD K8SRs with Metroline have fleet numbers BYD1471-1474 (currently).
TfL already have BYD electric single decker buses operating on the 507 and the 521.

Metroline BYD1474 on Route 98, Edgware Road
Metroline BYD1474 on Route 98, Edgware Road (© Aubrey)

These buses have entered service on the busy 98 route between Willesden and Holborn (temporarily Russell Square), and it's night version, the N98, bringing electric buses up to Stanmore. Initially rumoured to be for the 16, as it gained LTs, the 98 gained these BYD electric double deckers. Initially paraded as part of the centre-right government trade advertisement (which explains the extreme placing of Metroline logos on some buses), they later went under testing with fully laden loads on the 98 doing route simulations as shown:

Metroline BYD1472 "on Route 98 (Testing)", Oxford Circus
Metroline BYD1472 on Route 98 Testing, Oxford Circus (© Aubrey)

Two months after initial unveiling, on 6th May, the bus entered service after large scale preparation for London service on the busy Route 98.

Metroline BYD1472 on Route 98, Russel Square
Metroline BYD1472 on Route 98, Russell Square (© Anthony)

These buses have the predictable high torque (meaning people could be thrown back), common with electric and hybrid buses. There is a notable step up to the rear (bottom deck) seats, which is likely to catch some people out. The seats that they do sit on are fairly hard.

(© Anthony)
This large step is likely due to the proximity of the batteries and the rear axle.

(© Anthony)
The iBus is located at the front of the bus, practically inside the driver cab. This affects visibility of the iBus from the lower deck, as seen here:

Lower Deck Interior of Metroline BYD1472
Lower Deck Interior of Metroline BYD1472 (© Aubrey)

The lower deck iBus is obscured by the driver assault screen. The general, typical layout of a lower deck is shown. Other than the reduced length of the rear part of the bus due to the batteries, the bus has a layout like any other lower deck.

The BYD also has an interesting sounded bell. Some say it's excessively annoying, and not well thought through. But it does the job as a bell. It's not as bad as the rear door alarm. On initial running of BYD1472, there was no rear door alarm. However, when done on the N98 later on in June, the bus had gained a rear door alarm which sounded like it was retrofitted from a Wright bus, but faster.

This bus also has three "bus stopping" signs, contrary to the usual two (or none due to iBus). The one above is located on the upper deck next to the iBus.

⇐ This one is located at the rear doors on the left (towards the rear of the bus)

This one is located at the front ⇒

 These buses have iron phosphate (Fe3(PO4)2) batteries which give out 345 kWh of power and can go 190 miles. Back at Willesden Garage, the buses just need about four hours to recharge. BYD are well rehearsed in batteries, with similar batteries being found across their range of vehicles, including single deck buses and cars. However, to move a larger mass of bus means more power needs to be provided. To sustain range, large battery packs at the rear are provided. This however does mean that the capacity of the bus is reduced.
The capacity of the bus is as shown:

BYD1472 Capacity.
(© Aubrey)

Yup, this does mean that the bus has an official capacity of 79 people with one wheelchair (81 without). Double deckers allocated for TfL work have a capacity of about 86 people. This could prove to be a problem, notably on the fairly busy 98. Even with cram room, there are less people who would be able to fit inside the lower deck of the bus.

Upper Deck Interior of Metroline BYD1472
Upper Deck Interior of Metroline BYD1472 (© Aubrey)

The upper deck has opening windows and, weirdly, non-working air vents above most seats. Certainly on a tested journey, this feature was not working. Otherwise, it just seems like a normal upper deck with slightly hard seats. However, there are reports that say that this bus is air conditioned. This would explain the vents, similar to ones in Hong Kong buses.

Metroline BYD1472 on Route 98, Russell Square
Metroline BYD1472 on Route 98, Russell Square (© Aubrey)

A ride on the 98 and N98, on the same bus, turned out to be smoother than expected, with good braking and fast acceleration. Some may say it looks, feels and shouts cheap. However, this itself is a technological achievement, and one that Alexander-Dennis might as well put an Enviro 400 body on. To prove the concept that double deck electric buses can be done, these buses definitely do the job. In day to day life, that is yet to be known. But as the Red Arrow BYDs have soldiered on with some modifications, these buses will have a good few years in them.

Metroline BYD1472 on Route N98, Russell Square
Metroline BYD1472 on Route N98, Russell Square (© Aubrey)

That is, if too many runs on the N98 doesn't run down this bus. And if BYD1471 wouldn't crash into Willesden Garage. Notably, the blind lights are not on in the shot of the N98. Decent execution of what could easily be conceived as a dream. Yes, BYD does build Boris's dream. That isn't a Borismaster.


Picture Archive Post 48

Metroline TE988 on Route E2, Brentford, 19/06/10
Metroline TE988 on Route E2, Brentford, 19/06/10 (© Aubrey)

After another post about Ealing prefixed routes, here is yet another one.
Route E2 was one of the first of the routes to leave Centrewest, along with E8 to Armchair. It started out as Route 97, running between Brentford and Ruislip via Ealing. However, the 97 started out very similar to the E2 currently, running between Brentford (Half Acre) and Greenford via Northfields. In 1952, the route was extended from Greenford to Ruislip Station (Lido on Summer Sundays). Eventually, the Ruislip section was moved to Route 211 on weekdays.

Then, on 30th November 1968, the 97 was renumbered E2, and the Ruislip end was replaced by Route 273. The E2 was initially run by Merlins, before double decking in 1975 with Daimler Fleetlines (DMSs). MCW Metrobuses replaced the DMSs in 1981. In June 1984, the E2 replaced the 273. Sectorisation brought the route to Centrewest. In April 1990, the E7 replaced the E2 to Ruislip except on Sundays. The route also had a Sunday extension to Syon Park until 1991. On 11th November 1990, Renault breadvans took over the route, and was marketed under "E-Line". In 1993, Hanwell Garage closed, and the route moved to Greenford Garage.

24th May 1997 brought the E2 to Armchair, with new Dennis Dart SLFs, joint with E8. It was also extended from Brentford Half Acre to Brentford Commerce Road. Darts were replaced by more Darts in 2002. In 2004, a Metroline decided to buy out Armchair. Despite on acquisition wanting to keep the Armchair name, it disappeared by 2007. In 2009, the route got so busy, it was re-converted back to double deckers, with these Enviro 400s. They moved fairly quickly, being replaced by slightly newer Volvo B9TLs to standardise the fleet at Brentford by 2011. Those B9TLs are now here to stay, and the recent consultation about the E8 to Hounslow did have some saying that the E2 should be extended instead. Now the E8 has been extended to Hounslow not via West Middlesex Hospital and E2's terminal changing into a primary school (eventually), the E2 might have to terminate elsewhere.

TE988 meanwhile moved to Cricklewood. On this post about the 266, it is shown on the route prior to it moving to First London. On 14th May 2013, the bus moved to Edgware Garage, where it now runs on routes like the N5, N98, N113, 113, 240 etc, as seen in this photo below:

Metroline TE988 on Route 204, Burnt Oak
Metroline TE988 on Route 204, Burnt Oak (CC Aubrey)

Yup. Not much on this bus. It's just a standard ADL Enviro 400 with Metroline.


"Improving" West London: Bell Corner, not End

First Day of: E8 to Hounslow Bell Corner
Metroline VW1048 on Route E8, Hounslow Treaty Centre (© Aubrey)

The long awaited double decking of the E8 has finally happened, in conjunction with an extension to Hounslow. It relieves the 235 (hence it was awarded with single deckers) and the 237 between Brentford and Hounslow, as well as giving a new link from Hounslow to Ealing. TfL have recently awarded the 235 with single deckers, which shows that the E8 is a pretty darn useful extension.

Metroline VW1262 on Route E8, Hounslow Bus Station
Metroline VW1262 on Route E8, Hounslow Bus Station (© Aubrey)

No fancy new hybrids, not even any refurbished buses. Just used, ex-Holloway Volvo B9TL/Wright Gemini 2s, as well as native Brentford examples. With new blinds that shout out "BELL CORNER" in one direction. On the first morning, not many people were using the extension, however by the Bank Holiday Monday afterwards, the extension is well used, including the through route facility from Hounslow towards Hanwell and Ealing.

Temporary Stand
Metroline VW1213 on Route E8, Hounslow Bell Corner (© Aubrey)

At Hounslow Bell Corner, the stand for the E8 and H22 is closed due to roadworks. Instead, it is standing on the side of a road next to an Aldi supermarket.
The E8 has been subject to numerous aborted double decking schemes, with TPs, and this batch of VWs. Some were transferred to AH with the intent on converting the E8 to double deckers, but that did not happen completely. This explains the half-half treatment of the blinds, where the white on black is new to when the bus was transferred to AH, whilst the yellow on black is a spare destination set for VWs.

Last Day of: E8 to Commerce Road
Metroline MM783 on Route E8, Brentford Commerce Road (© Aubrey)

The E8 was previously allocated the MAN 14.240/MCV Evolutions which used to run on Routes 90, 206, 232. In practice before that, the allocated buses were anything out of Brentford depot.

Metroline VW1216 on Route E8, Ealing Broadway
Metroline VW1216 on Route E8, Ealing Broadway (© Aubrey)

The original plan was for the E8 to replace the H28 at West Middlesex Hospital and Amhurst Road. This would give the route a kink at West Middlesex Hospital to serve it. However, it would have made journeys longer. There was also a large opposition to the route along Amhurst Road. The H28 was also supposed to be rerouted away from Wood Lane and Amhurst Road, which was unpopular to those living on the route, despite the consultation showing that it was a popular decision to extend the route to Brentford (by 29% to 22% against). The main reasons against the rerouting/extension of the H28 were West Middlesex Hospital access and the loss of service on Wood Lane and Northumberland Estate affecting especially elderly customers. Therefore, the E8 was extended directly via London Road, and the H28 was unchanged.

Last Day of: Route 635 to Brentford County Court
London United TLA7 on Route 635 and Abellio London 8573 on Route 235, Brentford County Court (© Aubrey)

Route 635 is cut back to Hounslow Bus Station because the E8 is able to provide the excess capacity. The 635 was a useful reliever route between Hounslow and Brentford, but with the E8 providing better distribution of capacity, it was deemed unnecessary to double deck the 235 and have the 635 to Brentford. It will be interesting to see how the Hounslow-Feltham corridor will cope however.

London United DPS659 on Route 110, Ivybridge Retail Park
London United DPS659 on Route 110, Ivybridge Retail Park (© Anthony)

Also, another change the E8 extension has dealt with is the rejigging of the 110 to run from Hounslow Bus Station to West Middlesex Hospital via Twickenham and 267 (providing more capacity there). It is removed from West Middlesex Hospital to Hounslow via London Road due to the excess capacity now met by the E8 extension. The whole section was supposed to be directly replaced by the E8, but as the E8 does not serve West Middlesex Hospital, it is no longer a direct replacement.

London United DPS691 on Route 110, Busch Corner
London United DPS691 on Route 110, Busch Corner (© Aubrey)

The 110 will no longer serve this part of the route, which is slightly a parallel to the 117 service. The 117 is infrequent by itself (every 20 minutes), but with the 110, it gave 6 buses per hour from Hounslow directly to West Middlesex Hospital (the H28 is indirect). Now, the 117 has to take the 110's load back, and as the 117 is one of the two routes that does Hounslow-Feltham, could things get better?

London United DPS681 on Route 110, Ivybridge Retail Park
London United DPS681 on Route 110, Ivybridge Retail Park (© Aubrey)

This does mean that the 110 will now return to terminating at Hounslow "Bus Station". They all added links at the expense of not many links being taken away. Most of the opposition of the restructuring of the 110 came from the affected areas in Isleworth. The 110 is effectively a loop service, when joint with the old 110 routing, and the route is now in a horseshoe shape.

Metroline VW1255 on Route E8, Ealing Broadway
Metroline VW1255 on Route E8, Ealing Broadway (© Aubrey)

Overall, the changes made are a good set of changes to relieve the busy 235 and 237, as well as help bolster up the 267. The 235 is one of London's busiest single decker routes, and it is one route that is on the border of being single decker and double decker. Full-sized single deckers cannot run on the 235 due to Sunbury Village. The Brentford-Hounslow section of the 235 and 237 has just gotten a little bit better, and the E8 provides a new link between two large centres in West London.
Two more unlinked centres that will be linked this year is Ealing and Harrow which will be linked later on this year.


No Centrewest in E-Routes

No, Metroline Travel does not count as Centrewest, even though the same parent company owns what was Centrewest. The Metroline successor is called Metroline West, and they have just lost the E5, E7 and E9. Route E9 was covered as part of the "Improving" West London post series as the route was converted to double decker buses. The two routes with new buses are the Southall residential route E5 and Route E7, a route made by splitting E2.

First Day of: Abellio on Route E7
Abellio London 8869 on Route E7, Greenford Avenue (© Aubrey)

Abellio London West have gained the E7 and E5 off Metroline West from Hayes Garage (WS, originally from the name Wing's). New Enviro200 MMCs were ordered. They have Allison gearboxes, so there is no juddering of sorts when ridden (as seen on the ZF gearboxes).

Abellio London 8143 on Route E5, Southall Station
Abellio London 8143 on Route E5, Southall Station (© Aubrey)

Both routes have different histories, but were born in the minibus era of the Ealing network. E5 was born in 1988 out of the 105 Havelock Estate section. It was also a Southall North local route, running around the residential streets of Southall North between Greenford and Southall.

This Building Sucks
Abellio London 8152 on Route E5, Perivale Tesco (© Lewis)

It started with the not as predictable Mercedes-Benz 709D breadvans (which were wheelchair accessible). Serving initially just the residents of Southall North, Golf Links Estate and the Havelock Estate south of Southall Station, the route was later extended to the Toplocks Estate, and north to Perivale's Medway Estate. Many estates are served. Later on, when all those estates were served, the route was further extended from the Medway Estate to the Tesco in Perivale.

New Bus Shopping
Abellio London 8145 on Route E5, Perivale Tesco (© Aubrey)

Now this route provides the link to the supermarket from the nearby estate without either a long-ish walk or a large amount of crossing roads. A small but significant extension done only in 2006.
The route was only extended to Medway Estate in 2002.

First London DMS44408 on Route E5, Southall Town Hall
First Centrewest DMS44408 on Route E5, Southall Town Hall (© Aubrey)

Route E5 was with Centrewest from when it was created in 1988, through the buyout of Centrewest by First and later Metroline, stayed under Centrewest until 28th May 2016, where it has finally moved operator under contract, breaking a long standing operator connection.

Abellio 8142 on Route E5, Perivale Tesco
Abellio London 8142 on Route E5, Perivale Tesco (© Anthony)

Now at Abellio London (former Travel London/TGM/Wing's Buses), it is part of the large amount of Ealing prefixed buses that have been based at WS (E1, E5, E7, E9 now and E6 under Wing's Buses/TGM/Travel London). Seems interesting that the garages that was intended for the Ealing routes are either closed (Hanwell, HL) or/and have no Ealing routes (Greenford, G).

Well That's Not Far!
Abellio London 8866 on Route E7, Ruislip (© Lewis)

On the first day of the E7 with Abellio, Ruislip Gardens curtailments did happen. However, not from the Ruislip end (that'd be pointless), but ex-Ealing. E7 has an interesting routing out of Ruislip that changes over the course of the day. During shopping hours, it goes via Ruislip High Street and Wood Lane Waitrose. Outside shopping hours, it goes straight to Ruislip Station from Ruislip Gardens.

Abellio London 8873 on Route E7, West Ealing
Abellio London 8873 on Route E7, West Ealing (© Aubrey)

It is formed from the split of Route E2 in July 1990 with the usual Renault breadvans. Since then, it has run between Ealing Broadway and Ruislip.

Abellio London 8868 on Route E7, Gurnell Leisure Centre
Abellio London 8868 on Route E7, Gurnell Leisure Centre (© Aubrey)

It converted to low-floor in 1997, with new Dart SLF/Marshall Capitals. Ex-London Buslines Darts joined in, so yellow Darts made an appearance mainly on the E7. They were cleared away by newer Darts and eventually, Enviro200s.

Last Day of: Metroline West on Route E7
Metroline West DE1676 on Route E7, Greenford Avenue (© Aubrey)

It later moved from First Centrewest to Metroline West in 2013, before leaving Centrewest with new Enviro200 MMCs.

Abellio 8873 on Route E7, Ealing Broadway
Abellio London 8873 on Route E7, West Ealing (© Anthony)

Overall, both batches of bus seem to be decent rides, especially with a less jerky gearbox. The Enviro200 MMC is, as it has been for some time, a fairly smoother bus than its predecessor. The E5 batch in particular can be pretty fast, breaching 50 mph when on the U9 fast section.

Village MMC
Abellio London 8145 on Route U9, Harefield Village (© Lewis)

This is likely to be the future order of the U9 anyway, as it is retained by Abellio London with new buses.

Other than the usual hiccups of most of the buses being on one side of the route on the first day, especially with the E5, there seems to be no issues with Abellio on these routes at the moment. Hopefully, it will stay this way, and as Abellio expand in West London, this pushed out the H28 from Hayes (WS) back to Fulwell (TF) garage after 9 years of operation at Hayes (WS). There are the usual trials and tribulations of Southall traffic to deal with for the E5, but operations should be decent at least under Abellio London West for both routes.