Hounslow Hybrids

Route 120 has been a route that's linked Hounslow and Heston with Southall and Northolt. As it links two major regional town centres of Hounslow and Southall, it is indeed a very busy route. Plagued with traffic problems, the 120 has always been a hard route to run. No matter the operator, gaps in the service and curtailments have been the norm for years simply due to the unpredictable flow of Southall and Northolt traffic. However, for the most part, previous operator London United have done well to run the 120.

Towards the end of United's rein on the route, the 120 saw an ever increasing number of Trident TAs and TLAs appear on the route. TA235 departs Northolt for Hounslow, Bus Station. 21/04/17
© Tommy Cooling
The 120 has been run by London United since privatisation, with new buses ordered for contract renewals in 1993, 2000 and 2012. However, under tendering, this busy route has changed hands to Metroline. 

ADE40418 arrives at Northolt at the end of the route. ADEs and SPs were the main staple diet for the 120 being replaced by the new Volvo Wrightbus hybrids. 10/05/17
© Tommy Cooling
Metroline run the route from Perivale West, with driver changeovers at Northolt Station. As the drivers only have to travel a few stops on the Central Line, changeovers are easy to deal with at this end. However, this is not as easy as the garage terminus changeover point of Hounslow Garage when London United ran the route.

The new kit for the 120, readied into service for the past month on other West Perivale routes in preparation for Metroline's take over of the 120. VWH2270 blinded for the 120 whilst on the 90. 31/05/17
© Tommy Cooling
Metroline's new Volvo B5LH/Wright Eclipse Gemini 3s for the 120 are part of a larger set of buses ordered for various contract renewals, route gains (like the 120), and updating the fleet for the 7. In theory, this would cascade buses to the 4 and 17 for their hybrid conversions. The hybrids will surely reduce costs and diesel fuel burn during the lengthy amount of time they will be stuck in Southall traffic over the course of the contract.

VWH2278 on the first day of Metroline operation of Route 120 in Northolt. 24/06/17
© Tommy Cooling
The first day of the 120 proved to be quite testing. It was very near to Eid, a religious festival. This meant that, along with roadworks, Southall became a hotspot for traffic, rendering the 120 very difficult to say the least. The large gaps were extensive enough to be as far as Southall-Hounslow, due to the sheer volume of traffic the route was facing. 

Metroline VWH2280 on Route 120, Heston
VWH2280 struggling with a large amount of passengers at Heston. 24/06/17
© Aubrey Morandarte

Subsequent days found the 120 to be fairly testing and overcrowding in peaks still being a very notable issue. Operations are settling well. Diesel B9TLs have already strayed onto the route, but they are very few and far between.

Metroline VWH2271 on Route 120, Hounslow Treaty Centre

VWH2271 seen loading passengers after a downpour at Hounslow, Treaty Centre. 24/06/17
© Aubrey Morandarte

Overall, the 120 will be fairly interesting, with garage dead runs having to deal with possible A40 traffic if running to Northolt. With the unpredictable nature of Southall traffic, as well as the route being known for being very busy during the daytime, it'll be interesting how Metroline will cope with this difficult route to operate.

Photos and text by: Au & TC


The 266 moves yet again

After an absence of five years, route 266 has returned back to Metroline, and its operating home at Cricklewood. The 266 is a route that has never really stood still, having changed operating garages eight times since the 1980s.

Route 266 was introduced in 1962 as a replacement for Trolleybus route 666 and was allocated to Cricklewood (W) and Stonebridge Park (SE) garages. In 1972 , the route was allocated over four garages, Cricklewood, Riverside (R), Stonebridge Park and Willesden (AC). R and W operated the Mon-Sat service leaving SE and AC to cover the Sunday.

The route was solely allocated to Cricklewood following the closure of Stonebridge Park, and the removal of the Riverside and Willesden allocations by 1982. The allocations of the route was then shared between Cricklewood and Willesden for most of the time until 2000 before the route was moved in to Harlesden (HR) garage, before it came back to Cricklewood in 2005 when the low-floor Tridents (TAs) were introduced onto the route.

The route was lost through tendering to First London back in 2012, which then became Tower Transit in 2013. The route was based at their Atlas Road (AS) site throughout, however at the very end of its stint, the route was moved into Westbourne Park (X) for the last two weeks of the service to facilitate the closure of Atlas Road for Crossrail works.

Metroline won the route back in July 2017 on a short two year contract to allow TfL to restructure the route for the opening of the Crossrail Elizabeth Line. The route has been allocated back to Cricklewood again and uses TEs in the 700 series from Edgware (EW).
In 2019, the route is expected to be cut back to Acton High Street from Hammersmith, but the 24 hour night service would continue through to Hammersmith and renumbered N266.

VN37983 approaches Cricklewood Bus Garage heading towards Brent Cross 22/05/17
The VN class vehicle were new to the route following First London's acquisition of the 266 in 2012.
© Tommy Cooling

VH38136 approaches Cricklewood Bus Garage heading towards Brent Cross 22/05/17
© Tommy Cooling

In the run up to Metroline taking the route back, preparations were going on afoot behind the scene.
Existing smartblinded TEs that had transferred into Cricklewood from Potters Bar (TE1073-1092) that released hybrids for the 113 at Edgware, were given full route 266 inserts added onto the bottom of the existing smartblind sets. 30-odd E400 TEs from Edgware (TE712-830) were also in the process of transferring down to Cricklewood as well. Upon arrival at Cricklewood they received a brand new manual blind set ready for the 266.

TE1089 parked in Cricklewood garage having had route 266 inserts added 17/07/17
© Tommy Cooling

TE732 parked in Cricklewood garage having been fitted with new blinds for route 266 19/07/17
© Tommy Cooling

The first day of Metroline operation of route 266 saw a number of ex. Edgware (TE712-830) and ex. Potters Bar (TE1073-1092) E400s. A TfL issue meant that the Tower Transit schedules were still in their system so Metroline 266s were not properly showing on bus countdown screens.

TE828 passes Cricklewood garage on the first day on route 266 29/07/17
Don't be fooled by the incorrectly set side blind!
© Tommy Cooling

TE1083 passes Cricklewood garage on the first day on route 266 29/07/17
© Tommy Cooling

TE720 calls at Willesden Green station on the first day on route 266 29/07/17
© Tommy Cooling

TA642 turns into Cricklewood Broadway on the first day on route 266 29/07/17
© Tommy Cooling

Post by Tommy Cooling
All these images and more can be found on my Flickr page:
Please do not reproduce any of my images without permission

Route 382 to Metroline

On Saturday 15th July 2017, Arriva London lost route 382 to Metroline. The route runs from Millbrook Park in Mill Hill East to Southgate Station.
The change in operator also saw the welcome of two door buses onto the route, with Metroline's DEM class of 9.6m Enviro 200s, replacing Arriva London's EN class of 8.9m E200s.

EN1 picks up in Milbrook Park 26/05/17
© Tommy Cooling

EN4 arrives at Milbrook Park 26/05/17
© Tommy Cooling

Route 382 was able to be operated with the existing class of DEM E200 vehicles with most made spare by a frequency reduction on route 384. The cover the total requirement, three DEMs from Alperton made the transfer to Potters Bar outside the M25, and DEM1916 is one of them.

DEM1916 blinded for route 382 prior to the take over the following weekend 13/07/17
© Tommy Cooling

DEM1339 passes Mill Hill East station heading towards Southgate Station 29/07/17
© Tommy Cooling

DEM1356 enters Milbrook Park in Mill Hill East 29/07/17
© Tommy Cooling

Post by Tommy Cooling
All these images and more can be found on my Flickr page:
Please do not reproduce any of my images without permission


Temporary New Buses on the 70

Route 70 moved from Tower Transit to London United from 24th June 2017, with new Enviro 200MMCs from Shepherd's Bush Garage.

London United takes the 70
London United DLE30053 on Route 70, Chiswick Business Park (© Aubrey)

Route 70 has only been going to Chiswick Business Park for just over a year, after numerous delays over the building of a new office block taking the stand of the 70 away temporarily, as well as the fitting of a new bus stop at Bollo Lane. But once all those were taken care of, the 70 was only extended in January 2016. Tower Transit thus only ran the 70 in its present form for about a year and a half. Thus this operator change removes yet another non-London United or Metroline operator from Chiswick, with the last of those being NCP Challenger/NSL Services back in 2009.

70 United
London United DLE30058 on Route 70, Bollo Lane (© Aubrey)

Initially, for the new contract, new electric buses were intended for the 70 and C1. Unfortunately, like many recent changes for London United recently, this has been delayed, so these Euro 6 diesel buses will do for the moment.

Chiswick, GROVE PARK
London United DE20103 on Route 272, Chiswick Town Hall (© Aubrey)

There is not enough space at Shepherd's Bush for the 70, so in order to fit the 70 in, the 272 had to move from Shepherd's Bush back to Stamford Brook. Space was made there by the frequency reduction of the E3, as patronage has gone down in recent years.
New blinds were fitted to the existing Enviro 200s at Shepherd's Bush, but not the Darts. Indeed, an E200 from the C1 batch has already strayed onto the 70.

London United DLE30056 on Route 70, Notting Hill Gate
London United DLE30056 on Route 70, Notting Hill Gate (© Aubrey)

Initial rides on the new DLEs for the 70 seem positive, with the service running decently for the first few days. The temporary allocation has already been partially allocated, with the H22 to get some of these buses for its new contract, obviously once the new electric BYD buses arrive for the 70/C1.

London United DLE30056 on Route 70, South Kensington
London United DLE30056 on Route 70, South Kensington (© Aubrey)

Overall, the 70 has settled so far fairly decently at London United, and hopefully the 70 will continue to do well under London United. Eventually, when the electric buses arrive for the 70/C1, they will make both routes even more compliant with the low emission corridor of Uxbridge Road and Shepherd's Bush.
The Chiswick Business Park section of the 70 is now well used, as an update from last year, when the route was extended.


Picture Archive Post 61

Arriva London MA46 on Route 73, Oxford Circus, 14/04/2011
Arriva London MA46 on Route 73, Oxford Circus, 14/04/2011 (© Aubrey)

Before Wrightbus brought out the New Routemaster, or as it's more colloquially known, the Borismaster, Ken Livingstone too had a way to reduce dwell times at bus stops. The same concept of boarding and alighting at any door kept the same. However, Ken Livingstone's way to do this was with buses that were from Germany, with Mercedes-Benz Citaro O530Gs. This particular example was acquired for the 73, when it was converted from AEC Routemasters to the colloquially known "bendy-bus". Based at then new Lea Valley Garage (LV), it served the 73 and the 149. It served on the 73 until 03/09/2011, when the route was converted to Volvo B5LH/Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 operation. That also removed all-door boarding from the route, but not the rarely used bus stop ticket machines in Central London. This example was then painted white and put into more ill-fated service. This time, this was at Arriva Malta, where it ran as BUS 702. By August 2013, however, these buses were forced off the road by the government of Malta, after multiple fires. These buses were then supposed to be sold to Sudan, but this has not materialised since.

Route 73 started out as a King's Cross-Barnes route in 1914. By 1934, the route ran to Stoke Newington and Richmond, based at Tottenham (AR) and Mortlake (M). Until 1988, Stoke Newington-Richmond was the base part of the route. During the 1930s and until 1945, extensions to Kingston (peak hours) and Hampton Court (Summer Sundays) were run. RTs and RTLs were introduced from 1949. From 1958, the route ran as a split route, replacing Route 27A on Sundays, then the Monday-Friday operation of Route 33. Thus, the route ran Hounslow-Kensington and Stoke Newington-Richmond, gaining a Hounslow (AV) allocation from 1958. The Hounslow-Kensington part was basically a renumbering of Route 33. From December 1962, the whole route gradually converted to Routemaster. In 1965, all non-AR/M allocations were withdrawn, and from 1966, the route was retracted from Hammersmith gradually, being replaced by the re-introduction of the 33, and the 281, thus by 1982, the route ran Hammersmith-Stoke Newington, with the route running from AR and Hammersmith (R). When Hammersmith (R) closed, the allocation there moved to Shepherd's Bush (S). From 1987, the Sunday service became OPO with MCW Metrobuses.

From 13th August 1988, the 73 was rerouted at Hyde Park Corner to Victoria, with new route 10 replacing the Hammersmith section. The Sunday service, then operated by Shepherd's Bush, moved to Stamford Hill (SF). Under sectorisation, the route moved to Leaside Buses, which was later purchased by the Cowie Group, eventually known as Arriva. From 1990, the Sunday service was extended to Stamford Hill, ending when the Stamford Hill allocation moved to Tottenham (AR). By this time, a service which was frequent but irregular at times ran to Tottenham Swan via Seven Sisters Station. When the route was converted to articulated buses on 4th September 2004, the irregular service was cut back to Seven Sisters Station. The route also moved to Lea Valley (LV) at this time.

As part of then Mayor Boris Johnson's commitment to withdraw articulated buses, the route was converted to hybrid operation on the 3rd September 2011, with Volvo B5LH/Wright Eclipse Gemini 2s. 73 was also cut back to Stoke Newington full-time, and re-allocated to Stamford Hill (SF). Borismasters then beckoned on the 73 from May 2015. The most recent route change happened just over a month ago, when the 73 was withdrawn between Oxford Circus and Victoria, replaced by Route 390. The 390 ironically was introduced from a split of the 10, made from the split of the 73.


Central London route changes Part Two

Over the last weekend, the second stage of changes to the bus services in Central London took place. These changes are all part of TfL's ongoing review of bus services in London. Some of these changes are to match the present level of demand, whilst others are to facilitate the thinning out of bus numbers along Oxford Street to remove congestion, and a few route amendments associated with the imminent opening of the Crossrail Elizabeth Line.

An in-depth look at all the changes coming up can be found on the TfL consultation page here:

The changes that took place on Saturday 15th July 2017 affected routes 3, 22/N22, 137, 159 and C2.

Routes 3/N3
Route 3 was withdrawn between Regent Street and Trafalgar Square. The route now terminates at Trafalgar Square (Cockspur Street) and stands on King Charles II Street at Piccadilly Circus, the former route 22 and N22 stand. The temporarily reduced frequencies on the route for roadworks have now become permanent.

There has been no change to route N3 at present, which continues to run through to Oxford Circus from Bromley.

It is planned that routes 3 and N3 will be rerouted from Trafalgar Square to serve Leicester Square and Russell Square.

LT609 on route 3 on Pall Mall in service, when the route terminated at Regent Street, Conduit Street 18/02/16
Route 3 no longer serves Regent Street and now terminates at Trafalgar Square, the stop prior to this view.
© Tommy Cooling
LT705 turns off its new stand on Charles II Street into unchartered territory on Waterloo Place 17/07/17
The route now uses the former route 22/N22 stand before the proposed extension to Russell Square.
© Tommy Cooling

Routes 22/N22
Routes 22/N22 were withdrawn between Piccadilly Circus and Green Park Station, and then rerouted to serve Oxford Circus via the present C2 routing via Berkeley Square, terminating at Henrietta Place via Margaret Street. Routes 22/N22 no longer run along Piccadilly from Green Park to Piccadilly Circus.
This change saw route C2 withdrawn between Oxford Circus and Victoria. The frequencies on route 22 have been reduced to every 7-8 mins Monday-Friday. The Merton garage allocation of the route has been transferred to Putney garage.

WVL501 heads east along Piccadilly, road that the route no longer serves 17/06/17
Routes 22/N22 now turn off at Green Park following the route of the C2 to Oxford Circus.
© Tommy Cooling
London General WHV159 on Route N22, Green Park
WHV159 on the last night of N22 operations to Piccadilly Circus, at Green Park on the 15th July 2017. This was the day which the C2 was cut to Regent Street, yet the N22 was not extended over the C2. This led to Berkeley Square to have no night bus service for the most part of one night, although that section has small levels of boarding or alighting through the night. The last night C2 did run from Victoria fully blinded along the old route, but for most of the night, the area had no service.
© Aubrey Morandarte
London General EH111 on Route N22, Oxford Circus
EH111 on the first night of N22 operations to Oxford Circus on the 16th July 2017, one night after it was supposed to be rerouted.
© Aubrey Morandarte
WVL499 prepares to turn right off Oxford Street onto Regent Street 17/07/17
Routes 22/N22 now serve Berkeley Square, Regent Street and Oxford Circus after Green Park instead of Piccadilly Circus.
© Tommy Cooling
WHV36 at Hyde Park Corner demonstrates the new Oxford Circus terminus for route 22 17/07/17
Routes 22/N22 were cut back from Piccadilly Circus to take the line of route of the C2 from Hyde Park to Oxford Circus.
© Tommy Cooling

Routes 137/N137
Route 137 was cut back to Marble Arch (Park Lane), and such was withdrawn running along Oxford Street due to bus congestion. There have been no changes to bus frequencies on the route.
There is no change to route N137, which continue to run along Oxford Street through to Oxford Circus from Streatham Hill.

LT352 stands at Oxford Circus on the stand at John Prince's Street 19/03/17
Route 137 no longer serves this stop or any of Oxford Street having been withdrawn beyond Marble Arch.
© Tommy Cooling
LT964 shows the new terminus of route 137, Marble Arch, whilst at Hyde Park Corner Station 17/07/17
Route 137 has now been withdrawn between Marble Arch and Oxford Circus, however route N137 still runs through.
© Tommy Cooling

Route 159
Route 159 has been withdrawn along Oxford Street owing to congestion. The route is now scheduled to terminate at Oxford Circus, Holles Street, as opposed to Marble Arch. The 24 hour night service has been unaffected and route N159 still continues to serve Marble Arch. This change has been reported to be temporary due in part to the Westminster roadworks, however, like previous cutbacks to routes such as the 7, 8 and 15, this "temporary" withdrawal between Marble Arch and Oxford Circus is expected to become permanent.

Route 159 used to run to Paddington Basin as recently as 2010 as cover for the cut back of route 15 from Paddington, but the 159 withdrawn from Paddington back to Marble Arch only four years later in 2014. The route ran up to West Hampstead from Streatham as recently as the early 1990s. The northern part of the route beyond Oxford Street became the current 139 route back in March 1992.

LT704 passes Marble Arch looking for a space to stand at the end of the route 09/06/16
Route 159 has been pulled back to Oxford Circus during the day owing to roadworks and congestion.
© Tommy Cooling
LT695 emerges onto Oxford Street from Vere Street having taken stand on Henrietta Place 17/07/17
The day service of the route now only runs to Oxford Circus from Streatham; the (N)159 service continues to Marble Arch.
© Tommy Cooling

Route C2
Route C2 was cut back from Victoria to Regent Street, Conduit Street, taking the terminus and stand of Route 3 which has been cut back to Trafalgar Square. The 24 hour night service, NC2, has also been withdrawn from Victoria. This cut back has been offset between Hyde Park and Regent Street with the rerouting of the 22 and N22. The link between Berkley Square and Victoria has been lost however.

E400 2460 passes round the south side of Hyde Park Corner on a route C2 service to Victoria 29/10/15
Route C2 no longer serves this section of route having been withdrawn between Oxford Circus and Victoria.
© Tommy Cooling
E400 9527 crosses Oxford Street at Oxford Circus 17/07/17
Route C2 now terminates at Oxford Circus, using the stand on Conduit Street recently vacated by the route 3 cut back.
© Tommy Cooling

Post by Tommy Cooling
Photos by Tommy Cooling and Aubrey Morandarte
All these images and more can be found on my Flickr page:
Please do not reproduce any of the images without permission