Ch, ch, ch, changes ... in Reading, Caversham & beyond

The past couple of months have been a busy period for Reading Buses. As well as a number of fleet and service changes to their existing Reading & Caversham town services, their operations have expanded to covering the Greenline 702 Bracknell to London service, and Routes 2 & 5 in Slough under the Thames Valley brand. Reading have taken on the 702, followed by the 2 & 5, with evening buses on Route 4, and Sunday buses on Route 6 after First Berkshire ceased their operation of those routes.

Back in Reading & Caversham, Route 17 has seen a recent makeover with brand new state-of-the-art gas buses which has sent a cascade of slightly older vehicles to other routes which has in turn seen the withdrawal of old buses.
As a result of the Caversham Consultation at the end of 2017, Reading are also modifying their Pink route network with changes affecting the 23, 24, 27 & 29. There are also some changes to the NINEteens which sees the 9 split from the 19, with the latter being combined with the 22 and numbered 22.

Reading have recently announced that they will be taking over the operation of Stagecoach's Route 7 between Fleet and Reading.

Greenline 702

In late 2017 First Berkshire announced that they would cease running their Greenline Express 702, that runs between London Victoria and Bracknell via Slough, Windsor and LEGOLAND. Following this announcement, Reading Buses agreed that they would take over the running of the route, initially following First's timetable and with a mixture of fleet vehicles. That said E400 1208 (GO11LDN) has been specially branded up for the Greenline express launch (see below).
Reading are still trialling a variety of vehicles on the route before placing an order for their preferred bus.

Greenline 1208 in London Victoria
© Tommy Cooling

Grey Greenline 758 in Bracknell
© Tommy Cooling
Scania deomstrator 778 in Slough
© Tommy Cooling

Sky Blue 15 & 16

The 15, 15a and 16 are in the process of receiving the purple E400s displaced off the 17. These E400s are being converted from hybrid to diesel upon refurbishment, a process that is also seeing the E400s turn blue, to match the "Skyblue" livery of the 15/a and 16.
These E400s are replacing the blue Olympus's, as well as the Caversham Pink Scania Omnicities.

At time of publishing, only 208, 225 & 229 have been refurbished.

Skyblue 208 in Central Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Purple 17

Brand new CNG powered Scania E400 City buses have recently appeared on Purple Route 17. These are the first buses in Reading to operate with rear exit doors, a new feature that is well needed on such a busy route, and one that I personally hope will be adopted on any new vehicles the Claret 21 & 21a University routes get, if not across more of the Reading Buses network.
These state-of-the-art purple buses on the 17, of which there are 17 in total, have replaced the 2011 built electric hybrid E400s that were previously allocated. These vehicles are undergoing a refurbishment process and painted in the Sky Blue livery for Routes 15/a & 16, as well as the new Berry livery for Routes 23 & 24.

Purple 715 in Central Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Purple 713 by Forbury Gardens in Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Thames Valley Ventures

In late January 2018, Reading Buses took over the operation of some First Berkshire routes in Slough; Route 2, which runs between Dedworth, Windosr and Slough, and Route 5, Cippenham to Slough. In addition to this, Reading also took over the running of the evening journeys on Route 4, and the Sunday operation of Route 6. This group of routes has fallen under the delightful Thames Valley branding and grouping.

Thames Valley Scania OmniCity 4 on Route 2 in Slough
© Tommy Cooling

Thames Valley Solo SR 198 on Route 5 in Slough
© Tommy Cooling

February 17th Changes

The NINE(teens), [Red] Nineteen and Pink 22

Route 9 has been branded into generic grey and been unlinked from the NINEteens group. The routing for the 9 has also being revised such that it can provide a better link between Whitley Wood and the Royal Berkshire Hospital (RBH). The route reverts back to using Shinfield Road from Whiteknights Road.

Route 19 has being combined with the 22 and turned Red! Buses run between Chalfont Way ASDA in Lower Earley to Caversham Heights, as per the old 22 did, providing direct links between Caversham and RBH. This route has also been numbered 22, and will be allocated red streetlites. On Sundays, services only run between Central Reading and Caversham Heights.

Grey 654 in Central Reading
© Tommy Cooling

NINEteens White 131 by Forbury Gardens in Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Pink 431 on Friar Street in Reading
© Tommy Cooling
Red 22 Streetlite 167 in Central Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Streetlite 167 was one of the batch that was delivered orange for the Earley 19s back in 2014. Now it has been painted into Red for the Red22 branding.
With this, the new 22 service is also using the former Scarlet9 E300s.

Red 22 E300 414 in Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Pink 23 & 24

Pink routes 23 & 24 have been combined providing a two-way circular service improving links within Caversham, and between Caversham and Central Reading.
Route 23 runs via Reading Bridge and out through Queensway, returning via Hemdean Road and across Caversham Bridge. Route 24 runs via Caversham Bridge and out along Hemdean Road, returning via Caversham Park and across Reading Bridge.
Both routes serve the north side of Reading Station before continuing on a anti-clockwise loop through Central Reading via Friar Street and Blagrave Street.

The Caversham Pink Omnicities are gradually being replaced in the fleet with refurbished ex. Purple 17 E400s and spare E200 & E300s. A number of the displaced Omnicities are ending up at Midlands-based operator midlandclassic, 1102 is already in service with the operator, still carrying its Caversham Pink livery!

At time of publishing E400s 219 and 220 have been painted into the new Berry livery for the 23 & 24.

Pink 1104 on Friar Street in Reading
© Tommy Cooling
Berry 220 in Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Berry 219 in Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Pink 27 & 29

These routes became circular providing more direct journeys between Reading, Caversham Centre and Lower Caversham - with route 27 operating anti-clockwise and route 29 clockwise.

Pink 163 on Friar Street in Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Route 7

It has been announced that from April 2018, Reading Buses will take over the running of Stagecoach Route 7 from Reading to Fleet. Stagecoach would continue to operate from Fleet to Aldershot. With the takeover, two buses from Stagecoach would transfer to Reading Buses, and at the moment these are believed to be two ALX400 bodies Tridents, like TA18064 below.

Stagecoach TA18064 in Central Reading
© Tommy Cooling

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


Picture Archive Post 68

Stagecoach London 17575 (Route 230), Arriva London DW335 (Route 41), Tottenham Hale
Stagecoach London 17575 on Route 230 & Arriva London DW335 on Route 41, Tottenham Hale, 02/02/2013
(© Aubrey Morandarte)

The area of Tottenham Hale has changed over the past 5 years, and is still undergoing change. The bus station layout has changed most notably so far. The photo was taken with the old layout of the bus station.

Route 230 is one of the very few double decker routes with a hail & ride section, with the section at Upper Walthamstow being hail & ride. Introduced in 1973 between Manor House and Stratford with Routemasters from Leyton Garage (T), the route stayed at Leyton Garage throughout its life at London Transport, London Forest, East London and Stagecoach. In 1981, the route was shortened to Whipps Cross-Manor House, before later extended to Finsbury Park and Leytonstone in 1982. In 1981, the route was also converted to OPO, with Leyland Nationals. 1987 saw the introduction of Titans, and the route diverted to run Wood Green-Leytonstone. Sectorisation saw the route fall to London Forest initially, but as London Forest collapsed, Leyton Garage and the route moved to East London (later Stagecoach). The current route came about in 1996 when Darts (initially Alexander Dash/Dennis Dart, then Alexander ALX200/Dennis Dart SLF) arrived on the route. After trees were chopped by 2004, Dennis Tridents as seen plyed the 230 until 22nd June 2013. Arriva London took the 230 over from Tottenham (AR) with new VDL DB300/Wright Pulsar Gemini 2s, and thus this is the route today.

Route 41 gained its current route back in 1937, when it was extended from Crouch End to Archway. Having been based at Tottenham (AR) for most of its life, it has mainly seen weekday route extensions to Dagenham Dock (1941-1942, daily), Ilford (1942-1960 during peaks), Stratford (1960), Victoria & Albert Docks (1961-1968), Ferry Lane Estate (1981) and Highgate Village (1984-1985). By 1989, the route was OPO, based at Tottenham (AR), Wood Green (WN), and Holloway (HT). Under sectorisation thus, it ran from Leaside Buses and London Northern. In 1994, the route was tendered to MTL London Suburban Bus from Edmonton (ED), using Leyland Titans. 1996 saw the route go back to Cowie Leaside Buses with Metrobuses from Wood Green, before moving to Tottenham in 1998. 2001 saw the low floor conversion, with introduction of the DAF DB250LF/ALX400 on the 41. 2013 saw these buses be replaced by the VDL DB300/Wright Pulsar Gemini 2s.

Stagecoach 17575 started out as TAS574 at Catford (TL), before being renumbered 1575s. It transferred to Macquarie Bank (ELBG) in 2006. In 2009, the bus was loaned to Metrobus for the 75 as their Scania N230UDs were late. July 2009 saw this bus move to Leyton (T), as seen in the photo above. In July 2014, the bus was withdrawn from London service and moved to Stagecoach Scotland West for the Commonwealth Games. After the event was done, it moved to Manchester as reserve, then Merseyside for Merseyrail replacement services. In May 2015, the bus was deroofed for sightseeing purposes, and is now at Stratford-upon-Avon for sightseeing purposes.

Arriva DW335, a significantly newer vehicle, was at Tottenham (AR) from introduction to  9th December 2016, when the bus thereafter moved to Edmonton (E) for the 349 mainly. . March 2017 saw the bus move to Brixton (BN) for mainly the 50 and 319, until September 2017. October and November 2017 saw the bus go to Wood Green (WN) mainly for the 144 and 221. After a few months, it reappeared on the 14th February 2018, at Edmonton (E), where it is now.


Hybrid Metroline

Metroline ordered 167 new Volvo Gemini 3 B5LHs (VWH2266-2432) in 2017 for new routes 120 and 222, plus to upgrade routes at Willesden and Holloway to hybrid following a number of retained contracts.

VWH batch 1 (2266-2284)
These 19 vehicles were ordered for Metroline's take up of the 120 in June 2017.

Metroline VWH2276 arrives at Hounslow Bus Station at the end of its trip on the 120 in September 2017.
© Tommy Cooling

VWH batch 2 (2285-2305)
These 21 vehicles originally ordered for the new contracts on routes 260 & 302. As the new 10.6m Gemini 3s ordered (VWH2322+) failed their route surveys, this batch was diverted away from Willesden into Perivale to release VWHs 2001-2021 (10.5m version) to Holloway for routes 4 & 17.

VWH2296 stands in East Acton before heading into Central London on Route 7 to Oxford Circus in September 2017.
Route 7 is seeing new 2017 hybrids replace the existing 2014 hybrids which are moving to Holloway for the new contracts on routes 4 and 17. The new VWHs failed the route tests so older VWHs which passed grace the routes instead to fulfil the contractual requirements.
© Tommy Cooling

VWH batch 3 (2306-2321)
These 16 vehicles were also ordered for the new contracts on routes 260 and 302. Due to low-emission Euro 6 requirements for Central London routes to take place in the not-to-distant future, it was decided that these vehicles would be diverted on the 52 instead, displacing the older Euro 5 2012 VWHs which should end up on route 460.

VWH2312 pulls off stand and out of Willesden Garage to form a Route 52 service to Victoria, in February 2018.
© Tommy Cooling

VWH2313 leaves Queen's Park whilst working on Route 6 to Aldwych in October 2017.
© Tommy Cooling

VWH batch 4 (2322-2344)
These 23 vehicles were ordered for the new contract on route 17. As the Gemini 3 failed the Holloway route tests, these vehicles have been diverted into Willesden garage displacing VWH2088-2118 to Holloway for routes 4 and 17.

At time of publishing, VWH2336 and 2337 are currently at West Perivale covering for two broken SELs. These two hybrid vehicles will end up at Willesden once the SELs have been fixed.

VWH2341 is seen at Charing Cross on Route 6 after arriving at Willesden from its stint at Uxbridge, in November 2017.
© Tommy Cooling

VWH batch 5 (2345-2363)
These 19 vehicles were ordered for Metroline's take up of the 222 in September 2017.
This batch is mixed in terms of allocation with VWH2167-2186 at Uxbridge such that both sets of hybrids can operate on the 114 and 222.

VWH2347 in Uxbridge on Route 222 in October 2017
Note, with these newer vehicles the front blinds have been moved closer to the glass making them easier to see at an angle.
© Tommy Cooling

VWH batch 6 (2364-2381)
These 18 vehicles were ordered for the new contract on route 4. These have also been diverted to Willesden and will convert routes 260 and 302 to Euro 6 hybrid.

Metroline VWH2377 pulls away in Kensal Green on Route 302 to Mill Hill, in February 2018.
© Tommy Cooling

Metroline VWH2365 calls in Kensal Green on Route 6 to Willesden Garage in February 2018.
Some of this batch have been retrofitted with flashing lights for Oxford Street (visible next to the front indicators).
© Tommy Cooling

VWH batch 7 (2382-2432)
The remaining 51 vehicles were ordered for the new contracts on routes 6 & 98.

At time of publishing VWH2384 and 2413 are currently at West Perivale, temporarily replacing two VWs, VW1196 and 1197 which are currently on a Euro 6 trial at Willesden (see below). These four buses will swap back to their home garages later on.

Metroline VWH2384 calls at Greenford Station on Route 105 to Heathrow Airport Central in February 2018.
Some of this batch have been retrofitted with flashing lights for Oxford Street (visible next to the front indicators).
This is one of four Willesden VWHs transferred into the Perivale garages on a temporary measure.
© Tommy Cooling

Metroline VWH2417 in Kensal Green heads towards the Bus Stand on Route 302 in February 2018.
Some of the new VWHs at Willesden have reused the old blinds from the 2015 VWHs. VW1197 displays a new blind set.
© Tommy Cooling

Subsequent Hybrid movements
VWH 2001-2021
These vehicles moved to Holloway to satisfy the contractual agreements for Routes 4 and 17. The new 10.6m Gemini 3s ordered failed their route surveys due to the longer overhang. 2285-2305 replaced these.

VWH2003 pauses at King's Cross station on Pentonville Road on route 17 operates a short working to King's Cross due to various road closures for the Prudential RideLondon cycle event, in July 2017.
© Tommy Cooling

VWH 2088-2118
These vehicles moved to Holloway to satisfy the contractual agreements for Routes 4 and 17. The new 10.6m Gemini 3s ordered failed their route surveys due to the longer overhang. 2306-2344 replaced these.

VWH2094 passes St. Paul's Cathedral during a break in traffic whilst on Route 17 to London Bridge in October 2017.
This bus had moved from Potters Bar to Holloway for hybrid type training prior to new start of the new contract on Route 17, having originally started life at Willesden Junction assisting on Route 295.
© Tommy Cooling

VWH 2167-2186
These buses filled in for the late arrival of 2345-2363 on Route 222 meaning that vehicles had to be drafted in to cover on the 114. 14 hybrids from store bound for Perivale and Willesden satisfied this (see below).

VWH2170 arrives at Hounslow Bus Station on Route 222 on the first morning with Metroline, in September 2017.
© Tommy Cooling

VWH 2289-2341 (14 vehicles, with gaps)
VWHs 2289, 2311, 2318, 2319, 2320, 2322, 2323, 2327, 2328, 2329, 2331, 2334, 2341 all from store covered the 114 along with a few TEs whilst 2167-2185 ran the 222 due to the late arrival of the 222s vehicles. As these buses were not intended to be used before arriving at their due garages, none had the correct blinds during their time at Uxbridge. As a result of this, slipboard designs were drawn up prior to their introduction into service in mid-September.

VWH2328 on stand at Ruislip Station on Route 114 in September 2017.
© Tommy Cooling

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


6th Year Post

Somehow, we've gotten to our sixth year of blogging and as traditionally so, we put a post out on the birthday of the blog. This year, the blog members are going to say what our favourite bus type are, and why.


London United VP111 on Route 111, Kingston
London United VP111 on Route 111, Kingston Cromwell Road, 2013
(© Aubrey Morandarte)

Firstly, it's of course the sod whom made the blog in the first place. As we are a bunch of similarly aged sods, we'll most likely pick buses we grew up with. For my bunch, I've chosen the Euro II Volvo B7TL, with the Plaxton President body. From 2000 to 2013, the Volvo B7TL was the mainstay for Hounslow based double decker bus routes. These Euro 2 examples were ordered for the 120/H32 (the VAs were ordered for the 111).

Transdev/London United VP118 on Route 111, 11/04/07
VP118 back in 2007 at Heathrow Central Bus Station on Route 111
(© Aubrey Morandarte)

These buses were the then new buses that were on the 111 at the time that I used to go to Heathrow to spot planes. As these buses were the buses which partly helped me get into buses, this is why they are good. They are also powerful enough when required, and the President body in itself was decent. The interior was basic, but good nevertheless. Without these buses, I wouldn't be into buses. Most first generation low floor deckers, in my opinion, were pretty good anyway, but as these buses were the ones that got me into buses, they have to be the favourite.


Time at Goathland
Yorkshire Coastliner 3637 at Goathland on a Whitby 840 service.
(© Lewis Nagle)

Next it's the sod who used to live in London but now studies up north. Having up till now mainly been on commercial bus services in the Home Counties (see my previous posts on services in Bucks & Berks) and then to the south of the capital in Crawley & Brighton, I naturally made it my task to go on more exploratory journeys and where better to start with the nationally famous Transdev Blazefield empire across the north? Last summer I was able to try out the Coastliner 843 to Scarborough, a tremendous high-pace ride through the Yorkshire countryside as well as the famous #the36, the WitchWay X43 and what is now the Aireline 60. Transdev pride themselves in high-quality services with a classy bus spec, friendly drivers and fantastic routes.
The latest in my adventures across the north saw me finally doing the best of the Yorkshire Coastliner services: the 840 to Whitby. A single Transdev DayTripperPlus is all one needs to bus it from Manchester to Whitby although it's a long journey, around the 5 hour mark.
The 840 is well worth it though, a superb scenic journey starting in Leeds and ploughing through the countryside to Tadcaster (with its bridge now reinstated since last year), the beautiful city of York, Malton and then out to Pickering, Thornton-le-Dale and Whitby. It's worth noting that on my journey, because it was a Sunday, the Leeds-Malton bit was a connecting 843. The scenery through the Yorkshire Moors is nothing short of stunning and the route even has to negotiate 25% inclines around Goathland, where the above picture was taken.

Four Malton Minutes
The same bus as above, now returning to York & Leeds on a small break at Malton.
Note the countdown on the destination display; a superb feature which I'm hoping we'll see more of in the future.
(© Lewis Nagle)

A little something about the buses: they're Volvo B5TL based Wright Gemini 3 double deckers new last December. Whatever your opinion is on the new face styling, it certainly suits the two-tone blue livery here. Inside the blue theme continues, with standard seating downstairs and high-backed coach-style seats upstairs. Tables, USB charging points and free wi-fi are available. The vehicles are even double-glazed so all of my journeys were remarkably toasty! The 5-litre Volvo engine copes fantastically on flats and downhill, regularly hitting its speed limiter at 56 mph, however as soon as you're going uphill it's much less happy. The bodywork by Wright has a real classy finish to it - and is very quiet on the move - but as ever rattles and squeaks still present a problem. It's an insult to the hours of thought gone into designing this spec for the bus to then rattle.
I don't wish to end on a negative note so I won't; I've been very happy working alongside the blog team for the last 6 years and hoping to many more! Lots of exciting things coming in 2018 too...


Stagecoach Selkent 17564, LV52HDX in Peckham on route 177
17564 on Route 177
(© Jacek Herominski)

Well, this is an obvious one. My favourite buses are what I grew up with. Even if one company ordered the same type back then, every batch always had its own character, its own sound, as a result of the varied specs everyone had. Nowadays I like all the first gen low floor deckers equally, but back then I was a Trident person. Which is why I've chosen my two favourite batches of Tridents.
The 52 plate is a Euro3 3-speed one, which were always my favourite ones for their musical Voith and the amount they thrashed up hills. Second place is represented by that Y reg. These Euro2 ZFs replaced a batch I didn't like, and came after my 52reg were cascaded away so basically took their place in my heart. That sounded overly romantic. Oh well, it is Valentine's Day soon.... (No)

Stagecoach Selkent 17441, Y441NHK in Peckham on route 136 to Elephant & Castle
17441 on Route 136
(© Jacek Herominski)


First Aberdeen 62166/Y631RSA | Route 3G | Mastrick Terminus | 14/02/2017
© Mohammad-Omar Diab El-Arab

Now, the resident crazy traveller. I'm the sort of person that loves a bit of everything, be it the cityscapes offered by routes down in London, the sea views of the Brighton & Hove Coasters or the weaving in and out of hills on West Yorkshire bus routes. In short, I love the variety you get from travelling on buses. Now, some buses suit this sort of variety better than others, ranging from being completely adaptable to being horrible to travel on! My personal favourite is the Mercedes-Benz O405N2, yet I don't actually have any photos of them. However, my second option isn't really all too bad, and that's the Wright Renown-bodied Volvo B10BLE, coupled to a ZF box of course.

Transdev Burnley & Pendle 1057/Y157HRN | Route M4 | Colne, Market Street
© Mohammad-Omar Diab El-Arab
A 5-speed ZF box coupled to Volvo's throaty 9.6 litre D10A engine churning out 245bhp not only sits happy in cities and calmer environments. It also provides a reliable and powerful base for country routes such as the Mainline M4, which was run by a mix of B7RLEs and B10BLEs when I rode it. The ride quality is usually very smooth and comfortable, and the bodywork is incredibly sturdy and largely rattle-free, a far cry from the current range of Wrightbus products. Sadly, a large number of them saw the end of the line before 2016 as the DDA rules kicked in to withdraw all non-compliant single decks from service. The ones that are DDA compliant, as well as the ones that have received modifications to become compliant, still soldier on to this day, some being as old as 18 years old this year! Since their introduction in 1997, as a low floor version of the already popular B10B, they have become the backbone of many towns and cities, and helped to kick-start the low-floor revolution, all while being generally reliable and loved by drivers, engineers, enthusiasts and passengers alike.


Go-Ahead London General: DOE38 | LX09BXG || 154: West Croydon - Morden
DOE38 passing through in Roundshaw in May 2017, sporting the iconic, sadly now lost livery
(© Alisha Juszczyk)

My favourite London bus type has got to be the Olympus - be it East Lancs, Darwen or Optare - doesn't matter. A top class double-decker body, and no wonder also a popular choice for tour buses thanks to their giant front glass upstairs. Out of all the chassis available for it, good old Dennis Trident 2 proves the ultimate fit. Shame only 55 ever ended up in London - the DOE class under Go-Ahead, and the singleton EO1 under CT+ which has since left the city and moved north. All of which had comfortable seating provided, alongside with spacious layout, and subdued lighting that creates a relaxing atmosphere.

Go-Ahead London General: DOE38 | LX09BXG || N155: Morden - Aldwych
The same DOE standing at Morden about to start its journey on N155, a great route to test their abilities - taken February 2017
(© Alisha Juszczyk)

The low blind-box provides an acceptable means to rest your legs, and even something as trivial as the side windows that slant down to maximise the view out - it all shows what a great bodywork design this one is. Another clever feature I've always liked is the curved windshield on the upper deck which yields the following effect - at night you don't get any unnecessary reflections of the bus' interior when facing forward, unless you look up that is - and being able to inspect what's behind you without having to physically turn around is very handy. They are also mechanically sound, fast buses, and fortunately with kickdown enabled to make scaling of the numerous hills on their usual routes efficient. Their scarcity makes them even more precious and valued!

The bus type I had planned to talk about was the Plaxton President bodied bus, the type being local to me in Harrow since the early 2000s, TP/Ls then latterly VP/Ls at Harrow Weald with a batch of 17 still in use (what will be the last VPs left in the Metroline fleet, VP612-628!).  This would have been the perfect excuse to repeat my picture of TP446 from the 'Fifth Year' blog post, however, the President type has already been covered so to save repetition, I thought I'd do this piece about my next favourite bus type.
Now this is the ALX400 bodied vehicle that in London can be found with either an AD Trident or Volvo B7TL engine, my preference being the Trident version but both types I rate equally.  I cannot quite put my finger on why I rate ALX400s as much as I do bar it being an all-round pleasant bus.  The past three years have seen me use both the Trident and Volvo examples in North West London on a fairly regular basis which has cemented these vehicles' place on my preference list.  But, the ALX400 has also been mentioned in this post, and for the same reasons as above I do not feel it worth while that I discuss the same vehicle twice.
So, I shall move onto my next choice, and it's onto a bus that I have not really thought much about, but it's one that has dominated the London scene, but like the other types mentioned above, is fast becoming an endangered species in London.  The type is the Plaxton Pointer Dennis Dart SLF.  In its prime, the Dennis Dart was one of the most popular single deck buses from the late 1990s through to the mid 2000s.  They were just as popular as the Enviro 200 (and MMC "upgrade") has become since.
For me the Dart is aesthetically pleasing on the eye, and always had seats with generous leg room and decent amounts of seat padding.  I found the Darts rattled less than the E200s which replaced them meaning the Darts' fabulously whiny engine could be easily heard!  The lack of interior refurbishment in later years have also given the Darts a good nostalgia feel too, though that is not to everyone's taste!
London Sovereign DPS636 and Metroline DP1012 in Harrow.  March 2017
© Tommy Cooling
When I think of a proper single deck bus, there aren't many types that come to mind, but it is the Dart that comes to mind first.  My exposure to Darts has been nowhere near that to the President or ALX400, but enough for me to rate it as high as third on my list.  The majority of my exposure had been the 02 plated London Sovereign Darts at Harrow (SO) on the H9/10.  Latterly I got very well acquainted with the Armchair imports at West Perivale, DP1009-1013, that made numerous appearances on the 395 in 2016 and 2017 after the E6 moved garages from West Perivale to Greenford.  Arriva Garston also has a small fleet of Darts (PDLs) that have transferred in from other London garages.  These have made very rare visits to the 258 and 340, with many other outings on the Harrow circular routes H18/19.
Arriva London PDL117 in Harrow.  February 2016
© Tommy Cooling
There are more Darts still kicking around in London than the President class (and many many more with provincial operators), but these will all sadly be bowing out of service within the next year or so if not before when London's new ULEZ emission zones comes into effect.



More Go-Ahead electrics ...

Saturday 3rd February 2018 was a very busy day in London with no fewer than six routes changing operator on the same day; 153, 299, 343/N343, B14 and W4.

This mini-post though covers the operator change on route 153 which saw Go-Ahead's third batch of E200 BYD electric single deckers come into service.

The route, from Finsbury Park to Moorgate used to be operated by CT Plus from Ash Grove with a fleet of generic E200 single decks. The tender announcement for this route was cobbled together with routes 46, 214 and 274, which were all being tendered for as electric routes, but with varying start dates. The 153 start date came first, with the 46 & 274 (awarded hybrid double decks) in June 2018, and the 214 in summer 2019.

Go-Ahead's 153 10.8m electrics, SEe65-76, are based at Northumberland Park, as will the 214 and its SEes from 2019.

Go-Ahead SEe66 arrives at Finsbury Park displaying the latest version of the "Finsbury Park" blind display.
© Tommy Cooling

Go-Ahead SEe67 leaves Finsbury Park heading towards Moorgate on the 153.
© Tommy Cooling

SEe66 picking up at Finsbury Park Station Interchange.
© Tommy Cooling

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


Branding Hayes

Following on from the route branding trial in Barkingside over summer 2017, Hayes became TfL's next target area to splash some colour over. An area with declining bus passenger usage, and an area soon to become home to Crossrail, TfL's idea is to brand the routes that traverse through Hayes to get people back onto the bus in time to draw them into Crossrail from late 2018/2019.
This branding has been applied on routes; 90, 140, 195, 350, 427, 607, A10, E6, H98, U4, U5 & U7.
Unlike the Barkingside trial, the Hayes scheme only features the route's "via points" on the near-side and rear of the bus, and the splashes of colour merely confined to these, and the Route number and frequency stickers. In addition to this, only around 25% of each route's allocation is being branded [cost saving], whereas Barkingside has 75% of each route.
TfL's poor current state of affairs is plain to see from this scheme with incorrect branding on no fewer than three of the twelve routes, with grammatical errors, and very questionable via points on others. Just to summarise these:
- the advertised frequencies on routes 350, E6 and U4 are incorrect following TfL's frequency cutbacks
- capital "B" but lowercase "s" in "Bus station"
- intu Uxbridge and Intu Uxbridge [a shopping centre]
- large parts of routes not showing, 140 nothing between Harrow & Hayes, or 427/ 607 Ealing & Uxbridge (no via point in the Hayes area!)
- use of Lake Farm country Park over Stockley Business Park [main purpose of the A10 route!]

Route 90
VW1176 with branding for Route 90 showing the front and side attempts.
© Tommy Cooling

VW1176 showing the side and rear Route 90 branding.
© Tommy Cooling
VW1176 passing Hayes ASDA showing off  the Hayes branding.
© Tommy Cooling

Route 140

VWH2237 passes the Lombardy Retail Park in Hayes showing the branding for Route 140.
© Tommy Cooling

In detail view of the side branding on VWH2237.
© Tommy Cooling

View of the rear Route 140 branding.
© Tommy Cooling

VWH2237 showing of the branding in Hayes Town Centre.
© Tommy Cooling

Route 195

Abellio 8876 showing the Route 195 branding in Hayes.
© Tommy Cooling

Route 350

Abellio 8894 showing the branding for Route 350 by Hayes ASDA.
© Tommy Cooling

Side-on view of the Route 350 branding.
© Tommy Cooling

Route 427

Abellio 2552 showing the Route 427 branding in Hillingdon Heath.
© Tommy Cooling

Route 607

Metroline VW1570 showing the Route 607 branding on the approach to Hayes By-Pass.
© Tommy Cooling

A view of the rear Route 607 branding attempts on VW1570.
© Tommy Cooling

Route Al0

Metroline DE1585 in Hillingdon Heath showing the Route A10 branding.
© Tommy Cooling

Route H98

London United DLE3001 showing, what looks like incomplete, H98 branding in Hayes Town.
© Tommy Cooling

The rear view of the H98 branding.
© Tommy Cooling

Route E6

Metroline DE1911 showing the E6 branding in Greenford.
© Tommy Cooling

The rear of the E6 branding.
© Tommy Cooling

The E6 branding is currently missing the route number & frequency stickers which are being replaced due to TfL errors.
© Tommy Cooling

Route U4

Metroline TE1573 showing the Route U4 branding in Hayes.
© Tommy Cooling

Metroline TE1573 showing the front and side branding attempts for the U4.
© Tommy Cooling

The rear view of the Route U4 branding.
© Tommy Cooling

Route U5

Abellio 2579 showing the Route U5 branding in Hayes.
© Tommy Cooling

Route U7

Abellio 8570 showing the Route U7 branding at Hayes Sainsbury's.
© Tommy Cooling

Off the beaten track

VWH2188 showing off the 140 branding whilst in Cricklewood on Route 182!
© Tommy Cooling

Post by Tommy Cooling
Some of these images and more can be found on my Flickr page:
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