New ‘Riverside’ Tourist service RV1 between Covent Garden (really the Aldwych) and Tower Gateway via such wonders as Tate Modern and the London Eye began 27th April 2002 with these almost 12 metre long Mercedes Citaro SLFs, a type new to London’s Streets.
One of this month’s not so strange visitors is now a fairly common occurance on the otherwise SLF operated 297. Is this to become another in the current trend of re-double decking busy routes that were foolishly converted to single deck some years ago, like the 34, 345, 321, 156, 139, 183 etc etc (and when will the 28, 31 and 328 be added to the list? !)
For some reason London General have swapped some of Sutton’s older standard NV DDs with those of the more unusual body type, Palatine-IIs at Putney. Thus the 154 and 213 now see some of the batch previously only to be found on the 74 and 14 (evenings and Sundays), and this only weeks before the arrival of Sutton’s first DLFs. You’ll note the route branding for South Kensington and the West End etc has NOT been removed, though none of Sutton’s services get near to these areas….
From the file marked occasional visitors comes a Metrobus DD of Metropolitan Omnibus on the usually SLF 487 at Central Middlesex Hospital, Park Royal. Metropolitan Omnibus have a number of DDs used for scheduled school trips on otherwise Single Deck routes, the main allocation on which are provided by other operators.
News that the London Mayor, Sir Ken of Livingstone has not been given the full amount of grant that he would have liked to spend on transport for the new financial year in the capital may mean a curtailment, at least for the forseeable future, of experiments like the further re-crewing of OPO (One Person Operated) routes like the 55 which has been two person operated with low floor double deckers since last October. The notices either side of the blinds to the front remind passengers of the advantages of this trial…
Metroline took over the 263 from Arriva and their subcontractors First Capital at the end of January 2002 with cascaded DLFs from the 140, which were replaced by longer models with differing bodywork… A miserable day at Barnet Church at the beginning of Feb illustrates the new operation.
One of the Regulars on Imperial’s commercial H1 route from Loughton to Harlow is this ex-London Titan DD. Following the withdrawl of Arriva’s 301 and 502 this now provides the only direct bus link between Loughton and Epping, a connection previously provided in days gone-by by the red 20A between Leytonstone and St Margaret’s Hospital. Patronage seems on the sparse side, so it’s long term future may not be that secure……
Another new livery and another new travel link arrived in the London area at the back end of 2001 in the shape of the 50A/50B First Beeline service for Windsor and Datchet to/from Heathrow from November 25th. Sporting Borough Bus Airoute Link branding, this non London Buses service provides a 30 minute service during the day, with evening and Sunday trips running as 90A.
Transport for London have announced that they intend to have 50 gold buses operate in London for the Queen’s Golden Jubilee year, following on from the 25 Silver RMs that operated in 1977. Obviously far less Routemaster routes operate now compared with then, so OPO buses will surely also be included this time. One of the few non 80% red buses currently operating in the central area is the Amnesty International RM which operates on the 38.
A re-arrangement of the Orpington ‘R’ services from 1st December 2001 saw Crystals increase the number of Red Optare SLFs they operated. The R7 and R8 were withdrawn and replaced in various ways by changes, diversions and extensions to other R routes, including the introduction of the new R6.
A batch of new Trident DLFs has arrived at Fulwell from Beginning of December 2001 for routes 131 and 267, though they don’t have quite enough for some reason, so several ordinary DDs will appear alongside these new vehicles on these routes for a while yet…
As with other recent First Centre West takeovers, the 79 moved from Metroline to Alperton’s DLFs without hitch from 24th November 2001. Rarely, the vehicles were already delivered and waiting during the week previously. Not top of my list to deserve re-double decking, but another pleasant surprise with the return of the top deck to the Preston Road area, and more to come in the spring with the 204 of course…
Contract renewal comes to the 75 from 9th February 2002 (NOT 2nd Feb as some publications might have you believe!) along with DLFs and a new N75 offering a 30 minute night frequency over the same routing. Publicity on the TFL website also states that the route is to be extended from West Croydon to the Fairfield Halls from this date also….
Another chapter in bus history was made on 23rd Feb 2002 as Arriva Surrey and West Sussex withdrew their last service that entered the ‘London’ Area, in the shape of the 418, together with fellow route number 479 previously long associated with the Kingston – Epsom – Leatherhead corridor. It seems incredible that services which were so busy in years gone by that they required DDs and in some cases crew operated Routemasters (e.g. 405/414, 406, 408/470, 409/411 etc) have been wound down to such an extent that they have all ended up such unpatronised CC contracts or connections abandoned altogether.. The old Arriva 479 is shown together with the new London Buses replacement for part of the 418, between Epsom & Kingston, awarded on Temporary contract to London United.
Having Taken over the 152 from 1st December 2001 and with an extension of the 201 Mitcham Belle needed to borrow some SLFs from somewhere as none of their new deliveries had materialised, and as Sovereign had some spare from the re-Double Decking of the 183 hey presto, so still in Sovereign colours, but on the other side of London they seem to appear mainly on the 127, with the Mitcham Belle liveried examples on the 152.
The new style of body, the “Wright Eclipse Gemini” on the latest batch of Volvo DLFs for Arriva London Northern is styled here on their intended first route, the 102 replacing Metrobus ordinary DDs after some 15+ years. They are characterized by the distinctive shape and huge size of the front windows, and resulting smaller front blind displays, amongst other features….
Bad news for White Rose Travel which withdrew all services from Thursday 28th Feb 2002 due to ‘financial difficulties’…. Surrey CC swung into action to replace services, and by Saturday 2nd March routes of interest to us like the 218, 451, 461 were running again in the hands of Tellings Golden Miller (218 M-S) and London United (218 Sun, 451 & 461). The old order of White Rose elderly London Buses Titan DD on the 461 is shown here.
A selection of early 2002 Double deck strange visitors on usually single deck routes, though in the case of the 164 not currently so strange (like the 80 and 151 which seem to see several DDs per day at the moment) and the R9 which gets at least one DLF round Ramsden Estate on a regular basis! Since the beginning of 2002 DDs on the 317 has become more common, and my informant reveals it is now usual for at least 1 out of the 3 buses to be a DD in the week, due for DLFs in 2003 anyway…
Bad news for White Rose Travel which withdrew all services from Thursday 28th Feb 2002 due to ‘financial difficulties’…. Surrey CC swung into action to replace services, and by Saturday 2nd March routes were running again in the hands of Tellings Golden Miller (218 M-S) and London United (218 Sun, 451 & 461). All Single Decks appear now to be used including one borrowed or bought from First (Manchester?) on the 218 from Tellings Golden Miller… The ‘after’ views are also illustrated on the London United 461..
All change for First Capital in the Romford area, with the 165 getting SLFs from the 257 around new year when that was reconverted to Double Deck. Also intended for Single Deckers originally were the 252 and 365, but sense prevailed and low floor Double Deckers were instead specified for these routes.. here they all are on a rather nicer day in January..
The nonsense of using Single Deckers on very busy routes such as the 257 seems to have now been realised, with the 257 converted to DLFs from 10th November 2001 and many other routes now being specified for DLFs on contract renewal. The 307, 106 and 191 are in the process of regaining the upper deck, with C2, E3, 345, 20, 183, 79 and 204 all set to follow. Personally, preferring to travel with a view from the upper deck whenever I travel I hope there are many more to come!
London United took over from First London Buslines earlier on in the year with new SLFs, and from 1st December 2001 replaced the ill fated T123 by operating via Feltham Station bus interchange and on from Heathrow Central Stn to Terminal 3. Our example shows this new Terminal 3 extension it leaves Kingston Bus Station.
So it was on Monday 15th October 2001 that history was made again in London with the experimental introduction of 18 metre (!!) articulated Volvo SDs on the straightest route they could find, the 207! So as our picture shows a corporate barbie liveried one with the front arriving at Ealing Broadway while the rear is still in Acton! They run every 30 mins as extras to the conventional 207 service, between Hayes By Pass and Shepherds Bush… and come in various liveries from around the First UK empire…
A recent common strange visitor from HT (Holloway) is the new use of SLFs on the 17 in place of the usual DLFs. DDA compliant blinds with no via points are illustrated on this example leaving Archway for London Bridge. With the conversion of the C2 to DLF shortly will this become a more common occurance?
Barking’s Sunday only allocation and hence any scheduled SLF operation on the 147 finished from 13th October 2001, but since this date Upton Park (U) have taken to putting out one or more SLFs on most days of the week for some reason, instead of the contracted DLFs.
Typical London United variety from Hounslow Heath (HH) on their Surrey CC routes 555-557. Evidence of DD use on the 556, plus the attractive blue livery on the intended Dart SLFs this time on the Addlestone 557 variation.
The London Buses owned DLFs formerly used by Arriva (London South) on the 60 have now made their way to Sovereign for use on the 114, but since it has been announced that the 183 is also now to revert to Double Deckers, they have been putting in appearances on this route also. Will the delivery of brand new DLFs now expected for the 183 come in full Sovereign colours (like the rest of their own vehicles), or London Buses red to go with the rest of their DLFs…??
Metroline’s new DLFs for the 113, but in typical Edgware style they have already strayed to the 240 which now sees a liberal mix of DD, SD and DLF all together on most days of the week. Possibly a more rare visitor is a DD on the 288, however.
Another massive round of contracts have been awarded for the Ealing area, due to start in May 2002. Amongst the highlights are substantial frequency increases on a large number of routes requiring about 20% more buses, plus the Double Decking of the E3. Armchair lose the 65 to London United, London General grab the 85 back, and the H40 is to be replaced by two new routes, 272 and 440. 272 will deal with the Chsiwick Grove Park end (formerly part of the E3 of course before the H40), while the Turnham Green to Park Royal bit gets an extension to Stonebridge Park as 440. The old orders are illustrated…
London General lost the 157 to Connex in the latest round of contract renewals from 1st December 2001. The old order is illustrated at West Croydon complete with the now all too common (for South and South East London) heavily etched upper deck windows, and “19 CLT” special registration mark previously transferred from a rather older vehicle..
Another victory in our ‘More Double Deckers’ campaign comes in the form of the 307 which has, like the 192, had it’s contract renewed on the basis of DLFs.. Unlike the 192 though, most daytime operations on the 307 have already been converted to older DDs or newer DLFs as illustrated.. though there are still a number of daily SDs at present. First, however, don’t have many DDs to spare, so the 192 currently remains mostly SD.
One of the last bastions of total Titan operation has been converted to new DLFs, the 172 is illustated alongside St Pauls.
TGM have taken over more services in South West London, both with new SLFs, the 203 from First London Buslines on 1st September, and more recently the H25 from London United with these Caetano SLFs on 17th November 2001.
Before and after 30th June 2001 on the 105, the huge queue of prospective patrons waiting to board the SD perhaps giving the clue as to why this route has been upgraded… surely the 92 will be next then!
It seems that the powers that be are avid readers of this site, since over the last few weeks there have been many announcements of routes to be re-converted to Double Decker operation, a move which this site is pleased to see for ANY route, but which is also plain common sense for passengers crammed onto inadequate SDs which were previously specified. Here are 2 recently announced reconverts, may many more follow!
Epsom now has more red bus routes and more Travelcard validity than ever before.. not bad for a town outside London! Here is a selection of the recent raft of new Travelcard friendly routes, including 166 previously Epsom Buses journeys which have been passed over to Arriva London South on a London Buses contract, seen here on the 2nd day of this new operation which began on 28th July 2001. As a result, the 166 has reverted to totally SD operation, following a period of DDs for the last 4 months or so… come on guys, a DD through to Epsom would be a bit of fun wouldn’t it?!?!?!?. Now that the 406 has been reallocated to Fulwell (from the rather distant Hounslow) full blinds rather than lazy displays are used… so also are Fulwell’s vehicles with ‘Route 57’ branding though too! Needless to say being in Surrey, Epsom town centre’s bus stops are not particularly well marked, but the situation has improved since February, when no stops had any timetables or route labels for any of the new routes at all!
Some slightly more rare strangers (as far as I am aware..) – this time provided by Arriva London North and South.
Previous routes 517 and 363 which wandered without due care and attention from the London area into Hertfordshire were dealt the all to common boundary blows from 2nd June 2001, with both routes being withdrawn and most parts replaced by 251 in Hertfordshire with 491 and 377 on the London side… Here’s part of the new order outside the Frank Pick designed Oakwood Station.
Latest News: In London, operations of Limebourne and Travel London, including most of the vehicles, have been taken over by Connex Bus as of 7th July 2001, though still at present operating from the Battersea base… (well, Connnex won’t have so many trains to operate shortly will they!!)
Some Metrobus not so strange visitors….
Let’s lave some Bus Stop fun: This one in Reigate taken not 10 years ago, but July 2001. See if you can spot any possible errors and complete the tiebreaker “Nobody uses the bus in Surrey anymore because…” in no less than 200 words. Send your answer to Surrey CC offices. In case you can’t read it, it says “Reigate Bell Street: 406 Kingston, 410 Sevenoaks and 420 Raynes Park”. In Leatherhead Town Centre I found “293 Leatherhead Bus Garage”, “293 Merton Abbey” and “408 Croydon” – one of these places doesn’t even exist, let alone be possible to get to from that stop!
In the Wake of the continuing Arriva contractions Connex took the new LT contract 405 route to Redhill with SLFs from 21st April 2001, though the odd DLF has shown up already apparently.
More out of town revisions affecting Arriva East Herts and Essex are due from 3rd June 2001 for routes 517 and 363, which serve the long time London route extremities of Upshire and Hammond Street.. Here’s one of each at Waltham Cross.
On 28th April 2001 First London Buslines Dart SLFs on the 490 were swapped for Tellings Golden Miller (former Capital Logistics) Excel SDs which were previously used on the U3. There will be few tears shed amongst TGMs drivers for the streets of West Drayton as the U3 was regarded by many as a bit of a nightmare! Here is the new order of things then…
London DD Titans are fast disappearing, and it can’t be that long for the remaining DD Metrobuses either…. Here, a regular strange visitor of a DD on the usually SLF 151 from Sutton soaks up the Shotfield Summer sunshine.
Metroline latest order of DLFs is for Willesden’s 52. They supposedly carry DDA blinds, and certainly the destination is larger and in mixed case, but contrary to London General’s harsh interpretation, these Metroline examples do carry ‘via’ points, though the number seems a little on the small side, especially compared to, say Easy-Links ‘185’, for example…
From 31st March 2001 the 94 has reverted to 7 day crew operation and in doing so became the only crew Sunday service in the capital, and the first (of many) to revert on the sabbath. Here is one on the first Sunday – and how do you know this? ..because the SLF behind is on the 98, itself crew operated during daylight hours on other days of the week! (click for the larger version to verify!!)
In London operators into the central area are now obliged, as new contracts are issued, to use a livery containing at least 80% traditional London Red, hence a London version of all new ‘corporate’ styles has to be invented alongside the 100% any colour version… Here is the new Stagecoach London one then… same dark blue skirt, and two colours are picked from the provincial livery to similarly sweep up towards the rear, though only on the sides this time, back end stays red.. ‘Stagecoach in London’ suggests Arriva style general area names are on the way, and the days of the likes of ‘Selkent’ and ‘East London’ are numbered.
Due to increased demands on Plumstead’s SLFs following enhancements to their 291 and 386 routes we have scored a backdoor victory in our ‘Double deck more routes’ campaign in the 178, but most likely this will only be for a limited time…. therefore enjoy the wonderful views of Shooters Hill and Shrewsbury Road etc (ahem..) while you can..
In a contract re-arrangement in South East London on March 17th 2001, Stagecoach lost the 225 to London Central, but gained the 181 and 284 from Metrobus. Metrobus gained the 367 from Blue Triange, but Blue Triange picked up a sub-contract on the 492 from.. you guessed it London Central, thus proving that what goes around comes around… You’ll note that although not adorned with the new livery, the 181 SLF again carries no logos at all, neither new or old style..
Hardly the busiest service in London, the 258, a single deck route for at least 22 years to my knowledge, is now receiving DLFs with First CentreWest. By March 13th about 2/3rds of the service was done, whilst crush routes like the 257 have to make do with going from DDs to cramped SLFs with few seats… and there’s more mindlessness promised with the 252 and 165 etc before the year is over…
London’s newest route is the 486, from Sat 24th February 2001 for the new QE Hospital in Woolwich, operating between North Greenwich and Welling, using the old Dome service SLF ‘MD’ class (including the gas powered buses) from the M1.
London’s latest new contract operator is Hackey Community Transport, who took over route 153 from First Capital with new SLFs from 3rd February 2001, with an Extension to Liverpool St Stn. They didn’t suffer any operator licence problems like London Easylink with the 185 had 2 weeks earlier !
Further Arriva and cross county boundary contractions meant the revival of the old 483 number for a new ‘stop-gap’ service in the Chelsham and Tatsfield area. Metrobus picked up the contract, but don’t pick up much in the way of patronage!
The New Year mindless single decking award must go to the new SLFs on the mega-busy 257, and our example arrived at Stratford absolutely packed to the gunnels like a sardine can.. surely this will have to be reversed in due course a la 88, 106, 32, 177, 120, 105, 144, and 191…..
Some of the new London General Low Floor DDs are appearing with the newer less than helpful Destinations in lower case lettering, which is supposed to be an advance in this day and age, but a lack of any via points etc does not seem much of a step forward in my opinion.. compare this display with that below on the 166.. which is clearest to read AND more informative??
The odd DD now returns to the 166 on the Arriva London South allocation, which is intended for SDs, though it used to see regular DD operation in years gone by when the 166 used to get as far as Shirley or Beckenham. Our example is posed in the midday sun, at the midday sun terminus!
The popular Bristol VR, liked by drivers and enthusiasts alike, still sees regular service across the South – from the London Area to Cornwall.. (and in both of these cases with FirstGroup!). Eastern National’s Chelmsford & Romford service 351 sees our X-reg example, which makes the vehicle at least 17 years old!
The old Railway Station cutting at Crystal Palace High Level claimed it’s second double decker victim on Friday 29th December 2000, but this time at the other end (opposite the new Bus station) as an Arriva London South Low Floor DD, DLA 169 plunged off the Parade at the Farquhar Road end whilst on a new diversion of route 2. The vehicle demolished the keep left sign, the metal pedestrian barriers and a brick wall before plunging down a 30ft embankment. In the top picture the back right hand corner of the bus can just be seen in the centre of the picture. The bottom picture shows the view from where the LT crane crew are standing on the far left of the top picture with their reflective jackets on. Although there has been a lot of snow and ice on all roads in the last few days, I understand that this incident is NOT as a result of skidding off the road. Click on either picture for closer inspections!
So, first it was a 3, now a 2… look out First Capital Drivers, lets hope it’s not your turn on route 1 next!
London General took over duties on the 188 from 2nd December 2000, Stockwell relieving Arriva London North’s Tottenham garage of said responsibilities…DLFs (though of differing body types) were in use before and after the change.
Just 2 weeks ahead of grabbing the 27 from London United, First CentreWest’s Westbourne Park Garage took over London General’s 295 from 28th October 2000… both routes will see new low floor vehicles when they are delivered, as illustrated by our X registration example at Clapham Junction
London’s newest day service is the 339, the ‘Fish Island Hoppa’…. lovely, nice… First Capital’s dedicated SLFs started between Shadwell Station and Bow on 28th October 2000
The First Corporate/Barbie Livery finally comes to London, in the shape of new SLFs for First BeeLine’s 58 group of routes on the Slough – Uxbridge corridor, penetrating the inner sanctum at the Uxbridge Station terminus. Eastern National’s 751 at Romford also sees some barbie’s now too!
Town & Country 324 linking Romford and Bluewater, (along with the 348) passed to Arriva East Herts and Essex from 5th October 2000, with a collection of whatever vehicles Arriva could muster. The old Silver and Blue order is therefore, no more, along with the reliable service, proper blinds, service to Romford, etc etc
The Arriva 301, the last vestages of the former LT service 20A and the Central line replacement to Ongar, was suddenly withdrawn after 22nd September.. the Epping-Loughton end has sort of been replaced by a new 503, but news of the Epping-Ongar daytime service is awaited… (apparently Thamesway evening journeys will still run!)
The 135 ceased to exist after Friday 1st September, being replaced by more 134s and a useful extension of the 88 to Camden Town. The 88 then re-activates the former 3/53 terminus and stand at Camden Gardens, albeit reaching it via a slightly different route..
So, with deliveries of DLFs, Low Floor double deckers passing the 1000 mark for London Companies in a pretty short space of time, here are 2 more examples of the new order of things for London General, 37 & 280 along with 44, 77, 77A, 88, 337 (..and any other route that has a double number in it, including the 11 & 22 on Sat/Sun or Sun respectively.
Due to continuing staff shortages at all companies, London United won a short reprieve on the R70, which Tellings Golden Miller were due to take over from 24th June. This was put back to 22nd July, and again deferred to 19th August 2000.
Arriva London North’s SLFs have finally moved in on the 444 after being in storage for weeks due to various teething problems with them.
A shortage of DDs at Brixton Garage on Sundays following the taking over of the 19 on this day with OPO vehicles means SDs are used on the otherwise DD service 118. Problems with a lack of blinds in early weeks seems to have been solved now also! A far cry from the DD Routemasters of the 80’s, ho hum!!
As is happening in East London with the Ex Harris Buses now turning red at a rate of knots, so it is in the West with the Ex Arriva vehicles for the 85 which passed to London United, though not with such gusto! Only a few seem to have had the treatment so far, as smartly worn on our example at Kingston’s Cromwell Road Bus Station. For the ‘before’ picture, see 85 in the route lists……
All 3 Croydon Tramlink lines are now open, following the opening of the Final section, Line 1 to Wimbledon on Tuesday 30th May from Mid-day… Our picture shows Tram 2547 at the Wimbledon Terminus on the first day. More Pics and info on Frequencies etc on our London A-Z routes page, more details from the excellent www.croydontramlink.co.uk
New Low Floors continue to spread into the capital having taken over at London United’s Hounslow garage on the 120, and 111 plus Nightbuses N9 and N97. They are now making a start also at London Central’s Bexleyheath Garage on the 89, 96, 229 and 422.
New LowFloor Double Deckers for day routes means new low floors on the not so often photographed night buses…. an example of Metroline Holloway’s N5, the Northern Line Edgware branch NightBus, in an equally rarely deserted Trafalgar Square…
The Croydon Tramlink heralded many new links plus revised and increased services feeding into it. One such is the 464 from rural Tatsfield to the New Addington Parkway Tram Terminus. The service has been upgraded from 1 MB to 2 SD at all times, with a doubling of the frequency daytimes Mon-Sat, and a new Sunday and evening full service introduced.. Teething problems are apparent though from our picture as both 464s are at the New Addington end of the route, the Godstone driver who should be at Tatsfield at this time had a puzzled expression and was grappling with a photocopied map of Biggin Hill when this picture was taken!
London United’s Routes 111 and 120 are the latest for Low floor double deckers, and here is an example of the dedicated livery for the ‘one-eleven’ as it is described on the side of the new delivery, which, knowing Hounslow Garage, will most likely appear on most of their other services too without much delay!!
This service used to get as far as Wood Green, but gradually the arm has withered, first to Walthamstow, and now on May 6th 2000 First Thamesway 251 was withdrawn altogether, with the partner 551 cut back to Romford. On that last day the operators advised that various journeys would be with DDs, but the service tended to be liberally mixed DD/SD currently anyway…
London’s elderly Metrobuses being ousted by the new low Floors are finding service all over the place, in various states of new colours, or not, as the case may be… The 370/373 Romford-Grays from Arriva East Herts & Essex sees a most unusual colour for buses beyond the London boundary into Essex.. Still London red…