Archive

Saturday 23rd February 2002
It's a 486 special today! This time last year the 486 was created out of the old M1 and M2 pair, the two short-range routes that linked the Millennium Dome with Charlton and Greenwich Stations respectively. Despite the closure of the Dome, which still sits empty and unloved at the top of the North Greenwich peninsula, the 486 has thrived as a shuttle service to get commuters to North Greenwich Station. Today it was projected even further from Welling to Bexleyheath to coincide with its reallocation from New Cross to Bexleyheath garage at London Central. The fine East Lancs Myllennium-bodied DAF SB220LCs continue to operate the 486, with a Volvo B7L on order to account for the increased requirement, but from the first day Bexleyheath delighted with a selection of all three of its current double-deck types.
London Central Titan T 954 (A954 SYE) and Volvo B7TL PVL 11 (V311 LGC) at Bexleyheath, 23/02/02 Two periods of bright sunny weather (albeit perishing cold) were broken at 3 pm by a ferocious hailstorm. This was where the dayglo blinds and running numbers carried by Bexleyheath's T 954 (A954 SYE) and PVL 11 (V311 LGC) came in useful, glowing through the downpour. It was nice to see BX make an effort with the blinds, helped by the garage having both Bexleyheath and North Greenwich on their ultimate panels from the 422, which also links the 486's two termini. The 486 has got to be the last route worked new by Titans - there are only six at Bexleyheath and they can't have much more than weeks left.
London Central Volvo Olympian NV 13 (N413 JBV) at Bugsby's Way Sainsbury's, 23/02/02 The 51 is where Bexleyheath's NV-class Volvo Olympians are based, and they are to be replaced by PVLs shortly. Still, NV 13 (N413 JBV) got in a go on the 486 on its first day at Bexleyheath, running as BX112. The running number series is that formerly used on the 321, which lost its Bexleyheath allocation today to make room for the 486. The bus is seen at Bugsby's Way Sainsbury's.
London Central Titan T 1062 (A62 THX) and DAF SB220GG MD 10 (V10 GMT) on the Millennium Busway, 23/02/02 The 486's second Titan today was T 1062 (A62 THX). It is seen conferring with MD 10 (V10 GMT), reassuring us that the three gas-powered DAF SB220GGs have a future with London Central. Both buses are at the head of the Millennium Busway, probably 2000's most notable millennium failure where buses are concerned. The technology was never used, and wastefully a road was constructed parallel to the busway. In any case the peninsula has reverted to the bleak and windswept desolation of the pre-Dome era, with virtually no traffic or passengers of any kind. We'll see what transpires when the housing now being built accepts its first occupants.

Sunday 17th February 2002
Mitcham Belle have finally started taking delivery of their sixteen new Caetano Nimbus-bodied Dennis Dart SLFs for the 152, but in a curious development, some of them have red bodies and only the front in Mitcham Belle livery.
Mitcham Belle Dart SLF 054 (KM51 BFU) at Mitcham, 16/02/02 There is a definite trend for London bus operators to introduce predominantly red liveries, but there's no particular reason for Mitcham Belle to do so, as none of their four routes get anywhere near Central London. Even odder thus is the decision to paint some of their new Dart SLFs in 'half and half'. Also demonstrating the introduction of numeric fleetnumbers is brand new 054 (KM51 BFU, left). Compare with standard-liveried 056 (KM51 BFL, right) making a foray onto the 201. Both buses are pictured at Mitcham. Mitcham Belle Dart SLF 056 (KM51 BFL) at Mitcham, 16/02/02

Sunday 10th February 2002
Arriva London appear to have ordered all repaints of their Routemasters to include silver wheels. I wish they wouldn't do this, as it looks awful and draws attention to when the wheels inevitably become caked with road dirt within a matter of weeks. There's only one colour for wheels, and that's Indian Red!
On 5th February Brixton stalwart RML 2264 (CUV 264C) swings left onto Westminster Bridge following a full repaint (including the unfortunate silver wheels). Arriva London South Routemaster RML 2264 (CUV 264C) at Westminster, 05/02/02

Saturday 2nd February 2002
The 263 is back with Potters Bar today after five years with Arriva London North and last year with First Capital. They have taken up the route using 1999-vintage Alexander ALX400-bodied 9.9m Tridents cascaded from Harrow Weald by the arrival of new 10.5m Tridents with Plaxton President bodies.
Metroline London Northern Trident TA 112 (V312 GLB) at Highgate, 02/02/02 Metroline Trident TPL 238 (LN51 KXR) at Harrow, 02/02/02 These days even Saturday traffic is at stifling volume, making it necessary to find more open spaces for photography, such as the junction of the Archway Road and Muswell Hill being crossed by TA 112 (V312 GLB, left). For a moment it looked like the new TPLs would not arrive in time to take up the 140, but at least eight were in service today. Harrow Weald's TPL 238 (LN51 KXR, right) takes on a heavy load at Harrow Bus Station.

Thursday 31st January 2002
Marshalls have completed the last of the RM refurbishments, with those that Sovereign didn't snap up divided between CentreWest and London Central.
London Central's five refurbished RMs also, unfortunately, lack white cantrail bands (though you'd assume New Cross will put them on in due course, having already added the side route details on a blue background). The skinny new numberplate characters look most incongruous on RM 875 (OVS 940). The surviving RMs have thus gone through two changes of the registration system, with the accompanying reduction in the font size! London Central Routemaster RM 875 (OVS 940) at Lewisham, 31/01/02

Sunday 27th January 2002
Fulwell garage, now of London United, was the first to operate production Ms when the 267 was converted in March 1979. Their time came due for replacement in December when new Alexander ALX400-bodied Dennis Tridents arrived.
London United Trident TA 225 (SN51 SZU) at Twickenham, 22/01/02 The weather's been pretty poor for most of this week, but a rare moment of sunshine on Tuesday 22nd January allowed me to capture Fulwell's TA 225 (SN51 SZU) at Twickenham.

Friday 25th January 2002
The end of the year period always seems to produce a glut of new buses. Another of the conversions to low floor double-deck has encompassed the 261 at Metrobus. Twelve East Lancs-bodied Dennis Tridents have replaced the loaned London Central NVs, which are returning home.
At least the new registration system means that operators will no longer be leaving untidy numerical gaps in their fleetnumbers. On Tuesday 15th January, new 417 (LV51 YCC) and 422 (LV51 YCH) sit side by side at Lewisham. Metrobus Tridents 417 (LV51 YCC) and 422 (LV51 YCH) at Lewisham, 15/01/02

Tuesday 22nd January 2002
Now Armchair's got cow horns! The 190 was restocked with new 10.1-metre Dennis Dart SLFs on Saturday, but they are in an 80%-red livery rather than the familiar orange and white of Armchair.
Armchair Dart SLF RL51 DOU at Richmond, 22/01/02 A hint of Armchair's old colours comes in the orange stripe worn amidships, in a livery application very much like Arriva's London scheme. At Richmond this afternoon, brand new RL51 DOU swings out for another journey northwards.

Monday 21st January 2002
Time for the London Bus Page's annual overhaul! Simplification is the theme again for 2002, with several sections that I hardly ever update removed. I've reintroduced a frame for the title graphic, but it shouldn't be too intrusive (people hate frames!). It also allows the cover picture and buttons to stay in one place without the user having to scroll miles down and back (and it usually is miles, after a few updates!). The pages should be easier to print now that I've taken out the thick table edges. The rest of the pages will be online in a few days to a week.

Saturday 19th January 2002
London Easylink have taken over the 42, some weeks earlier than originally intended. While using some of the existing Connex (Limebourne) Dart SLFs on hire, Easylink are also hiring white Dart SLFs until the delivery of their own East Lancs Myllennium-bodied Scanias. Interestingly, the changeover has also been accompanied by a colossal frequency increase which takes the Monday to Friday peak vehicle requirement to 12. I remember the days when the 42 was furnished with just three Titans!
As Tower Bridge is closed at the moment, the 42 is diverting via London Bridge, where hired East Lancs Spryte-bodied Dart SLF DE 133 (S551 BNV) is seen. Hired London Easylink Dart SLF DE 133 (S551 BNV) at London Bridge, 19/01/02

Tuesday 15th January 2002
Thanks for all your welcome home messages! Much appreciated. Now that I'm back in London and acclimatising to the cold (well...) I've got loads to catch up on, so over the next few days I'll be around photographing everything that's happened since December and bringing my stock up to date.
During December the 179 at First London's Dagenham received its new Tridents. TNs are specified for this route and the 365, with TNLs for the 123 and 252. DMLs have already been displaced to the 165, with Metrobuses now thin on the ground and Dominators next to go. One of the 179's old Dennis Arrows is still going, however, behind TN 1065 (LN51 GKZ) at Barking on Saturday. First London Trident TN 1065 (LN51 GKZ) at Barking, 12/01/02

Sunday 13th January 2002
I'm back! I loved Sydney so much I didn't want to come home at all - it's probably the coolest place I've ever been. Transport-wise it's top notch, with the double-deck trains far outstripping London's Tube in terms of reliability and comfort. My favourite thing about the CityRail trains is that if you don't want to sit facing backwards, you simply turn over the seat back! Where the buses are concerned, Sydney and its environs are more 'foreign' in appearance than Singapore, with Mercedes-Benz single-deckers predominating and all locally bodied. Sydney Buses runs in the centre of town and to a radius of about ten miles, after which a myriad of local operators run with similar fares.
Sydney Buses 3230 (MO.3230) and 2184 (MO.2184) at Manly Ferry Teminal, 20/12/01 First, Sydney Buses. Their all single-deck fleet is predominantly of Mercedes-Benz chassis, with a strong showing of Scania and Volvo products. Handily, the registration numbers match the fleetnumbers, as on 3230 and 2184 (MO.3230 and MO.2184) at Manly ferry teminal on 20th December.
Sydney Buses Mercedes 0.405 1118 (MO.1118) at Circular Quay, 17/12/01 The conversion of routes to low floor buses appears about a quarter done, with large numbers taken during the Sydney Olympics of 2000. A concurrent move is the specification of natural gas-powered vehicles, like 1118 (MO.1118) approaching Circular Quay on 17th December.
In the Sydney suburbs, the fleets of the local operators are far more eclectic, but even then there's a dash of familiarity. Connex have their finger in the Sydney pie, operating Southtrans in the Hurstville area as well as both the new tram system and the monorail. Seen at Hurstville station on 10th December is Volgren-bodied Volvo B10M 109 (MO.8736). Connex Southtrans Volvo B10M 109 (MO.8736) at Hurstville, 10/12/01
The superb Bus and Truck Museum at Tempe is well worth a visit when you're in Sydney. It's full of former Sydney and independent buses, historical tram information (Tempe was once a tramshed) and numerous bus and tram artefacts. On Sundays one of the operational veterans does a tour of the local neighbourhood. On the day I went it was Clyde-bodied AEC Regent III 2643 (2643) of 1952 vintage. This contemporary of the RT shows both the old Sydney Buses livery (as compared to the Southend-like modern version) and a distant past of UK-built double-deck buses, which also included large numbers of Albion Victory double-deckers. The friendly and knowledgeable volunteer staff kindly stopped for a photo-op at Marrickville, not far from the Museum. Preserved Sydney Buses AEC Regent III 2643 (2643) at Marrickville, 23/12/01
And finally, a little bit of home. In the Bus and Truck Museum are none other than two London buses. The museum has thoughtfully specified vintage vehicle registrations that match the London Transport fleetnumbers of RM 1708 (1708, 708 DYE) and RT 3708 (3708, NLE 815). Preserved RM 1708 (1708, 708 DYE) and RT 3708 (3708, NLE 815)) at the Bus and Truck Museum, 23/12/01

Saturday 1st December 2001
This'll be the last update from me for a while, as I'm off to Sydney, Australia on Monday and won't be back till 11th January. If I see anything interesting out there, be it UK-built or UK-spec buses (Darts) or preserved buses, I'll post it once I can get my laptop connected, but I'm due a holiday - even from the London Bus Page! 2001's been a superb year all told; the particular highlight is doing Around and About for London Bus Magazine. Many thanks to all concerned - I really appreciate it and hope my efforts have proven popular. Also on that front there was my history of London's Titans in LBM 115 (Spring 2001). The second part of that Modern Workhorses series is nearly complete, and will be in LBM 119 (Spring 2002, publication date 11th March). I still intend to do whole books, if anyone's in a commissioning frame of mind!
On to today's enormous programme. A last minute card failure (see March 3rd - they don't last long, do they!) necessitated an emergency replacement at Dixons, so I had to shift my photographic journey from morning to evening, around the engagement I'd had for lunch. Thanks to the digital camera's reliability and amazing capability in the dark I can go at any time of the day or night. I didn't manage to cover the 1 or Orpington (those will have to wait till 2002), but I did make it to Morden (157, 201, 413 and S4), South Wimbledon (152) and thanks to a late tip-off on the london-bus Yahoogroup, Tooting Broadway (a surprise hire of Sovereign Darts by Mitcham Belle on the 127 plus M 1106 pitching in). Finally, despite South West Trains unravelling entirely south of Waterloo during the evening (not amused - it was cold by then!) I even managed to reach Kingston to investigate the 131, 285 and four of the K-routes.

Connex took over the important 157 from London General, but as with the 60 in September, not all the new Tridents were ready. Connex again went to Alexanders to hire six identical buses awaiting delivery to Stagecoach. Caught together at Morden as dusk falls are indigenous brand new TA 58 (YN51 KVR, left) and hired Stagecoach TAS 530 (LX51 FOP, right). The blind displays are improved within the restrictive DDA specifications, now squeezing three via points on each of the two lines permitted. Connex Bus Trident TA 58 (YN51 KVR) and hired TAS 530 (LX51 FOP) at Morden, 01/12/01

On bus stop panels, the blue inserts that inform passengers of route change programmes now omit details of which operator is ceding to another. Judging by the gulf between Connex's seamless hires (of externally identical vehicles with blinds and correct temporary vinyls applied in good time) and Mitcham Belle's more haphazard approach today, I don't blame Transport for London for being afraid of confusing the public. Indeed changeover days have become the most interesting part of the modern scene. Still, despite the visible changes of operator down on the ground, I often wonder how competitive the system is supposed to be, as was the whole point in breaking up LT. The easygoing cooperation between operators in terms of hires of standard-specification buses, plus sensible moves to permit buses to turn around in 'rival' companies' garages, makes the matter of transfers and changes actually a lot more like the old London Transport of old. They are all running contracts for the same boss after all, Transport for London. The only competition comes in the period during which firms bid for the tenders once every five years, and the details of who actually bids for them are not disclosed - only how many and the running costs they submitted. Interestingly, quite a few routes are retained by their incumbent simply because they were the only ones who put in a tender. With contracts now extendable from five to seven years if the company shows it knows what it's doing, the system really is beginning to settle down. The big groups seem happy, and there's still room for new small companies to squeeze in. Even I'm relaxed at how it's all panned out, and I'm well known for being fond of the flawed all-London Transport state monopoly!
The only worry is what will happen once an already spoiled rotten London has been completely filled with new low floor buses. Where will the provinces get their cascaded late-model vehicles from, and what repercussions will that have on the jittery UK bus industry?

Mitcham Belle Dart SLF T875 HGT at South Wimbledon, 01/12/01 First London Volvo B7LA AV 1 (Y151 ROT) at Ealing Hospital, 22/10/01 Mitcham Belle have grown steadily in 2001, and the 152 is right in their patch. However, it is unknown what they have on order for the route, so the company had to switch its 10.7m Dart SLFs from the 127. Unfortunately, the running number on T875 HGT (left) at South Wimbledon is easy to confuse with the temporary, and smaller, route number card. The surprise hires were of Sovereign's surplus 10.1m Dart SLFs made spare from the 183. They fit in fine on the 127, as 550 (V550 JBH, right), proves at Tooting Broadway.

There's not a lot of real competition going on in the manufacturing world either. Now that Transbus owns just about everything it's possible to build in Britain (ie Dennis, Alexander and Plaxton), they look seriously tempted to 'do a Leyland' and produce a one size fits all bus under the Transbus name, despite assurances that they intended to keep the Alexander and Plaxton brands separate. The Enviro 300 concept displayed at Coach & Bus appeared to be a single-deck evolution of the Dennis Dart in both chassis and body. But that for five or so years from now. Back to the present, it's interesting how two committed Volvo B7TL customers have returned to Dennis Tridents. Perhaps this is due to the new Euro 3 engine; I've not yet travelled on a Euro 3-fitted Trident, but I would have thought Cummins would have wanted to catch up the amazing smoothness of the Volvo engine on B7TLs. Early Tridents are rough and noisy buses in my opinion, and really needed refining. (While I definitely like the B7TL, the DAF DB250RS[LF] dusts them both any day). Metroline and London United have both placed large orders for Tridents after repeat purchases of Volvos.
Fulwell garage was the first London Transport garage to operate production Metrobuses starting in March 1979, and may yet be the last. Replacements have started to arrive in the form of 22 Alexander-bodied Dennis Tridents. Although intended for the 267, the first examples are appearing on the 131. Wearing the inevitable Edinburgh registration booked by the manufacturer, TA 206 (SN51 SYE) sets off from Kingston. The 131 has been a feeble remnant of its former self since the main eastward thrust was progressively transferred to the 57. London United Dennis Trident TA 206 (SN51 SYE) at Kingston, 01/12/01

Friday 30th November 2001
The 183 at Sovereign is yet another route to regain double-deckers, with new long wheelbase Plaxton President-bodied Volvo B7TLs taking over from the Dennis Dart SLFs.
The only downer in the 183's conversion is the perpetuation of the bland red and black livery, rather than the superb blue and cream of Sovereign's other operations. Sovereign's Harrow base cannot accommodate double-deckers, so Volvo B7TL 2724 (LN51 AZL) is based at Edgware. The new buses are numbered after a series inaugurated on Burnley & Pendle vehicles operating the Blazefield group's major post-Stagecoach network. Sovereign Volvo B7TL 2724 (LN51 AZL) at Golders Green, 30/11/01

Saturday 24th November 2001
Another welcome return to double-deck operation encompassed the 79 today. It seemed to be coming along fine for a first day operation, but perhaps this is because Alperton operated it for many years prior to 1987, so you'd figure they knew what they were doing!
Metroline Dart EDR 42 (P318 MLD) at Edgware, 16/05/00 Before and after. Between 4th September 1999 and yesterday, the 79 was operated by Darts from Metroline's North Wembley. EDR 42 (P318 MLD, left) is seen at Edgware on 16th May 2000. From today, eleven new Tridents from First (London)'s Alperton garage have restored double-deck operation. TN 1043 (LN51 DVG, right) is seen at midday between Wembley and Alperton. First Trident TN 1043 (LN51 DVG) at Wembley Central, 24/11/01

Thursday 22nd November 2001
Deliveries of Stagecoach's 2001 order for Alexander-bodied Tridents is nearly complete. The plan to allocate them has been changed in mid-stream, with the 47 at Catford converted to TAS as planned but the 75 now taking the place of the intended 160 for the remaining TASs.
Stagecoach London Trident TAS 479 (LX51 FLR) at Lewisham, 21/11/01 Catford's TAS 479 (LX51 FLR) is seen in Lewisham High Street yesterday. VNs had already replaced Stagecoach's last service Titans from the 47 by the start of October.

Sunday 18th November 2001
A pair of new Darts today, from changes that have gone on in south west London in the past week.
Tellings-Golden Miller took up the H25 on Saturday with seven new Caetano Nimbus-bodied Dart SLFs like 424 (RA51 KKD, left) at Hatton Cross. Meanwhile, London United have plumped for Mini Pointer Darts to replace their fairly long-established DRs from the K-routes. Completing the geographic mayhem of the new registration system with a Scottish mark, Tolworth's DPK 609 (SN51 SXW, right) sets off from Kingston. I assume the code DPK relates to London United's DPs as the Mercedes SLK does to the SL - i.e. meaning shorter ('Kurz' being German for short). Tellings-Golden Miller Dart SLF 424 (RA51 KKD) at Hatton Cross, 18/11/01 London United Mini Dart SLF DPK 609 (SN51 SXW) at Kingston, 18/11/01

Friday 16th November 2001
Route 257 has begun converting back to double-deck operation after an unhappy ten months with DMLs. New 10.5-metre Dennis Tridents of a large order for First London are doing the job out of Hackney.
First London Trident TNL 1019 (LK51 UYW) at Stratford, 15/11/01 At Stratford station on Thursday Hackney's TNL 1019 (LK51 UYW) has turned itself round for another run up Leytonstone High Road to Walthamstow Central. Perhaps the local papers will shut up complaining now!

Wednesday 7th November 2001
I've had two emails reminding me not to forget the PR1, which is also still operated by DWs and not due for replacement until early next year.
Alperton's DW 162 (NDZ 3162) leaves the Central Middlesex Hospital on 30th May 2000, with a CentreWest yellow band as well as the LBL grey skirt. The rubber bumper adornment is missing on this bus, which was new to East London but replaced from the 247 within a year. I always liked the DWs; their fully carpeted interior and nippy performance put them among the best of the early Darts. First Challenger Dart DW 162 (NDZ 3162) at Central Middlesex Hospital, 30/05/00

Monday 5th November 2001
First London have taken more Marshall-bodied Dennis Dart SLFs for the conversion of the 224 and 226. After the forthcoming conversion of the 223 to DM, the only DWs left will be those operating on the 462 out of First Capital. The new DMLs sound substantially and rather disconcertingly different from previous Dart SLFs.
First London Dart SLF DML 415 (LN51 DWY) at Golders Green, 05/11/01 Alperton's DML 415 (LN51 DWY) is seen at the second stop of route 226 past Golders Green Station. Keen-eyed observers will note that the 'Marshall Specialist Vehicles' badge has been deleted from beneath the winged radiator symbol following the sale of Marshall's bus manufacturing division to Horizont (although still under the Marshall name).

Saturday 3rd November 2001
It was the LOTS Autumn Spectacular today, held at Picketts Lock, Edmonton. This is one of my favourite events - it's cosy, friendly and easy to get to! Blue Triangle provide the free bus service between Tottenham Hale Station and Picketts Lock, and this year took the opportunity to show one of their new Tridents, DL 917, alongside veterans RT 3871 and RCL 2260.
Forty-three RCL-class Routemaster coaches of 30ft length were built for Green Line in 1965, just prior to the 500 RMLs. They all passed to London Country in 1970 and were downgraded to bus work during that decade before resale to London Transport. Most of them were next run on the 149 from 1980 to 1984 before the class was again withdrawn from passenger service. Now some of the surviving RCLs can be seen on tour work with Arriva presenting London, some are preserved overseas. The highest numbered example, RCL 2260 (CUV 260C) is now owned by Blue Triangle and has been restored to original condition (including the twin headlights). Blue Triangle Routemaster coach RCL 2260 (CUV 260C) at Tottenham Hale Station, 03/11/01

Monday 29th October 2001
Route 106 is now reverting to double-deck operation with a new influx of Dennis Tridents replacing the dual-door Darts. I couldn't think of a London route which was less appropriate for single-deckers than this one, which passes through heavily populated swathes of the East End.
Stagecoach East London Trident TAS 505 (LX51 FNH) at Finsbury Park, 29/10/01 Brand new TAS 505 (LX51 FNH) has arrived at Finsbury Park on Monday afternoon, as yet without DDA-compliant blinds.

Tuesday 23rd October 2001
Two of the new routes created in the Enfield area earlier this year, routes 377 and 491, are now going over from DRL to PDL operation.
Eleven new Mini Pointer Darts are being divided between Arriva London North's Edmonton and Enfield garages for routes 377 and 491 respectively. Passing through Edmonton Green on its way to the North Middlesex Hospital today is PDL 65 (LJ51 DCY). Arriva London North Mini Dart SLF PDL 65 (LJ51 DCY) at Edmonton Green, 23/10/01

Monday 22nd October 2001
Route 331 at First London's Uxbridge has received its new Dart SLFs, all of which have been treated to Routemaster registrations saved up from previous vehicles. However one of them demonstrated the frailty of today's expensive modern equipment when the wheelchair ramp failed to retract after the lady below was wheeled aboard. With the bus stranded, all the passengers could do was to get off and make their way to the buses behind, particularly an U1, which takes a more direct route to Uxbridge. Whereupon the woman in the wheelchair simply stood up and stepped aboard as if she'd never needed the wheelchair in the first place!
Gradually the Marshall Capital-bodied Dart SLF is filling up First London's single-deck routes. However, the batch of ten personified by DML 407 (676 DYE) introduces the willow leaf livery to Uxbridge's Darts for the first time. In this Ruislip view, the Routemaster registration (formerly worn by a coach) doesn't sit very well in the skinny new standard numberplate typeface. First London Dart SLF DML 407 (676 DYE) at Ruislip, 22/10/01

Monday 22nd October 2001
Six articulated buses are being tried out on the 207 alongside the current Tridents (and their Metrobus support). First London's Greenford garage is in charge of the four Volvo B10LAs and two Volvo B7LAs on attachment from various parts of the FirstGroup empire.
First London Volvo B10LA AV 7 (V607 GGB) at Ealing Broadway, 22/10/01 First London Volvo B7LA AV 1 (Y151 ROT) at Ealing Hospital, 22/10/01 The Wright Fusion-bodied Volvo B10LAs hail from First Glasgow and all carry Barbie livery, like AV 7 (V607 GGB, left) passing through Ealing Broadway. By contrast, there are two newer Wright Eclipse Fusion-bodied Volvo B7LAs on loan from First Southampton, and one of them is in First London red. This is AV 1 (Y151 ROT, right), seen outside Ealing Hospital with the mechanics' van in attendance.

Saturday 13th October 2001
At last I managed to get to Romford and profile the 248. This route was transferred from First Capital to Blue Triangle on 29th September, but not all the intended East Lancs Lolyne-bodied Dennis Tridents are in stock. Once again Blue Triangle's trusty stock of Metrobuses and Titans have sprung into action, with several augmentations from the withdrawn fleet of Stagecoach East London. This has reintroduced Ts to the 248 for the first time since 1988.
Seen on a diversion through backstreets behind Romford Station is brand new Trident DL 914 (PO51 UMK, left), introducing Preston registrations in the new format. A late livery change has turned the beige bumper red, in contrast with veteran T 9 (WYV 9T, right). Closer examination will reveal that only cosmetic alterations have been carried out to the handful of ex-Stagecoach East London Titans. Blue Triangle Trident DL 914 (PO51 UMK) at Romford, 13/10/00 Blue Triangle Titan T 9 (WYV 9T) at Romford, 11/10/01

Saturday 13th October 2001
Star of the show at Coach&Bus; 2001 at the NEC this week was a Mercedes-Benz Citaro in a faux London livery.
Mercedes-Benz Citaro demonstrator at Coach&Bus 2001, 11/10/01 Wearing blinds for the 24 (!) and a retro London Transport livery of the mid-1980s, complete with filled roundel, this Mercedes-Benz Citaro poses at the NEC. The design is rather plain in contrast to the Wright Eclipse/Solar family. Articulated versions of this German citybus are on order by London General, and eleven of the fixed type are coming to First Capital next year. This particular bus is to visit a round of London operators for trials.

Monday 8th October 2001
The weather's been so bad lately that I haven't been able to get out to the 248's territory as promised, but between downpours this weekend I did get a look at Edmonton. It was the 102's VLWs I wanted, but all that passed me was two Ms and two DLAs (the latter unusual in themselves). However, the 191 is well worth checking out, with just about every type of bus First London's Northumberland Park depot can throw at it!
Route 191, which takes a circuitous route between Edmonton and Brimsdown, was converted to single-deck when it passed from the then Cowie Leaside to the then Thamesway in 1996. Today's operators, First London (and that's not the last name even they'll have, by all accounts!) are about to cement their retention of the 191 with a reversion to double-deck, using 1999-vintage Tridents. Until then all sorts are appearing, including large numbers of Metrobuses. I remember 352 (A952 SUL) as M 952, new to Wandsworth in 1984. First London Metrobus 352 (A952 SUL) at Edmonton Green, 06/10/01

Saturday 29th September 2001
Quite a bit to report today, although with events happening at each end of London, one extremity will have to wait! I'll deal with Romford and the 248 in due course, but today I went via Victoria to Croydon and Sutton.
London Central Dart SLF LDP 142 (Y842 TGH) at Victoria, 29/09/01 After five and a half months in the hands of Blue Triangle, route C10 passed to its new home today. London Central now run the route from Camberwell garage, using eleven new Mini Pointer Dart SLFs like LDP 142 (Y842 TGH), which had been held in store for some time (hence the retention of the booked Y-registration). However, a planned extension from the Elephant through backstreets to London Bridge has been called off for the moment.
In the Croydon area, route 450 began a new contract a frequency boost to make up for the reduced size of the new buses. 34-seat DRLs have had to be replaced by 29-seat Mini Pointer Darts, one of which is Thornton Heath's PDL 51 (LJ51 DAO) preparing for the usual enormous crowd at West Croydon. Amazingly, the registration matches the fleetnumber! Arriva London South Mini Dart SLF PDL 51 (LJ51 DAO) at West Croydon, 29/09/01
Arriva London South Dart SLF DDL 3 (S303 JUA) at West Croydon, 29/09/01 In 1998, route 319 was converted from LDR to DDL operation and its LDRs cascaded from Brixton to Croydon to replace older buses from the 166 and 412. Now those DDLs have fallen due for replacement, and have repeated the process! DDL 3 (S303 JUA) peeps round the corner at West Croydon, wearing the faded blinds from one of the outgoing step-entrance Darts.
Even before I set out, I was surprised to see new TASs working the 67 out of Stagecoach East London's Bow, some weeks earlier than I'd thought this would happen. Again there is a hefty drop in capacity on each bus; where the outgoing VA-class Olympians seated a generous 79, the new shorter Tridents can only manage 64. Seen loading up at Wood Green in the evening is TAS 493 (LX51 FMO) in full Stagecoach rigout. Stagecoach London Trident TAS 493 (LX51 FMO) at Wood Green, 29/09/01

Friday 28th September 2001
The 113 is now receiving its new vehicles in the form of VPL-class Volvo B7TLs.
Metroline Volvo B7TL VPL 225 (LK51 XGV) at Oxford Circus, 27/09/01 These new buses appear to be Edgware's first new double-deckers in over twenty years. Seen at the Oxford Circus terminus on Thursday afternoon is VPL 225 (LK51 XGV).

Sunday 23rd September 2001
Showbus today - but it's increasingly hard going, and this year may be my last. Just a few reasons below.

  • Move it forward a month - only once in the last five years has it been free from rain. It's tremendously depressing watching stalls' precious merchandise being destroyed by rainfall seeping through plastic sheeting, and it doesn't induce people to buy. Why not the August bank holiday or the first Sunday in September?
  • De-corporatise it. Increasingly the big groups have been gathering their identically-liveried buses together in separate enclosures. In somewhat crowded conditions this year, Stagecoach's collection was left in a forgotten corner round the back near the tanks, there to list against each other on uneven ground, while FirstGroup didn't present much of an impression with the cheap and nasty 'spraycan Barbie' non-livery. As for Arriva, even I can't tell the differences between them any more, and I'm beyond caring. Mix up ages, companies and types so that everyone can get a fair view of the amazing variety that's out there.
  • The organisation today was beyond dire. One 40-seat Dart SLF an hour for over a hundred passengers waiting at Cambridge station was totally inadequate. When the bus did load up to bursting, it sat driverless for half an hour before an FLF backup appeared and left before it! This creaky vehicle was full of character with its dodgy gearbox and valiant hill climbing, much more in keeping with Showbus's ethic, but by the time it inched its way to Duxford it had to contend with hordes of police who had no idea what to do or where to direct people, but were doing so with the kind of long faces you'd expect from standing under torrential rain all day - because that's when the rain started teeming down. It did improve, thankfully, but my mind was half on how to make an early getaway if I wanted to get home before the rush! Even then the 15:00 bus (a Park & Ride Olympian from Stagecoach Cambus) left three minutes early. I was resigned to waiting a full hour before a Mercedes minibus from Myall's Coaches appeared on scheduled service 102 to Cambridge and Saffron Walden), but that cost a hefty �1.65.
  • I like the way they funnelled you through the war museum, there to face the entry fee (�7.70!). That's reasonable, I suppose, since they are hosting the buses, but with this and the train fare from London, I was down �23.50 before I'd even seen a bus! Which I did, after an endless walk the length and breadth of Cambridgeshire (as the entrance is a long, long way from where the buses were, past four hangars and the waterlogged stalls). I only ended up spending four quid on books - and I hadn't finished yet! After a burger, chips and a cup of tea I got change enough from a fiver only for a guess your weight machine. Too much!
  • Contentious, but for Londoners' purposes Duxford is a long, long slog from London if you've not got a car or a lift. I do try to put my money where my mouth is and travel to events by public transport, but on a Sunday in the provinces you really take your life in your hands. I'm more than willing to kick in a tenner for a bus there and back if enough people want to do the same (and if regulations class this as passenger carrying, call it petrol money). The trips from North Weald this year were so well done by comparison, and getting to and from Cobham is always a pleasure. For this reason, I would love it if Showbus moved to North Weald. I'm too young to remember it at Woburn - what was it like back then?
Anyway, here are some of the pictures I managed to scrape together when the clouds saw fit to lift.
Metroline Volvo B7TL VPL 231 (LK51 XHB) at Showbus, 23/09/01 Two Plaxton Presidents for starters. First up is one of the 113's new fleet of Volvo B7TLs, Metroline's VPL 231 (LK51 XHB, left), which will be entering service at Edgware imminently.
Compare with First London's TNL 1003 (LK51 UZS, right), which has surprisingly reintroduced traditional blinds (although the destination aperture seems tall enough to accommodate a DDA-style lower-case panel to me). This Dennis Trident is one of twelve about to convert the 25 to all-10.6m bus operation, displacing the remaining TNs to the 191.
First London Dennis Trident TNL 1003 (LK51 UZS) at Showbus, 23/09/01
Arriva London North Volvo B7TL VLW 5 (LJ51 DJO) at Showbus, 23/09/01 New and old in this column. In the new corner, at last an unobstructed view of an Arriva London North Wright Eclipse Gemini-bodied Volvo B7TL. Palmers Green's VLW 5 (LJ51 DJO, left) entered service on the 102 on Thursday.
In the old corner is 1970-vintage AEC Merlin MB 641 (AML 641H, right). There are very few of these buses left in preservation.
Preserved AEC Merlin MB 641 (AML 641H) at Showbus, 23/09/01
MASS Titan T 74 (CUL 74V) at Showbus, 23/09/01 This column is for ex-London buses used in service elsewhere in Britain. 1979-era Leyland Titan T 74 (CUL 74V, left) was sold in 1994, but has found its way to MASS. That bus had a reasonable service life in London, but former Stagecoach East London and Selkent Volvo Olympian VN 24 lasted only five years in the capital before removal to Stagecoach Cambus, who know it as 624 (P824 GMU, right). Still with London-style blinds, it circles Cambridge Station in the afternoon. Stagecoach Cambus Olympian 624 (P824 GMU) at Cambridge station, 23/09/01

Wednesday 19th September 2001
Metroline are beginning to put VPL-class Volvo B7TLs into service on the 113 out of Edgware, and not a moment too soon! Over the previous eighteen months, Edgware's Metrobuses had been rotated out and replaced by physically newer Ms leaving Holloway and Potters Bar, but the trouble was that the replacement buses, although newer in calendar years, were in desperate condition!

Sunday 9th September 2001
North Street's T 21 and 537 have been withdrawn, and on Saturday were seen leaving London on trade plates. This leaves just T 1 as intended, plus just five at Catford (T 848 was reported to be out of service). T 1 will not now be passing to the LT Museum and will remain in service. I hope the plan is for it to outlast London Central's twenty, to provide a fitting end to the Titan era!
This April T 1 (THX 401S) was splendidly restored to original condition, including black bumpers, foglights, black numberplate and opening windows. The livery is one London Transport introduced to double-deckers between 1976 and 1979, featuring white upper deck window surrounds. Only Ts 1-31 wore them before repaint or overhaul. Compare with the condition it was in before treatment, as seen at Romford on 3rd October 2000. Stagecoach East London Titan T 1 (THX 401S) at Romford, 03/10/00 Restored Stagecoach East London Titan T 1 (THX 401S) at Cobham, 08/04/01

Saturday 8th September 2001
Single-deckers old and new today. First I went to sample the special free service mounted in Richmond Park by preservationists using three RFs. The heavy loadings surely indicate a need for bus services to provide links through the park, although I'm sure the well-heeled locals would throw up their hands in horror at such a suggestion! After a peaceful meander round the park aboard RF 433, for which thanks are due to all concerned, I proceeded to Morden to find Mitcham Belle's newly delivered Optare Solos.
Preserved AEC Regal RF 453 (MXX 410) in Richmond Park, 08/09/01 The indestructible RF class of Metro-Cammell bodied AEC Regal single-deckers continue to provide sterling service in the preserved scene. 700 were built between 1951 and 1953 and operations concluded only as recently as 1979. At 3:45 pm this afternoon RF 453 (MXX 430) is in the tranquil rural surroundings of Richmond Park just east of Richmond Gate.
Mitcham Belle Optare Solo KX51 UCS at Morden, 08/09/01 Mitcham Belle revised their vehicle plans following their 30th June takeover of the K5 with yet another rerouteing. While hiring four Darts from London General, they cancelled an order for Mini Dart SLFs and took four Optare Solos instead. One of these is KX51 UCS, exemplifying still another non-London registration (KX is a Northampton mark).

Thursday 6th September 2001
To update the report of 19th August, recent Titan withdrawals have removed T 568 from Barking and cut Romford's strength down to just three (Ts 1, 21 and 537). These three survivors and Catford's six (Ts 456, 536, 650, 740, 822 and 848) have managed to outlast August, probably due to Stagecoach TASs deputising at Connex. London Central's twenty, meanwhile, show no signs of departing any time soon, and may just last into 2002.
The sight of T 1018 (A618 THV) doing a crew turn on the 12 on Wednesday came as a surprise, with Titans pretty much a memory in the West End. This bus is fairly well travelled for a late model Titan, having seen service at Catford, Sidcup and New Cross, then spending ten years at Peckham before moving to Camberwell in April. London Central Titan T 1018 (A618 THV) at Trafalgar Square, 05/09/01

Sunday 2nd September 2001
Over to the other side of London for the remainder of the 1st September changes. Routes 117 and 203 both received new Plaxton Pointer 2-bodied 10m Dennis Dart SLFs, with an operator change for the 203.
Armchair Dart SLF RX51 FNV at Hounslow, 02/09/01 So far no London 51-registrations have appeared on any buses operating in the capital, as both Armchair and Tellings-Golden Miller take their marks from Reading! Both seen in Hounslow this afternoon are Armchair's RX51 FNV (left) on the 117, and TGM's 415 (RX51 FGK, right) on the 203, which was won from First London Buslines. The TGM bus is surprisingly using the old, wider typescript, and introduces a displayed fleetnumber for the first time. Tellings-Golden Miller Dart SLF 415 (RX51 FGK) at Hounslow, 02/09/01

Saturday 1st September 2001
It wouldn't be the London scene we know and love without some more upheavals to the good old 60! Today the route was transferred to its new operator for the next five years (seven if they're lucky), Connex Bus. Only a handful of the brand new, 51-registered Dennis Tridents were available for service so Stagecoach London were asked for help, as they did two years ago. Cannily, Stagecoach's and Connex's liveries are indistinguishable at first sight so the passengers aren't likely to raise as big a fuss as they did when the 60 was operated by just about anyone who could get a bus down to the Croydon area.
Connex Bus Trident TA 43 (YN51 KUY) at Purley, 01/09/01 Smarting from the enforced removal of their South Central train franchise, Connex have relaunched with a new company logo. Of course the other major event of the day is the introduction of the new registration system, in which local identifiers are more prominent. Conveniently screwing up the intentions behind this, Connex have opted to retain Sheffield as their supplier of registrations, rendering buses like TA 43 (YN51 KUY) distinctly 'foreign'. The bus is seen at Purley.
About half the 60's runout was composed of existing Connex Bus Tridents like TA 29 (V329 KGW, left) from the 3's allocation, enabling comparison to be made between blind box layouts. Spot the subtle differences between this bus and virtually identical loaned Stagecoach Trident TAS 460 (Y529 NHK, right), with Connex vinyls applied. Connex Bus Trident TA 29 (V329 KGW) in Croydon, 01/09/01 Stagecoach East London Trident TAS 460 (Y529 NHK) on loan to Connex Bus at West Croydon, 01/09/01
Arriva London South DAF SB120 DWL 1 (Y801 DGT) at Clapham Junction, 01/09/01 Another change only partially realised today was the appearance of new Wright Cadet-bodied DAF SB120s on Arriva London South's 319. When all 22 are delivered, they will displace the existing DDLs to the 166 and 412. Ignoring the original CW coding, Brixton's DWL 1 (Y801 DGT) heads through Clapham Junction displaying a bold and most interesting new style of Contravision advertisement.

Saturday 1st September 2001
DLPs are now being put into service at Arriva London North. The thirty-six Plaxton President-bodied 10.6-metre DAF DB250RS(LF)s are intended for Wood Green's route 29 in replacement of Ms. Thursday saw the first in service, with DLP 40 as WN141.
Arriva London North DAF DLP 40 (Y532 UGC) at Wood Green, 01/09/01 Together Wood Green and Palmers Green field the largest allocation of Metrobuses, with 86 currently allocated. But this is all to come to an end soon as DLPs arrive, and VLW-class Volvo B7TLs will soon join them. Setting off from Wood Green today is DLP 40 (Y532 UGC).

Tuesday 28th August 2001
Stealing the show on Carnival's soggy opening day was an unexpected Metroline London Northern Volvo B7TL with yet another blind box layout. This time the destination blind has been placed above the main panel!
Potters Bar's VPL 202 (Y202 NLK), seen on the 82 at Victoria, is the guinea pig for the latest blind box experiments. However even this layout is said to contravene the DDA regulations, which state the destination blind must be as close as possible to the windscreen.
Further observation speculates that the blinds themselves may just have been transposed, as both apertures are the same height.
Metroline London Northern Volvo B7TL VPL 202 (Y202 NLK) at Victoria, 26/08/01

Sunday 26th August 2001
In characteristically diabolical weather, Carnival kicked off today. Here are two examples of the special routes being mounted to assist the large numbers of people attending.
Metroline Volvo B7TL VPL 176 (Y176 NLK) and Routemaster RML 2274 (CUV 274C) at Notting Hill Gate, 26/08/01 New for 2001 was an augmentation of the 52 with Routemasters. Seen at a surprisingly quiet Notting Hill Gate are VPL 176 (Y176 NLK, left) of the normal stock (albeit with short-working blinds) and special guest RML 2274 (CUV 274C, right).
London General Routemaster RML 2262 (CUV 262C) at Victoria, 26/08/01 London General's Red Arrow depot at Waterloo came out of its weekend hibernation to provide extras on the 36. RML 2262 (CUV 262C) passes Victoria Station in the gloom.

Sunday 19th August 2001
The number of Titans in London service is now down to fifty. As TASs start to enter service at North Street, bites have been taken out of the T-registered stock for the first time, while T 568 remains alone at Barking, a month after the rest of its compatriots departed. After those garages (and Catford, whose seven on the 47 and 160 hang on for dear life) finish conversion to Tridents, London Central will be the only company operating Titans, with spare complements at Bexleyheath (six), Peckham (nine) and Camberwell (five).
The survival of many Titans (and Ms) as spares comes as a side-effect of companies ordering not quite enough new buses to meet their requirements. Peckham retain T 1086 (B86 WUV) in service, and by 6th November 2000 when this photo was taken at London Bridge, it had received a lower deck repaint (with charcoal grey skirt) and Go-Ahead logos. Peckham commenced T operation in 1982 when Ts were introduced to the 78, but its stock was rotated for newer examples from the 1984 batch when Peckham changed districts. London Central Titan T 1086 (B86 WUV) at London Bridge, 06/11/00

Saturday 18th August 2001
One of the few route changes to take place during the summer period was the win of route 336 by Metrobus from First Orpington Buses.
Metrobus MPD 381 (Y381 HKE) at Bromley South, 18/08/01 Metrobus's latest batch of Mini Pointer Darts carry perhaps the last new booked Y-registrations, to round off the series in place since 1963. The Kent registrations are unusual however, compared to the normal South East London marks. Brand new 381 (Y381 HKE) is at full stretch at Bromley South.
Metrobus Metrorider 905 (N905 HWY) at Bromley North, 18/08/01 The original plan was to transfer the Bromley-Catford section of the 138 to route 336 and convert both routes to Dart SLF. However, the new buses are too wide for the roads served (an increasingly common problem!) and the plan has had to be modified. The 138's Metroriders, like 905 (N905 HWY), will stay put for the time being, and Metrobus have diverted the MPDs to the 233 and 356.

Wednesday 8th August 2001
Here's another look at the 307. I've had a bit of correspondence about the need for double-deckers on this route, as I'm told sections do get busy. I still think that Ms and DLAs would be better served on the 184, but residents along the Alexandra Park Road section of the route won't have any of that.
Arriva London North Dart LDR 6 (N676 GUM) at Enfield Town, 08/04/00 To be fair, the 40-seater 9.8-metre Dart has a very respectable seating capacity, with smaller dimensions than a National that might have been considered in the previous generation. On 8th April 2000, Enfield's LDR 6 (N676 GUM) is seen in Enfield town centre.

Saturday 4th August 2001
The last throw of the Metrobus? For no specific reason, other than to release extra Darts for the 166, Enfield's route 307 has been partially converted to double-deck operation. Metrobuses are the main ingredient now, examples having been transferred from Tottenham after displacement from the 41. The 307 is due for new low-floor double-deckers anyway, but in my mind doesn't particularly need them.
M 740 (KYV 740X) is indigenous to Enfield, having worked from there alone since delivery in January 1982, but it was one of just three left before reinforcements arrived from Tottenham. The bus is seen passing its home garage as the rain starts coming down in earnest. Arriva London North Metrobus M 740 (KYV 740X) at Ponders End, 04/08/01

Saturday 28th July 2001
The conversion of the 82 from M to VPL operation has begun at last. 23 of the new long-wheelbase Volvo B7TLs are now entering service at Metroline London Northern's Potters Bar garage. A further batch will be introduced on the 113 shortly.
Metroline London Northern Volvo B7TL VPL 199 (Y199 NLK) at Golders Green 28/07/01 This conversion could not have come too soon, as Potters Bar's remaining Ms are in a pretty desperate state. Brand new VPL 199 (Y199 NLK) passes Golders Green Station this afternoon, short working to Swiss Cottage.

Wednesday 25th July 2001
Arriva London South's Battersea garage, operators of route 19, are undertaking trials with a new type of conductor's ticket machine. The leather-bound unit is brought up from a normally hanging position (it looks like letting it drop could be painful!!) and issues an even plainer-looking ticket than the Wayfarer TG150s used by drivers. It's only been eight years since Clipper machines replaced the time-honoured Gibsons, which lasted an epic forty years.

Thursday 19th July 2001
There are now just sixty Titans remaining in London service. Recent developments have been the withdrawal of those at Barking (routes 87 and 387) and New Cross (route 172).
Currently the only garage able to field double figures of Titans is Stagecoach East London's North Street, with two dozen. Ironically these all come from the first forty of the Park Royal-bodied initial batch, and are now over 22 years old. They are based on routes 174, 175 and 496, but TASs for those services are already being prepared. On 6th July T 12 (WYV 12T) passes Romford Station.
Stagecoach East London Titan T 12 (WYV 12T) at Romford, 06/07/01
London Central's main vehicle renewal policy has seen nearly three hundred Volvo B7TLs enter service. Interestingly, pockets of Titans hang on for dear life at three garages here, where they form spares to the low-floor buses. The conversion of Bexleyheath's routes 89, 401, 422 and 492 to PVL operation was completed over a year ago, but six Ts are still going. One of them is T 1051 (A651 THV), seen on 9th June making a visit to the 321. London Central Titan T 1051 (A651 THV) at Lewisham, 09/06/01

Saturday 14th July 2001
A pair of new buses today.
Stagecoach East London Trident TA 400 (Y514 NHK) at Waterloo, 14/07/01 The delivery of Tridents continues, now spreading the new Stagecoach livery to the 26 out of Stratford. Arriving at Waterloo this afternoon is TA 400 (Y514 NHK), with one of the outgoing VAs in the background. Some of these are showing up at Plumstead.
Arriva London South DAF DLA 314 (Y514 UGC) at Crown Point, 14/07/01 The latest order of DLAs to Arriva is now complete, with the last eleven going to Norwood for the 417. One of them is DLA 314 (Y514 UGC) seen crossing Crown Point. This order may be the last though, as TfL are said to have problems with the buses' configuration (Shame, as it's far superior to the claustrophobic Trident and B7TL!).

Sunday 8th July 2001
With the recent influx of forty new Tridents into Stagecoach East London's Barking garage, the era of the Titan is almost over. The 87 had been operated by Ts since January 1980.
This 'before and after' shot at the same spot opposite Romford Station features outgoing Titan T 525 (KYV 525X, left) on 26th February 2000, and TA 378 (Y378 NHK, right), one of its replacements. Stagecoach East London Titan T 525 (KYV 525X) at Romford Station, 26/02/00 Stagecoach East London TA 378 (Y378 NHK) at Romford Station, 06/07/01

Friday 6th July 2001
A month ago sleepy route B14 was doubled in length to enable it to serve the parts of St Mary Cray left behind when the R1 was rerouted away from that area. Crystals have taken five Optare Solos for the route, updating it from the pair of S-reg Varios.
Crystals Optare Solo Y294 PDN at Orpington Station, 06/07/01 Crystals' new Optare Solos are in an all-red livery without the kite logos as on their other buses. On Friday 6th July, Y294 PDN sits at Orpington Station, a good distance south of the B14's previous Queen Mary's Hospital terminus.

Saturday 30th June 2001
Aside from the double-decking of route 105 under Greenford, the major route change today returned the 285 to London United after five years with London Buslines. 10-metre Dennis Dart SLFs coded DPS are the main ingredient, but as usual with London United garages, anything on wheels has been seen already!
This time Hounslow Heath is in charge of the 285, rather than the time-honoured Fulwell. Seen reversing out of Cromwell Road Bus Station in Kingston is DPS 536 (Y536 XAG, left), with a lazy blind. At the other end of the route, two CDs from the H25 were also trying out the 285 for size, with makeshift blinds of their own. Wright Crusader-bodied CD 2 (VDZ 8002, right) disgorges its passengers at Heathrow. London United Dart SLF DPS 536 (Y536 XAG) at Kingston, 30/06/01 London United Dart SLF CD 2 (VDZ 8002) at Heathrow, 30/06/01

Sunday 24th June 2001
Today was the regular rally at North Weald Aerodrome, where in by far the best weather of the year over 300 buses were displayed.
Stagecoach Selkent Mini Dart SLF SLD 244 (Y244 FJN) at North Weald, 24/06/01 I didn't get to see one of Stagecoach's new Mini Dart SLFs when I visited the Catford area a while ago, but they are now entering service in ones and twos, although as yet only on the 124. This route used to be operated by Titans! Catford's SLD 244 (Y244 FJN) shows off the full new Stagecoach livery.
Preserved Country Area RT 2083 (LYF 21) at North Weald, 24/06/01 Representing both the long-gone London Transport Country Area and its Lincoln green-liveried buses is preserved RT 2083 (LYF 21).
Sullivan Buses Titan T 747 (OHV 747Y) at Oakwood station, 24/06/01 In the 'working preserved' category is Titan T 747 (OHV 747Y). On delivery in 1983 it was painted into this superb gold livery to link Leyland Bus with London Transport's 50th anniversary. Unfortunately, both concerns are now defunct! The bus has survived after service at a greater variety of garages than usual for a Titan, and is now Sullivan Buses' pride and joy. In this shot it has completed the last run from North Weald to Oakwood station.

Sunday 17th June 2001
A railway replacement service was mounted today to cover the northernmost six stations of the Piccadilly Line. This more straightforward operation than usual was controlled by Arriva London North, with their Ms, DLAs and RV 1 joined by Sullivan Buses and Arriva Colchester.
Taking pride of place today was RV 1 (GJG 750D), Leaside Travel's former East Kent AEC Regent V. This 1966-vintage contemporary of the Routemaster isn't as attractive as its more sophisticated London counterpart, but has gained classic status nonetheless. It is seen inside Wood Green garage, which formed the turn-around point of the rail replacement operation. Leaside Travel AEC Regent V RV 1 (GJG 750D) at Wood Green, 17/06/01

Friday 15th June 2001
Metroline's Dart SLF order is settling in, with the first intake of 10.1m DLDs to Holloway's route 274 in replacement of 9-metre standard floor Darts. The 268 at Potters Bar is now starting to go over, with the 95 at Harlesden to complete the set.
Metroline London Northern Dart SLF DLD 162 (Y662 NLO) at Camden, 14/06/01 Holloway's DLD 162 (Y662 NLO) brings the 274 up to date as it passes through Camden on Thursday 14th June.

Monday 11th June 2001
The first of the Routemasters refurbished by Marshall Specialist Vehicles has re-entered service. Sovereign's route 13 is the selected working for most of the two dozen RMs, which will displace the present orange RMLs hopefully to top up other crew routes suffering shortages (the 10, 73 and 159 spring to mind).
Edgware's RM 1933 (ALD 933B) crosses Piccadilly Circus this afternoon. The treatment seems incomplete, with no relief band over the all-red livery, the headlights and sidelights protruding further than is normal, and the bus riding rather high on its suspension. This bus was one of four to receive 1933 livery eighteen years ago, and later saw service in Scotland. Sovereign Routemaster RM 1933 (ALD 933B) at Piccadilly Circus, 11/06/01

Sunday 10th June 2001
The new SLDs for the 124 and 273 didn't enter service as planned yesterday, but it wasn't a wasted journey as I got to photograph one of the NVs recently cascaded to Metrobus from London Central.
Metrobus Volvo Olympian 878 (WLT 688) at Lewisham, 09/06/01 Not a lot is different on the 261 to the casual observer, but now the buses have an exit door, LT style blinds and are a year older. Former London Central NV 38 is now Metrobus 878 (WLT 688), and is seen at Lewisham.

Saturday 2nd June 2001
A small programme of changes took place in north London today, comprising principally the withdrawal of routes 363 and 517 and their replacement by LBSL contract 491, with an extension of the 192 to boot. The third part of the equation was solved, not quite as intended, by renumbering the 517's Oakwood-Enfield section to 377.
New route 491 is worked by Enfield with DRL-class Dennis Darts transferred up from Arriva London South. DRL 209 (N709 GUM) is seen in a substantially revamped Waltham Cross bus station, the principal effect of which has been unfortunately to turn it in the wrong direction for adequate photography at the best time of the day. There is also a dangerous aspect for pedestrians, who risk being hit by the same buses they have just got off as they swing round into the terminus! Arriva London North Dart DRL 209 (N709 GUM) at Waltham Cross, 02/06/01

Sunday 27th May 2001
The first of five extensive rail replacement bus programmes covering the western end of the Piccadilly Line was carried out today, with supervision by Sullivan Buses and appearances by several other operators.
Thorpes Metrobus 2700 (A700 UOE) at Heathrow, 27/05/01 Epsom Buses Mini Dart SLF 874 (W874 VGT) at Heathrow, 27/05/01 Metrobuses and Titans predominate on rail replacements these days, almost all of them ex-LT. Travel West Midlands, however, was the former owner of Thorpes' 2700 (A700 UOE, left). Meanwhile, rather more minibuses than coaches characterised Epsom Buses' participation. At least the air conditioning is welcome on an otherwise jam-packed 874 (W874 VGT, right), a Mini Dart SLF from the 408. Both buses are pictured at Heathrow Airport.

Saturday 26th May 2001
Two Dart SLFs - one routine vehicle upgrade, one in circumstances most unusual.
The first of Metroline's large summer intake of Plaxton Pointer 2-bodied Dennis Dart SLFs has now entered service in the form of nine MPDs for the W5. This route's Optare Metroriders lasted a quite respectable nine years, since the commencement of the service in February 1992, but the future is exemplified by Holloway's DLM 152 (Y252 NLK) leaving Harringay Sainsbury's.
Metroline London Northern Mini Dart SLF DLM 152 (Y252 NLK) at Harringay, 26/05/01
More new Dart SLFs are imminent on the 230 at Stagecoach East London, but Alexander-bodied versions. They will replace the first of the SLDs after just five years, and already examples are being readied for removal from London. But the running of SLD 5 (P25 HMF) in base white is most surprising! This is no doubt an undercoat for the national Stagecoach livery. The Leyton bus is seen south of Turnpike Lane this afternoon. Stagecoach East London Dart SLF SLD 5 (P25 HMF) in white livery south of Turnpike Lane, 26/05/01

Thursday 24th May 2001
All this week the UITP have been holding their Mobility and City Transport Exhibition at Earls Court, with the Transport for London section officially opened by Ken Livingstone. Today the public were allowed in, and I made straight for the Volvo Bus stand, where the first all-new double-deck design in some time has made its debut. This is the Eclipse Gemini from Wrightbus, a surprise addition to their family of bus bodies. Arriva London North have ordered fifty on Volvo B7TL chassis for entry into service this summer, and the one on stand was VLW 2.
Arriva London North Volvo B7TL VLW 2 at UITP, Earls Court 24/05/01 Inside Arriva London North Volvo B7TL VLW 2 at UITP, Earls Court 24/05/01 Rear of Arriva London North Volvo B7TL VLW 2 at UITP, Earls Court 24/05/01 The design (left) is clearly based on the Eclipse Fusion body now familiar on articulated Volvo B7LAs. Inside (middle) it appears a lot roomier, with the staircase offset a little and the seats not blocking the aisle. Finally we have the unusual rear treatment (right). It made the two Plaxton Presidents displayed look distinctly ordinary!

Monday 21st May 2001
Surprisingly, Metroline's RML 902 has regained its original registration of WLT 902. The Willesden-operated Routemaster was re-registered ALC 464A in July 1994 to enable Metroline Contract Services' M 1273 to gain the cherished mark. Presumably the Metrobus has now been sidelined or outright disposed of.
Once again wearing the dateless registration with which it entered service in 1962, Willesden's RML 902 (WLT 902) heads west along Oxford Street. Metroline Routemaster RML 902 (WLT 902) in Oxford Street, 21/05/01

Sunday 20th May 2001
Why has Holloway's TP 61 had a handrail bolted to the front, between the windscreen wipers?
Strange fitment on Metroline London Northern Trident TP 61 (V761 HBY) at North Finchley, 20/05/01 I wouldn't have believed it myself if I hadn't seen it with my own eyes (and now with the lens). The question is where the stanchion could have come from, as Metroline's new buses have yellow handrails, and its old buses have green or yellow ones! (Could it be from a Scania?)
Showing off its most bizarre fitment is TP 61 (V761 HBY) at the North Finchley terminus of the 134 this afternoon.

Saturday 19th May 2001
The conversions of London Central's routes 171 and 172 to PVL-class Volvo B7TL operation are well along, with many of the NVs displaced from the former having been repainted blue and yellow for transfer to Metrobus. The 172's Titans are still to be seen, though for how much longer is uncertain.
The new blind layout is now to be seen on London Central PVLs as well as Connex TAs and the Metroline VPLs that inaugurated the style. New Cross's PVL 210 (Y801 TGH) passes Waterloo Station this afternoon, on a journey curtailed to Brockley Rise. London Central Volvo B7TL PVL 210 (Y801 TGH) at Waterloo, 19/05/01

Sunday 13th May 2001
I was surprised to see a DML working the 191 on Saturday. Since the route was reallocated within First Capital from Ponders End to Northumberland Park, there has been a larger pool of single-deckers available to back up the current Thamesway-liveried Darts. In any case big things are in store for this route, with an intended conversion back to double-deck operation.
First Capital Dart SLF DML 719 (W719 ULL) at Edmonton, 12/05/01 The bus in question was DML 719 (W719 ULL), which properly belongs on the 212. In splendid sunny weather (at last!), here it is at Edmonton Green.

Monday 7th May 2001
Stagecoach are now phasing in their latest large order for Dennis Dart SLFs. Although these SLDs are to the usual mix of lengths and door configurations, Alexander ALX200 bodywork is specified this time. The big difference is the 'Stagecoach in London' livery and a colourful new interior. Additionally, considerably larger blinds are fitted, fully exploiting the dimensions of the blind box. First up are 10.6-metre examples for the 145 at Barking.
Stagecoach East London Dart SLF SLD 328 (Y371 FJN) at Ilford, 07/05/01 Showing the first application of the new livery to single-deckers is Barking's SLD 328 (Y371 FJN, left) at Ilford. The interior (right) is a departure from the oft-criticised predecessor, with bright orange handrails, blue seats patterned with the circular logo, and a most interesting red floor with orange paisleys. Inside Stagecoach East London SLD 329 (Y329 FJN), 07/05/01

Saturday 5th May 2001
Connex Bus have taken their second double-deck route in the form of the 196. This short but busy south London service had recently been farmed out to the Commercial Services unit of London General after staff shortages at Stockwell. Prior to that, the same problems forced its move to London Central for a year, and a decade previously, problems with London Country South East and then Cityrama showed that difficulties with tenders are far from a new thing!
Connex Dennis Trident TA 37 (Y37 HWB) at Brixton, 05/05/01 Connex Dennis Trident TA 31 (Y131 HWB) at Brixton, 05/05/01 There are subtle differences between Connex's eight new Alexander-bodied Dennis Tridents and their 29 predecessors working the 3. TA 37 (Y37 HWB, left) shows the inevitable forward staircase, while TA 31 (Y131 HWB, right) wears simplified rear light clusters, with its numberplate housing moved to beneath the rear window. The enormous rear route number comes as a sharp contrast to its almost invisible counterpart on the front! Both buses are seen in Brixton.

Saturday 28th April 2001
After exactly five years on the 67, First Capital handed the route over to Stagecoach East London today. The new contractor is using fleet Volvo Olympians until new TASs arrive in the summer.
Stagecoach East London Volvo Olympian VA 78 (R178 VPU) at Wood Green, 18/04/01 As Bow's VA 78 (R178 VPU) demonstrates, repaints into the new Stagecoach London livery are beginning to spread to existing buses.

Saturday 21st April 2001
Arriva's operations south of Croydon have now more or less disintegrated. Metrobus have proven themselves ready and willing to pick up the pieces, and now Connex have joined them. Route 405 was reconstituted as a LBSL tender and awarded to Connex from today, with a handful of new 10.7-metre Dart SLFs delivered at short notice.
DPL 13 (Y213 HWJ) personifies the new face of the 405 under Connex Bus. The Plaxton Pointer 2-bodied Dennis Dart SLF passes under the flyover at Croydon this afternoon, heading for West Croydon. Connex Bus Dart SLF DPL 13 (Y213 HWJ) at Croydon, 21/04/01

Wednesday 18th April 2001
There's been a spate of Arrows on the 25 lately, with the East Lancs Pyoneer-bodied examples wandering frequently from their allotted route 369. The remaining yellow ones certainly stand out in central London, where red livery otherwise reigns once again.
First Capital Arrow 418 at Tottenham Court Road, 18/04/01 I'd been waiting for a yellow Arrow on the 25 for a fair bit, but whenever they came by I never had my camera on me, or it was raining. So I was glad when the lights at Tottenham Court Road stopped Dagenham's 418 (P418 PVW) for me this afternoon! Surprisingly, the Capital Citybus fleetnames on this bus haven't yet been changed.

Wednesday 18th April 2001
On Wednesday 25th April I will be removing routes 251-300 from the Routes page, in order to free up more space and keep the site fresh. Remember I post regularly to the londonbusscene egroup at http://www.yahoogroups.com.

Sunday 15th April 2001
The Go-Ahead Group's pair of London companies have been stocking up with new Plaxton-bodied Dart SLFs lately, taking examples of three lengths.
9.3-metre Dart SLFs with single-door bodywork are the new staple on the 484 out of London Central's Camberwell, having replaced DEL-class Darts a fortnight ago. LDP 166 (Y866 TGH) lays over at Lewisham. London Central Dart SLF LDP 166 (Y866 TGH) at Lewisham, 14/04/01

Monday 9th April 2001
Here are some more Cobham shots!
Preserved ex-LT Metrobuses M 57 (WYW 57T) and M 67 (WYW 67T) at Brooklands, 08/04/01 It's back to 1983 again as Metrobuses hit the preservation circuit in strength. Now owned by White Rose, M 57 (WYW 57T, left) is once more in the finest livery ever worn by the type. If any bus could count as my all-time favourite, this is it. Meanwhile, stablemate at Fulwell and Norbiton M 67 (WYW 67T, right) has come along in leaps and bounds since I last photographed it at North Weald. The owners have fitted it with the black-painted barred grille and added new seats, all purchased from the Barnsley scrapyards.
Metroline Volvo Olympian AV 39 (M650 ELA) and Volvo B7TL VPL 168 (Y168 NLK) at Brooklands, 08/04/01 Two more up-to-date vehicles exemplify the increasingly global connections of London's buses. Through its DelGro parent, Metroline acquired a single Alexander Royale-bodied Volvo Olympian, which became AV 39 (M650 ELA, left). Intended as a pilot for deliveries of more from the 100-strong batch, it took so long to clear for British service that no more have followed. In any case, new buses like Volvo B7TL VPL 168 (Y168 NLK, right) are arriving so fast as to make the point moot. Note the differences in blind box layout adopted to accommodate the provisions of the Disability Discrimination Act.
Preserved Dennis D 142 (XX 9591) at Cobham, 08/04/01 Dennis became the only British bus manufacturer to last the entire 20th century. Long before the likes of the Dominator, Arrow or Trident the company was turning out buses like D 142 (XX 9591) of 1925. This marvellous vehicle is seen returning to the museum after a scenic run through leafy Cobham.

Sunday 8th April 2001
Cobham today! Completely exhausted after epic day of chatting, photography and spending money (not to mention enduring a lengthy rail replacement coach trip on the way home), so just the one photo before I collapse; I'll post some more over the next few days. Thanks to all I met or talked to, it was a great event. And the rain forecast held off until there were just minutes left!
Probably the star of the show at this year's Cobham was the outrageous Jumbo Metrobus that Mullany's of Watford have put into service. Brought to Britain after a decade in Hong Kong service with CMB (now New World First Bus), this three-axle monster makes an unbeatable rail replacement crowd shifter. Having just about managed to wrench its 12 metres round the turning circle, ML 84 (F97 UJN) prepares for the last run from Brooklands runway to Weybridge Station. Mullany's Jumbo Metrobus ML 84 (F97 UJN) at Brooklands, 08/04/01

Saturday 7th April 2001
There was meant to be just one major change for today, that which transferred the C4 from Thorpes to London General with new vehicles, a new routeing and a new number of 424. However, the snap reapportionment of Limebourne's C10 to Blue Triangle upstaged it somewhat. Both are covered here.
Hired Blue Triangle Mercedes Vario MB 258 (V258 BNV) at Victoria, 07/04/01 Blue Triangle have hired six Plaxton Beaver-bodied Mercedes-Benz O.814 Varios from a batch that have seen a great deal of temporary use up and down the country. In dealer white, MB 258 (V258 BNV) negotiates Victoria Bus Station via the wrong stop (that normally used by the 507, but by then it was too late to reverse out of it).

New route 424 may tackle Craven Cottage from a previous direction than the previous C4, but it still has to be diverted when Fulham play at home (it was 0-0, if that makes any difference!) Putney's LDP 129 (Y829 TGH), one of five new Mini Pointer Darts, is seen on the north side of Putney Bridge. London General Mini Pointer Dart LDP 129 (Y829 TGH) at Putney Bridge, 07/04/01

Saturday 31st March 2001
Went some considerable distance beyond the usual bounds this afternoon to cover the events in Crawley, where Arriva Southern Counties have fallen even further out of the frame. Picking up the pieces are a resurgent Metrobus, who have more or less taken the town over, together with the garage at Crawley, a batch of town services and a few Arriva buses on loan until additional vehicles arrive.
Metrobus have taken some of Crawley's Northern Counties-bodied Volvo B6s on loan for use on the Gatwick to Crawley link, route 100. The livery is unchanged, but a Metrobus running number card now adorns the windscreen of V 208 (L208 YCU). These buses began life on London route 108 under Kentish Bus. Arriva Southern Counties Volvo B6 V 208 (L208 YCU) on loan to Metrobus, at Gatwick Airport, 31/03/01

Metrobus Dennis Darts 722 & 723 (L722 & 723 OMV) at Gatwick Airport, 31/03/01 Metrobus Dennis Dart 765 (M520 VJO) at Crawley, 31/03/01 Crawley's town services, which in London Country days were prefixed in a C-series, were taken over by Metrobus with their own vehicles, most of which were buses displaced from London contracts two weeks ago. Alongside the 358's old Optare Excels are Darts 722 & 723 (M722 & M723 CGO, left), while Marshall-bodied dual door Darts from City of Oxford have also entered service, like 765 (M520 VJO, right) in Crawley.

Saturday 24th March 2001
A straightforward route change today saw the 368 in the Barking area pass from Stagecoach East London to Blue Triangle. This Rainham-based company, who have made their name as operators of heritage buses, have been gradually building up a portfolio of stage services in East London while featuring prominently on rail replacements. Where the 368 itself is concerned, a short extension at the Barking end to the Harts Lane Estate replaces the 287, which falls back to Barking town centre.
Blue Triangle Dennis Dart SLF DN 183 (Y183 RCR) at Barking, 24/03/01 Blue Triangle Dennis Dart SLF DN 187 (Y187 RCR) at Barking, 24/03/01 Eight Dennis Dart SLFs with dual-doored Caetano Nimbus bodies have been placed into service by Blue Triangle. The rather ungainly body style's odd lines have been exploited properly by the livery, however, with the extension of the cream band down the front's curved panels and the outlining of the miniscule headlights in black. Seen in Barking this afternoon are DN 183 (Y183 RCR, left) and DN 187 (Y187 RCR, right).

Monday 19th March 2001
I've been taken to task over my doubts about the suitability of double-deckers for the 258. I'm assured by quite a few respondents that the new TNs are much appreciated, particularly in the region immediately south of Watford, where the 142 apparently can't cope alone and the only other option towards Greater London is the minibus-operated 350. I don't mind being wrong, especially when it means double-deckers return! Now for the 230, 257 etc...?
Here is a view of one of the Darts displaced from the 258 recently. Although in London Buslines livery, they were operated by First Challenger for a year. But what Alperton's D 601 (N601 XJM) is doing sat in the 90's layover point at Northolt, some distance south of the 258's South Harrow terminus, is anyone's guess! First Challenger Dart D 601 (N601 UJM) at Northolt, 21/04/00

Saturday 17th March 2001
Absolutely loads to get through today, with an extensive set of route transfers taking place around the Lewisham and Bromley areas. Despite the unremittingly foul weather, I managed to cover the major events to show here.
First up are the 181 and 284, which were awarded on tender from Metrobus to Stagecoach Selkent, and in doing so brought back to Catford garage, where they started in 1984 and 1989 respectively.

Stagecoach Selkent Dart SLF SLD 199 (W199 DNO) at Lewisham, 17/03/01 Stagecoach Selkent Dart SLF SLD 46 (R946 FOO) at Lewisham, 17/03/01 The loss of the 225 enabled some of Catford's SLDs to move across to the 181 and 284, aided by transfers from Bromley. This adds to an already varied fleet of Dart SLFs here, with several lengths, bodies and door configurations all operating together. Seen at opposite ends of Lewisham Bus Station as the rain teems down are Plaxton Pointer 2-bodied SLD 199 (W199 DNO, left) of 10-metre length on the 181, and indigenous Alexander ALX200-bodied 9.4-metre SLD 46 (R946 FOO, right) on the 284.

A problem existed however, when it came to the 284. An increasing concern discovered at the last minute is that low-floor buses cannot get through some of the narrow back streets that the former minibuses could, to say nothing of traffic calming humps placed along the same streets. Until such problems are cleared up in the Ravensbourne Park section of the 284, the route is being rerouted via Lewisham High Street. New temporary route 584 has been activated over the terrain in question, with two Catford minibuses. Helpfully, transfers are accepted from 284 to 584 on production of a valid ticket from the previous bus.
Without enough MB-class Varios to spare following the simultaneous boost to the 273, other small buses have had to be sourced from other parts of Stagecoach. None other than SR 1 (E155 CGJ) has made the journey back across the river, again to its original home garage. This Optare StarRider was recently made spare after reductions to the 395, and is seen in Lewisham Bus Station buying just a little more time for itself. Stagecoach Selkent StarRider SR 1 (E155 CGJ) at Lewisham, 17/03/01

A more straightforward transfer affected the 225, which passed from Stagecoach Selkent to London Central at New Cross. Despite some of the tight turns in the Rotherhithe region, 10-metre LDPs have been specified, spare from the 345 following upgrades to that route's buses at the expense of the New Cross allocation.
London Central Dart SLF LDP 67 (R467 LGH) at Lewisham, 17/03/01 New Cross's LDP 67 (R467 LGH) reposes round the back of the Riverdale Centre at Lewisham. It can be seen that the inadequate lower-case blinds have spread to New Cross's Dart SLF fleet. The use of the railway symbols instead of the word 'Station' would have freed space for a larger destination plus via points.

Arriva Kent Thameside retained the 126, pretty much their major route in London after a long decline. New 10.7-metre Dennis Dart SLFs replaced the L-registration Northern Counties-bodied Darts.
Dartford's new vehicles for the 126 are identical to the PDLs operating the 289 not too far away, but the livery remains national turquoise. Plaxton-bodied 3292 (Y292 TKJ) adds dual doors and one-piece number blinds to the 126's specification as it passes through Bromley North Station. Arriva Kent Thameside Dart SLF 3292 (Y292 TKJ) at Bromley North, 17/03/01

A pair of Metrobuses now, or rather two Dart types operated by that growing company. Today they traded two routes (the 181 and 284) for another (367) with the promise of many more in the Crawley region in two weeks. Again though, clearance issues prevented the right buses from going into action immediately.
Metrobus Dart 715 (K715 KGU) at Bromley, 17/03/01 Metrobus Dart Mini SLF 349 (Y349 HMY) at West Croydon, 17/03/01 The 367 was taken on from Blue Triangle, who had been operating it for Arriva London South. However, buses from the 233 had to deputise pending alterations to the road layout to accommodate the intended MPDs (although, incredibly, the considerably longer and wider Leyland Lynx types have had no trouble!). For now, buses like 715 (K715 KGU, left) have to do. Meanwhile, the new Mini Dart SLFs are being run in on the 233 and 494, as 349 (Y349 HMY, right) demonstrates.

Saturday 10th March 2001
Many people wonder about the wisdom of extending LBSL's preferred dual door configuration to small minibus types. Where heavy loads are experienced, this tends to cut down seating space despite the greater ease in alighting. Up in First Capital's northwesternmost territory, routes 299 and W6 have just been converted to new 9.3-metre Dennis Dart SLFs, this time with the single door layout. In my opinion, the wheelchair ramp is much better sited in the front doorway, as the bus can pull closer into the kerb and thwart parked cars.
First Capital Dart SLF DM 777 (X512 HLR) at Edmonton Green, 10/03/01 Edmonton Green is the setting for Northumberland Park's DM 777 (X512 HLR) waiting for another journey on the W6. Regular users of the W6 will note that the 'Edmonton Green' destination includes via points, as all the lower-case letters are of the same height. However, the 'Southgate' display as seen here omits them to make room for the space-hungry letter 'g'.

Saturday 3rd March 2001
Ten more First London Tridents have entered service, but the choice of route is most curious. Sleepy route 258, which travels from Harrow's affluent hills all the way to Watford via open country, has not used double-deckers since its antecedent was single-decked thirty years ago. Yet many central routes, already hard pressed, are being converted indiscriminately to Dart SLF operation!
One can't help but feel these buses are on the wrong routes. Brand new Alperton Trident TN 978 (X978 HLT, left) adds an unnecessary upstairs to the 258, while across town, the heavily used 257 is now struggling under 30-seat Dart SLFs like Hackney's DML 757 (X757 HLR, right). What about simply swapping the 257's and 258's buses? First Challenger Trident TN 978 (X978 HLT) at South Harrow, 03/03/01 First Capital Dart SLF DML 757 (X757 HLR) at Walthamstow Central, 16/01/01

Sunday 25th February 2001
First Gold Arrow's route 27 has settled down following the entry into service of all its new Plaxton President-bodied Dennis Tridents. One niggle is that the indicator sound is a deafening electronic beep that could be confused for a reversing alarm. Combined with the sound of the rear doors opening and closing (another shrill noise, but in a different key), riding these otherwise smart and spacious buses can be rather a noisy experience!
First Gold Arrow Trident TN 955 (X611 HLT) at Paddington, 25/02/01 Westbourne Park's TN 955 (X611 HLT) turns the corner from Praed Street into Eastbourne Terrace outside Paddington Station.

Saturday 24th February 2001
New route 486 commenced operation this morning, taking over the basic North Greenwich to Charlton Station shuttle from the former M1, and then continuing via Charlton Village to the nearly finished Queen Elizabeth Hospital (it opens on March 6th). Finally the 486 proceeds to Welling Corner in support of the 89.
London Central's 17 East Lancs Myllennium-bodied DAF SB220LCs (including the three gas-powered versions) have switched their role from the M1 and M2 to the new 486. I still think they'd have found a better home on the Red Arrows! New Cross's MD 7 (V7 GMT) departs from North Greenwich in the shadow of the defunct Millennium Dome. London Central DAF SB220LC MD 7 (V7 GMT) at North Greenwich, 24/02/01

Saturday 17th February 2001
A belated welcome to Durham Travel Services. Following the expiry of a grace period for London Easylink's new operating licence to come into being, their new vehicles could at last enter service, seeing off the short-term contracts by London General, Stagecoach Selkent and Blue Triangle.
London Easylink's new fleet comprises 20 Plaxton President-bodied Volvo B7TLs in an eye-catching livery. Here are three of them seen this afternoon in Lewisham.

London Easylink Volvo B7TL VP 173 (X173 FBB) at Lewisham, 17/02/01 London Easylink Volvo B7TL VP 161 (X161 FBB) at Lewisham, 17/02/01 London Easylink's all-red livery is enlivened by the application of the stylised logo in a footprint-like pattern diagonally up each side of the vehicles. Also of note are the DDA-compliant blinds. Unlike those on Go-Ahead's latest PVLs, they have proper via points for adequate readability. VP 173 (X173 FBB, left) additionally shows a compulsory nearside destination, an issue about which a lot of union representation was raised twenty years ago. The offside treatment is seen on VP 161 (X161 FBB, right) in Lewisham High Street later in the afternoon.

The full impact of the Easylink stencilling can be seen at the rear, as illustrated on VP 153 (X153 FBB) reversing into a rare free space at Lewisham. The route branding is added on the back panel (helped here by the asymmetrical rear window), but vertically. London Easylink Volvo B7TL VP 153 (X153 FBB) at Lewisham, 17/02/01

In the same region, Stagecoach's third wave of Dennis Tridents has just about completed delivery, with Titans now suddenly thin on the ground. Catford has taken a second batch of TAs for the 136, while Bromley's new TAs are filtering onto the 208, in a mixture of plain red and the new livery.
Stagecoach Selkent Volvo Olympian VA 125 (R125 EVX) and Trident TA 343 (X343 NNO) at Lewisham, 17/02/01 Just four Titans are reported left at Bromley. Volvo Olympians had already usurped them from most of the 208 in September, but the likes of VA 125 (R125 EVX) are now being displaced in turn by new Tridents, one of which is TA 343 (X343 NNO).

Friday 16th February 2001
With the upload of the remaining articles in the new format, the design changes are now complete. I've had some positive comment over the streamlined layout, so it was a good move all told! Keep letting me know if any errors have cropped up in the layout.

Saturday 10th February 2001
My new SmartMedia card arrived just in time for me to reprise last Saturday's wasted journey, so here is a summary of 3rd February's major changes.
First up is the change of ownership on route W4, where Metroline London Northern gave way to Arriva London North. The choice of Mini Pointer Darts by Tottenham actually represents a drop in capacity from the previous DRLs, after three successive upgradings to progressively larger vehicles.

Arriva London North Mini Dart SLF PDL 40 (X541 GGT) at Wood Green, 10/02/01 Arriva London North loaned Dart DRL 217 (P917 PWW) at Wood Green, 10/02/01 Ten Mini Pointer Darts were ordered for the W4, one of which is Tottenham's PDL 40 (X541 GGO, left), but not all were ready in time for the changeover. In a complicated switch between subsidiaries, two DRLs were loaned from Arriva London South's Thornton Heath garage (where loaned Croydon LDRs stood in for them, and were in turn replaced by Ms). In the now rare full cream front red Arriva livery is DRL 217 (P917 PWW, right), displaying a more comprehensive blind than the PDL is allowed to muster. Both buses are seen at Wood Green.

Routes 29, 121 and 141 all commenced renewed contracts under Arriva London North, but their large fleet of brand new DLAs, DLPs and Wright Eclipse Gemini-bodied Volvo B7TLs is not expected for some months. However, to assist with frequency increases on the services, four Metrobuses have been transferred to Wood Green from Brixton, where they had been replaced by Ls.
M 511 (GYE 511W) actually worked out of Wood Green for several months of 1985, and has now returned for its final swansong in the capital. It is one of a very small number of Metrobuses to retain foglights, and one of even fewer to still carry its 'PAY DRIVER' board. Arriva London North Metrobus M 511 (GYE 511W) inside Wood Green garage, 10/02/01

Arriva London South's Brixton garage had already begun replacing its Ms with Ls prior to the 3rd February changes. Following the loss of the 118 to London General, the balance was made up by transferring the 250 back from Thornton Heath, but there was a problem. Brixton's Sunday-only share of the 19 still can't accept DLAs in the Piccadilly bus lane. Thus, the 250 has had to revert to L operation, using Olympians taken mostly from Thornton Heath.
Arriva London South Olympian L 52 (C52 CHM) in Islington, 28/01/01 Arriva London South DLA 52 (S252 JUA) at Brixton, 10/02/01 Brixton has now operated all three types of second-generation London Transport OPO bus. Sundays have brought the agonised croak of the elderly L class to places like Islington, where L 52 (C52 CHM, left) is seen on 28th January. The DLAs made redundant from the 250 remain at Thornton Heath, where they have effected a partial conversion of the 109 to displace the necessary Ls to Brixton. Looking quite at home on this busy route is DLA 52 (S252 JUA, right) in Brixton town centre.

A more straightforward change affected the 153. This route passed from First Capital to Hackney Community Transport, representing the latter company's first mainstream London contract. The route has also received a handy extension linking the formerly isolated Smithfield terminus to Liverpool Street Station.
Caetano's Nimbus is the latest new body design for the Dennis Dart SLF, and although far from pretty, it is beginning to gain solid orders. Hackney Community Transport's HDC 8 (X592 ORV) at Finsbury Park wears an interesting livery in which the mysterious double-C logo is a mirror image of that carried on the offside. Arriva London North Metrobus M 511 (GYE 511W) inside Wood Green garage, 10/02/01

Perhaps the most controversial change concerns the 118 and 343, both of which are now Go-Ahead operations under London General and London Central respectively. Further Plaxton President-bodied Volvo B7TLs have now taken the PVL class to over two hundred members, but the new blind displays mandated by the Disability Discrimination Act are so inadequate as to be virtually useless.
London General Volvo B7TLs PVL 133 (W533 WGH) and PVL 206 (X506 EGK) at Morden, 10/02/01 Two Merton PVLs caught together at the 118's Morden terminus demonstrate the problems affecting blinds in London. Summer 2000 delivery PVL 133 (W533 WGH) shows comprehensive via points easily distinguishable from the upper-case destination, but brand new counterpart PVL 206 (X506 EGK) can only manage a single-line destination to the low standards hitherto associated only with the provinces. Let us hope these blinds are merely experimental, as this is a step back a hundred years!

Saturday 10th February 2001
I'm making some design changes to the London Bus Page to freshen it up for 2001. Aside from minor alterations to the format of the tables, the main idea is to streamline loading, viewing and printing. To this end, the Cover Picture is being relocated inside the 'masthead' title table. It will link to a new page showing off previous cover pictures with their appropriate descriptive paragraph. As before, they are updated every Wednesday evening. The second change aims to reduce superfluous width which had seen printed pages cut off to the right, and moves the Awards out of the former Cover Picture column and onto their own separate page. I think I'm going to make this a two-way street by reviving my Site of the Month Award. Finally, the title graphic is reduced in width to 600 pixels, so the page can be viewed on any size browser. Stand by for a few days for the rest of the pages to be altered to the revised format, and I hope you like the changes!

Saturday 3rd February 2001
Bad news - although I went out and covered every one of the route and type changes to be seen today in North and South London, I had a bad computer shutdown while downloading the pictures I'd taken on my digital camera. It not only destroyed all the pictures, but the SmartMedia card as well. I intend to reprise the trip I made as soon as I've purchased a new card, but the things certainly don't last long! That's the second I've gone through in six months!
In brief, today's changes were:

  • Route W4 passed from Metroline London Northern to Arriva London North, whose Tottenham garage are using ten brand new Mini Pointer Dart SLFs. Some identical PDLs are on loan from Edmonton, with DRLs on temporary transfer from Arriva London South poised to help out.
  • Hackney Community Transport have taken up their first proper LBSL tender in the form of route 153. Ten 10-metre Dennis Dart SLFs with Caetano Nimbus dual-door bodywork wear a red livery with a huge 'double C' logo placed centrally.
  • London General took on the 118 from Arriva London South. Merton are using mostly existing nearly-new PVLs, as not all their new examples are ready. The blind displays on the new buses are a strikingly inadequate single destination line in upper and lower case, courtesy of increasingly stringent DDA regulations.
  • To restore the balance of work at Brixton, route 250 was reallocated in from Thornton Heath. The need to find suitable vehicles to operate the 19 on Sundays has necessitated the reversion of the 250 from DLA to L operation, with the DLAs assuming part of the 109.
  • New London Central PVLs (again with DDA-compliant blinds) have commenced new route 343 out of New Cross. This former Stagecoach Selkent service was hitherto known as P3).
  • Part of the 196 has been reallocated into London General's Private Hire department, based at Sutton. They are using spare Metrobuses.

Sunday 28th January 2001
Are operators turning away from the once all-conquering Dennis Trident? With large orders by the Go-Ahead Group and now by Metroline, the Volvo B7TL has certainly made up for lost ground this past year.
After all the media attention given to Metroline's huge order for Dennis vehicles, they seem to have switched their allegiance to the Volvo B7TL. One of an initial batch of 27 long-wheelbase Plaxton President-bodied examples purchased to beef up the 43 is Holloway's VPL 160 (X662 LLX), seen at the Angel this afternoon. This deployment is a change of plan from the original intentions to use them on the 271 and W7. Metroline London Northern Volvo B7TL VPL 160 (X662 LLX) at the Angel, 28/01/01

Saturday 27th January 2001
Extensive route alterations took place in the Kingston area today, incorporating yet another episode of Arriva's disintegration locally. Several new routes were created in the scheme, with many existing services moving to other operators.
London United Dennis Dart SLF DP 11 (S311 MKH) at Kingston, 27/01/01 Time-honoured route 406 became a red bus service, with the Kingston to Epsom leg transferred to London United. Dennis Dart SLFs like Fulwell's DP 11 (S311 MKH) in Kingston were seconded from the 411. The destination blind display is most unusual.
Arriva Guildford & West Surrey Volvo Citybus 614 (G614 BPH) at Kingston, 27/01/01 Also in Kingston, Arriva Guildford & West Surrey's East Lancs-bodied Volvo Citybus 614 (G614 BPH) is a familiar bus (it worked route 85 for eight years as a London&Country; vehicle) on a familiar route number. This new 418, however, bears no relation to the other Kingston-area route of that number withdrawn some years ago.

Saturday 20th January 2001
Today was to be the day that route 185 (Victoria - Lewisham) passed on tender from Stagecoach Selkent to first-time contractor Durham Travel Services, trading as London Easylink. However, a last-minute hitch concerning the allocation of operating discs has meant that Easylink could not put its Volvo B7TLs into service on the day. For the next few weeks therefore, the 185 is being shared by London General, Blue Triangle and Stagecoach Selkent, all of whom are on short-term contracts.
To all intents and purposes it's 'as you were' on the 185, as the current Titans from Stagecoach Selkent continue as the majority allocation. The difference is that they are operated from London Easylink's Old Kent Road depot. With a running number card pasted into the windscreen to prove it's not a 'normal' Catford bus, T 546 (KYV 546X) lays over at Lewisham Bus Station during today's unexpectedly fine, albeit extremely cold weather. Stagecoach Selkent Titan T 546 (KYV 546X) on loan to London Easylink at Lewisham, 20/01/01
London General Metrobus M 1005 (A705 THV) at Victoria, 20/01/01 London General are fielding a number of their depleted fleet of Metrobuses, many of which saw similar emergency use on the Victoria Line rail replacement last summer. Like its fellow route 185 stand-ins, former Merton M 1005 (A705 THV) seen leaving Victoria has had its route details added to the blinds in heavy black marker.
Two workings are allocated to Blue Triangle, who are to be commended for having fully-blinded vehicles in operation. One of them was low floor Dennis Trident DL 902 (V902 FEC) from the 474's batch, seen passing Forest Hill Station as daylight ran out. The use of lower-case lettering on the destination blind is noteworthy. Blue Triangle Dennis Trident DL 902 (V902 FEC) at Forest Hill, 20/01/01

Friday 19th January 2001
The London Bus Page's 300,000th visitor was Declan Aduba! Thanks to everyone else (all 299,999 of you, or at least those who have visited that many times!) for visiting over the years.

Tuesday 16th January 2001
Sometime tomorrow or Thursday, the London Bus Page will record its 300,000th visitor! If you're the lucky surfer, please press Alt-PrtScr to take a screen shot of the page with the counter on 300,000, then save a copy of it to email to me. You could be in line for loads of bus stuff I want to find a home for!

Tuesday 16th January 2001
First Capital's route 257 is now receiving its Dart SLFs, in a controversial conversion from high-capacity Arrow to single-deck operation (the frequency has been increased to compensate).
First Capital Dennis Dart SLF DML 751 (X751 JLO) at Stratford, 16/01/01 Hackney's DML 751 (X751 JLO) is seen at Stratford this evening. Unusually, the new DMLs carry white fleetnumbers rather than the usual yellow. Their exit doors are also fitted with an audible warning device which barks imperiously 'Stand Clear - Doors Opening', and its simpler retort 'Doors Closing'.

Friday 12th January 2001
A fair bit of debate has been going about concerning running numbers and the manner in which they are carried on London's buses. Lately, several companies have begun replacing the traditional dual side-mounted cards with laminated A4 sheets carried in the windscreen, though the aesthetics (as well as the usefulness) of this are even more open to debate.
London Central's Bexleyheath garage have just introduced these quite unattractive fluorescent cards with block numbers, which are so big they could be mistaken for the route number itself. Marshall-bodied Dennis Dart SLF DML 18 (T418 AGP) demonstrates at Woolwich. London Central Dennis Dart SLF DML 18 (T418 AGP) at Woolwich, 12/01/01

Friday 5th January 2001
Stagecoach's new London livery is here. The first London vehicles to carry it, aside from prototype TA 268, are Tridents now entering service at Leyton (theoretically for route 58, but also to be seen on the 48, 55, 56 and 69).
Stagecoach East London Dennis Trident TA 287 (X287 NNO) at Dalston Junction, 05/01/01 The new Stagecoach London livery really comes into its own at the rear, where blue and orange stripes recall the familiar colour scheme. Leyton's TA 287 (X287 NNO), seen making a visit to the 56 at Dalston Junction, has not yet had the new fleetnames applied, but will soon.

Monday 1st January 2001
Happy New Year to everybody! Yesterday I saw a foretaste of things to come on the 27 in the shape of a Westbourne Park Trident. This route is due for new Tridents shortly, with LLWs and Ms deputising at the moment. Having seen it coming only from the side before realising what it was, I wish this TN had been a 31!
Although Westbourne Park's route 18-based indigenous TNs have been making appearances on the 27, they are not yet fitted with blinds for the route. Slipboards and a handwritten route number make do on TN 833 (T833 LLC) as it calls at a busy Camden High Street. First Gold Arrow Trident TN 833 (T833 LLC) at Camden Town, 31/12/00

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