Wednesday, 30 July 2014

A Splash Of ( Some Not So) Bright Colours

         Route 8 was the 8th route to convert to New Bus For London operation. The official conversion date was 28th June, but the route didn't achieve 100% LT operation until July, by which time the 38 still hadn't properly converted, which was meant to be wholly Routemaster in May. The old kit on route 8 was mostly Trident/ALX400 DD's, but Enviro 400 Hybrids from route 15 and route 205 have appeared before, as well as the Scania OmniCity buses now allocated to route 277.

Here is a broken down ALX400, which has probably been made redundant by now.
        The route starts at Tottenham Court Road, and terminates at Bow Church, going via places like Liverpool Street, Bethnal Green and Old Ford. This route also uses a section of the A12, and apparently some people have actually been on fast LTs on that section. The route gets fairly busy in peak periods, and relieves overcrowding on route 25 between Bank and Holborn. The Routemasters are allocated at Bow (BW) garage, which is coincidentally the eastern terminus of the route. This was Stagecoach's first ever batch of New Routemasters, and the buses seem to be quite reliable on both routes, the 8 and N8. So far, Enviro 400/E40H DD's have continued to appear, but quite infrequently.
    The new Routemasters, like on route 38, have all three livery's applied to them; normal red, black, and silver. The majority of buses on the route are Red or Black, but the three silver buses look unique running alongside the regulars, so it's good that there are only a few. The first New Routemaster that appeared on the route was LT252, in the black livery promoting Adidas. Here is a gallery of the buses, and some more details on the livery's themselves:

                                                    THE RED ONES:
  Nearly half of the buses on this route are Red, and the first in the batch, LT239, is in this colour. Personally, I think these buses look quite boring alongside the buses with the other livery's, but Wrightbus do have to at least try to obey TFL's all-red rule, which hasn't gone down too well.

Here is LT264, about to terminate in Tottenham Court Road.
  LT260 still hasn't hit the road yet, and I'm intrigued to know what's happened to it. I believe this is an all-red bus.

LT241 arrives at Bethnal Green Station.
                                                            THE BLACK ONES:

  This batch was interesting, not least because the LT's displaying Luis Suarez' face on it were cannibalised, and now have a different Adidas advert on them. Despite there only being a few, they seem as common as the red ones. The first bus to appear on the route was an Adidas bus, which was quite surprising. Even though the World Cup has finished, the buses are still carrying their adverts.

LT252 loads up at Bethnal Green.

LT253 motors down Roman Road, on it's way to Bow Church.
                                                       THE SILVER BUSES:

  LT256, LT271 and LT272 are in the special YOTB livery also applied to LT150, LT172 and LT188. They look brilliant on the outside, but are just like a normal, rubbish NB4L inside.

LT256 in Bethnal Green. An HTP with no padding on route 388 is behind.

LT271 is amongst traffic in Holborn.
Thanks for reading!

Friday, 25 July 2014

999 It's An Emergency!!!

       This post will be published the exact minute the last 9H terminates at Kensington Holland Road, at 19:27. The reason why this post will be published then is because the route is being withdrawn today, Friday 25th July 2014. The Heritage service runs from Kensington (Holland Road) to Trafalgar Square, via the current 9 route. This, like the sole other Heritage Routemaster route (the 15H, from Trafalgar Square-Tower Hill), has a PVR of 5, and they meet at Trafalgar Square. The 9H runs on an every 20 minute frequency, so you might've had to wait a while to get one. The buses from the route in best condition will transfer east to run on route 15H, the rest, including the replaced buses from the 15H, will either join Tower Transit's or Stagecoach's heritage fleet, being used on special occasions.
     The reason why this route has been withdrawn is because "it wasn't used that much, and the 15H was a lot more popular." Frankly, I disagree with the first part of this statement, as all the 9H's I've seen have been carrying healthy loads, and I'm sure many people are bitterly disappointed at the withdrawal of this route. It is quite handy if the normal route 9 is bunching, and commuters often use it to get to and from work. It got extended from Royal Albert Hall to Holland Road in early 2012, although it still remains more popular between the Hall and Trafalgar Square. The vehicles do not have iBus fitted, despite them being visible on London Vehicle Finder and Live Bus Arrivals-both these sites use iBus data to track vehicles.
    To say farewell to the Heritage service, I decided to ride the route from Hammersmith-Aldwych, but also using the Heritage service, therefore taking 3 9 buses. I called the day 999, as I used 3 route 9 buses, and because it's sad that route 9H will be withdrawn. Here are the buses I used, and the experience on them:

                                                    9 NUMBER 1:

LT154 is allocated to route 10, but this bus and many others from the route often sneak out onto the 9.
    When I boarded at Hammersmith Bus Station, I didn't expect much, as I've never been too keen on New Routemasters. In fact, I spent the whole time just deleting pictures from the phone, so I can't really write about my experience here. Anyway, at Warwick Gardens, I waited for 9 number 2.

                                                  9 NUMBER 2:

    The heritage service.

RM1650, in a silver livery.
          It was immediately obvious when I boarded the 16:45 departure that many of the people on board this bus were saying farewell to the service, like me. I was lucky enough to get the front seats upstairs, which made the experience even better! The 9 is a pretty good route, and I think it's been ruined by the introduction of New Routemasters, so to ride it with a decent bus was good, knowing it would probably be the last time it'll happen. Despite it being the rush hour, there wasn't much traffic and the RM1650 was still quite nippy up Kensington High Street. Despite there being no air-cooling, this bus was only a little hotter than the NB4L, giving a sign that the Air Cooling on LTs doesn't work that well. The bus was nearly full by Green Park, and almost everyone who had got on had stayed on until Trafalgar Square. It was sad to get off, and I was dreading 9 number 3, despite me only being on it for three stops.

                                                9 NUMBER 3:

Here's LT79, a New Routemaster actually on its allocated route.
 Again, I couldn't really enjoy the experience, because it was an LT, and I was busy checking LVF to hunt down VW1211.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Disguised As A 7 Year Old

       This post concerns the five new Enviro 400/E40D's delivered to Quality Line for the contract renewal of route 418. The buses are coded DD14-18, and run from Epsom (EB) garage. The code DD stands for Double-Decker, indicating that Quality Line would only buy Enviro 400 Double-Deckers until DD01-18 left the fleet.The contract renewal coincided with a frequency increase on both this route and the 406, and the new intake almost immediately appeared on QL's  other double deck routes, like the 406 and 467 as well as the normally single-deck 463.
      I expected the new buses to look completely different from DD01-13, which I assumed would retain their yellow blinds, and that they would look like this:

Here is DD11, starting a journey at Kingston.

      However, something I didn't know was that the older Enviro's were going to be refurbished, so on a very wet Saturday 28th June, I was in for a shock when I saw this:

A refurbished DD06 finishing a journey on route 418. This bus looked identical to the picture above a few weeks ago.

          There are only a few, subtle differences between the old and new buses from the front end, look at these two:

       OLD:                                                                                                                 NEW:

      Personally, I quite like the Quality Line Enviro 400's, mostly because of their unique interior.
Here is a gallery of some old (but refurbished) Enviro's, and some new ones:

Lower Saloon interior facing forwards.

Lower Saloon interior facing the rear.

How embarrassing, it doesn't fit! It didn't do what most buses do when the name is too long to fit the screen (which is having the name moving from left to right repeatedly), it just cut of two letters of the word Hall!

Here is one of the new intake on route 406, without a logo.

Upper Saloon interior.

The rear of SL14 LND.

Here is SL14 LNE, completing another 406 journey in Kingston.

Finally, one of the old but refurbished buses at Brook Street, Kingston.
Thanks for reading this very short post!

Sunday, 13 July 2014

After Bright Adventures, They Find A Home

        This post concerns the 13 new Enviro 400 Hybrid/E40H double-deckers ordered for the C3 contract renewal in June. This would mean 12-year old Trident/ALX 400's could be sold off to an operator outside of London. The route itself is very short and tricky, starting at Earl's Court and weaving down to Clapham Junction via Imperial Wharf, and a hail and ride section. The PVR for the route is low, despite the frequency being every 8 minutes on weekdays. I was happy that the route would gain buses with a bright interior, and that the ALX400's (which were looking a bit scruffy) would be gone. I use the route regularly, but only for a few stops, between Earl's Court and World's End. I've never ventured further than World's End Health Centre, and I'm intrigued to see how it gets through Imperial Wharf, as I've never been there before. Anyway, back to the buses........
     2452/2453 arrived extremely early, but no one expected them to turn up on route 414 (Putney Bridge-Maida Hill) on a Friday evening! One lucky person managed to get a picture, although it's not me or my blog assistant, as we're not that flexible on Friday evenings. The next day they appeared on the UL16, which is a District Line rail replacement service running between Hammersmith and Wimbledon. After spending two days on the service, I expected that the two buses would appear on the C3, as well as 2454, 2455 and 2456, seeing as they were ready to go out..........
     But no. They appeared on practically every double-deck route run from Battersea (QB) apart from the C3, and as many as five were appearing on the 3, from Oxford Circus-Crystal Palace.

Here is 2460 on Whitehall, overtaking a Sightseeing Tour vehicle.
           After a week, the vehicles stopped appearing on the 3, and decided to go on every other double-deck route run from Battersea, like the 156, 344, C2, 452, 414.  They even appeared on the C3 occasionally, and I was lucky enough to catch 2460 on it, although appearances are still rare a month after they arrived.

Here is 2460 arriving at the World's End Health Centre bus stop.

Here is the lovely, bright interior of the buses.

The rear of SL14 DDY.
      After spending nearly 2 weeks not having an allocated route, the buses finally moved to the 211, to allow some of its Enviro 400/E40D buses to transfer to the C3. However, the new Hybrids still appear on other Battersea routes (like the 452), meaning not just the 211's E40D's are appearing on the route:

Here is an 8-year old Enviro 400 that is supposed to be working route 452 on the C3.

        After nearly a month of not being allocated to any route, the buses have finally found a new home:

2458 at Hammersmith Bus Station.

2457 heads towards Waterloo.

The first in the batch, 2452, at Fulham Cross.

The last in the batch, 2464, terminates.

      So, we have it, these Hybrids have finally found a home! Well, almost..........

2460 appeared on the C3 again only a few days ago, typical!!
   So, the buses are allocated to the 211, but they do constantly appear on other Battersea routes. Thanks for reading and viewing the pics!

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Fatally Failed Feline

      These three words describe the conversion of route 38 to New Routemasters, but this time the route gained a full allocation. In 2012, the 38 received eight prototype LT's, running between Victoria and Hackney Central only. However, LT1, LT2 and LT3 are on a world tour and LT8 is becoming a Euro 6 demonstrator, and it will be used on Metroline routes 24 and 390.

Here is LT5, one of the prototype New Routemasters that is still in service, in April 2013.

      On Mondays-Fridays, half of the journeys on this route curtail to Hackney Central, to ease overcrowding at the stand in Lea Bridge Roundabout (which is called by most people Clapton Pond). The route runs every 2-3 minutes, therefore it requires 70 buses in peak periods. The LT's work route N38 as well, making it the first night route to convert to New Routemaster operation. Sadly, I don't have any pictures of LT's on the N38.
     The fleet consists of LT172/3, and LT176-238. LT172, LT173 and LT188 are all Euro 6 and they inevitably entered service extremely late. The conversion date for the route was Saturday 10th May, but buses started appearing by the end of April, because of a tube strike. However, only 7 were in service on the 10th of May, and the allocation was still half and half at the end of the month. The conversion was so late, that diesel buses are still appearing in July, and not just Gemini's either:

A very rare working took place on Friday July 4th, when T66, an Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 allocated to route 78 made an appearance on the route.

Here is DW209, in June.
     The 70 Gemini's which were allocated to the route will be split between other Arriva London garages. Some will remain at Clapton, to oust the VLW's on route 242, some will go to South Croydon to replace DAFDB250 Pulsar Gemini's on routes 264 and 403, some will go to Grays to double-deck route 66 and some will go to Edmonton to replace Euro 2 DAF ALX400's on routes 317 and 307.
      After Saturday 10th May, Routemasters began appearing gradually on the route, maybe 3 or 4 a day. Then, on Saturday 24th May, some NB4L's in a very strange livery appeared on London streets:

Here is the rear of LT199, at Clapton Pond.
     These black vehicles are sponsoring Adidas, whilst the world cup takes place. After the world cup, they will be repainted in red, so you'll have to get a photo of them quickly, if you haven't ticked these buses off on your photography list. They can also be found on route 8, between Tottenham Court Road and Bow Church.
Here is the front of LT199.

Here is LT210, in Hackney Central.

This is LT215, the first black LT to enter service.
      Most of the buses have the slogan 'all in or nothing' written on the side, but a few have something else written on it, as well as a different face:

This Routemaster says 'fear or be feared', and has Luis Suarez' face on it. However, he is now banned from international football for a long period, and I bet the painters regret putting his face on the side of these vehicles.

     One of the Routemasters was late because it was painted pink. It spent a while in Northern Ireland, running as a shuttle bus for a cycling event. Sadly, LT230 was repainted before it entered service in London, and is now in normal red. Two of the Euro 6 Routemasters are in Year Of The Bus livery, meaning they look identical to LT150, which was delivered to London United earlier in the year:

Here is LT172 on Piccadilly, doing a short working to Hackney Central.
        Sadly, in the early hours of Wednesday 4th June, LT176 crashed into a car whilst working route N38. The vehicle is getting repaired, but won't be seen in the capital for some time.........DW411.................LT62............WSH62992............all wrecked Wrightbus vehicles.............

     Of course, there are Routemasters in normal red livery, and I got on one of them. Here are some pictures of them:

Here is LT207, in Tottenham Court Road.

iBus on LT227.

Interior of LT227.

Here is the rear of LT228.

Finally, LT187 overtakes DW510 in Hackney.
   The reason why I used the words fatally and failed in the title, is because there was a fatal crash on route N38 when it got LT's, and because the conversion is nearly 2 months late. Thanks for reading!

Footnote: This isn't related to the conversion, but just remember that London buses ARE NOT accepting cash from today.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

I Thought Clean Air Was Important....

Clearly it isn't, according to Go-Ahead London. Route 129 had always been single-deck, using buses like these, which were in a common user pool concerning routes 108 and 129:

ED4, a Dart Evolution, on route 108, in Blackheath.
  However, the route was constantly using Enviro 400 DD's from route 36, and on most days of the week they made up the full PVR. Euro 5 Enviro's are certainly better for the environment than Euro 3 Wrightbus Eclipse Gemini's, but on Saturday 7th June, the route gained four 12 year old Gemini 1's, so that the 36's Enviro's can actually run the route they're allocated to.

The rear of a rather ancient-looking WVL77, in Greenwich Town Centre.
  The route itself is very short, going from Greenwich Town Centre-North Greenwich, meaning the route is less than 3 miles long.
Two buses on stand at once.

Pointless curtailment: The route is 3 miles long, I don't even think there was a gap big enough to curtail a bus.

Interior facing the rear.


Interior facing forwards.
 Thanks for reading!!