Dennis Dart SLF

Ten Darts were purchased during 2007 and 2008 for operation in Newbury.

601-4 have 37 seat Caetano Nimbus bodywork and were purchased from deCourcey Travel, who had purchased the vehicles new in September 2002. 603/4 arrived in Newbury on 25th June 2007 and immediately went for repaint at Caetano, Waterlooville. 601 followed them to the painters by 1st July returning on 23rd July, and 602 arrived on 27th July, and went to the painters on 3rd August returning on 22nd August.

602 is seen below operating for deCourcey Travel as their 522, leaving Coventry Pool Meadow Bus Station on route 775:

522 on 5 October 2002 (33161 bytes)

603 is seen below on 21st July 2007 during its first few days in service:

603 on 21 July 2007 (107973 bytes) 603 on 21 July 2007 (85210 bytes)

604 is seen below at Newbury depot on 7th July. Thanks to Brian Coney for this photo:

604 on 7 July 2007 (76585 bytes)

605-6 have 38 seat Plaxton Pointer 2 bodywork and were purchased from Coastal Coaches through Southdown PSV. 605-6 were new in November 2002 and numbered 119/20 in the Coastal fleet. 606 had arrived in Newbury by 1st July and went into use type training pending repaint at Caetano, Waterlooville, returning on 14th August.

Meanwhile 605 was delivered from Coastal to Southdown PSV on 10th July and went from Newbury for repaint at Caetano, Waterlooville on 23rd July, returning on 15th August. After a successful PSV test on 21st August, it had to return to Caetano for remedial works as the paintwork was not up to their usual standard.  It returned to Newbury for the second time on 29th August.

605 is seen below with Coastal on 13th June 2007. Thanks to Paul Gainsbury for this photo:

606 on 13 June 2007 (83652 bytes)

606 is seen below in service with Coastal on 24th November 2006. Thanks to Paul Gainsbury for this photo:

605 on 24 November 2006 (63687 bytes)

606 is seen below on 17th and 18th August 2007. Thanks to Mark Lyons and Stuart Curwen for these photos:

606 on 17 August 2007 606 on 18 August 2007

607 was acquired from Redby Buses in September 2007.

608 and 609 were acquired from Cavalier, Long Sutton having been new in August 2006 with 37-seat Alexander Dennis Pointer bodywork. 608 was withdrawn from Cavalier in March 2007 with accident damage, and sold to a dealer. From there it went on short term loan to E & M Horsburgh, Pumpherston near Edinburgh before acquisition by Reading Transport, arriving in Newbury on 10th September 2007 after repaint. 608 is seen below on 15th September 2007 during its first couple of days in service:

608 on 15 September 2007

610 was acquired from SM Coaches of Harlow in April 2008. It immediately went away for repaint, returning to Newbury on 6th May 2008. It then had to wait until 13th May for its Hanover LED destination displays to be fitted before it could go into service. It is seen below leaving Newbury Bus Station on 30th May 2008:

610 on 30 May 2008

601-4 and 606-10 received "Vitality" branding on Sunday 19th April 2009 ahead of a revamp to services between Newbury, Thatcham and Reading from the following day. 603 is seen below at Thatcham Broadway on 20th April 2009 sporting the new look and route number:

603 on 20 April 2009

610 is seen below with "Vitality" branding in Thatcham Broadway on 20th April 2009:

610 on 20 April 2009

601-4 and 606-10 transferred from Newbury to Reading on 6th September 2009 along with the operation of Newbury - Reading route 1 and Newbury - Thatcham route 11 from 7th. 607-8 fairly rapidly returned to Newbury on 26th September 2009 following the withdrawal of Reading - Tadley route 3 which freed up two Wright Solars. From the same date Optare Spectras displaced Wright Solars from route 6 to route 1, allowing 601-4 to be advertised for sale. 601/3 were sold to Countywide Travel / Fleet Buzz in October 2009, but 603 had left Reading by September 2009. They then passed to Stagecoach with the sale of Fleet Buzz on 1st December 2011, and from there were sold to Stephensons of Essex on 19th November 2014. 602/4 were sold to Faresaver, Chippenham in December 2009 having remained in service longer than 601/3. 602 was reregistered PSV 444 and 604 BU51 TOY in September 2010, 602 is seen below in Grand Parade, Bath on 27th October 2010. Thanks to David Smith for this photo:

602 on 27 October 2010

603 is seen below with Fleet Buzz on 28th May 2010:

603 on 28 May 2010

604 is seen below on 21st June 2010 with Faresaver laying over at Bath Coach Park after working the 267 from Frome. Thanks to David Smith for this photo:

604 on 21 June 2010

609 transferred back to Newbury from Reading in October 2009, ousting Solo 123. 610 transferred back to Newbury from Reading in November 2009, ousting 605 which moved to Reading for sale along with 606 to Brighton & Hove on 24th November 2009. Generic Wright Solars replaced these vehicles, freed up by using spare Optare Spectras on town services.

All vehicles returning from Reading to Newbury lost their "Vitality" branding as part of the move. 605 and 606 are seen below in Brighton on 25th May 2012. Thanks to David Smith for these photos:

605 on 25 May 2012 606 on 25 May 2012

605/6 transferred to Plymouth Citybus in March 2015 to assist with the operation of former Western Greyhound services. 606 is seen below on the Royal Parade in Plymouth on 23rd April 2015. Thanks to Richard Smith for this photo:

 606 on 23 April 2015

In January 2011 608-10 received "1 Flyer" branding for revamped services 8/8A and 12 from 4th January 2011. 609 is seen below leaving Newbury Bus Station on route 8 on 8th February 2011:

609 on 8 February 2011

In June 2011 it was announced that local bus operations from Newbury would cease from 27th August 2011, and consequently 607-9 were put up for sale. 608 (and 609 behind) is seen below preparing to run the last ever Newbury Buses departures from Newbury Bus Station on 27th August 2011:

608 on 27 August 2011

Following withdrawal, 607-9 moved to Reading for preparation to return to the leasing company Santander. They did however see further use on 18/19th September 2011 on a park & ride service for the Newbury Show. 608 then spent a brief period on loan to Weavaway Travel to cover a school contract. The trio were tidied up and repainted white in-house at Great Knollys Street, with two departing between 2nd and 4th November 2011. 607-9 passed to Ensignbus (dealer) in November 2011, with 608/9 going directly to Central Buses, Birmingham by 16th November 2011 and 607 to NIBS, Wickford, Essex in January 2012.

The final example, 610 was transferred to Reading for use on route 28 where it received 'Community Link' branding on base Newbury Buses livery by 13th September 2011. It is seen below on 15th September 2011:

610 on 15 September 2011

610 was loaned to Weavaway Travel on the afternoon of 28th March 2012 until the morning of 30th, running on franchised route 6/6A on 29th. It was finally withdrawn in April 2012 following the entry into service of Wright Streetlites 151-6 and was sold to Ensignbus (dealer) in May. From there is passed to Central Buses, Birmingham who were themselves advertising it for sale by 2nd June 2012.

Two Darts were purchased during 2008 to form a new RTL Training Academy. Numbered 310/1, they came from Travel London and were converted to become full time training vehicles. 310 and 311 are seen below in Great Knollys Street depot on 5th July 2009:

310 on 5 July 2009

311 on 5 July 2009

A further two Darts were purchased from Ensignbus (dealer) on 29th November, ex London United, to expand the training fleet to four. They arrived in London red, and retain their centre doors following repaint. 312 was at Hants & Dorset Trim for repaint on 20th January 2014 but 313 was the first noted in use on 24th February 2014. 312 was also noted at Renault Trucks on 5th March 2014 prior to entering service by 10th March. They were named Apple and Blackberry after the names Rhubarb and Custard caught on for 310/1. 312 is seen below on 10 March 2014 and 313 on 3 July 2016:

312 on 10 March 2014 313 on 3 July 2016

Prior to the arrival of 312/3 Thamesdown 383 R189 NFE was borrowed from approximately 24th October 2013 until 6th December 2013 to boost training capacity pending the acquisition of additional vehicles. It was borrowed again for a week in early February 2017.

310 went on loan to Thamesdown Transport on 13th October 2014 to cover for their 383, returning by 19th. It did the same for a week around 9 July 2016.

311 was sold to Wessex, part of Rotala in August 2015.

310 was sold to Compass Bus, Worthing, West Sussex in May 2018.

Last updated: 30-05-19

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