Optare Delta

The first 10 Deltas (501-510) were purchased in 1989. All were delivered new to Reading in maroon and cream with bold Reading Transport fleet names, the borough coat of arms and silver wheel trims, making them appear very smart and professional. 510 is seen below on 9th November 1989. Thanks to Chris Spencer for this photo:

510 on 9 November 1989

When new all featured Hannover dot-matrix destination equipment, and 508 had an experimental 2+1 seating configuration. 508 spent many years with this configuration until it was upseated in June 2005. 508 is seen below on 27th April 1991 just before the application of Reading Buses livery. Thanks to Chris Spencer for this photo:

508 on 27 April 1991

Below is 504 in Reading Buses livery at the Great Knollys Street Depot in June 2000:

504 in June 2000 (21152 bytes)

In November 1995 505 was repainted into a special festive livery in aid of Children in Need Day on 24th November 1995. It is seen below in Broad Street on the following day, 25th November. Vehicles with dot matrix destination displays (the Deltas and Olympians) were reprogrammed to switch between Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year as well as the normal route information, a tradition which continued for several years. Thanks to Chris Spencer for this photo:

505 on 25 November 1995

During July 2001, 501 received a full interior refurbishment with 504 following a couple of months after, but no further vehicles were treated as the plans for their future were changing. In March 2003, 506 received a temporary Bright-Tech Light-Tech LED display whilst the Hannover displays fitted to the batch were cleaned and serviced. It is seen here on route 137 to Peppard Common on 20th March 2003:

506 on 20 March 2003 (42139 bytes)

During April 2003, 501-10 were transferred to Newbury. 508 was loaned to Newbury for a day or two in late March to allow driver familiarisation with the type, but the first one noted in Newbury livery, albeit only partially repainted, was 507. It was let out of the paint shop early so that the driver familiarisation program could continue. It is seen below in Newbury on said duties on 7th April 2003:

507 on 7 April 2003 (48624 bytes)

The first proper arrivals in Newbury were 504/7 on 11th April, followed by 502/3/8 on 12th, 501 on 15th, 506 on 17th, 503 on 13th May, 505 around 16th, and 510 on 12th June. However 506/8/9 were returned to Reading for rectification work, and Reading used them in service before returning them back to Newbury. Hence 506 was noted in service in Reading on 28th & 29th April, and 508/9 on 20th May.

503 is seen below in full Newbury livery on 16th April 2003:

503 on 16 April 2003 (53055 bytes)

These Deltas worked very hard in Reading when they first arrived, and were the only single deckers in the fleet for several years. Not only were they out during the day, but were also used on many evening and Sunday services. It took quite a few more years until the final total of 20 was actually reached. The second batch was 511-13 in 1995 and the third batch was 514-20 in 1996. Here is 519 at the Reading Buses Open Day in October 1996:

519 in October 1996 (18953 bytes)

These later batches were the first to include digital number displays and Bright-tech Power Blind destination equipment. 511-3 were originally delivered with ordinary blinds but were converted after the arrival of 514-20 a year later. This became the standard equipment for new buses entering the fleet until high visibility LED displays became available in the early 2000s.

During early 2001 511-20 received a slight change to their livery to accommodate a space to display adverts, the Reading Buses logo was moved to behind the back wheels, and the stripe between the wheels thinned. 501 was similarly altered in July 2001 on the completion its refurbishment, as was 504 a month or two later. 501-10 were treated upon transfer to Newbury in April 2003. Below is 520 at Reading Station in April 2001 demonstrating the alterations.

520 in April 2001 (17974 bytes)

In April 2003, 519 had its front display replaced with a Bright-Tech Light-Tech LED unit. By the following June its side and rear display had also been replaced. Further Deltas then went on to receive them as summarised below:

511 - by the end of January 2004
512 - by June 2003
513 - by June 2003
514 - August/September 2006
515 - by early February 2004
516 - April 2005
517 - by July 2005
518 - April 2005
519 - April 2003 (front), by June 2003 (side, rear)
520 - May 2006
In September 2004, 501-510 had their displays replaced with Hanover LED units, which had the capacity to scroll information along them. 502 is seen below with its display on 11th March 2006 whilst helping out on Reading football route 79.

502 on 11 March 2006 (51097 bytes)

From time to time vehicles have been loaned from Reading to Newbury to help out when vehicles are off the road. From the Delta fleet this has included:

505 - 29th to 31st March 2003 covering for Vecta 802
506 - 25th to 29th April 2004 from Newbury to Reading after returning to Reading for attention
508/9 - approx 16th to approx 21st May 2004 from Newbury to Reading after returning to Reading for attention
515 - 7th to 9th June 2004
515 - 20th January 2006 to 27th March 2006 covering for 509
517 - 27th to 28th May 2004 covering for Vecta 804
517 - 28th March 2006 (one day only)
519 - 6th December 2005 to 20th January 2006 covering for 509

Below is 515 in Reading on route 102 whilst on loan to Newbury on 11th March 2006.

515 on 11 March 2006 (53386 bytes)

The delivery of 10 Wright Solars to Reading in May 2006 allowed 511-20 to leave Reading and replace 501-10 at Newbury. Originally scheduled for April, a delay with new Scania OmniDekkas also expected at that time meant that the first move had to be left until 5th May when 516 was able to be transferred. 511 transferred on 17th or 18th May, 512/8 on 23rd May, 519 on 24th May, 520 on 30th May, 513 on 1st June, 515 on 5th or 6th June, 517 on 29th June and 514 on 23rd August. All except 517 received full Newbury Buses livery before leaving. In return 502 was withdrawn and transferred to Reading on 17th or 18th May, 503/7 on 23rd May, 501 on 24th May, 506/10 on 30th May, 505 on 1st June, 508 on 5th or 6th June, 504 on 28th July and 509 on 8th August. Below is 516 during its first week in service at Newbury - thanks to Brian Coney for this photo:

516^0506.jpg (41835 bytes)

501, 503, 506 passed to Ensign (dealer) on 7th June 2006, 505,  508 and 510 on 9th, 507 a few weeks after that and 502, 504, 509 on 11th August. From there 505/6 entered service with Ensignbus in July 2006 as their 605/6 on route X80. 605 was later withdrawn from Ensign in May 2007 after sustaining serious rear end damage in an accident in Dartford Tunnel, and 606 was sold to Alder Valley Travel in August 2007. 501/3/7/10 went to McKindless on 24th July, and 502/4/9 to Islwyn Borough Transport by 3rd September and 508 to Harris Coaches, Blackwood by 19th September.

Below is 503 with McKindless on 31st May 2007. Thanks to Chris Maxfield for this photo:

503 on 31 May 2007 (59520 bytes)

Below is 506 on 24th July 2006. Thanks to Bob Stanger for this photo:

506 on 24 July 2006 (61450 bytes)

511-20 started to be withdrawn in July 2007 for export to New Zealand. 514 was first on 12th or 13th July and departed Reading for Portsmouth on 18th July for loading onto mv Hansa Bremen on 21st July. 516 was withdrawn later in July. 512/17/18/19 were withdrawn in August, and sailed along with 516 from Portsmouth to New Zealand on 20th August onboard mv Buzzard Bay. 516/9 were delivered from Newbury to Portsmouth on 16th and 512/7/8 on 17th. 511/3/5/20 were withdrawn in September 2007 and travelled to Hull docks on 25th September to sail onboard mv Tikeibank on 27th, 630 was used to bring the drivers back to Newbury. The buses were replaced in Newbury by second hand Dennis Dart SLFs 601-10, converting the whole depot to low floor operation (with the exception of school buses).

On arrival in New Zealand the Deltas were given New Zealand registrations:

Reading Fleet Number

New Zealand Owner

New Zealand Fleet Number

New Zealand Registration Number

511 PartyBus 253 EHG74

Named Ares

512 PartyBus 252 EHG75 Named Poseidon
513 PartyBus 255 EHG71 Named Eros
514 Ritchies 441 EKU337  
515 PartyBus 254 EHG70 Named Dionysus
516 Ritchies 444 EFT346  
517 PartyBus 251 EGB613 Named Pegasus
518 Ritchies 443 EFT350  
519 Ritchies 442 EFT351  
520 Ritchies 445 EFT359  


Thanks to Peter Thompson for this information. The Deltas were joined by Volvo B10Ms (L58/9 UNS, ex GM Buses, Manchester) and DAF SB220s (M630/822/45 RCP, ex Metrobus, Crawley) which departed Portsmouth 25th June 2007 onboard mv Hansa Stockholm all of which went to PartyBus.

Before the arrival of 6 MCW Metroriders in 1988 and the Deltas in 1989, Reading had been operating an entirely double deck fleet since 1983. The Deltas remained the only single deck buses in the fleet until 1993 when shorter Optare Vectas started to arrive, and then 1997 when Optare Excels were delivered. By the end of 1998 the number of Excels had already passed the total number of Deltas, and by 1999 the number of Deltas and Vectas put together.

Last updated: 18-02-09

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