MCW Metrobus Mk 1
Reading have operated 44 Mk1 Metrobuses during its history, all of which were bought new between 1979 and 1982. This the last one to be acquired, 193 on the most frequent route in Reading, the 17.
A number of the Mk1 Metrobuses buses were altered from dual to single door layout in the late 1990s as part of a process to remove all centre doors from the fleet. The process generally involved the centre doorway being covered up with a panel similar to the one behind the stairwell, and then the exit step being filled in. In most cases the bulkheads around the door were retained, so it was quite clear when travelling on the bus that at one time the it had had a centre door. Here is a photo of preserved 162 which was withdrawn before the centre door deletion process had begun. It is seen at the Alton bus rally on 14th July 2002:
193 is special however because it was the first bus on which door removal was attempted, and a complete job was carried out. It received an extra window, a CCTV system and later a couple of extra seats. Finally it had all of its seats reupholstered and then later in November 2001 it was repainted into Reading Corporation colours to celebrate the company's 100 year anniversary, and is seen below on 25th November 2001 and 5th February 2005:
172-5, 177-9 moved to Newbury in 1999 to replace the last Leyland Nationals in the fleet. 172 was later withdrawn due to a broken chassis, 177 was withdrawn and replaced by 183 in March 2002 because 177's engine had failed and 175 was replaced by newer 186 in April 2002 upon the arrival of new Spectras in Reading. Further new Spectras for Reading in March 2003 led to the withdrawal of 174, 178 and 183, and the transfer of 190-2 to Newbury as replacements. Had 193 been in ordinary fleet livery at the time it would have been transferred to replace 186, 186 having been offered for sale along with 183, but then later retained by the company. In September 2003, 191 was transferred back to Reading due to a severe shortage of double deck vehicles, regaining full Reading Buses livery. It retained its tree deflector for a number of months after its return, and is seen below in Reading on 8th October 2003:
173, 179, 186, 190 and 192 were withdrawn from Newbury at the end of October 2004 and were replaced by Mk 2 Metrobuses 455-8 following the arrival of the first Scania OmniDekkas in Reading and a reduction in the requirement for double deckers at Newbury. The penultimate example, 191 was withdrawn from Reading on 8th November 2004. The last example, 193 went into reserve from the same day, but was returned to service on 2nd February 2005. It was then transferred to the Goldline fleet on 21st February to replace Titan 79 which had been off the road for a number of months with fire damage.
173, 179, 186, 190, 191, 192 were all sold to Nash, Cobham, 173/79/86 leaving on 20th November 2004 and 190/91/92 on 22nd November. From there 190 and 191 passed to Mann's Coaches, Gravesend soon after, and 192 passed to VisiBuzz, Vilvoorde, Belgium, leaving the UK on 11th March 2005. 179 and 186 eventually passed to Edwards, Llantwit Fardre in South Wales by October 2005 joining 175, 185, 187 and 188. 187/8 were sold by Edwards for scrap in around March 2009. 175, 185 and 186 are seen below on 22nd September 2012, by which time 179 had also been withdrawn:
175 was withdrawn by Edwards in December 2013 and scrapped on site, whilst 185 followed suit in January 2014. 186 was sold to Steve O'Reilly for preservation in August 2013.
193 was finally withdrawn in September 2005 following the loss of the Berkshire College of Agriculture contract, which was the main reason for having double deckers allocated to Goldline. It was sold to Shoreys Travel, Maulden departing on 9th September 2005, reportedly straight out of service from a contract working to Tesco the same morning.
Generally low-floor Optare Excels have replaced the Metrobuses that have left Reading directly, the later low-floor Optare Spectras allowing some of the later batches to move to Newbury, before finally Scania OmniDekkas seeing the last off.
This photo is of 175 at Reading Station in May 1999 in Newbury Buses livery.
186 is seen below at Newbury Bus Station on 22nd July 2002:
This is 190, one of the last batch of Mk1 transfers to Newbury, seen at St. Marys Butts on 8th August 2003. It is complete with autumnal background and poppy for remembrance day:
167 was sold to Weymouth College before passing to Dorset County Council for conversion into a play bus in June 2006. From there it was sold Mike Nash (dealer) on 9th May 2009 still fully operational.
177 was sold to Goodwin, Carlton for scrap in June 2003 via Mike Nash (dealer).
189 was sold to Vizibuzz, Onoz, Belgium in April 2007 for conversion into a publicity/advertising unit, via Nash, Weybridge (dealer).
MCW Metrobus Mk 2
This is MCW Metrobus Mk 2 147, it was chosen in 1991 to display a message to celebrate the company's 90th birthday. It is seen here in January 1998 still showing this message, just before it was withdrawn.
Reading has operated a fleet of 22 Mk2 Metrobuses. The first seven were purchased in 1984, and were fitted with luxury coach seating for use on the London "Goldline X1" service, and were numbered 143 to 149 to fit before the Mk 1 series 150 to 193. After use on the London services, these buses were put to town work. When 147 was receiving Reading Buses colours it was given extra lettering to celebrate the company's 90th birthday which it retained for the rest of it's Reading life. The buses were withdrawn in late 1997 / early 1998 because the lavish seating was becoming worn, and would have been expensive to replace.
143 passed to Ruffle, Castle Headingham, and was scrapped in March 2007 having been out of use for several months.
144 passed to Ensign Bus, initially based at Purfleet it later moved to Cambridge as part of their Cambridge Blue operation. Following the sale of the Cambridge Blue operations (but not vehicles) to Stagecoach, the vehicle was to be sold to Halls Coaches, Kennoway during January 2007, however it passed to Kent Coastliner of Ashford instead. From there is passed to Glew's, Colchester in November 2008, and then to Morton's on 7th April 2010 where it is to be refurbished and repainted back into Goldline maroon and cream. It is photographed below at the Cobham rally on 11th April 2010 days after acquisition. Thanks to David Smith for this photo:
144 is seen below at Reading Station on 9th May 2010 following repaint into Morton's adaptation of the Goldline livery:
145 went to St John's School of Motoring, Hackney before passing to Wigley, Carlton for scrap in August 2007.
146 passed to Ensign Bus, Purfleet before being sold to Sun Decker Tours, Station Yard, Lydney in April 2005. It is seen below at Lydney on 11th May 2009, thanks to David Beardmore for this photo:
From there operated on contract to Cotswold Bamboo, Cheltenham in November 2009 as an event bus, making its first appearance providing transport for the race goers of the Gold Cup Festival 16-19th March 2010. It is advertised as "Ideal either as a base for an event, or an amazing form of transport for wedding parties, balls, sporting events, festivals etc. As a modified classic "root master" The Bamboo Bus is soft metallic silver with tinted windows for complete privacy. This fabulous double-decker incorporates red leather seating to maintain its classic style and sophistication. With the ability to carry up to 70 people we provide helpful hostesses serving complimentary drinks throughout your journey." It was sold to the company in May 2010, but stored on the premises of sun Decker Tours again in September 2010 and advertised for sale on ebay in November 2010 and October 2011.
147 passed to Ensign bus, initially at Purfleet and then later Stratford. It moved back from Stratford to Purfleet in February 2005 having fallen out of use, and was then sold to L&M Coaches (Edwards), East Kent in about July 2005 where is was reregistered S2 LME.
148 went to St. John's School of Motoring, Hackney before ending up with Red Route Buses. It was de-roofed in a low bridge accident in Chertsey Lane, Staines at the end of July 2005 and has been sent to Granby Coachworks to have it's roof rebuilt.
149 passed to Ensign Bus, Purfleet before being sold to B&J Classic Travel, Chadwell St Mary, Essex, and then to Red Route Buses.
In 1991, 15 second hand Mk2s were purchased from Harrow Buses (London) where they had become surplus to requirements following tendering losses. 460-9 entered service in March 1991 in poppy-red Harrow Buses livery with Reading Transport fleet names and coat of arms, whilst 455-9 entered service in August 1991 in Reading Buses livery. By this time 460-9 had been repainted into Reading Buses livery as well. 460 is seen below on 25th May 1991 at the Addington Road terminus of route 29. Thanks to Chris Spencer for this photo:
464 is seen below during the brief period of two way operation in Friar Street in March 1997:
464 again, this time operating special Rock Festival service 98 at Reading Station on 23rd August 2002:
During 1996, the offside Reading Buses vinyl was removed from 464 and a racing car image substituted - using the bus wheels as the cars wheels - to advertise cable communications company Telecential. 464 is seen below in this livery on 9th August 1996, the windscreen notice advising customers of ‘Low Child Fares’ - a reduced fare promotion that ran during the school summer holidays from 20th July to 31st August. Thanks to Chris Spencer for this photo:
Below are 467(L) and 458(R) on rail replacement duties in Slough on 23rd August 2003:
455-58 transferred to Newbury at the end of October 2004 to replace the last Mk1 Metrobuses there, upon arrival of 17 new Scania OmniDekkas in Reading. Originally 455-56/58-60 were to transfer, but a reduction in the requirement for double deckers at Newbury led to the plans being changed. 455 transferred to Newbury by 29th October 2004, 457 on or by 30th October, 456 by 1st November and 458 by 4th November.
In preparation for the transfers, the buses received a full repaint and partial refurbishment at Great Knollys Street. The first to be treated was 455, re-entering service in Reading during March 2004 wearing basic Newbury livery, but with Reading fleet names on the front and rear. It is seen below on 13th March 2004:
460 was the second to appear in the above livery at the end of April, but went into full Reading livery during the July when the transfer plans were changed. The third to be treated was 456, appearing at the start of June with the tree deflector from 191 which had returned to Reading a few months earlier. It is seen in the picture below on 17th June 2004:
The fourth bus to be treated as part of the program was 459. 459 re-appeared in basic Newbury livery in July 2004, but reverted to full Reading livery only a few days later as the plans for it changed. 458 followed in August 2004 being the last to go into basic Newbury livery. 458 is seen below on 11th March 2006 helping out on Reading football service 79.
Work on 461 marked the start of the process for Reading vehicles following completion of the vehicles originally intended for Newbury, re-appearing in October 2004, then 464 followed in November 2004, 467 in December and 463 in January 2005. These later vehicles saw less and less refurbishment work than the others, with 463 onwards essentially just being a repaint job with a few other minor touches.
Incidentally, 457 received its mini refurbishment when its advertising livery was renewed in 2003, 466 saw some attention when it lost its Utopia advertising livery in 2001 (although its seats were done in 1999 after the interior was wrecked by football 'fans') and 465 and 468 had also been treated by the time the work on 455 began in February/March 2004.
In summary, the vehicles reappeared in service as shown below:
- 455 - March 2004
- 456 - June 2004
- 457 - January 2003 (comprehensive re-trim)
- 458 - August 2004
- 459 - July 2004
- 460 - April 2004 (comprehensive re-trim)
- 461 - October 2004
- 462 - March 2005 (repaint only)
- 463 - January 2005 (repaint only)
- 464 - November 2004
- 465 - by January 2004 (comprehensive re-trim)
- 466 - December 2001 (seat re-trim carried out in 1999)
- 467 - December 2004
- 468 - by February 2004 (comprehensive re-trim)
- 469 - February 2005
The vehicles with comprehensive re-trims had their London Transport yellow and black seat coverings replaced with the 'purple graffiti' material first used in the Optare Excels when new, whilst the others were just tidied up.
468 was still looking smart when seen on 27th March 2006:
455-69 were all to be replaced in February 2008 upon the arrival of Scania / East Lancs Olympuses 841-61, with Optare Spectras 708-11 from Reading to replace 455-8 in Newbury. However, the arrival of Alexander Dennis Darts 601-10 to replace 511-20 in Newbury lead to some capacity issues on a specific Newbury working, and the early transfer of 708 on 30th October 2007 to replace 457. 457 returned to Reading on 29th October. 709 then followed to Newbury on 11th December 2007, with 456 returning to Reading on 24th December. 458 was transferred to Reading by 26th January 2008 in exchange for 721. None of the returned Metrobuses saw service in Reading before being sold. 455 was withdrawn as planned in February 2008, but continued delays to the arrival of the Reading Scanias meant that 468 was temporarily transferred to Newbury on 26th February until early May 2008 (455 was selected for sale as it had a longer MOT).
457/67 were sold to EST Bus Group (EST, GM Coaches & Cartel Travel), South Wales in January 2008, with 456 following soon after. From there 457 was sold for scrap in September 2011.
458 was sold to The Green Transport Company, Birmingham, arriving with them on 16th February 2008. 460 followed on 13th April 2008, 462 on around 21st April, 464 sometime after and finally 469 was the last Metrobus to depart the company on 13th May. 458 is seen below in Great Stone Road, Northfield, Birmingham on 9th March 2008. Thanks to Neil Reynolds for this photo:
From The Green Transport Company, 460 passed to TJ Travel, Polesworth on 10th April 2013 and 462 to Bear Buses, Ashford by November 2013.
455/459/461/463/465/466 were sold to Visibuzz in Onoz, Belgium with 455, 459 and 466 leaving on 28th February 2008 and 461, 463 and 465 on 29th.
During its short time at Newbury, 468 wore a hybrid Reading/Newbury livery of a Reading stripe with green Newbury logos, as seen below on 27th February 2008. Thanks to Brian Coney for this photo:
468 was sold to Midland Classic, leaving by 9th May 2008. It is seen below with its new owners on 14th June 2008. Thanks to Ben Morrell for this photo:
Midland Classic repainted 468 into their fleet livery over summer 2008, and is seen below on 19th October 2008. Thanks to Ben Morrell for this photo:
From there it was withdrawn in October 2009 and sold to Lowe, Worksop (dealer) in February 2014.
From time to time vehicles were loaned from Reading to Newbury to help out when vehicles are off the road:
- 190 - 29th January 2003
- 191 - 1st December 2003 to January 2004
- 463 - 2nd to 11th March 2005 covering for 458
Various Metrobuses of both marks have been transformed into ColourBus advertising liveries at some stage. At one time the Metrobus was the most numerous type of bus in the fleet, with a total of 66 having entered service. Metrobuses were used to replace Metropolitans, of which 61 entered service, but 68 were actually owned. In the middle of these two figures comes the single deck Optare Excel, used to replace a number of Metrobuses, with a total 64 in the fleet at one time.
Last updated: 19-08-17
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