Latest Quality Routes Commence
Today saw the launch of new routes and timetables on several services in Reading ready for the introduction of new vehicles that are to be delivered over the coming weeks. Pending delivery of the new vehicles three exLondon Sovereign Optare Spectras have been hired from Dawson Rentals by Scania (charged to East Lancs) and pressed into service on routes 31 and 33.
2001 at Reading Station at lunchtime today. Thanks to James Cusworth for this photo.
2002 at Reading Station at lunchtime today. Thanks to James Cusworth for this photo.
In the window next to the entrance the Spectras have an old Reading Buses logo along with the legal details, and then in the front window were papers with the route number and destination. 2001 also however appears to have had an old Reading Spectra destination blind fitted, but sadly it was not functional and was just set to the Reading Buses logo. To date two of the new OmniDekkas have arrived, with another due this evening and a total of six by the end of the week.
2001 steaming up Castle Hill early this morning on its second round trip with the company.
The biggest change to the routes is on the former 25/44/45 group which is split to create new routes 23/24 and 25/26. Meanwhile the 5 and 37 see increased frequencies during the day and other services see some slightly revised timetables.
The Coley Park - Emmer Green section of the 44/45 reverts back to its traditional number 24. 311 is seen on one of the first few workings this morning.
The most radical route change is to the long established Ford's Farm - Caversham link which is now split in the Town Centre. 469 is seen working a new 26 from the Town Centre to Calcot via Beansheaf. The 25 operates via the Calcot Estate, whilst the 23 is the new Town Centre - Caversham Park service (linked to the 24 for connections to Emmer Green).
Lastly, today was also used as an occasion to host a Bus Users UK "Bus Users Surgery", for which route 9 Solar 1013 was parked outside the Oracle in Broad Street for most of the day. The surgeries are a chance for bus users to pass their feedback on directly to the managers of their bus company.
1013 on Broad Street today. Thanks to James Cusworth for this photo.
Adding further variation to the day Thames Travel were operating S725 KNV on the X40, a new addition which may only be present on short term loan until their new Scania N94 / East Lancs Esteems arrive in May.
Thanks to James Cusworth for this photo.
Special FastTrack for Rugby Match and the latest developments elsewhere
Today was set to be London Irish Rugby clubs biggest day of the season to date with their Saint Patrick's day celebration fixture against the Sales Sharks at the Madejski Stadium having sold over 18,000 tickets. London Irish encouraged all of those coming to the stadium to get there as early as possible and to use public transport or park and ride services "in so far as they can".
First were operating an enhanced Madejski FastTrack service using the usual Wright Solars plus 65602, 34274, 34275, 34279 whilst Reading Buses were operating 313, 15 and 463 on 79s also from stop SI.
34279, 313, 34274, 65602 loading at stop SI (and SJ and SK) with 65725 having just departed.
916 has received a new LED destination display which appears to be slightly different to the Bright-Tech (eg 471-6), Hanover (eg 701-6) and Mobitec (801-16, 1001-20) units currently fitted to various members of the fleet.
916 on 24th. Thanks to James Cusworth for this photo.
Switching back to First, 42643 and 42644 have recieved a new Legoland livery to replace 42412 and 64814 as the regular vehicles on the Legoland shuttle. 42643 was done on 22nd and 42644 on 23rd.
42643 showing off it's new livery. Thanks to Mat Wooll for this photo.
The ten vehicles which started the low floor revolution in Reading, 901-10 departed from the depot for the last time today. They left for Southampton in two batches - 901, 902, 903, 904, 907 at around 08:15 and 905, 906, 908, 909, 910 at around 12:30 accompanied by 201 for staff transport and wrecker 304 "just in case".
From Southampton they are to be exported to New Zealand in a few days, probably onboard a ship called Taiko on 20th March. This ship calls at Bremerhaven (Germany), Zeebrugge (Belgium), Baltimore (USA), Savannah (USA), Manzanillo (Panama), and finally Auckland on 26th April.
Sisters 917-24, 37-40, 43-50 were exported to Ritiches of Auckland, New Zealand almost exactly twelve months ago in March 2005. It is not yet known if 901-10 are to join them, or go to another company.
Reading at Newbury and Newbury at Reading
Over the last few months a few Reading vehicles have spent time on loan to Newbury, including Delta 519 and MetroRiders 627 and 629 during January and currently Delta 515. The ten Deltas at Newbury 501-10 are due to be replaced by 511-20 from Reading in the coming weeks once the latest batch of Scania OmniDekkas has entered service. It seems highly likely that the OmniDekkas will bring an end to regular single deck workings on the 25/44/45 (or new 23/24, 25/26) and possibly the 31/33 as well.
515 operating the 102 at Reading Station yesterday.
Meanwhile also in the last few months Newbury Buses have started to provide vehicles and drivers to help operate Reading football service 79 on Saturdays. This weekend saw all four Metrobuses in action plus Delta 502 (457 being on the normal route 78), however the exact number of vehicles provided by Newbury each time has varied according to what Reading Buses require.
502 operating route 79 yesterday - it seems that Newbury's electronic displays aren't programmed with Reading routes.
458 operating route 79 yesterday. DayTrack Spectra 736 is behind - when these vehicles are used on the 79 the displays show "79 Madejski Stadium and Green Park".
And so that Goldline isn't left out, 213 was on display in Broad Street yesterday advertising the company's new 2006 excursion brochure. An item on the Goldline website reads "Watch out for our coach in Broad Street. Our new Excursion Brochure Launch for 2006. Also our drivers will be able to talk about our Private Hire possibilities. We can tailor the hire to suit your needs."
213 was parked outside the entrance to the Oracle, and is seen here waiting at the traffic lights ready to head back to the depot. It is a tight squeeze.
New Home for exCourtney Vehicle
Andrew Millwood kindly sent this photo of former Courtney Coaches Olympian R382 CTW which is now in service with Surrey Connect who are based in Staines. It is branded for their route 400 from Staines to Walton-on-Thames via Shepperton.
Taken at Staines shopping centre on 21st February. Thanks to Andrew Millwood for this photo.