Ethanol Scania Preview
The first of the new ethanol powered Scanias arrived earlier in the week and was used for a press launch at Great Knollys Street on 23rd. The full launch takes place when route 17 goes to 24 hour operation from 26th May.
Thanks to Reading Buses for this photo.
To see more photos of this vehicle on a private hire today, click here.
Maroon OmniDekka in Service
Scania OmniDekka 817 has now returned from repaint into route 20/21 livery to start the conversion of the 20/21 to double deck operation. With all of the Olympuses now in service (plus 840), it seems likely that the four original grey OmniDekkas will become regulars on the 17 over the next few weeks to allow repaints of the route 17 branded examples to continue at a regular rate. 816 is currently away being done.
Today was 817's first day in service in maroon.
The first of the ethanol Scanias is due to arrive next week, and details of the associated new 24-hour timetable on route 17 are now available on the Reading Buses website.
All 21 of Reading's new Scania N230 / East Lancs Olympuses have now finally arrived and entered service. The final two, 860 and 861 wear generic silver livery for use on any route, whilst 840 has also returned from repaint into silver from Loddon Bridge park and ride livery. 860/1 were originally intended for route 20/21, which will now receive OmniDekkas from route 17 once the ethanol powered buses arrive. The return of 840 means that there is now an extra bus in the system, which may allow repaints to commence straight away - the five route 20/21 Wright Solars all appear to have been de-branded last night.
861 at Reading Station today. Thanks to Stuart Curwen for this photo.
840 has yet to return to service, but was caught pausing for a minute at the Station this afternoon. At present it retains its silver swoop (instead of grey) and yellow back window. Thanks to James Cusworth for this photo.
The remaining OmniDekkas from route 17 are eventually expected to replace the Solars on route 5, and in turn the Solars replace the remaining Optare Excels from the 18/19 and rural services.
New Life in New Zealand
With 45 Reading vehicles exported to New Zealand since March 2005, it is a pleasure to be able to present this report from Peter Thompson thanks to Mac Head and the British Trolleybus Society's Bus Fare magazine.
On arrival in Auckland the buses were allocated new registrations and fleet numbers (except from 514 which is currently still unregistered). All 35 of the Excels are operated by Ritchies with the vast majority converted to two-door configuration with 39 seats + 21 standees. Apart from 913, all operate on the North Island from two depots located in the suburbs of Auckland. The first, Albany depot, is located on the northern edge of the Auckland urban area providing frequent suburban services, including Express services on the Northern Busway to Auckland City and Urban services quite a way further north to Waiwera. Only Excels operate from this depot. The second depot is in West Auckland off Swanson Road. Here some Excels run urban services, and the Ritchies Deltas are used on school bus work along with Excels 911 and 915 which retain a single front door. The one Excel exception is 913 based in Blenheim on the South Island, near Cook Strait, which provides town services and is painted in an orange livery.
Photo 1 Ritchies 669 (ex Reading 944) revealing the neat nature of the extra door and is seen operating in service from Albany Depot on the North Shore. Thanks to Peter Thompson for this photo.The five other Deltas along with the two Volvos and three DAFs which were also exported through Reading Transport passed to the PartyBus Company (New Zealand), who according to their web site "lead the market in party bus hire". The Deltas carry a mauve livery and all are named. The five DAF/Volvos are painted in a red livery and are used on school duties and corporate charter work but also see service during the weekends supplementing the Deltas. All are based at Whenuapai.
Photo 2 PartyBus 251 Pegasus (ex Reading 517) photographed at Whenuapai, West Auckland on 9th March 2008. Thanks to Peter Thompson for this photo.
Photo 3 Ritchies 442 (ex Reading 519), and not 441 as indicated, at Swanson Depot in West Auckland. The metal framework on the lower windscreen, that includes a very fine mesh, is used as a stone deflector. Thanks to Peter Thompson for this photo.
Photo 4 Ritchies 636 (ex Reading 915) retains single door configuration and is now used for schoolwork in West Auckland. Interestingly it initially retained its Loddon Bridge P&R destination blind reinstalled by Reading Buses just prior to export. Thanks to Peter Thompson for this photo.