New Services Commence
Major network changes took place in both Reading and Newbury today, with the headlines being revamps to the Reading "rural" services, routes 9/18 in Reading and routes 11/12 in Newbury. A large number of buses required rebranding as a consequence, and preparatory repaints started all the way back in December.
1009 passing Forbury Gardens on new route 3 today.
The 137/8 from Reading to Sonning Common and Peppard Common have been merged to form one half of new route 2, and the 143/8/9 from Reading to Burghfield, Mortimer and Tadley enhanced and split to form the second half of route 2 from Reading to Mortimer, and new direct route 3 from Reading to Tadley. The 2 features enhanced frequencies over certain sections and new evening, late night and Sunday services. The 2 and 3 are primarily operated by silver and red Vitality branded Wright Solars.
1006 on route 2 at Reading Station today.
The 102 between Reading, Thatcham and Newbury via the A4, and the recently introduced 103 Newbury - Thatcham short working, have become the 1 and 1A under the Vitality brand. At the same time Newbury routes 11, 11A and 12 have been split up, with the new higher frequency and simplified route 11 between Newbury and Thatcham via the Turnpike Estate also coming under the Vitality brand. The 1 is primarily operated by Newbury's fleet of Dart SLFs which have received Vitality branding (except 605 which wears the Southern Electric ColourBus livery) and the 11 by a mixture of Darts and Solos, but there is some interworking to create a higher frequency into Reading during the peaks.
603 on route 1 at Thatcham Broadway this afternoon.
610 preparing to leave Thatcham Broadway on a 1A departure.
Freshly repainted 125 on route 1 at Reading Station this lunchtime. The Solos do not have Vitality branding.
On the Reading Premier Routes network light green route 9 has been split into two routes, with the section between the Town Centre and Shinfield Park retaining the route number 9, but with new red branding. The Town Centre - Caversham Heights section retains the light green branding, and is merged with the Town Centre - Lower Earley section of the 18 and numbered 22. The remaining Reading - Calcot section of route 18 is operated by generic liveried Solars and Excels.
The remaining light green Wright Solars now have branding for route 22, as demonstrated by 1015 on Station Road today.
Six Wright Solars now have bright red route 9 branding, one being 1023 which is seen loading at Jacksons Corner this morning.
The frequency on route 5 has been tweaked slightly following the conversion from single to double deck last year. The daytime 7-8 minute frequency and peak frequency up to every 6 minutes becomes every 8 minutes throughout the day, taking out a peak working which was originally added to help with capacity problems on the Solars. The branding and relevant pop-art adverts on 805-10 have been updated with the new frequency.
Many routes have been allocated to different bus stops at Reading Station, with probably the biggest changes being to the 24, 26 and Vitality services. The 1, 2, 3 and 24 are relocated from the congested Station Hill stops to stop SW on the roundabout outside the Great Western Hotel. This stop is vacated by the 26 which moves around the roundabout to SY so that it no longer has to do a double loop along Friar Street. However the 1 and 3 now have to do this loop instead, the inbound 24 has to run in along Vastern Road instead of Caversham Road and the manoeuvre out of SY onto the roundabout is impossible without imposing on stop SX behind.
729 on Vastern Road this evening.
Apart from 609 and 1011 mentioned below, all of the branding appears to have been fitted at an impressive pace from the end of service on Saturday to the start of service today. Some routes were operated by generic liveried buses on Sunday to make this possible.
Reading Transport Launch "Vitality"
Reading Transport officially launched their new Vitality brand for rural and interurban services to Reading and Newbury today, ahead of the introduction of revitalised routes and timetables on Monday. Reading Transportís Marketing and Public Relations Manager Nikki Ball quotes "The whole idea of Vitality is to bring new energy to bus travel inside and particularly outside the Reading boundary and from Newbury to Thatcham. Vitality includes the word vital and this is the message we need to convey to so many people - that it is vital they use public transport instead of the car for as many local journeys as possible".
Two buses - 609 and 1011 - were branded last weekend, and have spent the week out and about promoting the new services. To that extent, 1011 was stationed at Mortimer Common on the morning of Tuesday 14th.
609 and 1011 lined up for a photo shoot at Great Knollys Street today. Thanks to Stuart Curwen for this photo.
Sixteen buses across the Reading Buses and Newbury Buses will be branded with Vitality lettering.