New Reading Station & Town Centre Routes
Many months of preparation came together today for the launch of the new Town Centre road layout and associated service changes. The opportunity has been taken to make a few other route and timetable changes to help maintain and improve reliability under the new arrangements, most notably with the creation of a new Bronze 11 route to serve Coley Park instead of the long established route 24 to Emmer Green. Caversham Heights route 22 gains double deckers interworked with the 23/34 to help relieve heavy peak loadings, releasing single deckers for the 11 where there are lower peak loadings and a high proportion of elderly and young mothers who will benefit from the additional lower deck capacity.
1027 is one of two vehicles branded for Bronze 11.
New bus interchange facilities were opened on the eastern side of the Station along Station Road, Blagrave Street and Forbury Road to accommodate all but a small number of bus routes in the town which continue to serve Station Hill, now dubbed the western interchange. As a result significantly more routes now serve Friar Street eastbound, with some also returning along a new westbound bus lane. New southbound bus lanes also came into operation along West Street and St. Mary's Butts.
Thames Travel 508 departing Station Road with the former Great Western Hotel in the background and newly planted trees in the foreground.
In contrast to the images from yesterday, 842 running westbound along Friar Street.
859 at the new stops outside St Mary's Church, recreating an iconic view from trolleybus days thanks to the new bus lanes.
The switchover was handled exceptionally well, making it very difficult to think of anything else that could have been done to help people get used to the new arrangements. There was plenty of advance publicity on buses and at bus stops, there was live radio coverage on Friday 15th and teams of customer assistants were positioned all around the Town Centre to direct passengers. They were backed up by numerous parking enforcement officers ticketing and moving along illegally parked cars, vans and lorries and commendably the police were pulling over any motorists that ignored the access restrictions outside the Station. The whole Station Road area is much more pleasant than it was, even with the extra buses, making entry into the town centre much more attractive than it was at the same time as continuing to provide transport interchange facilities. Work now commences on the construction of the new Station entrance at the top of Station Hill.
Closure of The Forbury
As final preparations for the new town centre layout got underway today, the opportunity was taken to close The Forbury for carriageway repairs. This led to the temporary re-opening of the pedestrian zone at the end of Friar Street East for buses. Buses were therefore diverted from Blagrave Street down Station Hill, onto the IDR and along the full length of Friar Street. This made the day even more notable given that it will no longer be possible access Station Hill from Blagrave Street from 2330 tonight, and because the direction of traffic along Friar Street changes from 0500 tomorrow (after a closure from 2100 tonight).
Two week old 1204 passing the Town Hall and St Laurence's Church.
Jet Black Launch
This morning saw the official launch of a new brand for route 1 at the Holiday Inn, Padworth on the A4. The six "Jet Black" branded Alexander Dennis Enviro 400s were lined up outside for photographs, ribbon cutting and a balloon release after carrying officials from Reading and Newbury to the venue which is located approximately half way between the two towns. The ribbon was cut jointly by Gul Khan (Mayor of Reading) and Jeff Beck (Deputy Mayor of Newbury) along with James Freeman (Chief Executive, Reading Transport) and Simon Weaver (Weavaway Travel). Afterwards there was a presentation by James Freeman along with coffee and Jet Black cakes.
The press taking photographs of the ribbon cutting and balloon release in front of 1201 and 1206.
The new brand - officially referred to as being black and off-white - is the second livery in the new fleet style that Reading Buses introduced with Yellow 26 last year, and is part of the company's continuing development of the Reading to Newbury corridor which has seen growing passenger numbers since Vitality 1 was introduced to replace the 102 on 19th April 2009. The new buses are owned and operated by Weavaway Travel / Newbury & District on behalf of Reading Buses and feature free WiFi, audio next stop announcements and, uniquely for the Reading Buses fleet, seatbelts. Reading Buses continue to provide timetables, information, supervision, information systems and ticketing for the service which firmly remains part of the Town's bus network.
The line-up of 1203, 1202, 1204, 1205,1206, 1201.
The buses will enter service tomorrow, whilst bus stop flags were updated with the new brand over the weekend.
British Trolleybus Society Golden Jubilee Tour
This weekend was the fiftieth anniversary of the formation of the Reading Transport Society, which later became the British Trolleybus Society. In addition to a special presentation at the monthly Reading meeting yesterday, members held a tour of the former trolleybus routes using Reading's oldest preserved motorbus, pre-war 1935 AEC Regent 47, and 1957 AEC Regent Mk III 4 which has recently been repainted back into its original cream and maroon livery.
The tour commenced from Great Knollys Street heading to the Bear Inn on route 17 and then proceeded to Armour Hill to join route 18 to the Town Centre. Continuing to Caversham Bridge the buses then ran along route 15 to Northumberland Avenue, along the proposed link to Whitley Wood and back into Town on route 16. For the final part the buses rejoined route 18 to London Road, doubling back to Wokingham Road to finish back on route 17 to the Town Centre and a celebratory dinner.
47 crossing Duke Street on the way to Northumberland Avenue.
4 and 47 outside Palmer Park.
Further events are planned at Sandtoft on 28th to 30th May where all 12 of the society's trolleybuses will be on display, and it is hoped that it will be possible to bring the society's first Trolleybus - Reading 113 back to Reading for 2nd and 3rd July to coincide with Reading Buses' annual charity open day on 3rd.