Reading Buses Annual Open Day
Today Reading Buses held their sixth annual family open day at the Great Knollys Street depot. The gates were opened by the deputy mayor at 1100 with all of the usual attractions and fundraising events inside. A free shuttle bus ran every 20 minutes to/from Great Knollys Street via the Station and Town Centre loop using a mixture of current and guest vehicles, whilst all proceeds from the day went to LaunchPad the company's charity of the year.
1114 with charity stand.
Morton's former Reading Transport Optare Vecta 814 paid a brief visit.
The centre of the show was 1114 in it's Launchpad ColourBus livery, whilst behind the scenes 164 and 165 were being rebranded for 'the nineteens' which commence on 7th July. A final cavalcade of vehicles travelled around the Town Centre led by 1114:
165 in the main yard with it's newly updated branding.
The Leopard Live
Today saw all six Leopard buses enter service on new route 3 to Arborfield and Wokingham. Bus stops had been updated with eye catching timetables, and the service appeared to be running pretty smoothly. The level crossing in Wokingham became stuck in the down position during the afternoon, so buses diverted via Molly Millars Lane and were unable to serve the Hospital.
424 in the Market Place heading for Arborfield.
Leopard 425 contrasting with Lime 433 at the Station.
Thames Travel give way to the Leopard - literally! 429 passes 856 whilst returning to depot after the morning peak.
The Leopard Launch
On 22 May Reading Buses announced that their new route 3 from Reading to Arborfield and Wokingham would be branded 'the leopard', with suitably adorned vehicles commencing from 16 June. The official launch took place in Wokingham on Monday (9th) where two vehicles were displayed in the Market Square. Staff were on hand to give out information and let people look around, and a face painter was arranged to give children a leopard face. Following on from that, bus 425 was displayed in Reading Town Centre today.
425 in Broad Street today. Thanks to James Cusworth for this photo.
Route 3 will run between Reading and Arborfield up to every 20 minutes Monday - Saturday, with one bus an hour extending to Wokingham. This directly replaces Thames Travel route 144 which was partially subsidised by Wokingham Borough Council and due for retender. On Sundays the frequency will be increased to every 30 minutes, and a later evening service from Reading will also be reintroduced after it was withdrawn by Thames Travel last year.
The new buses represent a significant move forward from those on the 144 as they bring all of the added extras that Reading Buses now provide as standard - plenty of buggy space, free WiFi, audio and visual next stop announcements and exterior destination announcements. The buses also form the final part of Reading's batch of new Alexander Dennis Enviro 300SGs that were partially funded by the Green Bus Fund. The aim is to run the service more reliably using a team of 15 dedicated drivers, and to integrate the timetable with route 9 where possible. The only Reading policy that won't be applied is the exact fare system - drivers will be giving change in a further boost to customer service.