Mereoak P&R Opens
Mereoak Park & Ride opened on 17th August, with a short photo shoot/opening at 1030 after buses started running from 0550.
The Mereoak P&R site will be supervised by Reading Buses inspectors to assist the public and provide dedicated supervision for the service. Bus shelters and real time displays are due to be installed shortly. The new service increases the vehicle requirement by one Mondays to Saturdays, with 11 buses now needed during the peak, 9 off peak, and approx 5 on Saturdays. As there are already 11 buses in Greenwave livery the generic fleet will now provide engineering cover on a more regular basis.
423 in Friar Street on 17th August.
The new timetable specified by the Council is exceptionally complicated in an aim to provide as many departures as possible within the resources, and so buses run every 9-14 minutes from Mereoak with 5 departures an hour at key times. Journeys which serve Mereoak are numbered in a new 60 sequence (60 via Madejski and/or RIBP, 60A via KI and/or RIBP, 60X non stop), whilst the Madejski Stadium is now mostly served either via Kennet Island (50A) or Green Park (53) rather than having it's own direct service. The amended 53 replaces the alternating 51/52 loop via Green Park or Madejski. The 50C and 50E are replaced by 60C and 60E having been extended to Mereoak, whilst new 60F and 60R journeys are introduced for Football and Rugby matches to/from South Oak Way.
On Saturdays buses are refocused to run every 12-14 minutes to Mereoak, with Madejski reduced to every 25-26 minutes. A new 1 vehicle requirement to Kennet Island will be added on Sundays from 6th September in combination with the 82k which will become part of the Greenwave network.
The MegaRears on 402/3/4/6 that advertise the Madejski P&R, plus one of the Green Park ones, have been replaced with ones for Mereoak P&R. The internal coves have also been updated and more leaflet racks have been installed to cope with the now 6 different Greenwave leaflets.
There were some fares changes to Greenwave routes from 3rd August which set things in place for Mereoak. Parking at Mereoak is charged as a 50p supplement to the existing fares, apart from season and smartcard holders who can park for free. 50p is also charged to free Concessionary Pass holders, but no one has to display car park tickets on vehicles. Plus Bus tickets also aren't accepted.
Reading Buses Purchase First Bracknell Route 90
26th July saw Reading Buses take over operation of route 90 acquired from First Berkshire as part of the closure of their Bracknell depot. The sale follows the loss of Bracknell Forest tendered services, which had only been regained a couple of years ago following the exit of Thames Travel, and intensifying competition from Courtney Buses on the remainder of the network.
849 at the end of it's first week in service on route 90 on 1 August with 805 behind.
The service commenced at the start of Reading's summer step down using vehicles displaced from routes 5/6 and the generic fleet, whilst 8 E400 hybrids (209 & 211-17) are going for refurbishment to bring them as close to as-new standard as possible. This includes the addition of wood effect flooring, USB charging points, upgraded 4G WiFi and a retrim into the new black spot moquette in addition to a repaint into a new beige and cream livery similar to the colours used for Leopard 3. Newly acquired 1210/11 will have a more extensive refurbishment to repaint the hand rails and add cash vaults and drivers screen to bring them up to a similar standard.
The last journey operated by First was provided by 44503, with the first vehicle from Reading Buses being 849 joined later by 1110 and 1111. 805, 806, 849 and 1107 were out-stationed at Bracknell the evening before. For the intermediate period 4 out of the 10 vehicles are out-stationed at First's Bracknell depot each night, but the new timetable will base the entire service in Reading along with the introduction of an improved evening and Sunday services. Twenty drivers have transferred from First with the purchase.
1113 at St Mary's Butts on 1 August.
The first vehicle to return from repaint was 216, which re-entered service on 1 August in base livery and vinyls, pending application of the full livery immediately prior to launch. It's return to service will allow other vehicles to go away for refurbishment in it's place. Others are likely to enter service in a partially branded state prior to the launch.
216 on 1 August 2015.
The last stage of First's closure will come on Friday 28th August 2015 when commercial routes B1, B2, B3, B5, 94 and 191 will end. Route 200 and the Greenline services will move to Slough depot, whilst Stagecoach South have registered a replacement for route 194 to Camberley.