New Reading Generic Livery
Now that the new Scania OmniCity single deckers are in full operation at Reading and Newbury, Excel2s 961-4 are being repainted into generic livery for operation on ordinary services in Reading. The opportunity has been taken to revise the generic livery following experiences over the last two years since the original OmniDekkas introduced the livery. To lighten the livery the charcoal grey is replaced by silver, and grey a swoop will replace the silver once the livery is completed.
Whilst the Excels are being done, the two low floor Spectras in odd liveries are also being done - 723 from JubileeRider livery and 738 from a debranded DayTrack/NightTrack livery. 723 and 962 were the first to depart on 6th, with 962 reappearing in service by 16th November, and 723 by 21st.
723 in the new livery yesterday. It awaits the addition of a grey swoop and vinyls.
Recent Changes in Bracknell
18th November saw the start of several changes to bus services operated by First Berkshire in the Bracknell area. The 190/1/2 group of services have seen a major reorganisation, with the previous combined 15-minute frequency into Reading replaced with the 190 which is established as the core route into Reading at a 20-minute frequency, alongside occasional 'fast' journeys on route 191. The normal allocation on route 190 will be six of the recently acquired ex- Manchester Scanias, thus making it a low floor route. Route 191 will normally be operated by three double deckers.
A new marketing campaign has accompanied the launch, with a large amount of branding appearing on the bus stop flags in Reading town centre. This includes First's Rainbow fares which have been extended to the 191. For the first day of the new Sunday service, passengers wearing or carrying a 'Rainbow' could travel for free.
First's new publicity as applied to stop FN in Friar Street.
Mat Wool has supplied the following observations with regard to the first/last departures on the new/old services:
Euro Bus Expo 2006
Today saw the opening of the Euro Bus Expo 2006 at the NEC in Birmingham, a three day event exhibiting all of the latest developments in the bus and coach industry. There were too many interesting things to cover everything on this page, but there were some displays with particular local or general significance.
MAN have developed a new double deck chassis for the UK bus market which was on display for the first time today. One of the key new features beyond the Euro 4 EGR engine (which does not require the use of cleaning agents such as Ad-Blue that Euro 4 SCR engines require) is that it has a completely flat floor for the entire length of the bottom deck. This is made possible by the use of new 'super rear' tyres at the back, which being stronger than normal tyres allow the normal inner set of rear tyres to be removed and gangways widened. Reading Buses have acquired this first demonstrator vehicle for operation in Reading from about March 2007 once the vehicle has been on tour for evaluation by other bus companies.
The MAN ND 243F / East Lancs Kinetic+.
An interior view showing the bottom deck layout. As far as possible the interior is to be altered to Reading spec once the bus has completed its demonstration duties.
A closer view of the rear layout, made slightly more unusual by the protruding engine compartment.
The one let down with this demonstration vehicle was that it has had to be built to European height limitations so that it may undergo extensive testing at the manufacturer's facilities in Poland. Therefore headroom on the top deck is somewhat limited, but one would assume that normal UK heights will be available when it comes to fleet purchases.
The new corresponding East Lancs single deck body for the MAN 18.240 chassis is called the Kinetic without the '+'. An example for Stagecoach Western was on display.
The second item of local interest was that Reading Buses are to be the only operator in the UK to have their own inspection of Wrightbus' new hybrid double decker that is to be operated in London by Arriva. It is expected to visit Great Knollys Street for a day later this month.
The Wright Gemini HEV Hybrid.
Today saw the launch of a brand new vehicle from Optare - the Optare Versa. The Versa is a midi-bus designed to fit between the Solo and Tempo, with two lengths of 10.3m or 11m offering seating capacities of either 36 or 40 with a good percentage of seats in the low floor area. The vehicle takes its frame structure from the Solo, but with the front wheels relocated to the more conventional position behind the doors to allow tighter turning circles and better manoeuvrability. With its impressive styling and low weight, it looks like it will be a real contender for the new Alexander Dennis Enviro 200 Dart. Indeed, Stagecoach have just announced an order for 25 Versas (along with 75 more Solos).
Optare Versa demonstrator YJ56 ATF.
Difficult lighting conditions made a photograph or the rear profile difficult, but the vehicle looked most impressive from all angles. Photographs don't really seem to do the styling justice.
Another impressive vehicle at the show was a Volvo double decker for Delaine with the new East Lancs Olympus bodywork that would be fitted to any further Scania double deckers that Reading might order.
In addition to their traditional livery, the interior had a very traditional feel with wood effect panels set against modern lighting and RTI equipment. It appeared to have had a great deal of thought put into it.