As has now been well documented, normal Routemaster operations in London came to an end on 9th December 2005 when Arriva route 159 was converted to low floor double deck operation. A special enthusiasts day was held on 8th when a large selection of guest vehicles were operated along with the normal Routemaster allocation. Included with the guests was former Reading Mainline No.17 in Reading Mainline livery, whilst several refurbished exReading Mainline RMs were also in evidence on both the 159 and the new heritage routes 9 and 15.
Former No.17 on 8th December 2005. Thanks to Tony Cutler for this photo.
Heritage routes 9 and 15 commenced operation on 14th November, service 9 being operated by First and service 15 by Stagecoach. First have amongst their fleet ex Reading Mainline Nos. 35, 36 and 38 whilst Stagecoach have Nos. 26, 42 and 43. All of the vehicles concerned will wear traditional London Transport livery with a cream band and underlined London Transport fleet names - Stagecoach had theirs ready in immaculate condition for the first day of operation whilst First are in the process of doing theirs. It is reported that further to this Stagecoach also intend to replace some of the hopper windows with original wind down windows!
Stagecoach in Warwickshire 16615 underneath the Christmas lights in Leamington Spa on Saturday 10th.
Meanwhile in Reading a selection of buses in the fleet have received Reading Buses Seasons Greetings rear adverts, in a similar manner to last year. Vehicles this year include 15, 463 (pictured below), 464, 517, 520 and 710.
The artwork was designed by ten children from the Royal Berkshire Hospital's Dingley Family Play and Therapy Group, primarily for use on the company's Christmas cards but also on the backs of buses. For the tenth year running Reading Transport have donated the money saved by producing their own Christmas cards to the group.
Visitors to Slough
First Berkshire currently have two Dennis Dart SLF / Marshall Capital buses on loan from London whilst modification work is carried out to their native Alexander ALX200 bodied Darts. The buses, operating in First London livery, are operating from Slough depot and have been fitted with full destination blinds.
41792 seen operating the 50B between Heathrow Airport, Windsor and Slough on 26th November. Thanks to Mat Wooll for this photo.
The two vehicles are 41267 (ex DM267, T267JLD) and 41792 (ex DM792, LN51 GJY). 41267's first day in service is thought to have been on Monday 21st November on the Slough to Staines service, whilst 41792 was in service by Wednesday 23rd. 41792 was previously listed as 'spare' at Rainham before it's arrival in Slough.
Latest New Delivery Enters Service
Reading Transport's latest new vehicle 818 entered service in Reading this week on routes 25/44/45. It is a Scania OmniDekka with East Lancs bodywork like the previous examples, but shorter in length.
818 on route 25 today in generic charcoal and beige livery.
There are several noticeable differences between 818 and 801-17 apart from the length. The first are the Hanover destination displays similar to those retrofitted to Solos, Excels and some Spectras in recent years rather than the Mobitec units fitted on all other deliveries wearing the quality travel livery. Also internally, the grab rails are now yellow rather than silver and a small 'Leyland Titan style' rear window makes a welcome addition to the bottom deck. It appears that Reading's last brand new double decker with a rear window was in fact Leyland Olympian 17 in 1988 which is shortly to be replaced by further OmniDekkas!
The inside of 818. The yellow rails don't seem to sit very well with the rest of the interior.
818 will be joined by another 16 "short" OmniDekkas in March/April 2006 when the 25/44/45 corridor is to be converted to a quality corridor. It is expected that the conversion will be accompanied by a simplification of the route structure so that the services in the various areas of town may be more easily understood.