Stagecoach South 18443 and Reading Buses 415 on 16th November.
October half term saw the launch of the new 'Silver Stars' brand for Reading Buses' dedicated schools services. 521-3 received this lettering on their plain white livery, whilst 524-6 started to return in November in full generic silver with silver stars lettering following repaint out of London red. The initiative allows these slightly higher quality vehicles to be used to support the town network around their school duties without looking too out of place.
522 waiting to take up service on route 15 on 16th November, appropriately with Reading's silver stars Christmas decorations behind.
524-6 bring DAF DB250 chassis back into the fleet after the departure of the last Spectras, although their stay is not intended to be particularly long term, with 40 new double deckers to be ordered over the next 3 years. Initially 525/6 ran in London red with the centre doors still in place and a notice advising to use the front doors. They also retained ARL DW21/29 painted in black on the roof, as applied to aid police helicopters in London. It is unclear whether the Arriva logo that is etched onto the glazing below the stair rail has been retained following the centre door removal.
1st October saw the entry into service of newly refurbished "Claret Spritzer" Scania OmniDekkas on route 21A short workings between Central Reading and the University. The buses, which only see use during the University term, have been redesigned in an innovative and creative way in the hope that the unconventional layout and new technology creates a buzz for Reading and the University. From a business point of view it has also allowed more effective and appropriate utilisation of the older and newer vehicles in the fleet.
808 was the first to return from repaint and refurbishment in mid-September and was shown off to students at Reading University Whiteknights Campus at the start of Fresher's week on 21st September, with all four in service by 26th October.
809 at the University on 16th November.
Downstairs the buses have had a retrim into Reading's latest moquette and USB charging points added, along with the now standard free WiFi. Upstairs a much more radical redesign has taken place with the stairs and top deck carpeted, an individual mural on the stairwell and the top deck separated into three zones - study zone, play zone and lounge zone.
The study zone with strap line "all work & no play (or is it the other way around)" at the front features a fixed study lamp, bin and honesty library called the "Spritzer Library", and brown suede effect seats. Four seats in different vinyl styles are set around a table in an area behind the stairs called the "Spritzer pod".
The study zone inside 802 on 16th November.
The game zone with strap line "play to win (it's the only way isn't it?)" in the middle features forward and rear facing seats with tables, covered in a variety of purple based vinyl. Each of the three tables features a different game - every bus having one with a Lego board and a tablet preloaded with games, and a third table with an MB game such as Connect 4 (809) and Operation (802).
Looking from the study zone through the game zone to the lounge zone on 802 on 16th November.
The lounge zone at the back has a wood effect floor with fluorescent green and leopard print vinyl seats in a U shaped arrangement. It also features a bluetooth jukebox and two wireless charging points for QI inductive mobile phones.
Looking forward from the lounge zone on 809 on 16th November.