Optare City Pacer

This is former Pacer 219 in August 1998 in the shade at Reading Station.

219 in August 1998 (28774 bytes)

Pacers 214, 215 and 217 were originally purchased to replace two Ford Transits in Newbury when the Reading and Newbury BeeLine services were bought out in 1992. (These Ford Transits hold the record for being in the fleet the shortest amount of time - 2 months). Both of these types were very small minibuses. In late 1994 they were replaced by new MetroRiders 621-3, and moved to Reading for storage. After this 214 and 215 were occasionally used as staff transport vehicles, and then 215 began to appear on Reading rural services.  By February 1995 they were all once again in storage until the Reading Low Cost Unit (the LCU) was set up towards the end of the year to run services in response to competition from Reading Mainline. 214 and 215 were allocated to the LCU from the start of its operations on 11th December 1995. 217 joined them the following April initially to allow Mercedes-Benz 211 to go on loan back to Newbury for a month.

Pacers 218, 219, 221, 222, 223, 224, and 225 were purchased in late 1996 and 1997 to replace the three Mercedes minibuses and second hand Metroriders that the unit was using, eventually making it entirely Pacer operated. The LCU was based at the Forbury engineering depot, partly to keep the unit separate, and partly to save space at the main Mill Lane depot. The LCU eventually operated routes 13, 22, and 31.

When Reading Mainline was purchased by Reading Transport, RT had by then completed their move from Mill Lane to Great Knollys Street, and were in the process of winding down operations from the Forbury Engineering depot. Consequently the decision was taken to break up the LCU. In one swoop route 22 was withdrawn, and routes 13 and 31 were converted to ordinary Optare MetroRider operation. Later on the 31 was also withdrawn, but reappeared in a new form to replace Line D/E upon the final withdrawal of the Routemasters in July 2000. Line F was replaced by route 21 (rather than 22) and was initially allocated crew operated Mk 2 MCW Metrobuses, whilst the 31 received Optare Excels. Now none of the three routes exist in the LCU form.

214 was new to Optare as a demonstrator, then sold to South Midland in March 1987 (fleet number 29) who were taken over by Thames Transit in December 1988. From there it was sold to Lancaster City Transport in September 1989 (fleet number 239) before passing to Reading Transport in October 1992. It was withdrawn in October 1998 and sold to Optare (dealer) in February 1999, who sold it to Educational Holidays, Guernsey in December 1999 (fleet number 61) which was renamed Island Coachways in November 2000. It was registered 6430 in Guernsey.

215 was new to South Midland in August 1987 (fleet number 36) who were taken over by Thames Transit in December 1988. From there it was sold to Lancaster City Transport (fleet number M8) before passing to Reading Transport. It eventually ended up with Bromyard Transport (fleet number 121).

217 was new to Optare as a demonstrator and joined the fleet after a short period on hire. It operated in plain white with Newbury Buses fleet names, and following repaint into full Newbury Buses livery it was put into storage before returning to service in the LCU.

218 was new to Optare as a demonstrator. Reading acquired it from Blackpool Transport, and on disposal it ended up with Wild Cards, Guernsey a paintball company who used the vehicle to take the customers to the battle site. It was registered 41951 in Guernsey.

219/21/22, 223 were new to Blackpool Transport (fleet numbers 557/58/60, 556) and acquired by Reading. 217, 219, 221 and 222 passed from Reading Transport to Thames Travel along with route 105. 219/21 had been withdrawn from there by October 2000 whilst 217/22 continued for longer before being withdrawn following engine failure and acquired for preservation.

224/25 were new in April 1988 to Welwyn Hatfield Line (fleet numbers VO15/VO12) who were taken over by London Sovereign in January 1990. They were purchased by County Bus in January 1991 (fleet numbers MB809/MB806). 224 was withdrawn by County Bus in March 1993 and was therefore acquired prior to 225 despite having a later registration.

Last updated: 13-07-14

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