Reading Line F / Service 21/42/62
This page is about former Reading Mainline Line F which later became Reading Buses route 21 until the route was withdrawn from 9th March 2002. For most of it's operation under Reading Mainline the service operated every 20 minutes during the day and peak periods, but with no service in the evenings or Sundays.
Line F started operation on 25 May 1996 operating every 20 minutes between Southcote (Frilsham Road) and Wokingham Road (Three Tuns). The route was soon extended to Calcot (Savacentre) from 28th September 1996 and then into Woodley from 18th August 1997. The service had a number of different terminal arrangements in Woodley over the years (which are detailed below), and the frequency was eventually reduced to every 30 minutes. After a period of operation under Reading Buses as route 21 it was cut back further from Calcot to Ford's Farm and to every 60 minutes.
The first terminus in Woodley for Line F was at Arundel Road, but a small number of residents in Wingate Road (part of the turning circle) complained about Mainline's "polluting buses" running around their quiet residential road and started a poster campaign to rid themselves of the buses. Most of the people in the area actually welcomed the service, but almost a year later it was decided to extend the service to Vauxhall Drive at peak periods and to Hurricane Way off peak. The changes commenced from 15th August 1998, around the time when Reading Mainline was taken over by Reading Buses. The residents there were then unhappy because the buses would park on a slip road off Crockhamwell Road. From 7th June 1999 the buses went back to terminating at Arundel Road at peak periods, but cut short at The Thatchers off peak. After this change the route started to suffer from timing difficulties, and as a temporary measure an extra bus had to be added to the schedule on Saturdays resulting in a 25 minute wait at Savacentre. From 21st February 2000 another change was made, with buses once again using the Vauxhall Drive terminus at all times of day. The final change to the route under Mainline came on 12th June 2000 when Mainline Line C was withdrawn. The F was altered to cover for the route, both by being extended to Clivedale Road and also by being rerouted within Woodley. This final route did not even pass the old Arundel Road terminus.
Reading Buses started operating the 21 on 24th July 2000 when the last of the Mainline services were finally withdrawn. Reading Buses used the old Mainline crews to crew operate the route but on standard double deckers. Special notices were placed in the front windows and inside to say that the service was crew operated. The route within Woodley was again altered so that the service passed Arundel Road, but in the opposite direction to the original F. Conductors were then withdrawn from the route exactly three months later, which led to problems turning the buses around at Clivedale Road where a reversing manoeuvre was required. Previously the conductors would supervise this, so Reading Buses employed a reverser to help the buses turn around as they came along during the day. All of the other Reading Buses routes had a Roundabout or loop at the terminus which they could use without any problems, so from 2nd April 2001 the 21 was altered to omit Clivedale Road using a loop which carried straight on from Coppice Road along Drovers Way and back onto Crockhamwell Road. This arrangement was to be maintained until a bus link could be put in at the end of Clivedale Road to allow the buses to carry on back into Woodley, but this never materialised. The Woodley loop was reversed from 30th July 2001, and the terminal point altered to be further around the loop at The Good Companions. The route was also cut short at the other end to terminate at Fords Farm, but the 21 was unique in that it served the Calcot Estate so service 25 was re-routed to replace it, whilst the 44/45 continued to serve Beansheaf as the 25 did. The frequency was also reduced to every hour. The route was finally withdrawn from 9th March 2002 as part of some emergency route withdrawals designed to help ease a major driver shortage. Underwood Road and Calcot Place Drive were left un-served at the Ford's Farm end, and Woodley residents lost their link into town. Wokingham Council tendered 'Hospitalink' service 42 was diverted to cover most of the affected areas of Woodley, but because it terminated at the hospital rather than going right into the town centre, it wasn't of much use to residents. Thankfully the driver situation had eased by 28th October 2002, which allowed the 42 to be extended into town, restoring some of the previously lost links, whilst maintaining the new link to the hospital.
The 42 was renumbered 62 from 25th February 2008 to better fit in to the Woodley sequence of route numbers.
As Line F former London AEC Routemasters were always used on the route, the crew operated 21 used mainly Mk2 Metrobuses, then once the crews were withdrawn any double decker would be used along with the occasional single deck Optare Excel. When the 21 was cut to every hour the Excels became standard, and now yet smaller Optare Solos are used to operate service 42.
Following are some pictures of buses operating the F and 21, starting from the Great Knollys Street depot, heading for Savacentre, coming back into town, on into Woodley, back into town and then back the to depot again.
Former AEC Routemaster No. 36 preparing to go into service on Line F for the last time on 22nd July 2000.
Former AEC Routemaster No. 25 at Beansheaf Farm in July 2000, it is operating a peak period short working.
Former AEC Routemaster No. 43 at Calcot Savacentre in July 2000.
Former AEC Routemaster No. 24 overtaking and No. 14 at Calcot Post Office, heading towards town on 22nd July 2000. No.14 is operating an Extra service that was laid on for the last day of Routemaster operations.
Former MCW Metrobus 182 on Bath Road in the snow of December 2000.
Former AEC Routemaster No. 11 at the bottom of Castle Hill, entering the town centre in July 2000.
Former AEC Routemaster No. 25 on Broad Street in December 1996 heading for the original Wokingham Road terminus, just over six months after the start of the service. It is seen before Broad Street was pedestrianised and the route diverted via Friar Street.
Former AEC Routemaster No. 24 at Reading Station in July 2000. Line F only served Reading Station in the Woodley direction from the time the route was altered to serve Clivedale Road. Service 21 reverted back to using Friar Street.
Former AEC Routemaster No. 37 at the old Butter Market in August 1997, just after the bus entered service with the company.
Former AEC Routemaster No. 14 at Jackson's Corner, leaving the town for Clivedale Road in July 2000.
Former AEC Routemaster No. 20 just down the road at Factory Bridge on a peak period short working in July 2000.
Former AEC Routemaster No. 25 at the Arundel Road terminus in the last weeks of its use as a terminus in May 2000.
Former AEC Routemaster No. 43 at the Vauxhall Drive terminus in May 2000.
MCW Metrobus Mk 2 462 opposite the shops on Coppice Road near the Clivedale Road turning whilst the route was still conductor operated in September 2000.
MCW Metrobus Mk 2 462 on the same September 2000 day, this time at the Clivedale Road terminus. Whilst crew operated there were long waits at points like this because the timetable was designed for one man operation, but with a conductor the bus could easily get well ahead of time. The longest of the waits was usually here, quite often at least 15 minutes, and then bus then could leave 5 minutes late and still arrive in town early!
MCW Metrobus Mk 1 192 just before the Reading Station stop in August 2000 having another long wait.
MCW Metrobus Mk 2 459 at Reading Station during the first week of 21 operation in July 2000 also having a long wait.
Former AEC Routemaster No. 24 turning into the Great Knollys Street depot after a full day in service in July 2000.
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