Scania L94UB / Wright Solar
Reading have 37 Solars. The first 30 wear Reading Buses 'quality travel for Reading' livery of beige with a coloured roof/front and a silver swoop. The colour of the roof/front varies according to the route on which each bus is designated to appear on, and were delivered as follows:
1001-11 were green for use on routes 4, 5 and 6.
1012 was charcoal grey for use on any route. It was repainted into revised silver in June 2007.
1013-20 were light green for use on route 9.
1021 was dark green for use on routes 4, 5 and 6.
1022-5 were light blue for use on route 37.
1026-30 were charcoal grey for use on any route.
1031-6 wore a special green and yellow livery for use on GreenPark FastTrack.
1037 wore a plain red livery for Newbury Vodafone services.
The Solars are the first ever vehicles in the Reading Transport fleet to have four digit fleet numbers.
The first two, 1003 and 1005, were delivered on 18th February 2005, having spent a few days being prepared at the Scania dealership in Thatcham. They were followed by 1002, 1004 and 1006 on 21st, 1007 and 1009 on 24th, 1008 and 1010 on 28th, 1001 and 1011 on 1st March, and 1012 on 4th March. All 12 entered service on 7th March, whilst there was a community launch in Broad Street on 27th March (which was originally to be held at Safeway (Morrisons) on Basingstoke Road). 1001 is seen below at the launch:
The original delivery schedule was expected to be 3 vehicles w/c 14-02-05, 4 vehicles w/c 21-02-05, 4 vehicles w/c 28-02-05 and 1 vehicle w/c 07-03-05. However, this was delayed slightly to allow the whole batch to wear "05" registration plates.
There was some initial confusion with the registrations of 1010-12 which resulted in the vehicles wearing the wrong registrations for their first couple of months in service. The vehicles arrived bearing the correct sequence of registrations GXM, GXO, GXL reserved in chassis number order by Scania. However the fleet numbers have been allocated in body number order, which is out of sequence with the chassis numbers (and is why the registrations of 1003 and 1004 are also out of order).
Upon arrival in Reading the road fund licences for 1010-12 were fitted sequentially by fleet number and anticipated (but incorrect) registrations GXL, GXM, GXO. The difference was spotted before entry in service, but the registration plates were swapped around to match the incorrect licenses! The plates were then swapped again by 12th March to GXO, GXL, GXM, before finally reverting back to the correct sequence GXM, GXO, GXL between 4th and 11th April.
A sneak preview of 1004, taken in the Wrightbus Factory in Ballymena on 9th February 2005:
1009 on it's first day in service at Reading Station early on 7th March 2005:
A rear view of 1010 on 7th March 2005:
Unbranded 1012 at Reading Station on 7th March 2005 and 23rd June 2007:
The second batch (1013-20) were originally expected to arrive as follows: 4 vehicles w/c 30-05-05 and 4 vehicles w/c 06-06-05. Later this was changed to 2 vehicles w/c 06-06-05 and two more every week until w/c 27-06-05. With a launch date set for 4th July 2005, the vehicles were briefly held at the Scania dealership before 1020 arrived in Reading on 16-06-05, 1015 on 15-06-05, and 1013 and 1017 on 02-07-05. All then entered service as expected on 4th July, 1014 is seen below arriving in Reading that day:
1018 seen passing the Royal Berkshire Hospital on 4th July 2005:
1020 arriving at St. Mary's Butts on 4th July 2005:
The third batch (1021-30) were expected to arrive as follows: 4 vehicles w/c 24-04-06, 4 vehicles w/c 01-05-06 and 2 vehicles w/c 08-05-06. In the event 1021/2 arrived on 25th April, 1023-6 on 28th April, 1027/9 on 2nd May, 1028 on 5th May and 1030 on 6th May and the batch started to enter service from 16th May. 1021-30 have Hanover LED displays (with a colour panel the front for the route number) whilst 1001-20 have Mobitec LED displays. 1021 is seen below on 17th May 2006. Thanks to James Cusworth for this photo:
1023 is seen below on it's first day in service on 16th May. Thanks to Stephen Wise for this photo:
1024 also on 16th May. Thanks to James Cusworth for this photo:
1025 is seen below on 16th May 2006:
Unbranded 1027 on route 12 on 17th May 2006. Thanks to James Cusworth for this photo:
The fourth batch 1031-6 were ordered for delivery in October 2007 to replace Optare Spectras 731-7 on a renewed DayTrack contract rebranded Green Park FastTrack serving Green Park and the Madejski Stadium Park & Ride site. Some issues with their revised layout, which accommodates a Euro 4 engine and a central emergency exit (rather than Euro 3 engine and rear emergency exit) meant that they were delayed until the November. Each bus features free WiFi. 1032 is seen below on 29th November 2007. Thanks to Mark Lyons for this photo:
A nearside view of 1035, again on 29th November 2007. Thanks to Mark Lyons for this photo:
The batch were repainted into an updated livery in autumn 2009 with the first being 1033 returning to service by 16th September 2009, then 1031 by 21st September 2009, 1036 by 28th September 2009, 1035 by 30th September 2009 and 1032/4 by 10th October 2009. 1031 is seen below on 29th September 2009. Thanks to Peter Coney for this photo:
Following a reduction in frequencies on Green Park FastTrack from 25th October 2010, 1031 was debranded in December 2010. It was then used a a spare vehicle on Green Park FastTrack and Thames Valley Park before being sent away for repaint into generic silver in May 2011. It was noted as having arrived at Hants & Dorset Trim by 24th and back in service in early June.
A single example, 1037 was purchased in December 2008 for Newbury Vodafone services. It had arrived at Newbury by 2nd December, but did not enter service until early January 2009. It wore plain red similar to Meridians 51/2, and was purchased in favour of a Mercedes Mini Coach which was originally proposed for route V1. It is seen below making a very rare appearance on non-Vodafone work on 18th September 2010:
Service changes from 25th February 2008 led to route 37 being replaced by new double deck routes 15/16, freeing up the Solars to upgrade the single deck workings on routes 12/20 which would be renumbered 20/21. Ahead of this, 1020 was replaced on route 9 in August 2007 by MAN 501, and was repainted into maroon in September 2007 pending the changes. It is seen below on route 37 on 15th September 2007:
1023 went away for repaint into maroon at North West Bus and Coach in January 2008, returning to service (on route 37) by 7th February 2008. 1022/5 followed, re-entering service on 25th February. 1024 went away for repaint in mid-February, its last day in service on route 37 being 19th February. It had returned from repaint by 2nd March and re-entered service a few days after. Route 20/21 branding was applied to 1020/2/3/5 over the weekend prior to 25th February 2008, just prior to the commencement of the new service. 1022 is seen below on it's first day in service in maroon on 25th February 2008:
However, it rapidly became apparent that the Solars did not have sufficient capacity for the improved routes 20/21, so the plans were rapidly rewritten to allow the routes to be converted to double deck. Consequently the route branding was removed just a few weeks later and the vehicles used on rural services until late July 2008 when 1022-5 became earmarked for routes 18/19 following the withdrawal of the final Mk1 Optare Excels.
1010, 1011 and 1021 lost their route 4/5/6 branding by 5th August 2008, 1009 by 24th August, 1008 over night on 2nd September, 1007 by 8th September and 1006 by 12th September, all being replaced by Scania OmniDekkas (displaced from route 17) due to passenger growth on route 5. The vehicles were then used primarily on Reading rural services pending a revamp to those services from 20th April 2009. 1010 is seen below without branding on 8th August 2008:
Service changes from 20th April 2009 also saw route 9 split into light green route 22 (Caversham Heights - Central Reading - Lower Earley) and red route 9 (Central Reading - Shinfield Park). Rural services 137, 138, 143, 148 and 149 were replaced by new routes 2 and 3. In preparation for these changes the following repaints took place:
- 1013 from light green to generic silver by 17th December 2008
- 1014 from light green to generic silver by 29th December 2009
- 1020 from maroon to red by 9th January 2009
- 1021 from dark green to red by 15th January 2009
- 1022 from maroon to red by 20th January 2009 (but not in service that day)
- 1023 from maroon to red by 31st January 2009
- 1024 from maroon to red, being prepared for repaint on 27th January, and back in service by 19th February 2009
- 1025 from maroon to red by 19th February 2009
- 1006 from dark green to silver/red by 20th February 2009
- 1007 from dark green to silver/red by 2nd March 2009
- 1008 from dark green to silver/red by 7th March 2009
- 1009 from dark green to silver/red by 27th March 2009
- 1010 from dark green to silver/red by 6th April 2009
- 1011 from dark green to silver/red by 6th April 2009
- 1005 from dark green to silver/red by 21st April 2009
Revised route branding was applied to 1005-11 (Vitality), 1015-19 (route 22), 1020-25 (route 9) on Sunday 19th April 2009. The route 9 and 22 buses featured temporary blobs in the second window on each side to advertise the enhanced features of the new timetables. These were removed by late August 2009.
1006 and 1009 are seen below on routes 2 and 3 with newly applied Vitality branding on 20th April 2009:
1015 is seen below with route 22 branding on 20th April 2009:
1021 is seen below on 20th January 2009 prior to the application of route branding:
Similar 1023 will full branding applied on 20th April 2009:
Service and vehicle allocation changes from 28th September 2009 saw 1001-4 loose their route 4/5/6 branding and gain Newbury Buses Vitality branding on the base green livery (1001 was in service by 3rd October 2009 and 1002-4 by 5th). Routes 4/6 were converted to double deck using Optare Spectras. The Vitality 3 route was withdrawn from the same date, which along with the arrival of 599 and transfer of 721 from Newbury to Reading allowed eight Dennis Dart SLFs to be displaced from the Vitality 1 and 11 routes. 1003 is seen below on 10th October 2009:
1004 was being prepared for repaint into Vitality livery on 1st February 2010, in the repainting bays at Hants & Dorset trim, Eastleigh by 6th and back in service by 22nd. It was followed by 1003 which was back in service by 24th February 2010. 1004 is seen below on 13 March 2010, sporting trial advert frames which were fitted just prior to repaint:
Operation of route 1 was subcontracted to Weavaway Travel in two phases - half from November 2010 and half from 30th January 2011, with vehicles on loan from Reading Transport as follows:
- 1001 from 28th November 2010 until 9th December 2010
- 1001 from 30th January 2011 (based at Reading Buses depot)
- 1002 from 28th November 2010
- 1003 from 28th November 2010
- 1004 from 9th December 2010
- 1005 from 9th December 2010
- 1028 on 22nd and 23rd February 2011
- 1029 from 28th November 2010 until 9th December 2010
The vehicles returned on 3rd April 2011, being replaced by new Alexander Dennis Enviro 400s owned by Weavaway. As a result 1001-6 were advertised for sale in January 2011. In the event 1001-5 were sold to Eddie Brown Tours, and Scania OmniCity double decker 599 advertised for sale in place of 1006. 1002 departed on 8th April 2011 and 1003-5 on 11th.
In addition 1029 and 1030 were sent away for repaint into plain red in February 2011 to replace non-standard MAN / Wright Meridians 51/52 on Vodafone services at Newbury. 1030 had been completed by 17th and entered service in Newbury by 22nd. 1030 is seen below in Newbury on 24th May 2011:
Service changes and a reorganisation of Reading Town Centre from 18th April 2011 saw light green route 22 split in the Town Centre to create new routes 22 (dark pink double deck) and 22A (light green single deck), and likewise dark pink route 24 split to create new route 11 Reading - Coley Park (bronze single deck) and 24 Reading - Emmer Green (dark pink double deck). Vitality liveried 1006 was sent away for repaint into Bronze 11 livery at the end of March 2011, returning on approx 1st April. It was immediately followed by generic grey 1027. 1027 is seen below on the first day of Bronze 11 on 18th April 2011:
The route 22 branding on 1017-19 was altered to state 'via Silverdale Road' instead of Caversham Heights with a very small 'a' in the route number oval, with 1019 treated and back in service by 16th April, but 1017/8 unaltered until the night of the changes. 1017-9 were put into reserve after service on 21st May 2011 following the replacement of route 22A with route 20A. They were subsequently debranded and advertised for sale in September 2011 following the arrival of Alexander Dennis Enviro400Hs 217-31. 1019 is seen below on 16th April 2011:
Two temporary reprieves saw some of these temporarily returned to service in plain light green livery. A vandal attack at Newbury depot led to 1018/9 going loan to Newbury from 6th until 7th June 2011 to cover for vehicles damaged during the attack. Then 1017-9 all temporarily returned to service on 19th July 2011 to provide cover on routes 20/20A/21 whilst low trees were cut back to the legally required height clearance, having caused damage to the top deck windows on two of the new E400Hs in the space of a week. They were withdrawn again following service on 25th. 1017 is seen below on 23rd July 2011:
1018/9 had another reprieve when returned to service to help operate Reading Festival route 98 on 25th and 26th August 2011. 1017 then returned to service on 2nd September covering generic duties on any single deck route (route 2A on 2nd, route 28 on 6th).
Meanwhile light green 1015/6 received new branding for Thames Valley Park over night on 17th/18th April 2011 to help operate an enhanced frequency on the Thames Valley Park service which had commenced a week earlier on 11th. Free WiFi was also fitted as per the rest of the buses on the service. 1016 is seen below on 16th April 2011, its first day in service with the new branding:
Soon after, Thames Valley Park logos were also placed in the advert frames, illustrated by 1015 seen below on 23rd May 2011:
1015/16 were withdrawn and put into reserve (joining 1017-19) following service on 8th October, the enhanced frequency on Thames Valley Park being reduced back to the previous frequency by using Scania OmniCity Double Deckers 1111-4.
Whilst in reserve 1016 and 1018 saw service on 29th November on football duties. 1015-9 were sold to Rossendale Transport on 19th December 2011 as their 221-5. By 22nd 1015 & 1016 were at Read Motor bodies, Oswalstwistle for repaint into the company's bright red Rossendalebus livery whilst 1017-1019 were awaiting attention at the company's Haslingden depot. 1015 had entered service there by 25th January 2012. 1018 is seen below at their depot on 11th February 2012. Thanks to Warren Hawkins for this photo:
In October 2012, 1029/30 were replaced in Newbury by Scania OmniCity single deckers new to the Thames Valley Park contract, and went into reserve along with Reading 1028 pending sale. At the same time 1037 was repainted white and transferred to Reading for temporary use on enlarged South Reading FastTrack services from 5th November 2012 pending the arrival of ten new Alexander Dennis Enviro300NG in May 2013. It was noted in plain white at Hants & Dorset trim on 30th August 2012. 1037 is then likely to be returned to the leasing company, and is seen below Reading on 9th November 2012:
1037 was replaced in Newbury by Scania OmniDekka 804 in October 2012 - a double decker had been on loan since March 2012 due to long term roadworks requiring an additional vehicle. As the roadworks were not yet complete, 1021 had its branding for route 9 removed in November 2012 and transferred to Newbury on 13th. The roadworks were completed in February 2013, and it returned to Reading pending disposal on or just after 18th. It is seen below on 9th November 2012 prior to leaving Reading:
1028-30 were sold to Rossendale Transport on 27th November 2012.
Following the entry into service of gas powered Enviro 300SGs 401-11 in May 2013, 1031-6 and 1037 were withdrawn. Similarly when 412-7 entered service 1020-5 were withdrawn. 1020/2/3 were sold to Sanders, Holt in June 2013, and 1024-6 & 1034-7 to Rossendale Transport in July 2013. 1024, 1034 & 1035 were the first to arrive there by 30th July having been repainted en-route at Mardens, Byfleet. 1036/7 left Reading for repaint in late July followed by 1025/6 in early August.
1031 was returned to service on 2nd August 2013 to provide additional cover for the Enviro300SGs and allow 1014 to go away on loan. 1032 also saw service on 16th August 2013. 1032/3 were returned to service temporarily from 18th September 2013 to provide cover on Newbury Vodafone work between the sale of 9-11 and the arrival of Enviro 200s 131-4, being withdrawn on approx 14th October and sold to Sanders, Holt on 21st.
1023 and 1033 are seen below with Sanders in Great Yarmouth on 23rd July 2015. Thanks to Richard Sharman for these photos:
1006, 1014, 1021 and 1027 went on loan to First South West during August 2013 to run the Truro Park & Ride from 1st September for approximately 9 months. The first was collected on 13th August, with 1021 being noted at Hants & Dorset trim on 19th. All four entered service there on 2nd September 2013, numbered 65759-62. They were subsequently purchased by First in September 2014.
Following the entry into service of Scania KUB270 / Alexander Dennis Enviro 300SGs 430-34 on 11th March 2014, 1007 was sold to AOT Coaches, Nottingham by 23rd March arriving there on 29th and 1008/9 went into reserve before being sold to Midland Classic on 13th May 2014. 1010 was repainted into JetBlack livery and had WiFi fitted for use on additional workings on route 1, and 1011 had its Vitality branding removed as an additional spare vehicle and temporary second additional vehicle for route 1. "I'm a Jet Black Bus" vinyls were added in April, noted in service on 24th April 2014.
1007 is seen below at the Victoria Centre in Nottingham on 21st October 2014. Thanks to Bob Morley for this photo:
1008 is seen below in New Street, Burton-upon-Trent on 1st December 2014. Thanks to Bob Morley for this photo:
1009 is seen below in Uttoxeter Bus Station on 1st December 2014. Thanks to Bob Morley for this photo:
1010 is seen below on 16th June 2014:
1011 is seen below on 19th March 2014 (left) and 16th June 2014 (right):
1010/11 were made surplus to requirements from 21 July 2014 with the summer timetable removing the additional workings from JetBlack 1, and a new timetable set to commence from 1st September using Enviro 400s 1201-9 acquired from Weavaway Travel. 1010/11 were therefore put into reserve and advertised for sale. 1011 appeared on football services on 16th August and the 1 on 4th September, whilst 1010 went on loan to Weavaway during August 2014 to allow the preparation of 1201-9 for acquisition by Reading, returning on 1st September.
1010/11 were officially withdrawn on 10th September and sold to First South West along with 1006/14/21/27 which had been on loan there for previous 12 months.
1012/13 were withdrawn in December 2014 and sold to Midland Classic in early January 2015 with 1013 leaving on 3rd and 1012 gone by 4th.
1031 was also advertised for sale having effectively been replaced by the delivery of Enviro 200 654 in September 2014. However, it was later decided to retain the vehicle and it was repainted into Reading Buses silver/gray to match 420 and 654 in late February 2015, returning on 27th and re-entering service by 2nd March.
1031 transferred to Newbury in September 2016 in support of the new Kennections operation. It returned to Reading after service on 7th January following the transfer of 134 from Vodafone duties, but returned again in February to allow 132 to transfer to Reading and 164 to be repainted in it's place. It returned to service in Reading again around 29th March before being withdrawn by 2nd April. It was sold to Midland Classic on 9th April with the handover taking place at the Brooklands bus rally that day.
- 1021 went on loan to The Green Bus, Birmingham from 17th June 2013, returning on around 20th July.
- 1026 went on loan to The Green Bus, Birmingham from 1st May 2013, returning by 11th and back in service on 12th.
Occasionally vehicles have been used on loan to Newbury as follows:
- 1013 went on loan from approx 27th February 2010 until 2nd March 2010 in exchange for Optare Solo 126 required to cover a Solo shortage in Reading
- 1013 went on loan from 3rd July 2012 for a short time to cover for minor accident repairs on 1029
- 1018/9 went on loan from 6th until 7th June 2011 to cover for vehicles damaged by vandals
- 1023 went on loan from 14th April 2008 until 22nd May to cover for 51 on Vodafone work
- 1024 went on loan from 14th April 2008 until 21st May to cover for 52 on Vodafone work
- 1026 went on loan to Weavaway Travel from 2nd February 2012 for approximately 1 week to cover for Optare Solo 125
- 1028 went on loan from 22nd March 2011 until approx 27th March 2011 to cover for Optare Solo 125
- 1028 went on loan from 8th August 2011 until 27th August 2011 to cover for Scania OmniDekka 818 which had been sold
- 1028 went on loan from 19th October 2012 to allow the withdrawal of 1029/30 prior to the transfer of 1021, returning on 13th November 2012
- 1031 went on loan from approx 27th March 2011 until mid morning on 4th April 2011 to cover for Optare Solo 125
- 1031 went on loan from 25th June 2012 to provide MoT cover and returned soon after
- 1031 went on loan in July 2014 to provide MoT cover, returning by 8th September
- 1032 went on loan from approximately 9th September 2013 until 13th to provide MoT cover for 8
Volvo B7RLE / Wright Eclipse FJ04 ETY was hired during April 2004 as part of an evaluation of various types of single deck vehicle that were available at the time. Evidently the Wright bodywork demonstrated by the vehicle proved to be the desired option, and externally the Volvo / Eclipse combination varies little from the Scania / Solar. The demonstrator is seen below on 28th April 2004.
Last updated: 25-08-17