Optare Vecta

In total 14 Vectas have been operated by Reading Transport, nearly all of them started their lives in Reading but all eventually ended up together at Newbury.

The first batch of Vectas was split between Reading and Newbury. Newbury received 801/3, whilst 802/4-5 went to Reading mainly to operate route 20. Below is 804 at St. Mary's Butts when with Newbury Buses in May 1999 on route 102:

804 in May 1999 (23655 bytes)

The later batches were all delivered to Reading to replace elderly Leyland Nationals inherited when the undertaking took over BeeLine's Reading and Newbury operations. Although the Vectas were smaller than the Nationals, they were chosen because they were cheaper than purchasing further full length Deltas like those that Reading already had in its fleet. 806 became known as the Rocket because it, along with its sisters, often worked rural routes. During 1999, 802, 4-10 were transferred to Newbury so that they could withdraw the rest of their fleet of Nationals. In Reading, Deltas and Excels took on the services that the Vectas used to operate. 805 and 806 are seen below waiting at Reading Station on 6th August 2002 to take up journeys on the 101 and 102 to Newbury which were specially timed to arrive at Theale Green School at 3.05pm for the final bell:

805 & 806 on 6th August 2002 (34240 bytes)

Below is 807 at Newbury Bus Station awaiting departure on Newbury service 32 in July 1999.

807 in July 1999 (19403 bytes)

811-4 were transferred to Newbury at the end of 2000 to replace Optare StarRiders, completing the set of Vectas and giving the fleet a general boost. 812-3 were delivered with digital (calculator style) numeral displays and Bright-tech Power Blinds. Towards the end of 1999 the rest of the Vecta fleet had their displays converted to these to improve reliability. Below is 813, operating rural route 138 on Friar Street in Reading during March 1998:

813 in March 1998 (22701 bytes)

All were advertised for sale in March 2003, and the first started to leave in April. They were replaced by four Optare Solos displaced from Vodafone work and ten Optare Deltas from Reading. Below we see the first to leave the fleet, 802 leaving Newbury depot for the last time on 7th April 2003 with its new owners (representatives of Hertfordshire County Council) at the wheel:

802 on 7 April 2003 (32611 bytes)

Once in it's new owners hands 802 was converted into a publicity vehicle, complete with an awning on the nearside. It is seen below on display at Showbus 2005 at Duxford on 18th September 2005:

802 on 18 September 2005 (42024 bytes)

The rest were moved to Reading after gradual withdrawal. 810/14 went on 11th April, 811-3 probably on 14th, and 809 on 15th. 809-14 were then all collected by their new owner Islwyn Borough Transport on 16th April.

807 followed to Reading on 13th May, 806/8 by 19th, 805 by 27th, 804 on 27th (after breaking down in Reading rather than being transferred), 803 on 2nd June and finally 801 on 12th June. 808 however became the last Vecta to work in revenue earning service because it was temporarily transferred back to Newbury from 15th to 23rd September to help cover for a vehicle shortage. Two Newbury vehicles had been taken off the road within days of each other - Delta 501 following an engine fire and 118 with severe accident damage. It didn't stay there for very long however as all of the remaining Vectas (801/3-8) were sold to Houstan Ramm, Sudden (dealer) at the start of October. From there 801 passed to Grant Palmer, Leagrave and 804-6/8 to SM Travel, Harlow later that month. 805 was the third to enter service there in November 2003. 803 ended up with Central Buses, Birmingham in March 2004, and 807 with Chester, Walkden, Herts by June 2004 where it was registered YIL 7775, reupholstered and up-seated to B45F by removing the luggage rack. 803 was sold by Central Buses to Deanery Church of England High School, Wigan in December 2005. It was noted at Blackpool Design Associates (a company specialising in non-PSV conversions) painted all black in September 2006. 807 passed to Silverdale Coaches, Glenmavis in May 2009, possibly another Scottish operator in 2011, and then passed to a family in Whitby in July 2013 before being offered for sale on ebay in November 2013. 801 later passed to Olympian Buses / SM Travel, Harlow in February 2005 who sold it for scrap in 2010, whilst 805 passed to Driving Ambition, Greenford at some point who sold it for scrap in November 2006, although it reappeared at Wealdon PSV (dealer) by July 2008 and was still in tact in January 2009, 806 was sold by January 2008 and 808 withdrawn by January 2008.

803 is seen below on 22nd April 2004 opposite Birmingham Moor Street Station. An interesting comparison can be made with 802 which spent a number of months in white (but with Vodafone lettering) during its time at Newbury.

803 on 22 April 2004 (39375 bytes)

810 is seen below with Islwyn Borough Transport in Blackwood on 19th July 2008. Thanks to Ben Morrell for this photo:

810 on 19 July 2008

Islwyn Borough Transport were taken over by Stagecoach in January 2010 with 810, 812-14 becoming their 39821/3/4/2 (ex Islwyn fleet numbers 28, 26/5/4). 809/11 had already departed the Islwyn fleet by this time. 810 passed to Abba Metals, Merthyr Tydfil for scrap in July 2010, 812 was scrapped on site in September 2010, whilst 814 received Stagecoach corporate livery in September 2010. 813 was earmarked for scrapping in November 2010. The remains of 812/3 were sold to Wigley, Carlton in December 2010. 814 was sold to Mortons Coaches in September 2013. 814 is seen below in Newport on 5th August 2011. Thanks to Dave Ballantyne for this photo:

814 on 5 August 2011

Last updated: 03-11-13

Reading Transport

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Former Vehicle Fleet List