Sunday, 12 January 2014

Dart Ja FOO!

Awful title...yes I know LOL! But yeah , Deja Vu indeed where somewhere in the Stagecoach South West receives brand new vehicles and the poor old vehicles they replace (which usually have loads of life in them) are sent to Torbay for one last hoorah!  Thats certainly been the case with the Wright Handybus Darts , Scania N113DRB's , Volvo Olympians , the S/T plate Dennis Tridents (although these were transferred to another area as opposed to being disposed of from Stagecoach althogether) and now the Alexnader ALX200 bodied Dennis Darts.

With Exmouth recently gaining a batch of new Alexander Dennis Enviro 200's, this leaves 6 ALX200's surplus. As Torbay have lost nearly all of the 'Clatterbox' Alexander Dennis Pointer Darts (thank goodness) and the Optare Solos being their usual unreliable self, they are running short of single Decker buses. All the rumors of new Enviro 200's coming to Torbay and goodness knows what else were all proved wrong when I heard about sightings of 'foreign' Darts on Torquay and Paignton local routes. 34034 R934FOO was seen on a 34 recently, aswell as 34068 S468BWC. On Thursday, I had the pleasure of 34095 S495BWC home from Paignton on the 12C. 34095 was originally transferred to Torquay from London along with 34077 (S477BWC , which has also recently returned to Torquay) and branded up for "Route66"  before being sent up to Exmouth.

There are still a few ALX200's lined up in Exeter from Exmouth (R119VPU , R430FOO , R432FOO I believe) which will likely join the rest in Torbay or go for storage at Winkleigh.  Also in Exeter lower yard last weekend was Marshall Capital bodied Dart , 33783 T132MGB which has recently returned from loan at Western Greyhound. I highly doubt this will see any further service with Stagecoach South West, as sister buses 33782/1 have both been sold off.

I don't imagine the ALX200's will see out 2014 with Stagecoach South West, as other areas have become hasty to dispose of theirs of late. As many of you will know, I'm no Dart fan by any stretch of the imagine however I've grown up with these ALX200's (I'm sure I said that about the 04 plate Tridents just before they left Torbay, though they've returned!) so it will seem incomplete in Devon without the occasional trip slugging along the road on an ex-London Dart.

Thanks to fellow Flickrite Will Spencer (Betterlivingthroughchemistry37) for allowing me to use his photo of 34095 S495BWC on here. It's seen working a 31 in Torquay this week.

Monday, 6 January 2014

Salisbury Sadness!

Sunday 5th January saw the closure of Salisbury Bus Station, due to yet another load of cost cutting etc etc. To mark the occasion , Go-Ahead Wilts & Dorset put on a special farewell bus rally, which I unfortunately couldn't attend because ones mother wouldn't allow me out in the weather, we've all been there, I'm sure LOL!

Not every service used the bus station, the ones I know that do:
X3 Salisbury - Bournemouth
X5 Salisbury - Swindon
X7 Salisbury - Southampton
Activ8 (Stagecoach and W&D) Salisbury - Andover
and various other Wilts & Dorset rural routes.

I believe all those routes are now terminating/loading from the Square, just around the corner though I can't be too sure.


Bigger , Beastlier , Better!

While waiting for a train connection at Newton Abbot last Thursday, I spotted an odd coach pulling into the bay opposite the station on the National Express 501 route. After telling a friend about it, it turned out Parks of Hamilton (Plymouth) are replacing the 08 plate Volvo B12BT/Plaxton Panthers with brand new Volvo B13RT/Plaxton Elite coaches.

Sunday morning saw me go into Paignton with the camera, after being told it's likely going to work the 09:15 , to photograph one.  Money in hand, I ask the driver "Do you sell tickets on board?" , I then said something about trying out the new coaches as an enthusiast, so kindly he allowed me aboard without paying a penny, though I was only riding as far as Exeter. As I climb aboard YY63WCL (registered on 1st January), I was greeted with a nice, modern cab area. While walking the 15 meter hike to the back of the coach, there was a coach full of luxury, leather coach seats which are a treat to sit in. Now, something it really pleases me to say about a brand new bus/coach, is the fact that the engine sounded so nice! 13 litres of Volvo engine below me really was music to the ears, and the 12 speed i-Shift gearbox adds great effect with the 'proper' gear changes, and the lack of obsession with keeping the engine revs at the lowest rate, allowing some great thrash.  Usually, modern buses and coaches have really drab , boring engines with no power but the B13 really is a lively machine. Just like the Panthers they're currently seeing off, the Elites are 15 metres in length, and have 600L fuel tanks, so running out of fuel is no excuse for being late LOL!

Comparing these new Elites to the B12/Panthers is a really hard job, as they are both very nice coaches. For  'Normal' passengers, the only real difference I guess is the leather seats and added sky view out of the large dome windscreen at the front.

A video of YY63WCL can be viewed HERE