Sunday, 4 May 2014

May Madness!

First of all, apologies for the lack of posts; I've been busy with other things since my last post back in March.

Two months on, rather a lot has been going on, so we'll start with the not so South Westerly news:
With the Low Emission Zone rules that come in to Oxford back in January, the 20 Dennis Trident / Alexander ALX400's that were delivered back in 1999 for the Park & Ride were imminently withdrawn as they're Euro 2 engined. To cover for these, Go-Ahead Oxford have loaned several of Go South Coast's (Southern Vectis , Morebus and Salisbury Reds) Alexander Dennis E40D's until new vehicles are delivered for Brookes Bus contracts later this year.
Southern Vectis E40D HW63FHA in Oxford thanks to Elliott Farrell
COMS are also running this Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 Hybrid demonstrator, SN59AWV. Photo thanks to Elliott Farrell...

After the Dennis Trident's withdrawal, all of them (except the two which were at Thames Travel from much earlier on) were laid up at a compound in Oxford. One extra I believe has gone to Thames Travel, and some others went to Carousel Buses, presumably to oust out the ageing Olympians. I was fortunate enough to have a trip on Thames Travel 109 T109DBW back in March. They really are a nice batch of Tridents, they go well and the green interior certainly makes them different from most other buses of similar age!

Recently arrived from Thames Travel at Plymouth Citybus are East Lancs Esteem bodied Scania N94UB's PF06ENL , PF06ENM , PF06ENN & PF06ENO. These have received the standard "Swoop" livery, and will soon be out on the road alongside the "Blue Flash" Enviro 400s on new route 11 to Tavistock and Okehampton. The route will also extend to Barnstaple on a Sunday, as a 75B.
A Blue Flash E40D is seen on route 12
Stagecoach South West service changes 19th May 2014
Route 5/5E Paignton - Foxhole Loop RENUMBERED "FOX"  
Route 12A Torquay - Paignton - Roselands - South Devon College - Brixham WITHDRAWN
Route 12C Paignton - Cherrybrook Drive - South Devon College WITHDRAWN
Route 13 Will be introduced South Devon College - Brixham 
Route 22/24 Brixham - Kingswear RENUMBERED 18/18A
Route 22 NEW ROUTE St Marychurch - Torquay - Paignton - Roselands - South Devon College (to replace Current 12A)
Route 23 NEW ROUTE Paignton - Cherrybrook Drive - South Devon College (To replace Current 12C)
GOLD; Torquay - Paignton -Totnes - Plymouth to run half hourly (as opposed to the current hourly service)
Torquay - Paignton - Totnes - Dartmouth (Will only run Totnes - Dartmouth on a less frequent basis)

Despite these changes happening in only two weeks time, there is absolutely no indication of this on Stagecoach's website, without manually searching on the journey planner. Obviously, those unlike myself who aren't aware of any changes wouldn't do this, so most passengers are currently unaware of any change. This is bad , given that so much is changing. 

In order to accommodate the increased frequency on the GOLD route, an extra three Scania N230UD/Enviro 400's have been ordered. These will be numbered 15961-3.
GOLD 15926 YN63BWW is seen in Plymouth
As well as the Scanias , Stagecoach South West have placed an order for 12 Alexander Dennis E20D's for Exeter (and one will go to Exmouth). These will be numbered 37131 - 37142. I've heard that by September, all of Torbay's Alexander ALX200 bodied Dennis Darts will be gone, so these 12 Enviro 200's will obviously be releasing buses from Exeter to replace Torquay's Darts. It's not known exactly what buses it will be yet, though there has been talk of some of the 60 plate Enviro 200's being transferred, or the 06 plate Alexander Dennis Pointer 2 Dart SLF's which were new to Torquay in the first place being returned. I guess only time will tell. 
Soon to disappear - 34068 S468BWC is seen in Torquay on route 32 

Bus of the future - Alexander Dennis E20D YN63ZWA is seen in Exeter St Davids on a 56

  Following with withdrawal of the last two Scania N113DRB/Alexander RH's J828/9HMC 15328/9  in the Stagecoach South West fleet, Transbus Trident 17701 ML02RWO has been sent away for open top conversion.

 It's certainly sad to see these two beasts leaving the fleet, especially after they managed to outlive the Volvo Olympians which were some 6 years newer. Dennis Trident 17003 S803BWC was transferred back to Devon a couple of months ago, after departing for Wigan last June, with the intention of becoming the Scania N113's replacement. However, it was decided that it would be more suitable to convert a newer bus to Open Top so, thankfully, S803 remains as she is, thrashing around the Devon Countryside on the Exeter rural routes. Fingers crossed it gets transferred to Torbay, although this is unlikely as it seems that our remaining 4 Euro 2 Tridents 17055-8 T655-8KPU are on borrowed time.  
Now you see it, soon you wont! 17701 stands at Exeter, complete with it's roof shortly before heading off
for the "chop"!
Having recently seen a photo of Volvo Olympian 16137 R137EVX with Wirral firm Cass Coaches, that leaves 16062 R162VPU as Stagecoach South West's final Olympian. It's currently parked at Exeter Depot, presumably awaiting it's fate.
The sole survivor, R162VPU is seen at Paignton August 2012
Finally, last but not least, I would like to report on Stagecoach London's new beasts...
13003 & 13015 on delivery - Thanks to Steve Mutly
Yep, that's right...have a double take! Thanks to Steve Mutly for the photo , Stagecoach have bought double deckers that aren't Enviro 400's! Aswell as a batch of Alexander Dennis E40H's , Stagecoach London have also ordered a batch of 32 Volvo B5LH/Wright Gemini 3's. 13001 - 13032 will be the first Gemini 3's to enter full service. From experience of Gemini 2 bodied B5LH's, I personally find them fantastic vehicles, far more interesting than Alexander Dennis' offerings of whats essentially a Dart engined Enviro 400, coupled to an electric motor. These Gemini 3's look very nice, now that I'm used to the shallow top deck windows, and don't forget to CHECK OUT ALEX NEVIN-TYLEE'S INTERIOR PHOTOS. I look forward to having a go on these on my next visit to London. I've also heard that Stagecoach Scotland have ordered 18 Enviro 400 bodied Volvo B5LH's, an unusual combination that's never been done before.  Perhaps this is a sign that Stagecoach are going back to Volvo after not buying many stage carriage buses from them since their last delivery of Volvo Olympians in 1999? Who knows...