Friday, 14 August 2015

Bye Bye Brijan

Today (14th August) sadly sees the end of another respected local independent; Brijan Tours in Southampton. With DDA regulations coming in for midibus/full size single deck vehicles before 1st January 2016, Brijan would have had to replace their entire service bus fleet which currently consists of several Step-Entrance Dennis Darts, and two Dart SLFs (though their non DDA compliant). They decided not to upgrade the fleet, and instead announced the sale of the bus service part of the business to Xelabus of Eastleigh for the 7th September. However, at the request of Brijan directors the takeover happened a month early on Friday 7th August, leaving just the coaching fleet left at Brijan.

A pair of ex-Brijan Leyland Olympians seen at Xelabus' depot
Within days, Xelabus had begun to collect vehicles from the Brijan depot, with some of the Leyland Olympians (except no.108) and the Scania L94UB being listed for sale on eBay. The Brijan Tours Darts were still being used, albiet with Xelabus stickers on the front informing passengers of the change - new Alexander Dennis Enviro200s are expected shortly. The final Brijan vehicle (except the coaching fleet) left at Chalcroft depot was Dart SLF 117 P306HDP. 

Whilst I've never been a regular traveller with Brijan, mainly due to not being local, I have always liked the company. The buses are interesting for me, and their staff are fantastic, and always willing to help. I've seen more than one driver assist the elderly on and off of the bus, as well as drivers dropping regular passengers off almost at their front door! A real friendly and community spirit, something that's rapidly dying out with bus companies. 

Drivers and passengers at Xelabus are in good hands; they are another smart and local company who are great with enthusiasts and run a varied and tidy fleet. The same high standard of service is almost guaranteed! I was pleasantly surprised to see they still operate some step Darts, besides the ones that have come from Brijan.

Two ex-Stagecoach Alexander Dash bodied Dennis Darts at
 Hedge End Superstores, 29th July 2015. 
Although youth isn't on their side, Brijan Tours' fleet was smart and very reliable. No fancy modern crap that's saddled down with computers and things to go wrong. The passengers are grateful for a bus service and I've never heard any complaints about the vehicles. Over the years, Brijan have operated all sorts of vehicles including Dennis Darts, Leyland Olympians, Volvo B10s, Mercedes                                                             Minibuses and many, many more.

ex-Stagecoach N57KBW, now XLZ3106 seen out on the 8.
Wednesday 29th July saw me visit the Eastleigh & Southampton area where I rode on 3 Brijan vehicles for the last time. I had 111 N5BJT on an 8 from Eastleigh to Hedge End, and then 112 PUI8112 from Hedge End to Hamble. I then caught a First service back into Southampton, where after half an hour of photographing buses, I boarded Brijan's 106 XLZ3106 on the full two hour run through to Eastleigh via Bishops Waltham. During the journey, driver Mike allowed some photo stops along the route which was fantastic. A real credit to the company. 

Sadly, just a week after the bus service takover, there will be no more 'Miles of Smiles with Brijan Tours' after it was announced that today (Friday 14th) the remains of Brijan Tours Ltd had ceased trading, bringing 25 years of fantastic local service to an end. I wish the amazing team of staff the very best of luck for the future.
106 sits at Bishops Waltham.

R.I.P Brijan.