In Pictures: The Last Days of Mercedes Citaro Operation in Tameside and Oldham

A fond farewell to First Greater Manchester’s longest serving single decker buses

Today [31 March 2018] marked the end of an era in First Greater Manchester’s 22-year history of bus operation. Their Mercedes Citaro single decker buses have been retired from revenue earning service. A popular sight in mainland Europe, the Mercedes Citaro bus has had a mixed reaction on these shores. They are seen as the bus equivalent of the ‘Burning Bush’ valve radio due to their combustibility.

Given tender loving care they can be dependable performers on urban bus routes. First Greater Manchester’s examples have seen service since the start of the 21st century. At one time they were regular campaigners on the 82, 83, and 409 services. With the Citaros they maintained a service with a 6 to 7 minute frequency.

In their twilight years they have been seen on various non-trunk routes. Since the closure of Dukinfield’s garage last year they have been seen on more routes in the Tameside area. Particularly the 348 to Carrbrook, though sometimes the 389 and any of the Ashton Circular routes. On rare occasions they have been spotted on the 346 and the 340 routes.

In the last three years they have been the mainstay of the 425 service from Fitton Hill to Holts Estate. From the 08 April its conversion to a cigar shaped circular could see the need for fewer buses. We await their successors with great interest.

On arrival, the Mercedes Citaro stood out from the crowd. Back in 2001, most of First Manchester’s fleet was inherited from GM Buses North. For passengers, a neat introduction to the low floor buses we see today.

Will any of Greater Manchester’s Mercedes Citaros be preserved? There is a good case for their preservation, but their combustibility may deter some preservationists. Unlike some of First’s elderly buses they felt just at home in the Olympia livery as well as the Barbie livery.

Right now I should let the pictures do the talking, starting off with this neat little clip. Just listen to that engine.

W347 RJA, Smallshaw, Ashton-under-Lyne

First Greater Manchester Mercedes Citaro, W347 RJA (Interior view), Smallshaw
An interior shot of a Mercedes Citaro, seen on the 393 service to Smallshaw and Hartshead.

W347 RJA, Ashton-under-Lyne bus station

First Greater Manchester, Mercedes Citaro W347 RJA, Ashton-under-Lyne bus station
Last Ride: Shortly after its journey on the 393 service, it is awaiting its escort (seen behind) to First Greater Manchester’s Oldham depot.

W365 RJA, Oldham bus station

First Greater Manchester Mercedes Citaro, W365 RJA, Oldham
Almost Journey’s End: at first glance a typical Saturday on the 425 service. Few people may be familiar with the fact these buses were on their final shift between Fitton Hill and Holts Estate.

W179 BVP, Union Street, Oldham

First Greater Manchester, Mercedes Citaro W179 BVP, Union Street, Oldham
Fitton Hill Farewell: W179 BVP seen outside Gallery Oldham and the former library building on Union Street.

But Wait… There’s More!

Here’s another collection of Mercedes Citaro buses from our archives.

W302 JNC, Shudehill Interchange

Mercedes Citaro, W302 JNC, Shudehill Interchange, Manchester
Taken in September 2010 (after yours truly visited the Trans-Lancs Vehicle Rally), this one is about to do the 93 service to Bury. Yours truly at the time was waiting for a 218 to Chez Vall.

W336 JND, Oldham bus station

First Greater Manchester, Mercedes Citaro W336 JND, Oldham bus station
Seen in October 2012, the Citaros began to establish themselves on the 149 service to Manchester. Though good for short journeys their hard seats could be unbearable if you did the route in full.

W335 JND, Oldham bus station

Mercedes Citaro, W335 JND, First Greater Manchester, Oldham bus station
Back in the day when First Greater Manchester ran the 408 service to Stalybridge, the Citaro was a popular choice. This was the case in September 2013 before minibuses and midibuses became a common feature.

W179 BVP, Rochdale Interchange

First Greater Manchester Mercedes Citaro W179 BVP, Rochdale Interchange
By 2014, First Greater Manchester’s Mercedes Citaros were seen more often on local routes. Here, in this image from the 17 October 2014, it is seen loading at Rochdale Interchange on the 457 route to Stansfield.

W366 RJA, Ashton-under-Lyne bus station

First Greater Manchester Mercedes Citaro, W366 RJA, Ashton-under-Lyne bus station
By November 2017, the closure of Dukinfield garage has resulted in a few more Oldham buses being seen on Tameside bus routes. W366 RJA had, at the timing of this image, been seen on the 389 service.

S.V., 31 March 2018.

5 thoughts on “In Pictures: The Last Days of Mercedes Citaro Operation in Tameside and Oldham

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  1. saw a few today sad day i have read the remaining E300s 67401 etc at Bolton will replace them but not confirmed big reshuffle of buses in next week happinging

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  2. I’ve heard that the last B10BLE at Bolton and some if not all the ALX400 Volvos at Oldham are also due to be withdrawn. With the early Solos also confined to history all we need now is for the those 4 Darts that came from the West Country a few years ago to join them and those of us with bone disease can truly celebrate! Oh hang on, we now have the new problem of Stagecoach simply not upholstering buses from delivery to disposal.
    One things for sure, these Citaroes won’t be going to Stansted Airport to work car park shuttles!

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  3. those darts i think are not going anywhere stotts have some darts with the same sort of seats movements have happened with 33705 now at Oldham swapped with 33840 which had gone to Bolton

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  4. this post is a bit early 60247 was still in service today as i went on it someone putting duff info on slf again it will probley be this saturday they finsih

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  5. I’m sure you’ll be happy to know that 60283 (W179BVP) has been saved from the scrapyards by myself and a close friend of mine, the plan is to get her back to looking near to as new condition

    Liked by 1 person

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