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
W347 RJA, Ashton-under-Lyne bus station
W365 RJA, Oldham bus station
W179 BVP, Union Street, Oldham
But Wait… There’s More!
Here’s another collection of Mercedes Citaro buses from our archives.
W302 JNC, Shudehill Interchange
W336 JND, Oldham bus station
W335 JND, Oldham bus station
W179 BVP, Rochdale Interchange
W366 RJA, Ashton-under-Lyne bus station
S.V., 31 March 2018.