The Golden Oldie Bus Picture Show ’14: Autumnal Gold

This autumn’s collection of elderly buses in the Rochdale, Oldham and Tameside areas.

In the last quarter, the step entrance double decker seems to be dwindling in numbers. Older low floor equivalents seem to have been cascaded. Most notably in Bury and Rochdale where Mercedes Citaros ply their trade. This summer saw the departure of Greater Manchester’s only Dennis Arrow with 34088, a First Greater Manchester Volvo Olympian set to follow her. Continue reading “The Golden Oldie Bus Picture Show ’14: Autumnal Gold”

A Midsummer Night’s Bus Theme

A spring and summer collection of older buses in Greater Manchester.

In the last quarter, we have seen the continuance of JPT’s operations by Stagecoach Manchester. Of late, some buses inherited from the JPT fleet, and a few former Bluebird Bus and Coach vehicles have been see on its commercial and subsidised services.

Continue reading “A Midsummer Night’s Bus Theme”

The Golden Oldie Bus Picture Show: More Older Buses in Tameside and Oldham

Even more superannuated step entrance and low floor vehicles.

When I get older, losing my flair
Fifteen years from now
Will you still be showing me the Claret Line
Schoolday runnings, seldom on time

If I’d been out on the 83
Will you drive so sure?
Will you still need me, though I’m not spritely,
On the 64?

Adapted from ‘When I’m Sixty-Four’ (with apologies to Lennon and McCartney).

It has been over a year since the new FirstGroup livery was introduced to its modern vehicles. In that time, we have also seen a sizeable chunk of First Greater Manchester’s Wigan operation and Bluebird Bus and Coach transfer to Stagecoach Manchester. Furthermore, albeit in the short term, we have seen First Greater Manchester regain lost ground after the transfer of some of Maytree Travel’s routes. It has also meant the hasty return to service of some of its older vehicles. Continue reading “The Golden Oldie Bus Picture Show: More Older Buses in Tameside and Oldham”

In Pictures Special: Where Citaros Dare: Older Buses in Tameside and Oldham

Warning: This Article Includes Coffin Dodging Step Entrance and Low Floor Vehicles.

The school holidays sometimes throws up some oddities on normal routes. Instead of the usual Enviro400 or Volvo B9TL, an older vehicle might make a cameo appearance. Sometimes the older vehicle, in spite of its short comings (i.e. step entrance access and lack of buggy space), may be more fuel efficient than their young whippersnappers. Continue reading “In Pictures Special: Where Citaros Dare: Older Buses in Tameside and Oldham”

Great Olympians of our Time #17: Stagecoach Manchester R506 UWL

Olympian swansong

By the mid 1990s, the Alexander bodied Volvo Olympian became Stagecoach’s standard double decker bus. Today, these have largely been superseded by Dennis Tridents and Enviro 400s. Photograph by Ingy the Wingy (Creative Commons Some Rights Reserved).

In 1997, the Alexander bodied Volvo Olympian became Stagecoach Holdings’ standard double decker bus of choice. Their then newly acquired Manchester subsidiary (late GMS Buses) was pretty much a Northern Counties fiefdom as far as Olympians were concerned. By the noughties, the balance of power had shifted towards Alexander. Stagecoach Manchester’s Northern Counties bodied Olympians were relegated to Magic Bus duties and marginal routes.

The R-reg Volvo Olympians, on arrival to Stagecoach Manchester, were a clear break from the old order. Legroom and comfort compared well with its Greater Manchester Transport and GM Buses predecessors. At odds with the old order, the step entrance vehicles had a low floor and lower step risings.

R506 UWL entered service in September 1997 and worked for Stagecoach’s Mancunian subsidiary till 2008, supplanted along with countless others by Enviro 400s. In 2009, it moved to Southampton where it was gainfully employed by Stagecoach in Hampshire, then Canterbury the following year where she currently resides.

*                                      *                                      *

This concludes our round-up of Volvo and Leyland Olympians, specially coinciding with the London 2012 Olympic Games. We hope you’ve enjoyed the seventeen pictures and profiles of each vehicle, and considered these features a worthwhile antidote to the sporting activities, associated chutzpah and hyperbole. As usual, comment freely on the buses and any changes which may have arisen since.

Stuart Vallantine, 27 July – 12 August 2012.

Powered By:

  • Yorkshire Tea;
  • Occasional browsing on YouTube;
  • Assorted 35mm camera film and Secure Digital memory cards;
  • System One Travelcards’ Monthly BusCard season ticket;
  • Special thanks go to Sammy, Jack Russell Terrier and official mascot of East of the M60.

S.V., 12 August 2012.

Great Olympians of our Time #16: First Manchester’s R622 JUB

A much travelled Volvo Olympian which, by the time you have read this, may have seen all parts of First Manchester territory!

Volvo Olympian, Alexander body, R622 JUB, First Pioneer, Ashton-under-Lyne bus station
R622 JUB seen on the 348 route to Carrbrook at Ashton bus station, October 2011. Notice the Dennis Arrow behind.

For our penultimate Great Olympian of our Time, we have before your very eyes a much travelled one of First Manchester’s vehicles. For once, it doesn’t fit the (seemingly) unofficial criteria in this feature of being a Northern Counties bodied vehicle. R622 JUB is bodied by one of NCME’s successors, Walter Alexander and Son – now Alexander Dennis.

R622 JUB entered service with FirstGroup’s West Yorkshire subsidiary [Yorkshire Rider] in February 1998, and offered a real contrast to their mainly Roe bodied fleet. By 2008, she moved to First Potteries, then First Chester and Wirral the following year.

In 2010, reorganisation saw First Chester and Wirral come under the control of First Manchester. From there, she would be seen in Greater Manchester the following year, on loan. September 2011 saw her on hire to their Dukinfield garage. The following month’s image sees her on the popular 348 route.

Her stay in Tameside was temporary as she moved to Oldham in the new year. Today, she now resides at Bury depot, though there’s every chance she might be in Bolton or Wigan by the time you’ve read this!

S.V., 11 August 2012.

Great Olympians of our Time #14: JPT Travel’s P821 SGP

From Orpington to Shudehill Interchange

JPT Travel, Volvo Olympian, P821 SGP, Shudehill
P821 SGP seen in more recent times on JPT Travel’s 118 route, wearing its third mainly blue livery.

We seem to have exhausted our stock of former London Volvo Olympians. On spotting this fellow outside Shudehill Interchange, I thought this vehicle’s previous owner was Yellow Buses of Bournemouth. Not so. P821 SGP came to JPT’s Joshua Lane garage via the North East.

P821 SGP entered service in Christmas 1996 with Metrobus. Following a transfer to Crawley depot, it wore its first blue and yellow livery in 2003. Apart from a brief stay at Godstone, it was purely a Crawley bus and wore Metrobus’ new two tone blue livery in 2007.

Three years on, it was withdrawn by Metrobus and saw continued service for Go-Ahead North East. During its North Eastern sojourn it wore an all yellow livery for its low cost unit ‘Yellow Bus’. By the end of 2011, its present owners JPT Travel purchased it. Fortunately for then, the all yellow livery meant little modification, with only a coat of blue paint for the skirt and the roof.

Though most of JPT Travel’s fleet comprises of low floor vehicles, a handful of commercially operated routes sometimes see step entrance vehicles.

S.V., 07 August 2012.

Great Olympians of our Time #13: First Manchester’s M406 RVU

From Trafalgar Square to Kitt Green

Volvo Olympian, 348 Ashton - Carrbrook
Snow Joke: the perils of operating the 348 on a slushy January from Ashton bus station.

You wait ages for a First Manchester Volvo Olympian (no change there, then) and two come along at once! Here is a slightly older version of our previous model. It is seen at Ashton bus station laying over prior to embarking on the 348 route. Shortly after this image was taken, the electronic indicator was changed to read ‘Stalybridge’ instead of ‘Carrbrook’. Reason? The amount of snow and slippy running on Huddersfield Road that afternoon.

Over the Yuletide and first fortnight of January 2010, a lot of services were disrupted by the snow in Tameside and Oldham, with Saddleworth and Mossley routes worst affected. That afternoon, I had no problem boarding my usual bus to Ashton, given the superior road conditions along the 346 route and the Optare Solos making light work of them! (My fellow friends who caught the 389 had less joy).

Now for the bus. Our example started out with London Central, being closer to a fictitious Albert Square in 1995, then nearer a non fictitious one in 2009 adjacent to The Wharf Tavern in Stalybridge. She started life in the London Docklands livery. In 2001, she moved to Blue Triangle, then Metrobus the following year. Under her tutelage with Metrobus, she wore a blue and yellow livery.

In April 2003 she was withdrawn and didn’t re-enter service till September 2004. From then on she joined First Manchester where she was based in Bury garage and later moved to First Pioneer’s Dukinfield garage. Her last port of call was Wigan, from where she was withdrawn on June 2011.

S.V., 07 August 2012.

Great Olympians of our Time #12: First Manchester’s P540 HMP

FirstGroup’s EastEnder

Volvo Olympian, P540 HMP, Northern Counties Palatine I body, First Manchester, Oldham
P540 HMP seen loading at Oldham bus station.

It is not at all unknown to see big bus owning groups sharing routes, but sharing buses, even less so! This vehicle has had the distinction of being seen in Stagecoach and FirstGroup liveries. And in Manchester! Though the livery seen here belies its previous parentage, the devil in the detail is apparent on entry. The interior design is more Perthian than Aberdonian – hence evidence of Stagecoach red stair rails and grip rails.

P540 HMP started out for Stagecoach East London, painted in a variant of the famous red livery. Whilst in London, it shuffled between Bow, Plumstead (Stagecoach SELKent) and Romford garages. Withdrawn in 2002, it would be repainted into Ray Stenning’s Stagecoach livery for services outside London, initially based at Stagecoach West Scotland.

Following its short excursion north of the border, it would see further service with Stagecoach Manchester in 2003, along the Wilmslow Road corridor. Its sojourn with the Perthshire transport giants would cease the following year when it would be repainted in the Barbie livery of FirstGroup. This is where she remains today.

P540 HMP has now done more bus miles in Greater Manchester than in London. Above, she is seen at Oldham bus station on an afternoon working of the 59 route to Rushcroft. Today, she is in storage, either awaiting further service, an eager preservationist or – worse – a trip to the great bus depot in the sky.

S.V., 07 August 2012.

Great Olympians of our Time #11: Arriva Yorkshire’s N621 KUA

Now enjoying its senior years in leafy Cheshire

N621 KUA Volvo Olympian, Selby depot
N621 KUA seen at Selby Depot at an open day in 2010. Today, she wears the blue and cream of GHA Coaches.

Our 1995 Volvo Olympian was a regular campaigner in Selby up to 2010. She began her working life with Selby and District, a subsidiary company of the Caldaire Group. The Caldaire Group was originally a subsidiary of the West Riding Automobile Company, prior to nationalisation and absorption by the Transport Holding Company in 1967. Twenty years after it returned to private ownership with most of the former Yorkshire Woollen District routes becoming Yorkshire Buses.

Caldaire Holdings was sold to British Bus in 1995, with the Arriva cow horns being foisted on N621 KUA by 1999. She remained at Selby depot till 2010, when she became a ‘pool bus’.

Today, N621 KUA has been shorn of the cow horns, moving to The Dairy County (Cheshire). She is gainfully employed by Vale of Llangollen subsidiary GHA Coaches, and wears a fetching blue and cream livery. A colour scheme which, no less, is reminiscent of Express Dairies’ and Dale Farm’s milk floats.

S.V., 06 August 2012.