Thursday, 2 June 2011

Velvet goes 100% low floor

With the arrival of 3 new Dart SLFs (2 normal length, 1 SPD), and the return to service on existing Dart SLF S162BMR, Velvet now operate a 100% low floor network across all passenger routes, with one spare low floor bus. This means that the Leyland Olympians, like the Volvo Citybuses before them, have largely been consigned to school, college and special event work, and the odd service when there are too many low floor buses off the road. Congratulations to Velvet, for such a young company, for achieving this important milestone.

I've always found the Leyland Olympians awkward to photograph. For about a year, they were the main allocation on route A - but when you know something is definately on the route, you don't often get round to photographing it. Indeed, I've only ever taken one photo of an Olympian on the A.

My first photos of the Olympians came on the ill-fated route B - basically a route to switch drivers and manage breaks on the routes to Ringwood that were in operation back in 2008/very early 2009. Here is J841TSC heading through Velmore en-route for Eastleigh, pictured on Jan 7th, 2009.

After the route changes of January 2009, which saw the 35/300/B cut and the Fair Oak Flyer/500 introduced, the Leyland Olympians were far easier to photograph. The 500 was off-peak work introduced in Jan 09, and the main allocation were the Olympians. I managed to capture all of them running through Portswood - as illustrated by J843TSC in the first photo, and secondly J851TSC in the second photo, going past the now-closed First Portswood bus depot.

As announced on the GSC forum tonight, the main allocations should now be 2 Darts and a DAF on route A, and 2 Darts and a Solo on route C, with another Solo on the S2 in Southampton. The Olympians will only cover service work if 2 (or more) buses are out of action, apart from joint school/college runs.

I hope to bring you photos of the Dart SLFs soon - I know where to find them, so its just a matter of going to get them. Mind you, that didn't really work for my Olympian collection...

(as a footnote, Velvet also operate 2 former Wilts & Dorset DAF SB250/Optare Spectras... I haven't got round to getting them on camera either...)


  1. Good luck photographing the new buses. And also be sure to photograph the old Volvo City Buses, I believe they are likely to be sold later this year.

  2. I believe that the all day allocations are as you state, but that there is still an odd journey after the morning peak which is DD operated - this may be the 0840 A or it may be a C - when it was mentioned as being necessary Phil hadn't decided . . .