Firstly, I'd like to apologise to all followers about the lack of posts recently. It has been a very busy period in my life and I have not found the time to write posts. Nevertheless, I've given myself an hour to create posts for the week today. First up, here is a reminder from Plymouth in 2009...
Plymouth Citybus 282 - N282PDV - Plymouth (approaching Brentonside) - 11th August 2009
Last year, Plymouth Citybus, now owned by Go Ahead, removed the last of their Mercedes-Benz 709Ds from front line service. Now there are no more in the fleet. This photo is from August 2009, where there were still a number of the 709Ds on everyday service, looking very smart in this red and white colour scheme.
Mercedes-Benz minibuses based on van design were once found in pretty much any sizeable town or city. Now, their numbers are dwindling, and the big groups only have a handful left, if any. At First Hants & Dorset, my local "big" company, there are only approximately 5 in service on last count.
The 709D (and the local Iveco) was the minibus that I grew up on. I remember the extra legroom on the back row near the emergency door, where I regularly used to sit. The FHD examples also had (what I considered) a bright, happy pattern of many different colours on their seats - however, this is now very faded locally. I'm sure followers close to Plymouth will have their own Merc-Mini-memories too. For now, only the Solo (and increasingly the Wright Streetlite) remain for the small bus market, with reducing frequencies, Mini-Pointer Darts, short Enviro200s replacing the majority of existing stock. The golden age of the minibus appears to be well and truly over.