Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Brighton Bendies

On Saturday 16th June, I visited Brighton to grab some photos of the bus operations. In conjunction with the university open day, three former London Mercedes-Benz Citaro artics were out in service. This allowed me to grab my first shots of the buses in service. 

I seldom get the opportunity to photograph articulated buses. We used to have some in Southampton, but these were moved away in 2004 much to my disappointment. Therefore, it takes me a little while to get my angles in check when photographing them. Here is Brighton & Hove 107 (BD57WDK) departing Churchill Square for the Universities, a shot possible before 12noon. Then the sun moves around...

One of the problems in photographing artics is you sometimes don't get the rear in. Here is Citaro 102 (BX02YZM) heading for Palmeira Square. The artics, thus far, all are branded for route 25, a cross city route that connects the Uni with the outskirts of Hove.

The third Citaro out on that day was 104 (BX02YYW). This was one of the first 4 Citaros acquired second hand by Brighton & Hove, which were new in London in 2002. St Peters Church stands tall and proud creating a magnificent backdrop.

Afternoon shots near St Peters Church are an excellent way to get easy offside shots of the Citaros. Here's another view of 102, as it heads for Hove on route 25.

Finally for today, here is another shot of 107. 107 is part of a batch of 10 Citaros recently acquired by Brighton & Hove, which were new in London in 2007/8. 5 are already in service, with the other ones being prepared at the moment. I prefer the updated Citaro front to the old styling, and 107 looks brilliant as it heads past St Peters Church. These church photos were all taken about 1430.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Sunday Lost Scenes - Sunday 24th June

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.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

A return to Hythe please... you'll have to wait until Thursday

Wilts & Dorset have operated route 112 from Lymington to Hythe for many years. Usually in the capable hands of Optare Solos, the 112 is one of my favourite routes to photograph as it passes through many picturesque areas of the New Forest, including Beaulieu village. However, it is a supported service and, in 2011, was cut down to just three days a week operation.

The 112, although never a "frequent" route, for many years had been a reliable connection from Lymington to Hythe. A few departures each day in both directions helped to support lots of local communities. However, the route was never well packed - rarely filling up a Solo except on school related runs (which required a Bristol VR or these days, an Olympian). Here is 2684 (V684FEL) resting in the Ferry Yard at Hythe, no longer used by buses.

The problem with the 112 is that, apart from providing an essential service to local communities, it doesn't provide an essential link. The Lymington - Southampton trade use BlueStar 6, or the frequent train connection via Brockenhurst. Very few people using the Hythe ferry need Lymington as their ultimate destination. Finally, in the summer, the Lymington-Beaulieu service is bolstered by the introduction of the Green New Forest Tour, thereby removing the need to increase the 112 in the summer season. Here is Solo 2683 (V683FEL) arriving in Lymington on an afternoon arrival from Hythe. This no longer operates.

Thus, a skeleton service remaining which only operates on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. There is one AM departure to Lymington and a PM return to Hythe. Therefore, you cannot travel in the other direction... or if you do, then hopefully you've booked a B&B for a couple of nights. There are more services from Lymington to Beaulieu on these days, some which serve the National Motor Museum. However, there is none of the famous Go South Coast publicity to advertise this fact. Here is Solo V682FEL, still wearing its old number of 2682, arriving on Saturday afternoon into Hythe. It will now presumably run dead back to Lymington - I'm not sure why they don't offer a fast return service - excluding some of the smaller locations - from a commercial point of view W&D may earn the odd money here and there. 

There is another alternative. There may be a slim improvement if the service is marketed as a BlueStar Hythe local service. The "H4" or "H12" as it could become, may entice more growth from the Hythe end. Indeed, the odd BlueStar livered Spectra has sneaked up to Hythe on the 112 on occasion... here is 3162 (W162DFX) arriving along Prospect Place in Hythe.

It is just a shame that, due to the nature of these services, they look more doomed and threatened as each year rolls into the next.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

The Diamond Jubilee

With the Queen's Diamond Jubilee festivities over the weekend, I thought I would post a couple of shots of buses in the special Jubilee liveries around the south.

First up, here is Bournemouth Transport's rather eye-catching Enviro200, fleet number 31 in the livery. YX61EMV was the first bus out nationally in a Jubilee livery, and is pictured here at Bournemouth railway station looking exceptionally smart.

Competing over the Bournemouth - Poole services and the Jubilee liveries. Here is Wilts & Dorset 2212 (HF54HGC) in their version of a Jubilee livery, enticing the travelling public to celebrate more. The silver at the rear of the bus certainly suits the livery more than the red in my opinion - I wonder if this can be a long term addition when "more" is next upgraded?

Whatever you get up to this weekend, I hope everyone has a lovely, relaxing weekend. Many thanks for reading.

Note: There will be no Sunday Lost Scenes this week.