29 September 2006


My posting yesterday regarding the UK Bus Awards has received a couple of interesting comments. I will deal with the first comment later this weekend - but for now...

Western Greyhound excellent compared with operators in Plymouth? Well yes if you love very long rides on a vario,but probably no if you are a parent with a
pushchair or are disabled

He certainly has a point.

For such a well run and modern fleet, WG has no proper low floor easy access buses. The Varios are not too bad compared with many buses - but they are not low floor. There are very good reasons for WG to have built up such a large standardised fleet of Varios. In many ways they are ideal for the routes they serve - some routes will not take low floor buses and their relatively low cost compared with full low floor buses is also a factor. Some routes might not sustain the addition cost that full low floor easy access buses would bring. Although I am sure many of the passengers would prefer a full low floor easy access bus on their route most WG passengers are just happy that they are now getting a more reliable bus service with newer buses over routes which First has given up on. A bus with a few steps is better than no bus at all!

Of course the Varios are much in use here in Plymouth as well. They can appear on almost any local First service - even those routes which are supposedly 'low floor routes'. Although not ideal for City services they are much better than the older Mercedes Minibuses they have replaced - and First D&C have got rid of all their older breadvans now which is good news for passengers. Just one of several improvements FDC have made to their Plymouth fleet over the past few years.

Plymouth Citybus still have quite a few of their older Mercedes 709 bread vans in service. Speaking as a regular user of the 52 which still employs the older Mercedes I will be happy to see the back of these buses especially as the 52 has a couple of sections of speed humps to travel over - not pleasant in these buses at all. With some more short mini -Darts believed to be on order at the moment it seems that the breadvan fleet is set to decline in numbers - although it looks like some will be around for a year or two yet. Perhaps Citybus could do with a few second hand Varios to see off the last few a bit sooner?

Although I have made clear my dislike of the Mercedes bread vans I do recognise the simple fact that one of the reasons the 52 has survived was down to the fact that these buses are a lot cheaper to run than anything else. Given the choice of having better buses - and loosing the service - or keeping the breadvans and the service - I for one would keep the breadvans.

As usual all your comments are welcome!

1 comment:

  1. Western Greyhound is a heck of an operator! I was mightily impressed with what I saw when I visited Cornwall in August. Like you, I feel that the Mercedes minibus is ideally suited to its operation; again, like you, I wonder how and when it will go to SLF operation, as it surely needs to, to grow its business further.

    Any of your readers who’ve missed my own post on WG can find it here.



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