Saturday 17th September 2011 saw the step entrance Dennis Dart take to the roads of Plymouth for the final time in public service, operating on the final service 59 to be operated by Plymouth Citybus. Aptly, the Dart that had the honour of being the very last in service, was the final Dart to be delivered back in October 1994, M132 HOD.
So here she is, 132 taking up her position for the final time on Royal Parade. This was the last time a Dart will ever commence its service in Royal Parade after departing right across the city thousands of times over her 17 year career.
A big thanks must go to PCTPG group member, and Ex-PCB driver and conductor, Paul Burch, for providing the headboard to commemorate the final running. He stayed up into the early hours of the morning painting this up, and really did complete the look.
So here we have, the very last passengers that will ever enjoy a ride on a step entrance Dennis Dart, a majority of which were enthusiasts. The two girls sitting prior to the wheel arch were very confused by all the attention M132 was getting, and inquired about the headboard, thinking that the bus service was stopping. Technically, yes that is true, but since when was the route called "Dennis Dart"?!
So here we have her paused in a couple of scenic locations along the way, firstly at Shaugh Prior, and then again outside the White Thorn pub, looking stunning. These really don't look their age, and even at 17, there was barely a scratch on her to tell her apart from a modern bus.
So, there we have it. The step Dart is finally about to disappear from Plymouth after some 19 brilliant years of service. PCB simply won't be the same without these old, faithful stalwarts of the fleet. They were loved by drivers, and admired by passengers back in their day, but sadly, times move on and the public are beginning to 'expect' better, even when we may believe they have many a good year of service left in them. Endlessly reliable, powerful and comfortable. Their only real 'flaw' was the lack of low floor (excuse the pun)! I shall end by saying a huge thanks once more to all involved with organising the final farewell at Plymouth Citybus. There are very few companies that would make the effort to put on something like that for the enthusiasts to enjoy. And to our driver, Doug, for his kindness in allowing us to pause for photos, his friendliness all along the way and for giving me the last ever sign off ticket and end of duty ticket ever to be printed on an in service Dart. A really lovely occasion to end on.
Goodbye Darts. We'll miss you!