Our old friend UKT 552 is still going strong along with her sisters down in Cornwall still fitted with her original engine, where a majority have had to have been fitted with replacement engines, following several major problems with them, all within a very short space of time! All have now returned to service, meaning we're seeing fewer and fewer old vehicles in service in Cornwall. You're hard pushed to find anything older than N reg these days, although there is 1, possibly 2 L reg Olympians. Still, its been a very impressive transformation over a comparatively short period. Since the withdrawal of the last VRs in 2006, few buses have actually stuck around in service for very long.
Anyway, the point of this post was to illustrate the changes that have been made to UKT during the time she's been down in Cornwall. The most obvious one is the seating arrangements which originally were facing sideways along the bottom deck between the front, and the rear wheelarch. This was to allow loading and storage luggage to be easier, and to provide more space, when the buses were used originally on the Airbus services from the centre of London to Heathrow airport. The setup is now the more conventional 2+2 seating right the way down.
The strange change to the bus though, was that the wheelchair lift has been taken out, and replaced with a conventional step, as the photo illustrates. This seemed slightly strange, seeing as surely these Olympians would be able to keep going past 2015 DDA regulations, because passengers in wheelchairs are still able to board. Its true that the lifts have caused minor problems over the years, most namely being the safety mechanism which would disengage the gearbox when it 'thought' the lift was in use. With the roads of the Westcountry being so bumpy, what tended to happen was this would trigger, and take the bus out of gear while in motion, but as long as the driver knew how to rectify this, there was no real problem, so I'd doubt this is purely the reason why it has been taken out of UKT, although I can't think of a valid reason why, unless it had been damaged at some point. To my knowledge all of her sisters do still retain the wheelchair lift, although, I've never seen them used once!