Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Coaches through Cornwall

Cornwall has recently seen an influx of Ex- First Rail Air coaches from Reading, introduced to the region for college work for the longer routes, in particular the Callington route. Cornwall currently seems to be suffering vehicle wise, with native coaches quite regularly appearing on stage carriage work, surprisingly most often on prime route 14/18 from Truro through to Camborne and Penzance/St Ives. Indeed, YV03 UBB appeared out in service on the X18 on the day I visited, with no blind visible at all, not even a paper destination, and also with no ticket machine fitted. It seemed possible therefore that this was only a temporary cover, but it did precede to work the service all day, taking no fares whatsoever! I later found WSV 408 out on the 18, although unfortunately a photo wasn't able to be grasped! 

The use of these two coaches was even more surprising when I later found Volvo B7RLE MX56 AEN on the 27 from Truro to St Austell and Par! In fairness to First, this is the first time I've ever seen one of the B7s off route in the 6 years I've been spotting down there! Usually the depots are very good at indeed allocating them onto the correct route. 

A video of WSV 408 operating in servicecan be found below: 

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Snap on Sunday

Unfortunately my time in the South West has come to an end for now, although a couple of extra posts are in the pipeline for the next week, and no doubt odd bits of news may crop up from time to time as they did before. It's a shame I'm going to be missing out on so many interesting developments over the coming month within Plymouth and the surrounding area, I very much look forward to Christmas when I can come and see it all in the flesh. No doubt Graham Richardson's capable hands over at Plymothian Transit will keep you well updated as things progress. 

For now I shall leave you with one of my favorite spots in the region; that of St Ives Malakoff, with one of the stalwart Volvo B10M Citybus' still hard at work on the glorious 300 service. Well worth a trip if you get a chance before the end of the month, before these are put away for the winter once more! 

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Snap on Sunday

Tuesday produced the unusual event of a Western Greyhound vehicle winding its way through Torpoint, a scene that has become a rarity since April of 2012 when the Torpoint to Liskeard route passed to A-Line Coaches. Vario WK02 SUN is seen here working what I thought would have been a 572 which is the usual Vario route from Plymouth, although appears to be blinded up for a 593 to Plymouth, despite heading the opposite direction into Cornwall. WGL were diverted through Torpoint due to an RTA on the A38, forcing all of the Tamar Bridge traffic to go across the Torpoint Ferry instead, and hence as can be seen from the photo, the queues were huge, eventually leading right out of Torpoint.  

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

President for the Peninsula

Torpoint Depot has recently gained a new addition to the ranks of vehicles that are able to operate across the ferry, this being the first Plaxton President Dennis Trident to be converted for use, LR02 LYP. My belief had always been that the fuel tank was mounted too low on the Presidents for them to be able to negotiate the ferry ramp, but evidently this isn't the case, or at least, it has been found this is no issue. We would usually expect to find the front/rear cut away to give added ground clearance, but this hasn't been the case with 33172 which has only had the suspension modified to include a ferry lift. It seemed an interesting choice to me though that the first President to be modified is the one in the new livery, with possible overtones that this may be for added capacity come the time Plymouth Citybus introduce their services to Torpoint. I can only speculate of course, as we still wait for First's official announcement on their game plan. From what I hear though, extra Presidents will, or already have been fitted with ferry lifts, so expect to see them become more common on the Torpoint routes in the near future. The drivers certainly seem impressed with LYP's performance, although I have to admit, these are far from my favorite buses on offer. 

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Snap on Sunday

This week's SoS is a few more photos taken up at the idyllic bus photography spot in Barne Barton. I've been worried that the recent development works in the area would mean that the great backdrop from this corner in Barne Barton would disappear forever, but thankfully, the gap in the houses is still sufficient to be able to get some really good photos. 

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Red Flash looking flashy

Monday marked the start of Plymouth Citybus' new network of premium routes with the introduction of 4 ADL E40Ds to the established 21/A linking Plympton in the East with Barne Barton in the West. The vehicles certainly look very smart indeed in the new 'Red Flash' branding, with the simple yet stylish livery creating a very good impression. Unfortunately  as several photographers seemed to have found out already, including myself, the darker red bands are very difficult to photograph clearly, but in the flesh, compliment the design very nicely indeed. The trend of ever decreasing fleet number size continues though, with the rear one actually being quite difficult to find unless you know where to look for it! 

The E40Ds are certainly very pleasing vehicles to ride on, even from an enthusiast's point of view. Usually I'm not a huge fan of the Enviro, particularly the more recent incarnations  but these are surprisingly pleasing to the ear which I certainly wasn't expecting. The somewhat jerky gearbox previously found in the Enviro has also been modified, and the changes are now far smoother. The interior itself though I found to be really quite dark, even on the upper deck, largely due to the grey rood and side panels, as well as the grey of the leather seating which in all honesty I didn't find particularly inviting. The layout though is certainly very nice, with plenty more seating than what is currently found on the Ex-London Volvo B7TLs, as well as much more space set aside for pushchairs. This is a feature we seem to be seeing increasingly in the modern bus, as parents continue to discover the benefits of not having to unpack and fold down the pushchairs to fit into the car. It seems slightly ironic though that the people occupying all this extra space don't actually pay! 

My one criticism of the 'Red Flash' is actually the red itself. My thinking would be that considering people in the areas the 21/A covers are already used to red buses from Plymouth Citybus, they aren't standing out as much as they could, or indeed should do considering the sheer amount of investment put in to these high spec brand new vehicles. Should red have in fact been reserved for one of the new routes where the impact would be fully felt, freeing up another colour for the 21/A, for example blue, which would stand out from the crowd, and hopefully attract the attention of non-users to the fact that the local companies has just invested many hundreds of thousands of pounds, and that they'd like to have a go. Most non-bus users I would doubt will really take a huge amount of notice of the branding "It's just another red bus". On the other hand though, are PCB keeping it red in this area for familiarity, so the people don't end up letting the vehicles go by thinking that they're being operated by another company. Although we all too often see passengers completely ignore the colour, route number and destination of a bus they put their hand out for, undoubtedly some of the more savvy users may be wary of a strangely coloured bus heading towards them. 

The next four operating on 'Blue Flash' service 12 will shortly commence service on the new route to Tavistock. 

Friday, 6 September 2013

Patched up PUI

Following on from the Snap on Sunday last week, the bus featured, PUI 6627 was unfortunately broken into whilst parked at it's overnight location one evening a couple of weeks ago. The handbrake was subsequently let off by the offender, and the bus careered down the hill and somewhat thankfully hit a tree rather than rolling into the road. This caused severe damage to various front body panels and the blind box, but luckily this was mostly cosmetic damage. Replacement body parts were sourced from one of Target Travel's withdrawn T reg Varios, and although in a somewhat sorry state, she is now back on the road. During this period no spare buses were available, so it was a case of make do and mend as quickly as possible to make sure service was maintained. A sterling effort by all involved, particularly under the circumstances. 

Sunday, 1 September 2013

Snap on Sunday

This week's Snap on Sunday comes from South East Cornwall on A-Line Coaches service 80, on which there are many lovely scenic photo opportunities available. This particular one is taken right at the top of Lower Anderton Road just before the junction to turn to Cremyll, with the backdrop of Insworke and Foss Quay. The relaxed atmosphere of the route is embodied in this instance by the driver pausing on his break to feed the horses which belong to the farm by which L813 SAE (PUI 6627) is parked. Nothing like a good rural Cornish bus route for harking back to old times!