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Monday, 27 December 2010

Metroline TAs through the years...Farewell (12 Part Picture Special)

TA68 T68KLD is seen here boarding passengers at Arnos
Grove. Picture (c) John Delaney in 2003
In 1999 Metroline placed an order for 52 Alexander ALX400 bodied Trident 2 buses following the retaining of routes 16,140 and 182. TA66 - 81 were allocated to Cricklewood for the 16 and TA82 - 117 were allocated to Harrow Weald for the 140 and 182. The new ALX400s were the first of the body type for the company. These routes being some of Metroline's 'high' profile routes this body was ordered in preference to their seemingly favourite Plaxton President body, this move also proved efficient as the 9.9m Buses had a seating capacity of 63 and their high back coach style Lazzerini seats ensured that passengers had a comfortable ride when on board these buses. The Buses also featured tinted windows which were perfect for any weather conditions not to mention the sliding windows that made use of the non abundant breeze of a 'sizzling' hot day!

TA205 T205CLO in 2002. Photo (c) Peter Horrex
In 2000 these wonderful vehicles were still look 'as good as new' and apart from a few fleet shuffles within Cricklewood and Harrow Weald Garage there were no major movements for these Buses, which was uncharacteristic of Metroline who are renown for shuffling their Buses like a 'pack' of cards'. However this would not last long..... Most of these TAs would go to HT (Holloway) for maintenance as it was Metroline's head engineering facility at the time.

TA97 T197CLO is seen here on the Route 140 at Heathrow
Airport in 2001. Photo (c) John Delaney
As I said before the movements of these vehicles would not last long. As in 2001 Metroline ordered 17  brand new long wheelbase Alexander ALX400
bodied Trident 2s similar to the TA, they were numbered TAL118 - 134 and surprisingly had a different specification to their older sisters.The new Buses were ordered for Metroline's most valuable Route 16 which runs from Cricklewood Bus Garage to Victoria Station, via the affluent Mayfair. The introduction of these new Buses on the 16 now meant that TA66 - 81 that were initially ordered for the Route 16 were made redundant, however not for long. In Autumn of 2001 they were put to good use on the Route 32 which runs from Kilburn Park Station to Edgware. These TAs phased out the last of the knackered MCW Metrobuses at Cricklewood Garage.

TA105 T205CLO seen at Barnet Odeon. Photo (c)
Peter Horrex
In 2002 Metroline were back up to their old tricks again however this time, through no fault of their own. When the Route 263 contract was retained by Metroline from Potters Bar Garage with existing vehicles, TAs were chosen by the company to be used on the Route. TA99 - 117 were the chosen vehicles. However this now meant that there was a big gap for both Harrow Weald. Nevertheless this was not to be a problem as Metroline brought in 19 long wheelbase Plaxton President bodied Trident 2s (TPL) to fill the void left by the departure of these vehicles. 

TA84 T184CLO on the 182 at Harrow Bus Station. Photo
(c) John Delaney. 2003.
In 2003 the decision was made to transfer to the 263 operation to Holloway Garage (HT) and give it its own batch of Plaxton President bodied Trident 2s. This now meant that the TAs could now return to Harrow Weald (HD) however instead of HD just having TAs they would also retain the some of the TPLs. Most of the TPLs did go in the opposite direction to Potters Bar (PB). However Metroline had now intermixed the batch of TAs so W allocated TAs started appearing at HD and vice versa. Later that year Metroline took on the delivery of 55 Plaxton President bodied Trident 2s for W routes 16, 139 and 189. This new Buses were classed as TPs (Trident President) and numbered TP348- 402 Again this now meant the TAs on the 32 were made redundant and were replaced with the TALs.

TA94 T194CLO seen in Wembley. Photo (c)
John Delaney. 2004.
In 2004 Metroline placed an order for 25 Plaxton bodied Volvo B7TLs to be delivered to HD for the Routes 140 and H12, the numbers were to be VP604 - 628, 628 being the unique one of the batch sporting powerblinds. When the delivery of these Vehicles commenced in April that year the 19 TPLs were then sent to PB also 6 TAs went to W to act as spares. The TAs at HD stayed put and were more commonly seen on the 182 as the caption to the right shows.

TA83 T183CLO on the 182 at Wembley. Photo (c)
John Delaney. 2004.
In 2005 the contract for the 266 had been announced, it was good news for Metroline as they had retained it from Cricklewood (W) with brand new Buses.Metroline opted for TAs, that April 22 TAs were delivered and the numbered between TA638 - 659, ironically the contract specified 25 vehicles for the route, so Metroline had to take on permanent transfer 3 TAs from HD to act as the remaining three buses for the 266. Pretty silly of Metroline to order only 22 Buses for a contract that specifies 25 Buses.

TA109 V309GLB Photo (c) Peter Horrex. 2007.
In 2006, Metroline had started to do a bit paintwork on the now ageing buses and the majority of them had their blue skirts lowered to match the new April 2004 livery for Metroline. This was done by painting over the white band with red paint up until the blue skirt. This gave the buses a more attractive appearance. However there were no blind updates as expected.
TA73 T43KLD on the 189 at Baker Street
Photos (c) Peter Horrex 2007
2007 proved to be a major year in the Metroline TAs lifespan. In June of that year Metroline had decided that VP331 - 347 where to transfer permanently out from HT (Holloway) to HD (Harrow Weald) to join their sisters vehicles VP317 - 330. This would mean that Harrow Weald would then have the complete set of 52 Reg VPs. However there was a void left by these buses upon their transfer from HT and HD were left with too many vehicles. So the surplus TAs transferred to W and this released some TPs from W to transfer to HT. In addition to this some TAs were also sent to PV (Perivale East) for light storage until the following February.

TA87 T87KLD on the Route 210 at Golders Green.
Photo (c) Peter Horrex. 2010.
On February the 16th 2008 it was announced that Metroline had retained the contract for the Route 210 (Brent Cross - Finsbury Park), the new contract specified existing Double Decks and once again Metroline chose the TAs from W and some stored examples at PV. The Buses were stripped down and repainted in house at CELF. The Route was to be operated by PA (Perivale West) however some TAs did escape on to the Route 297  (Ealing Broadway - Willesden Bus Garage) including TA83. The frequency was reduced from 19 to 16 following the extra capacity the TAs gave in comparison to the Darts that were previously used.

TA90 T190CLO on Route 210 at Brent Cross.
Photo (c) Peter Horrex. 2010
In February 2009 the decision was made to transfer the 210 operation and its vehicles W and the move took place on the 17th of March 2009. The decision was made due to two factors, number one: Cricklewood would now be the only Garage to operate ALX400 bodied buses, therefore making for easier maintenance and the location of Cricklewood Garage is closer to both of the Route 210's termini therefore making for better running and loss of dead mileage which of course saves diesel and money.

Ex Metroline TA75 T75KLD at Ensign Bus's yard in Rainham
Photos (c) Bob Stranger 2010
In 2010, the contracts for the Routes 16,139,189 and 210 were all retained by Metroline with new Buses. This signalled the end of the TAs at Metroline and the decision was made to store them until further notice.The new Buses ordered were 41 Alexander Dennis Enviro 400s, with 10 of them being Hybrids. Numbered between TE1073 - 1104 and TEH1105 - 1115.The Buses were set to be delivered in July for the start of the new contracts however only by mid July only three buses had been delivered to Cricklewood, these being TE1073, TE1074 and TE1075. They duly entered service that August however this meant that TAs had to remain in service until December 2010, whilst the newer TEs were arriving from ADL Falkirk and Guildford. Prior to this in July 2010 an arrangement had been made between Metroline and Ensign Bus that the TAs, TA66 - 117 would be sold to them. When this sad news finally reached the public eye in October 2010 enthusiasts from far and wide were disappointed as I have say these were the best ever Buses to be operated by Metroline and in my humble opinion the best ALX400 Trident 2s in the World. Please beg to differ!

We hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as we enjoyed writing it. Below is some photo memorabilia from the TAs time at Metroline.The photos are provided by John Delaney and Peter Horrex.

Metroline TA88 T188 CLO on the 140 at Harrow Bus Station whils serving the 140 in 2003
Metroline TA68 T68 KLD on Oxford Street whilst serving the 189 in 2010. 
Metroline TA70 T73KLD at London Business School whilst operating on the 189 to Brent Cross in 2004
Metroline TA88 T188 CLO seen here Hayes & Harlington whilst opering on the 140 to Heathrow Airport
Metroline TA84 T184 CLO seen departing Harrow Bus Station bound for Harrow Weald on the 182
TA117 V317 GLB seen on Oxford Street whilst operating on the 82 in 2002
TA102 T202 CLO seen here in Finchley whilst operating on the 263 in 2003
TA103 V203 GLB seen in Whetstone on the 263 en route Barnet Hospital in 2003
TA109 V309 GLB seen here on the 82 at Golders whilst on the 82 in 2002
TA109 V309 GLB seen here at Trafalgar Square on the 139 in 2006

Photo Apprecations. The Circle of London Blog would like to thank the following, for providing us with these excellent pictures.

  • Peter Horrex
  • Bob Strangler
  • John Delaney 


at: Monday, December 27, 2010 12:50:00 pm said...

Thanks you for the info about these lovely buses.
Do you think you can do a 10 part special for the

Jamaal says:
at: Monday, December 27, 2010 4:03:00 pm said...

I will do later on in 2011 when they are withdrawn, it will be on the original TPs, TP1 - 65 as they are facing the axe very soon.

at: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 12:01:00 am said...

i agree with you, that the tridents that metroline operated were brilliant buses, but i am glad they have found a new home with ensignbus and hopefully they have a few more years of service in them. I will most probably see these brilliant buses on rail replacement services round my area.

regards sam.

P.S absolutely brilliant 12 part special on these buses, i have thourougly enjoyed reading about them.

Jack says:
at: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 12:59:00 am said...

A Very Touching Blog Entry
Very Infromative And One Of The Best Blogs To Date
Brilliant Work Jamaal

Jamaal says:
at: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 2:52:00 pm said...

Much appreciated Jack, took about two days to sort the information ect.

Sam again much appreciated. Word is that the TAs are only going to be at Ensign temporarily, Ensign are aiming to sell them on.

dan15003 says:
at: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 3:29:00 pm said...

A very good informative work Jamaal. Well done!

One extra info going back in 2002 is that TAs for 263 also appeared on non commercial route 84 mainly on Sundays.


Fred the Shred
at: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 4:47:00 pm said...

Really enjoyed the article and I knew it wouldn't dissapoint me!!
I was always led to belive that new TPL's were ordered for the 263 but were found to be too long thus the TA's from HD in the batch you describe were sent instead,and route 140 got the much needed extra capacity.
When the 263 got transferred to HT, they didn't like or want the TA's thus TP's 404-418 only just new to W were sent to HT for the 263 and W got the batch TA99-117 plus TA72 back again from PB!!

Jamaal says:
at: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 6:06:00 pm said...

Thanks Dan and Thanks Fred.

Those TAs, have been pretty much everywhere.

I remember TA83 found its way to PV in 2008.

I'm going to miss these Buses, these are my all time favourite Buses!


at: Sunday, January 30, 2011 12:28:00 am said...

The Metroline TA's are the best Tridents.
Until March 2011 all of them will leave London.
Nice description of the TA's.

Jamaal says:
at: Tuesday, February 01, 2011 12:07:00 am said...

Thank you, your comments are much appreciated!

at: Thursday, April 21, 2011 12:34:00 am said...

Do you think you could do this for the EVL's and LDP's of london general please

at: Friday, December 23, 2011 6:26:00 pm said...

My favorite Tridents are the 52 reg ones operated by Stagecoach London. Their doors are right in front of the staircase exit, making it easier to get out from the upper deck. And also their engine sound is great.

Peter Horrex says:
at: Saturday, January 07, 2012 12:57:00 pm said...

Hi. Just to say that one of the photos above (TA205 T205CLO in 2002) you have credited to John Delaney but was actually taken by myself.

Excellent article by the way.


at: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 9:35:00 am said...

drove these TAs for many years out of harrow weald. things liked most from these. staircase was directly at back doors for quick exit. aircon above head so very nice on the hot days blowing cold air on your head. the kickdown and the tinted windows. ta 81 used to fly like a rocket

ben bitek omarch says:
at: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 12:09:00 pm said...

all of the good buses in London are always replaced at such short notice by these stupid boring enviro 200s and 400s.they are cramped and have the tightest of legroom, who agrees with me?

ben bitek omarch says:
at: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 12:13:00 pm said...

why do all the good buses have to be replaced by the ever so boring enviro 200 and 400s?!

at: Thursday, August 02, 2012 3:28:00 pm said...

I slightly agree as I think Alexander Dennis could make an up to date verson which looks like the ALX 200/400.

When is the next post???

MetrolineJack :D

at: Friday, August 03, 2012 10:32:00 pm said...

yes the news metroline is geting new double decker for the routes 113 date is 3/march/2013 and the 240 tbc

at: Saturday, August 04, 2012 5:39:00 pm said...

113 is getting TE's after the olympics and 240 is getting 05 reg TA (from 266).

at: Thursday, July 18, 2013 4:04:00 pm said...

Those buses were great they had the sliding window which is much more better in hot weather then the normal windows like on the E400 also the bus was relible it is a shame that they don't work anymore on route 182

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