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Saturday, 10 December 2011

All Change Route 207! Last of the Bendy Bus Routes in London

December 10th 2011 was a day remember for all London Bus enthusiasts as it marked the day the last of the 'Bendybus routes' in London was converted back to Double Deck operation. Originally introduced on the 9th of December 1960, the Route 207 ran between Shepherd's Bush Green and Uxbridge Station along the whole of the 13mile gateway that is Uxbridge Road.

First London SN36038 YR61 RRV on the 207 at White City
© David McKay

The lengthy route required a PVR of 35 Buses to run from London Transport's Uxbridge Base. Initially using Routemasters, in 1970 the route was converted to one-man-operation using some Damilar DMS Class Buses however due to reliability problems with these Buses, the route was converted back to Routemaster operation until 1987 when some state of the art MCW Metrobus' vehicles were introduced. The Metrobus' continued to run the route for another 14 years until they were replaced with new buses in 2001.

The new vehicles came in the form of 48 Plaxton President bodied Trident 2 buses (TNL), the vehicles were all locally registered at DVLA's Stanmore office. The vehicles settled in nicely on the route and were well received by passengers on the route who were used to the ageing Metrobus'. However they were deemed unsuitable for West London's busiest Bus route and plans for a capacity increase along the route arose....With all this came doubts over whether the TNLs would continue on the route...Perhaps the introduction of six Wright Fusion & Gemini bodied Volvo B7RLE bendybuses on the route could have been an indication as to what TFL were planning to do next with the Route 207.

The six bendybuses came from First's Manchester operations and introduced on the 207 as part of a six month trial to see how the route coped with these buses. The vehicles of course had the 'Barbie' livery applied. Although one example AV1 Y151 ROT was repainted in London colours. The six Buses were operated from Greenford Garage (G). The six month trial was deemed a success by TFL and they quickly announced that upon next tender the Route 207 would be the next route in London to be converted to bendybus operation. Little was known that the success of the bendybuses on this route would pave the way for another 12 routes in London to switch to this type of bus known as the 'artic' which would also include near enough 500 vehicles.

In Autumn 2004 TFL announced that First had retained Route 207 brand new state of the art bendybuses. The buses would come in the form of 35 Mercedes Citaro Artic Buses. A new base in Hayes was opened and on the 9th Of April 2005, First began running the Route 207. However upon the introduction of the bendies, would see the 207 cut between Uxbridge and Hayes By Pass and a new Route introduced between Acton High Street and Uxbridge Station, numbered 427.  The reason for thus, owed to the fact the bendies would be incapable of navigating the narrow streets of Uxbridge. The new route 427 would require 20 TNLs straight from the old 207 allocation and the 607 was also upgraded to this type too, gaining 20 of the 48 vehicles that previously operated on the 207.

The bendies proved a successful people mover, with over 149 people on the move at a time as opposed to 87, however three doors meant that fare evasion was a common problem.  This meant TFL were making losses. When new mayor Boris Johnson was elected in 2008, he was keen to eradicate this problem and he swiftly announced that all bendybuses in London were to be axed by late 2011 and he certainly stuck to his word.

In early 2011  TFL announced that First had retained the 207 contract once again for another 4 years, however this time using 35 double deck vehicles. Although First threw us a shock with the ordering of the new Scania Omnicitys, they were delivered on time and were ready for service and on the 10th of December First began running the route 207 with 35 new Scania Omnicity double deckers. This was the last of the bendybus routes in London to be 'de-bendifeid' and the significance of this day had enthusiasts flocking from near and far to gain their pictures of what the 207 looked like prior to this day and what it will be looking like from this day forward.

First London SN36048 YR61 RTO on the 207 at White City
© David McKay

The new Buses were built in Poland and then shipped over to Hull Docks before being evaluated at Scania Hull and Scania Worksop (Nottingham), the first of the vehicles were delivered to Hayes Garage (HS) in late October and testing began the following week. A large number of the vehicles were stored at Scania Heathrow prior to being delivered to Hayes Garage.

First London SN36038 YR61 RRV on the 207 at White City
© David McKay

I must say the vehicles are a welcome addition to the streets of London which seem to be very boring and very unvaried. Credit to Dave McKay for providing the photos used in this post and I sincerely hope you enjoyed reading it.


at: Sunday, December 11, 2011 9:43:00 am said...

I'm upset that 207's bendies are gone 207 should have stayed bendy so as 507/521

at: Sunday, December 11, 2011 11:22:00 am said...

"Originally tendered on the 9th of December 1960"

Tendering only started in London in 1985.

Jay says:
at: Sunday, December 11, 2011 1:01:00 pm said...

Much appreciated Mr Anonymous!

at: Sunday, December 11, 2011 1:03:00 pm said...

So have some of the bendies ended up in York?

at: Sunday, December 11, 2011 9:07:00 pm said...

tendering started in london in 1984 london buslines won the first route to be tendered

at: Monday, December 12, 2011 12:30:00 am said...

London Buslines were one of the first yes. They took over the 81 on 13 July 1985. Eastern National started on the tendered 193 on the same day.

Tom Harrison says:
at: Monday, December 12, 2011 5:47:00 am said...

They certainly look the part, excellent write up too, very informative indeed.

at: Monday, December 12, 2011 12:54:00 pm said...

Happy to see the of the bendy buses in London, although a good idea they are just not suitable for London streets.

Route 12 is much better since its change in November.

By the way anybody know whats happened to the post your routes page?

Jay says:
at: Tuesday, December 13, 2011 9:46:00 pm said...

I removed the post your routes page due to the crazy amount of idiotic comments.

at: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 6:54:00 pm said...

Don't those roundels look small?

at: Thursday, December 15, 2011 4:43:00 pm said...

@Anonymous, they look very small, and it feels crazy for First to irder Omnicitys.

@Jay, I can't believe you removed the post your routes page. Why don't you open a new post your routes page and we'll see how good the comments are, shall we?

LU94 says:
at: Saturday, December 17, 2011 12:27:00 pm said...

Jammal when will you do Sutton Garage?

at: Friday, December 14, 2012 3:54:00 pm said...

the bendy buses were the best bus in london when they were in service I would always have a ride on route 29 but I have to say lots of people were not paying the fare

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