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Special Guest Post: Looking at former London buses in Norfolk

We once again welcome Kieran Smith, author of Norwichbuses Blog, to write us a special guest post. This time he will be exploring the former London buses which have ended up in Norfolk.

Norfolk operators have long been subject to acquiring former London buses. Dominant operator, First (and it's NBC predecessor Eastern Counties), is renowned for being possibly the bottom of the First cascade system. In this post I will be sharing my own pictures of former London buses in their new life here in Norfolk.
Both Sanders and Anglianbus have taken on large batches of former Menzies and Metrobus Scania N94UB Omnicities. Sanders currently have nine of the type whilst Anglianbus operate five of the type. For exact details, fleetlists for all the operators mentioned in this post are available from my blog completely free of charge. These can be found here.
Since the Stagecoach takeover of Norfolk Green at the beginning of 2014 a number of new buses have been transferred into the fleet to meet new requirements for school contracts and to standardise the mechanical aspects of the fleet. Along with Alexander Dennis Enviro300s transferred from Stagecoach South, a batch of 2002 and 2003 registered Alexander ALX400 bodied Dennis Tridents have been drafted in from the London operation after their use at the commonwealth games in Glasgow earlier in the year. These bus operate alongside two similar models, 17605/17606 LV52HHP/R which were acquired from Stagecoach London before the takeover.
Former London Plaxton President bodied Volvo B7TLs and Dennis Tridents are also popular. Dominant operator First operate around sixty of the type transferred from London from 2010 onwards. The fleet currently operate on the "Norwich Network" and are all in the process of being repainted into the colours of their respective route. The above photograph depicts Dennis Trident/Plaxton President 33003 in its new Purple Line guise. In previous years Go-Ahead owned Konectbus were transferred Volvo based V301/3/7LGC for use as relief, backup and school buses. These were replaced by former Brighton and Hove East Lancs Lolynes, which were replaced this year by former London Central Wright Eclipse Gemini bodied Volvo B7TLs.
Thetford-based Coach Services have taken on three Volvo B7TL based Plaxton Presidents from London Central, in the shape of X509/47/89EGK respectively.
Currently operating 14 Transbus Trident/President buses on park and ride services is Norfolk County Council owned Norse Commercial Services who took on the type in 2010 with the contract renewal. The batch in concern are former Go-Ahead London Central PDL class motors on PN03UL* registrations. Unfortunately, PN03ULX was burnt to a crisp a few years ago and was unable to be recovered.
That's it from me here on The Circle of London Bus Blog. It's been an absolute pleasure to write for you and I sincerely hope you have enjoyed it. To keep with more of my work I've popped some links at the bottom of this post which you may find interesting:

Kieran Smith on Flickr | See Here
Norwichbuses Blog | See Here
Kieran Smith on Twitter | See Here

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Special Guest Post - Norwich: a parallel universe?

Today we welcome Kieran Smith to the blog who will be writing two special guest features looking at the relations between the London and Norwich bus scene. Kieran already runs his own blog for his local area, Norwichbuses Blog. To head over and check it out, follow this link.

Norwich – A parallel Universe?

I never have been a regular visitor to London, however, this year I found myself the area twice within one month. From this, I realised how different the London bus scene is to the comparably mundane happenings here in Norwich.
Norwich is served by three of the “big groups”, with Stagecoach’s Norfolk Green running in and out of Norwich up to every 30 minutes, First holding the dominance in the city and Go-Ahead’s Anglianbus and Konectbus subsidiaries holding a network of both city and county services. Along with this, independent Sanders Coaches hold a strong network out to North Norfolk with smaller independents running once a week and once a day services in to Norwich.  All in all there are just under 90 different services operating throughout the week. Most services run every twenty to thirty minutes, with a few fifteen minute frequencies. The most high profile route is First’s Blue Line 25 and 26 services, operating with a combined frequency of 8 minutes. To me, this sounds quite hectic; at least I thought that until my visits to London.

Is out of date an understatement?
With buses running up to every 3 minutes across a network of well over 1,000 services I was baffled at how not one person seemed lost and was struggling to find their bus. In Norwich, you couldn't count on your hands how many people there are wandering along Castle Meadow (One of the main bus boarding points in the city) attempting to find their bus, yet in London everybody seems to know what they are doing. I soon began to realise the reason behind this is how organised the bus infrastructure and information is; timetables in every stand, clear maps available and well organised and labelled stops. A number of stops in the Norwich suburbs have no or very out of date stop information, yet on an incomparably larger network decent information is somehow achieved. At a stop on a popular retail park a few miles east of the city centre, the stop information is now five years out of date, showing two services which now have not operated since the evening of September 2012.
Are revolutionary ideas such as NB4L tempting people
onto buses?
One of the busy stopping points for Norwich buses
The quality of the buses in London is also so much better than here in Norwich. In London, the Borismaster, Wright Gemini range and Optare products constantly being sourced for operators are clearly tempting passengers onto the buses, yet in Norwich, First (Norwich’s dominant operator) other than six new Wright Streetlite 10.8m DF buses new this month, the operator has seen no new vehicles since summer 2011 being delivered to the Norwich depots. So are Londoner’s tempted onto the buses as a result of their revolutionary technology and modern look? This point made me again realise just how different London’s attitude to bus travel is. In Norwich there is a pretty poor look onto the buses, their cleanliness and reliability. People hate them. Yet when speaking to somebody who recently moved to Norwich from East London, they could not have spoken more positively about the buses there. She told me she was shocked at how frequent her local service in Norwich operated and how old the bus operating it was; this particular route runs every 20 minutes and is operated by 2001-2002 registered Plaxton President bodied Dennis Tridents and Volvo B7TLs cascaded from London.
At the beginning of this year, the local authorities launched an Oyster style travel top up card called “Holdall”. The intention was to roll it out across all Norwich operators, yet with no operators wanting to jump on board it is only now used as a pre-pay method on council contracted Park and Ride services. On the subject of park and ride, nine of the buses owned by the council operating from three of the six sites are former London Transbus Presidents. If their attitude was to source newer buses for the services, would more people be willing to use the services – hence reducing congestion and pollution in the city centre streets?
All in all, the point of this article is to show how London’s excellent attitude towards the bus system has lead to such a positive and well organised structure. If we had this same attitude towards public transport in Norwich, would we have higher patronage?
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Route 7: East Acton to Oxford Circus (Timelapse Video)

Route 7 runs between East Acton and Oxford Circus, running parallel to the A404 (Westway), serving Hammersmith Hospital, Ladbroke Grove and Paddington in the process.

The Route is operated by Metroline from Perivale West Bus Garage (PA) using Volvo Wright Gemini 3 Hybrids (VWH's). The route is 7 miles long and has a Peak Vehicle Requirement (PVR) of 19. The Oxford Circus to Russell Square branch has now been removed, leaving 4 free buses from the batch of 23 VWH's. Some of these spare buses are now found mainly on Route 297.

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