Tuesday, 6 December 2016

London Bus Oddity – Mixed operators on route 60

This is an update to my original article titled ‘The Oddities of London Buses’. I decided to catalogue the events in separate articles.

I’ll use the sources below to show you the trouble with Route 60 after Capital Logistics won the contract back in 1998.

Extract from London Bus Page (via Archive Wayback Machine)

The 29th August 1998 programme had route 60 withdrawn between Streatham Common and Streatham Hill and extended from South Croydon Garage to Old Coulsdon in a twin aim to replace the 50 over that section and to supplant route 109 as the main cross-Croydon carrier. It was also tendered and intended to be transferred from Arriva London South to Capital Logistics. The latter company had become well-known in distant Uxbridge as successful tenders for the U3 as well as taking over route 726 from London Coaches. However, things started to go wrong when the already ambitious plans for this distant new operator to find a base and source new vehicles in less than six months fell behind. They could not start as scheduled, so subcontracted the route to Stagecoach Selkent, who had buses spare following the loss of key Bromley garage routes 119 and 320 to Metrobus. Selkent in turn subcontracted to Blue Triangle, who used a mix of classic and modern buses.

Capital Logistics were given until the next major change date to get their act together. 23rd January 1999 saw large changes taking place in Woolwich and Bromley, and Selkent needed its drivers back for work on a revitalised network there. The buses, sixteen low-floor DAF DB250LFs, were now in build, but growing impatient, London Transport Buses stripped Capital Logistics of the contract and awarded it to an untried company known as Driver Express, trading as Omnibus London. The new buses would now pitch up with them on 23rd January - but they couldn't make the date either. The new timetable was withdrawn and replaced by an emergency issue with fifteen-minute headways, and a mind-blowing variety of operators stepped in to provide the service, producing what has got to be the most fascinating operation in a long time.

Extract from London Bus Routes

There was then a rumour that a company called Driver Express — of which nobody had probably heard — would take on the route, together with the outstanding order for 16 DAF DB250LFs, although initially hired buses would be used. Driver Express had a small fleet of coaches and was also into driver training. But on the day the company had just one bus ready, an un-repainted former Reading Transport MCW Metrobus. Instead an emergency 15-minute frequency (instead of 12-minute) timetable was drawn up by Blue Triangle, and the duties were covered by whoever could supply buses and drivers, in the manner of rail replacement work.
Thus buses were operated by Blue Triangle of Rainham, Capital Citybus of Dagenham, Nostalgiabus of Mitcham, Classic Coaches of High Wycombe, Stagecoach East London and Selkent, and Sidney Road Travel of Potters Bar, as well as Driver Express helping out to a limited extent until giving up early in February. Metrobuses, Titans, Fleetlines, Dennis Dominators, Leyland and Volvo Olympians and Leyland Nationals were all to be seen regularly, and more unlikely types included AEC Routemasters, Mercedes minibuses and a Leyland Tiger coach. The 60 was thus quite aptly named as a “working museum” by cynics!

The full timetables that had been displayed at stops since September with Capital Logistics as the operator were then replaced by notices regretting that “Due to circumstances beyond London Transport’s control ...” there was now a temporary timetable. It gave no bus timings, but hopefully first and last timings were the same as previously and people could remember them. Later this was replaced by a more informative one giving first and last times and warning that “Route 60 may be operated by a variety of types of buses in different liveries to usual ... All will, however, be clearly marked with route 60 identification” ... but in many cases, unsurprisingly, no destinations. Some of the operators managed more than others, some managing full proper blinds. Nostalgiabus helpfully put up notices in their buses explaining that drivers and buses had been assembled at very short notice by a consortium of small operators and that any shortcomings were not the fault of the driver.

This continued until around mid-March when at last Capital Logistics, which had by then taken back responsibility for the operation, was able to take the route over in full. Although the buses — 16 DAFs with a mixture of Plaxton and Optare bodywork — had been finished a couple of months earlier they had for some reason been stored until this time. Buses were operated from a new base in Commerce Way, next door to the Arriva Croydon & North Surrey Beddington depot. But almost immediately Capital Logistics was bought up by Tellings-Golden Miller! There was however no change to begin with.

Then on 4th March 2000, Arriva London South won back the route 60 contract.

This shows the disadvantages of the London Bus contracting system because it passes the responsibility of operating a service to a private bus company.

Still, it’s interesting to see different bus companies operating the same London Bus route.

Currently there are two bus routes which have separate school journeys operated by a different bus company.

Route 150 which goes from Becontree Heath to Chigwell Row - the full main service is operated by Arriva. Go Ahead Blue Triangle operates a shortened school journey in the afternoon which runs from Becontree Heath and terminates at Gants Hill Station.

TFL tenders the school journey as a separate contract, hence the reason Go Ahead Blue Triangle operate the school service.

Route 405 which runs from West Croydon Bus Station to Redhill Bus Station - the full main service is operated by Go Ahead Metrobus. Arriva operates a two morning short school journeys from West Croydon Bus Station and terminates early at Purley Cross. There is one return afternoon journey which goes from Purley Cross to West Croydon St Michael's Road.

Looking at Flickr, I’ve found some photos of other bus companies operating route 60 during the late 1990’s.

I’ve also found a Flickr album which shows a variety of buses on route 60.

Keep an eye on my site as when I find more London Bus oddities I will publish more articles.

As always, I invite you to follow me on Twitter and Google Plus which is @CLondoner92

More articles on London Bus oddities:


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