DublinbusStuff goes Brum - 8th October 2009
The 8th of October saw DublinbusStuff head over for a view of Birminghams bustling bus operations. The 8th October also coincided with the Bus & Coach Show at the NEC arena. This years Bus & Coach was dissapointing, with very little on show, possibly due to BusWorld expo being held in Kortrijk, Belgium, about 8 days later.
Alexander Dennis Hybrid in a very vibrant livery at the Bus & Coach Show on the 8/10/2009.
Alexander Dennis Hybrid on the 8th October 2009.
An offside shot of the Alexander Dennis Hybrid at Bus & Coach.
Alexander Dennis Hybrid TEH919 in Metroline Livery inside Bus & Coach 2009 on the 8/10/2009.
By far and aware the most interesting thing at the event were the Hybrid/Environmental vehicles. Alexander Dennis had too of their Enviro400 hybrids, one dressed in red London livery. However as can be seen by this shot, the bright indoor lighting proved too much for my camera and the inside shots are quite noisy. The other notable vehicle was the electric powered Optare Solo EV.
The Optare Solo EV displayed at this years Bus & Coach seen on the 8/10/2009.
Optare also had the newly styled Optare Solo, the SR, on show.
Other things of note were Dawson Rentals ex London Trident, showing how the current market has turned against the 99 RVs, which were bought when low floor vehicles began to appear on the market. With second hand low floor vehicles available to rent or buy, these high floor deckers have much lower market value.
Dawson Rentals ex London Trident on show at Bus & Coach on the 8/10/2009.
An interesting atendee at the event were Autosan, a polish bus manufacturer. They brought along their long wheelbased interurban Eurolider.
Autosan Eurolider with the NEC in the background on the 8/10/2009.
A nearside (or is it offside, silly European driving system) shot of the Autosan Eurolider.
The NEC is a quick train journey into the heart of Birmingham City. National Express Travel West Midlands has what could be only described as a near monopoly but there are some other operators floating around spicing up the overall bus operations. Travel West Midlands is an interesting operator to observe for the day, with many different fleet types in their modern fleet, something sadly not the case in the modern Dublin Bus Fleet.
Alexander Dennis Enviro400, 4726, seen loading passengers on Bull Street prior to departure on the long haul 915 to Falcon Lodge on the /10/2009.
Scania Omnicity, 4781, observed on Moor Street offloading passengers on the 8/10/2009.
Volvo B7RLE Wright Urban, 1786, seen on the Priory Queensway operating Route 37 to Solihull Station on the 8/10/2009.
VolvoB7TL Alexander ALX400, 4517, observed loading passengers on route 31 to Gospel Oak on the 8/10/2009.
VolvoB7TL Wrights Gemini, 4686, retuning on the limited stop X51 service from Walsall, seen on Corporation Street on the 8/10/2009.
Birmingham is a city with many well known urban areas around it such as Solihull, Wolverhampton, Sutton Colfield and West Brom all of which act as hubs of local and city bound bus services. The 74 serves West Brom and time was ample to test a bus journey on 4290, a VolvoB7TL ALX400. What stood out on this journey was the stop start nature of it. With little or no bus provision on the main road to West Brom and bus stops that were literally yards apart, the bus didn't really get anywhere fast.
VolvoB7TL ALX400, 4290, seen in stance at the West Brom Bus Station on the 8/10/2009 operating from Birmingham to Dudley on the 8/10/2009.
Mercedes Benz 0415N number 1652, part of a sizeable fleet of these buses acquired by TWM, is seen loading at West Brom Bus Station on Route 80 to Brimingham via Smethwick on the 8/10/2009.
Though TWM buses vastly outnumber any of its rivals, or more specifically its rivals put together, there still is a good few other operators running services. Number 1017, KDZ 5805, a Dennis Dart, Wright Handybus is operated by Midland Rider, Oldbury, on their route 709 to Sandwell Colleges. This bus was previously operating by Travel West Midlands.
Dennis Dart Wright Handybus seen on Route 709 at West Brom Bus Station on the 8/10/2009.
Given the privatisation structure of bus operations in England, independents also operate buses on routes also operated by TWM. Routes 54 and 55 are both operated by TWM and interlaced to operate on an daytime frequency of every 10mins. However Claribels also operate route 55 on an every 20mins frequency, though not interlaced with the TWM 55 buses.
Calribels' Wright-bodied Daf SB220 on Corporation Street, before turning onto Bull Street to operate Route 55 to Chemsley Wood on the 8/10/2009.
Mercedes Benz 0415N, 1601, on Bull Street loading for a journey to Kingshurst on the 8/10/2009.
The only other major operators noted around Birmingham were Arriva operating the 110 to Tamworth on a 20 min daytime frequency and Stagecoach with their Megabus operation. Megabus is Stagecoach's low fare inter urban coach service, seemingly the bus form of Ryanair. However unlike Ryanair, Megabus have actually managed to operate in Canada and the USA. No need to acquaire Air Lingus either. With fares from as low as a pound you'd expect a petrol gussling 40 year old coach to be in service, however modern coaches are all the go.
Arriva Midland North's, 4206, a Wright Eclipse Gemini loading on Bull Street on the 110 to Tamworth on the 8/10/2009.
Stagecoach's Plaxton Panther bodied Volvo B12, 54058, seen laying over on Priory Queensway on the 8/10/2009.
The rear of 54058 showing the jolly Megabus man logo.
Often quoted as the most frequenct bus service in Europe Route 50 is Travel West Midlands flagship operating to Druid's Heath. The service is quite frequenct with every 5mins daytime service from TWM and BCC Diamond chipping in with a bus every 15mins. However we'll leave it to the statiticians to work out if those rumours are true as it has become a bit of an urban legend.
Envrio400-bodied Dennis, 4745, at route 50's Moor Street terminus loading for a trip to Druids Heath on the 8/10/2009.
The piece de resistance has been left to last and thats Travel West Midlands dwindelling fleet of MCW Metrobuses. A bus synonomous with Birmingham, there days are numbered in the TWM fleet and currently number less than fifty. Fully withdrawn from Coventy in July, a full withdrawal in Walsall expected by 27th November, they're not expected to last long into 2010. This bus so nearly became the bus for Dublin back in the late 80's, however the Olympian won out. Was it the fact that they didn't get the order, but MCW owned by the Laird group decided to sell their bus manufacturing business, with Optare and DAF buying the rights to make the Metrobus, reworking it into the Optare Spectra.
Mark 2 MCW Metrobus 2085 seen on Corporation Street on Route 52 to Perry Beaches on the 8/10/2009.
MCW Metrobus MKII, 3034, operating Route 46 to Perry Barr seen loading on Bull Street on the 8/10/2009.
MCW Metrobus MKII, 3034, seen on Old Square much earlier in the day at around lunch time. 3034 was the only Metrobus noted in service during the day with the rest operating Peak Hour duties into Birmingham City Centre only.
MCW Metrobus, 3070, seen on Old Square heading to Bull Street to take up duty on the 107 to Sutton Coldfield.
MCW Metrobus MKII operating Route 107 to Sutton Coldfield on Bull Street on the 8/10/2009.