Sunday, 7 September 2014

From Rattles To Smoothness, From One Good Type To Another

    The conversion of the best bus route in London was a very exciting but sad period. It used to be worked by Scania OmniCity's, which were very bumpy, but everything else about the type was superb, and they suited the route very much.

Note that these buses used to have yellow blinds, but they were substituted for white blinds, when these buses departed the 205, and found a new home (see at the end of the post).
    61-reg Enviro 400 Hybrid's from the 15 also appeared on the route before the conversion in early August. The 61-reg buses have a green interior, which I am very fond of, and I'm disappointed not to find it on any other Stagecoach hybrid.

       My experience on one of these buses was brilliant. The bus was bright, despite it being pretty full, and the view of many landmarks on City Road and Pentonville Road was brilliant. It was after this experience, when the 205 became my favourite route, and the 7 got dropped because of its horrible Gemini 3's that are dark and claustrophobic. Thankfully, it's returned to Russell Square! I'd only been on the 205 between Aldgate and Paddington, but I loved that part of the route so much, it became my favourite, despite me not knowing what lay between Aldgate East and Bow Bus Garage.
     The sole other type of bus to appear on the 205 was the Alexander Trident/ALX400. Now, this was one of my least favourite double deck types, probably because they can get extremely hot inside and the views from the front window are restricted because of a pole. I didn't get a chance to ride one of these buses on the 205, but I could tell that the Scania's and Enviro's suited the route better.

  Now that the new  Enviro Hybrids have been introduced, all ALX400s except for one have departed Bow. They used to be allocated to routes 8 and 277, but both routes now have newer buses on them. I was going to miss the Scania OmniCity's, but the Euro 6 Enviro 400 Hybrids the 205 was about to receive looked promising. Scania OmniCity's are still appearing on the route today, as they are still at Bow, but working a different route. The contract renewal did take place on Saturday 30th August 2014, but new buses started to enter service in mid-June. My blog assistant managed to catch up with 12308 at Paddington Station one Friday evening. The same bus broke down earlier in the week!

Here it is, at the Cleveland Terrace bus stand in Paddington. Can you see the Crossrail works on Eastbourne Terrace behind.

The rear.
   On Saturday 21st June, I decided to test out these new Hybrids between Aldgate and Paddington.

12305 arrives at Aldgate Station.

 The buses were bright inside, and the seats were extremely deep and comfortable. I forgot I was on a bus for one moment! As the bus completed the journey to Paddington, I was very impressed. The buses were clean, comfortable, and had extremely quick acceleration. Passing many areas of London I love, like Shoreditch, Old Street, Kings Cross and Marylebone, I was extremely impressed. It was definitely my favourite route, by quite a margin!

iBus on 12305.

One of the new Enviro's follows a Black Routemaster on the 8, another route to gain new buses at Bow. Behind the buses is the London Overground bridge in Shoreditch.
12306, in Old Street.
  On Thursday 28th August, I decided to ride the route end to end, to see what was between Aldgate and Bow Church.

Upstairs interior.

Downstairs rear interior.
My bus, was a new Enviro 400 Hybrid, although two 61-reg's and a Scania were also on the route that day. The new Enviro's were having a day out on routes 8, 15 and 277. The N205 has also received these new buses, so I'm sure late night clubbers will take care of them.
   After waiting a few minutes at Cleveland Terrace, I boarded 12317, and sat upstairs, at the front, on the left. The bus was on a diversion when I boarded, and it used both Westbourne and Eastbourne Terrace to get to Paddington Station. The bus sped along Eastbourne Terrace, passing the diggers working on Crossrail tunnels, taking advantage of not having any other means of transport on the road.
My bus, at Cleveland Terrace.

       The bus loaded up at Paddington Station, and then went down Praed Street to reach Edgware Road Station. 12317 got stuck behind a 27 at Edgware Road, but eventually ADH43 moved off and the Stagecoach Enviro chased it in hot pursuit. However, at Marylebone Station, the 205 detours to stop directly outside the station, whilst the 27 just continues straight down Marylebone Road to reach Baker Street. The 27 wasn't in sight once 12317 had left the station forecourt. Surprisingly, there wasn't much traffic on Marylebone Road, unlike in the evening peak, where the traffic can tail back all the way from Paddington-Kings Cross. Obviously, everyone was either on holiday, or visiting Madame Tussauds, where the queue was as horrible as ever. As the bus got to Great Portland Street Station, I watched a not in service Tower Transit Enviro 400 use the Euston Underpass as a shortcut to reach Euston. I wish the 205 could use it, but then it wouldn't stop at Warren Street, where I have boarded and alighted this route many times.
    After spending a long time at Euston Bus Station picking up passengers, the bus manoeuvred itself through Grafton Place, a very narrow street which many buses use to reach Kings Cross Station. The bus was very busy by that point, and remained this busy until Angel, where many people alighted for Chapel Market, and the Northern Line tube. City Road was empty, allowing the bus to omit stops and move pretty fast until Moorfields Eye Hospital, where the bus picked up more passengers. Weaving through the back streets of Shoreditch, an area which I love, the bus reached Liverpool Street, where nearly all the passengers got off. All the tall, curved buildings came into view and from the top deck and they looked beautiful. I love most bus routes that enter the City Of London, mostly because of the views of the buildings. Through Aldgate, and more narrow streets, our bus got stuck behind a 25, which is a very frequent but overcrowded route that follows the 205 from Aldgate to Bow Church. There wasn't much to see around Mile End, but as I'd never been to the area before, it was still fascinating. Mile End Road was deserted, and the bus sped through Whitechapel and Stepney Green before overtaking two 25s and the 205 I just misssed at Paddington. The bus was empty, with only one other passenger on the top deck that I didn't know. Surprisingly, Bow Church Station isn't the last stop, and I alighted at Bow Bus Garage, which the 205 uses to turn buses around. I love this route, and it will certainly remain the best for many years to come.

A Hybrid blinded for the 8 inside Bow Bus Garage.

A line up of buses at the garage.
  Footnote: So, what happened after the 205 gained its new Enviro Hybrid's? The Scania OmniCity's went to the 277, to replace all the ALX400s at Bow.

In Leamouth, is an ex-205 Scania OmniCity. There are some strange stop names in this area: Nutmeg Lane, Clove Crescent, Oregano Drive. And, they're all consecutive stops!

A line up of buses on stand. The sole ALX400 still at Bow is between them.
  Now that the Scania's have been re-blinded, they have also been appearing on the 15:

Here is one at Trafalgar Square. Appearances still remain quite rare, though.
 Thank you for reading, and sorry for another large gap between posts! Posts will be this infrequent now, sadly.