|Sullivan Buses E77 arrives at Waltham Cross Bus Station on a route 217 journey from Turnpike Lane Station.|
The batch of brand new ADL Enviro 400 MMC diesel double deckers (the last non-hybrids to enter service in London) arrived early, allowing them to venture onto route 298 before the contract change, to iron out any teething issues. Sullivan Buses have ordered personalised number plates for the vehicles, with the last three letters "SUL" abbreviating the company name, and the first two letters standing for the initials of drivers who work for the company. The vehicles will also contain posters documenting the history of route 217, suggesting that Sullivan Buses really take pride in their brand new batch of E400s. The first day produced a poor service, with lots of bunching and curtailments - at one point there wasn't a single bus heading towards Turnpike Lane, although the customary accident along the A10 wasn't helpful for the controllers.
Since the contract change, the service has improved slightly, but the company are evidently still struggling with this service, a massive step up from the much quieter 298 and W9. Having said that, customer service is brilliant, with lots of friendly staff members, such as the driver of E77 on Saturday 29th July 2017. The route itself is fairly interesting, passing through a mixture of residential and commercial areas at high speed along the dual carriageway. The extremely tight running times in the early morning hours mean that a fast-paced journey is guaranteed, with drivers struggling to keep up to their schedule! The buses themselves (E70-E81) seem to be a little underpowered from my limited observations, but I'm sure they will be popular with enthusiasts as the last diesel double deckers to enter service in London! Occasionally, other double deck vehicles found at South Mimms (SM) garage have strayed onto the route, such as the Scania OmniCity buses normally allocated to school work. It seems that Sullivan Buses are trying their hardest to improve service levels and I think they will get there eventually; we must remember that running a major trunk route between two town centres for the first time isn't easy!
|Metroline Travel DEM1351 stands at Millbrook Park, before starting another 382 journey to Southgate.|
On Saturday 15th July 2017, Metroline took over the contract for route 382, with some existing ADL Enviro 200 DEM-class single deckers based at Potters Bar (PB) garage, made available from the loss of the W9 to Sullivan Buses earlier in the year. As usual, the first day produced a terrible service, with constant bunching and curtailments, even worse than the previous operator. Thankfully, this was only temporary and since then the service has improved drastically, with buses generally maintaining an even service. Hopefully, local residents are grateful for their new-found reliable service and longer buses, which should make travelling on the 382 much easier, if Metroline can keep up their excellent work.
The route itself isn't that interesting, passing through lots of residential areas that look fairly similar to each other. Additionally, the DEM-class single deck buses have astonishingly powerful heating, which might be useful in the colder months, but managed to almost send me to sleep last week! As there weren't enough ex-W9 vehicles to cover the Peak Vehicle Requirement for routes 382 and 384, a couple of DEM-class single deckers have transferred over from Alperton (ON) garage, the only other Metroline garage with this type of vehicle, with some longer DE-class E200 buses replacing them in West London. I wish good luck to Metroline for the next five years, who have become the second operator to attempt running this rather neglected route in North London.
|Metroline West DEM1916, one of the recent transfers from Alperton (ON) garage, is seen at Barnet Hospital on route 384.|
Even though the routeing is heavily residential and quite mundane at times, the sheer number of twists and turns make this route quite unique, especially as they are all concentrated in one small part of Barnet. Most of these indirect routes are forgotten by transport enthusiasts, but this one is famous for destroying the dreams of those undertaking the Tube Challenge, where the main aim is to visit all 270 London Underground stations in one day. The close proximity of High Barnet and Cockfosters (the termini of the Northern and Piccadilly lines respectively) means that a short bus connection is incredibly useful for tube challengers, but only the number 307 travels between the two quickly. Many have made the awful mistake of taking the 384 bus between the two, and losing out on what could've been a world record finish. Knowing your bus routes well really does help sometimes!
|Go-Ahead London WVN14 is seen at Holloway Nags Head at the start of a route 530 journey to Islington Angel.|
A temporary route, numbered the 530, is running between Holloway Nags Head and Islington Angel Southbound only, every 12-13 minutes from 6am-11pm. This route maintains the link between Nags Head and Islington Angel lost by the 43 diversion, and also serves all stops along Upper Street, which have lost three bus routes due to the works. The 530 has a peak vehicle requirement of 3 buses and refurbished WVN-class Wrightbus Gemini 2 vehicles are being used, based at Northumberland Park (NP) garage. From my observations, the route is extremely popular for a temporary service, picking up lots of passengers at every stop along the way, which justifies the use of double deck vehicles, something I questioned when the service was introduced on Wednesday 16th August. There has been some disruption and I do suggest you avoid the area, but Angel was surprisingly traffic-free when I visited on last Saturday.
Thanks for reading and stay safe!