|Metroline West VW1836 is seen at Baker Street Station on route 18 to Sudbury.|
For such a large route, Metroline handled the 18 rather well, often maintaining a reliable service with no large gaps despite the inevitable bunching, although a PVR decrease in the past few months of the old contract meant that the route was under-resourced and difficult to operate, so a slight deterioration in the service quality was noticeable. Nevertheless, the loss of route 18 to London United was a shock for many, especially as this operator had lost a considerable amount of work just before the tender announcement. In the last few weeks of the old contract many of the old Gemini buses were seen running around without logos and most of them have now returned to the leasing company, with a couple staying as refurbishment floats at Brentford (AH) and Alperton (ON) garages.
|London United VH45223 pauses at Baker Street Station en route to Sudbury.|
The other twelve vehicles that make up the allocation are of the same type, although they were already found scattered across the London United fleet - these VHs were initially destined for the route 72 contract renewal, although the cancellation of the Hammersmith Bridge upgrade meant that the vehicles couldn't work the route, so instead they were simply acting as spares at different garages, or as refurbishment cover. However, now they have an allocated route and are also compliant with the demanding emission standards in Central London, which the 18 briefly enters. However, not all of the brand new 67-reg Gemini 3s were ready for the new contract, so some existing ADL Enviro 400 vehicles have been used as a temporary measure to make up the numbers, with some of them coming from the 220 allocation, whilst others have received a full refurbishment before transferring down to Park Royal (RP) garage. This mixture of bus types kept enthusiasts busy in the first week and I was lucky enough to obtain a couple of pictures during this period of time. There aren't many E400s on the 18 now, although occasional strays from the 220 can still occur from time to time.
|London United VH45229 stands at Euston Bus Station.|
|London United ADE40412 crawls through Baker Street traffic en route to Sudbury, complete with a refurbishment.|
|Go-Ahead London PVL310 pauses along Grays Inn Road en route to King's Cross.|
|Go-Ahead London WHV168 stands at St Pancras.|
|Abellio London 2595 pauses at Loughborough Junction on route 345.|
|Abellio London 2601 stands at St Pancras before departure to Clapham Park.|
The other two changes, involving routes 176 and 188, will be documented separately in another post, which will be published on Thursday.
For now, thanks for reading and stay safe!