My main wish was to sample Arriva's Sapphire service on the 101 from Maidstone to Chatham and Gillingham- a route embedded in my heart and memory . not only was it the route that opened up the county when I was a boy, but I drove the last ever bus to use the old Maidstone Bus Station in Palace Avenue in 1988, and yes - it was a 101. Since then there have been many vehicles on the route, from SLF Darts to Olympian coaches and now some E400's. Unfortunately it wasn't the best day for photography.
|Arriva 6475 AD E400 YY14 WFX at the appallingly badly designed new Chatham Bus Station|
|Yes, Sapphire buses come with plug sockets. It was a wet day so don't judge floor!|
However nothing could detract from the fact it was an E400 and so the inevitible rattling took the sheen off what would otherwise have been a great journey.
At Chatham, which is just not the same since the old Pentagon Bus Station closed, I took as many pics as I could in a few mins as the new Bus Station is without doubt THE coldest bus station in the country. I can say with all certainty that had it been around 35 years ago I would have found a totally different hobby! However, Medway and Maidstone has traditionally been a place for a real mix and variety of vehicles and this continuees today - Streetlites, Versas, long and short SLF Darts, Solos, Mercedes Citaros, Volvo B5 Hybrids, ALX 400 B7tl's and Tridents, Geminis, Wright bodied DAFs, B7rle's, E200's and 400's and that's just what I can remember on Arriva. Add on other companies such as Nu-Venture with their Agoralines, Olympians, Volvo B10M's etc and it is still a bus enthusuast's haven.
|One of Arriva's Lampposts, 4279 on the 136 to Gravesend|
|The side of an Arriva Optare Solo with Capstone Flyer branding|
|Arriva 3909 Mercedes Citaro on the 82 in King Street|
|A little Dart from Tunbridge Wells, fleet no 3334|
|Arriva 3967 Wright bodied DAF on London Rd Park & Ride|
|Arriva 7011 Volvo B5 hybrid KX13 DHA on the 71 to Lunsford Park|