We left it with your humble blogger being shown around the engineering side of the operation by Head of Engineering & Innovation John Bickerton, who had something he wanted to show me. Tucked away in a corner of a small workshop was a piece of kit that could, sorry - will revolutionise industry. I have never seen a 3D printer before, let alone what it can do, and if I'm honest my head really can't get round the concept or potential. John can, though, and his eyes sparkled with ambition as he talked about possible futures.
|Vases today but bus parts and panels tomorrow?|
After being shown round the fuel and gas pumps John noted a bus on the pumps and made a beeline for it. It appeared, at first look to be a smart Gemni 2 but all is not what it seems.
|Reading Buses 530 X100 RDG|
|Table area top deck of the Gemini|
Now if you were following my Tweets on the day you would have seen me post a pic of an E400MMC asking why I was about to spend over an hour riding around Reading on it out of service. Here it is.
|The Emerald MMC|
Operations manager David Rouse went first, and considering the heckling he had to put up with from 4 passenger seat drivers, including myself, and the Friday afternoon Reading traffic he did a commendable 8.3km averaging 6.73mpg. Then John showed us how it was done, although it seemed much slower it wasn't, and the clever clogs managed 8.71mpg, setting the bar for everyone else. I have to be honest and I say I have never missed no longer having a PSV licence more than I did that afternoon, as I would have killed to see what I could have achieved. I'll make sure I get the final results. Just another way equality reigns at Reading Buses. Here's John trying to look like a bus driver on his lap! I'm still waiting for the cheque, John, not to publish the first pic I took!!!
|Professionalism personified! John Bickerton at the wheel|
My dislike of Streetdecks is well known, but both Martijn and John have always emphasised that their Streetdecks, complete with Sofa and tables were rattle free. I had to try one out, so before I caught the train back to London I did a circuit on the 13 with my most critical hat on.
|Reading Buses 901|
|The sofa on the top deck of the Streetdeck|
|Regular seats on the lower deck, nice design|
|Thou shalt not rattle!|
It would appear that the rule is something like "Our buses shalt not rattle, but not by use of gaffer tape". And that rather sums up Reading Buses. no corners are cut, and if something's going to be done it is done properly without the use of gaffer tape! Most operators would have accepted the compliment about paying attention to rattles. Actually no - most operators wouldn't have given a damn about the rattle in the first place, let alone deal with it, let alone be horrified at how it was dealt with.
So as I mentioned at the beginning of Part One I have nothing to moan about, which is annoying! I will get back to Reading whenever I can, as there is so, so much more to see, and the trials for the 702 continue. My thanks to Martijn, John and everyone I met at Reading buses for being so darned happy and passionate about what you do, and Glen I promise we'll have lunch next time I'm down. Just don't mention the tape - I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it......