Friday 20 March 2015

MMC Hammered

MMC can stand for quite a few things - Mourhino's Magnificent Chelsea, Marathon Music Challenge, indeed this morning it could have stood for Mad Minibus Chaos, when Suffolk Links had to get the Police to get them into the garage to get at their minibus, meaning my day had a two hour delay on it.

However this post will concentrate on the new Enviro 400 MMC, which in this case stands for Major Model Change. I would like to quote the opening line from Alexander Dennis's online brochure.

Welcome to the Enviro400 major model change, a bus that exceeds all expectations.

The demonstrator leaves Bury Bus Station    pic (c) DW
 So when Coach Services of Thetford announced on Wednesday they had an MMC demonstrator on loan I simply had to get on it to see what changes had been made, especially as Alexander Dennis claimed to have listened to everyone and eliminated all the rattles I've been banging on about for 18 months now. Dave also made the trip independently and the first pics are his.

Enviro 400 MMC demonstrator YY64 GWX in Bury St Edmunds    pic (c) DW
Sadly though, within 50 yards of leaving Bury St Edmunds bus station I suffered an anti-climax as big as the cloudy eclipse this morning. Quite simply it rattles as much as the old ones. It is far rattlier than a 15 yo Olympian. So, so disappointing. And that was just the start.

Leaving Bury for Thetford with one ugly sod on it somewhere!  pic (c) DW
 However there were some good points. I really liked the interior layout upstairs and the seats were extremely comfortable . Though I'm willing to bet both layout and seats don't come as standard so that will vary on a company by company basis

The upper interior of the new E400 MMC
Seats and table. All very nice but the ride doesn't complement them
 It was ok enough on smooth roads at speed, but then most vehicles are. And I found myself comparing it most unfavourably with the excellent Gemini 2 I travelled the same route on a few weeks ago. The hard ride made typing on the phone difficult, and let's face it that is what a lot of people do on a bus. The aircon unit was the noisiest I have ever heard and it was difficult to hear myself think. The indicator noise sounds like a warning alarm sounding, and the passenger bell is tinkly but inaudible over the aircon unit. Something else I noticed was the pillars at the front upstairs are now a lot wider which restricts the view if sitting on an inside seat. The window is also higher. which will only encourage young passengers to stand instead of sit
The demonstrator at the new Thetford bus station.
However the most important people are the drivers, and so I asked the verdict of the professional behind the wheel. 'It's ok but I'd prefer a Volvo', he said which rather sums it all up.

The rear view as it leaves Thetford Bus Station.
There will undoubtedly be those who think I have it in for Alexander Dennis just like they did when I was constantly criticising First when I started this blog. First have dramatically improved and I have gone out of my way to recognise that. I was hoping today would be a turning point in my opinions of Alexander Dennis, and I was all set to write a happy positive post. Unfortunately, like the eclipse that didn't happen for most of us this morning it was a big disappointment, and so for now MMC still stands for Much Maligned Charabanc.

The B9tl. Better.  Much better

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