Thursday 19 November 2015

The Ultimate Bus Comparison Part Two

In the last post I reviewed the new Wright Streetlite and ADL E400MMC in Stirling, and got a soaking inside an old Scania (not a B10BLE!) en route to Glasgow. If you haven't read Part One see here. 

I arrived in Glasgow in appalling weather. Storm Abigail was at her strongest and it really wasn't pleasant. There was one more surprise in store - Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow is huge. I mean really huge. To put it into perspective Victoria coach station has 20 stands. Norwich Bus Station 12, Ipswich about the same. Glasgow Bus Station has 57. Fifty seven stands, or stances as they call them up there. There is a team of marshalls with very loud whistles seeing buses out as they reverse from the stances, and effectively a circular dual carriageway with buses able to reverse out whilst others are going past on the inside. Unfortunately the weather was too awful to get any pics and I wasn't going to upset the marshalls but I will be back. Definitely.

However my destination was in fact Hamilton where First Scotland's new ADL E200MMC's were in service on a local route. This involved catching the X1 from Glasgow to Hamilton which felt a bit bizarre but this X1 was truly an X and the B7tl Gemini zoomed down the motorway in the driving rain. I only realised I had arrived in Hamilton when I got my first glimpse of an E200MMC. A few minutes later I was at the right stop and 44655 pulled up.

First Glasgow 44655 E200MMC SN65 OHV in Hamilton
Now regular readers will know what I think of E200's. They are not my favourite bus, and it's only the BorderBus examples I don't mind travelling on. So I boarded this new model with a fair amount of scepticism, not expecting much of a change. Oh me of little faith! They are a huge improvement. Like the E400MMC's they feel far more solid than the old model, a notable absence of rattles, a smoother ride, much quieter and a lower engine pitch with none of the whine of the old one. There was a loud vibration from something at the back but that was somehow reassuring as nothing to comment about would have been distinctly worrying. The braking system sounded remarkably like the Streetlite system but didn't have the jerkiness. In short I was very impressed by the E200 MMC and it was worth getting drenched and blown about to get that ride.

The MMC at Hamilton Bus Station
I also happen to think they look rather good too, and for once I'm going to say well done Alexander Dennis, you might just have something there.

The E200MMC drives off into the Hamilton gloom
And so barely an hour after I arrived it was time to return to Glasgow on the X1. This time I managed to get a picture of my chariot - B7tl 37169 SF07 FCY. A very decent journey it was too, and there maybe a hint as to what lies in the future there!

37169 at a still very wet Hamilton
The journey back to Edinburgh was not fun. I didn't take note of which God awful bus took me to Falkirk but I think it was a Scania 94 Solar like the 6567* series that Ipswich had from and then sent back to Colchester. The hardest and most uncomfortable seats of all time. After a 45 min wait at Falkirk it was me and 3 drunks on a Streetlite - as mentioned in the previous post the interior lights were so bright you could barely see a thing outside. I was cold, wet, tired, and, after slipping and falling on the tram back to South Gyle, decidedly grumpy when I got back to the hotel. However turning the news on the TV and seeing what was developing in Paris, my woes soon paled into insignificance.

In Part Three the Wright Streetdeck and Gemini 3 get put to the test.

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