Saturday, 27 February 2016

Canterbury Tales

With thanks to Geoffrey Chaucer for help with the post title here is what happened in Canterbury on Wednesday that didn't involve Olympians. As explained in the Ollie post Canterbury is dominated by Stagecoach South East - note NOT East Kent as it used to be as the network now includes the Hastings and Eastbourne operations too. This means the area covered is huge, stretching around the coast from Faversham in North Kent right round to Eastbourne in East Sussex. Canterbury, Ashford Tunbridge Wells, Tenterden and Heathfield are towns within the SSE area. Having lived in East Kent for 5 years I have always been a quiet fan of Stagecoach and the way they encourage bus use, but I'm saving that for a separate post coming soon.

You can get anywhere from Canterbury, and services are regular. The most promoted route is the Gold service from Canterbury to Folkestone and Hythe, terminating at the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway station. A very clever route as there is no direct train from Canterbury to Folkestone. The 16 runs every 15 mins using Scania E400's which are a common sight in Canterbury. I must point out again that the sun played havoc with photography all day so apologies for the dubious quality of some of the pics.

Stagecoach South East 15184 Scania E400  YN64AKO departs for Folkestone
Stagecoach also operate the Canterbury Park & Ride and it must be said the buses always looked full. The services are operated using a combinatioon of ADL E400's and E300's.

Stagecoach 27921 SN63VTT at the front f 2 P&R E300's
Stagecoach 10065 SN63NCE on Canterbury P&R
There are also some E400's branded for University of Kent, and the livery looked rather familiar...

Scania E400 GN13HJE in familiar livery passing a much better bus!
It may look like Norwich P&R from the front but thankfully the side view does reveal some differences.

A view from the side on Canterbury City Wall
Finally from Stagecoach a bus I spent ages trying to get a decent pic of, and never really succeeded. I could see it was a variation of the Stagecoach livery and looked a little like First Excel livery. It turns out that ALX400 Trident 17628 W628 RND is another immigrant from Manchester, and is still dressed in basic Magic Bus livery.

Stagecoach 17628 Dennis Trident ALX400 in Magic Bus colours
 As mentioned in the Ollie post a large fleet of new buses is on their way to Stagecoach South East and I'm hoping to get regular updates and pics of them, as well as road testing them when they enter service.

There was only one noteworthy vehicle I saw operating a bus service that wasn't Stagecoach. A rather striking Scania Omnicity was loitering with intent with what I presumed was a cherished registration of FH51 LTX. But no - it appears that this is the only 51 reg Omnicity ever registered, and thus quite likely the oldest. New to Nottingham City Transport in 2002 it is now with Poynters Coaches of Wye, it was operating the 620 between Canterbury and Waltham.

Poynters Scania Omnicity FH51 LTX
I'd recommend a visit to Canterbury to anyone but do beware of the sun. The bus station is completely the wrong way round for decent photography so choose a cloudy day!


  1. Did you realise that Jeremy Cooper (new MD of IB) came from East Kent and he is - rightly - very proud of the way that they improved and promoted the Gold service, thus attracting custom?

    1. Yup. He will get due credit in the upcoming post which concentrates more on the Commercial side.

  2. In similar vein to the comments regarding Greater Manchester Buses (South) and Stagecoach Manchester...Eastbourne and Hastings are now *technically* part of East Kent as Stagecoach South East only uses one O-licence - the East Kent Road Car Co. one. But geographically, they firmly remain in East Sussex of course ;-)

    1. Just like the old days when I used to catch an East Kent Bristol VR on the 550 from Dover to Hastings! Am I right in thinking when Stagecoach took over it became the 711 and continued to Brighton?