As promised today I ventured to Norwich to sample the new Wright Streetdecks on the Pink Line, which entered service last week. I decided not to copy everyone else by camping in Norwich taking pictures but to travel to Wroxham in the heart of the Broads to picture them there. This time last year I was in Brighton to sample the Streetdecks down there and my conclusions were rather inconclusive, so I was hoping to form a more clear cut assessment today. My first Streedeck was 35196, and first impressions weren't great when I got thrown down the bus by it surging away from the stop. However I got upstairs and settled down.
|35196 SK16 GVV at Wroxham|
First things first the seats are comfortable, the ride is smooth enough and the engine quiet. The WiFi wasn't working, which seemed to surprise First so there must be some gremlins in the system. I have to say the view from my usual seat at the front nearside upstairs is restricted by those unnecessarily large pillars. Thinking back to the RM I went on Saturday and the superb views out the same seat this is definitely a black mark against the Streetdeck. The plastic, like the E400's has a very, very cheap feel about it too and doesn't do much to promote any quality in the build.
|Looking straight ahead from the front top deack. |
Just like the Streetlites I take issue with the brakes. They sound like a 1980 Metrobus and are just as rough as the retarder on the Metrobuses used to be. The driver needs to have a very delicate foot - not something most bus drivers are blessed with! I was also underwhelmed by the apparent top speed on the lovely stretch between Sprowston and Wroxham. Seemed at least 10mph too slow and it was noticeable that nothing arrived into Wroxham on time. However Wroxham is a picturesque place, even if it was very nippy there today.
|35193 SK16 GVX passes the Broads Information Centre|
One more and that would be enough, so I found a new location, waited patiently and this turned up...
|Funny looking Streetdeck!|
That was enough to convince me to wait a further 20 mins and I was rewarded with 35195 for my return journey to Norwich.
|35195 SK16 GVU|
So my verdict? Is it anymore conclusive than last year? Unfortunately no. There is nothing about the Streetdeck that fills me with excitement or great enthusiasm. There is equally nothing hideously wrong with them either. Yes the brakes are sharp, the view from my favourite seat is poor, and the air chill situated at the rear of the top deck is hardly silent but none of those are enough to convince me to be ultra critical. I think they are definitely town buses not suitable for routes like the X1, which I thought last year but all in all they are ok. Nothing more nothing less. If the Streetdeck underwent a Litmus test it would score a perfect 7.
So I decided to compare it with a Volvo B9tl Gemini 1. I went to Beccles and back on the X2 and I would still take a B9 over a Streetdeck with no hesitation. Will the Streetdecks be as good in 8 years time as the B9's are now? I seriously doubt it, and that really says it all. Did I feel I was traveling on £228,000 worth of bus? Erm don't think so.
On to other things and Anglian have welcoed back an old friend. Dennis Trident ALX400 740 V161 MEV has returned from Hedingham and was out on the 88's today. I didn't get to ride it as hoped as the carlines have changed, but a driver who had driven it said it was "like driving a shed"! However I think she still looks pretty good for her age. I assume 740's arrival is the reason Konect 513, seen on the right, which did nothing all day, has returned to Dereham
|Anglian 740 back home.|
Last week I praised the improvements in Anglian's ex Metrobus Scanias. I had 555 today on my inward journey to Norwich and yet another surprise awaited me. I made a plea last week for the long standing air leak on the door lock mechanism to be fixed and blow me down it has been! No idea if it was the post which prompted the repair but frankly I don't care - it made the journey even better, so for the second week on the trot well done Anglian. Let's hope the tide is finally turning.
Thomas Browne) I live in sprowston and use the pink line nearly everyday. They are ok however, like you've pointed out steve what will they be like in 8yrs time? My question is what will they be like in a years time. I rode a 64 plate streetlite on the 28 and although the seats are comfy the rattling was quite appaling. As for the new streetdecks there is not much character to them either. To be fair firsts tridents and b7tls have got more character to them.ReplyDelete
I couldn't agree more, Thomas. I always say the time to really judge a new bus isn't when it's brand new, although that obviously sets the comparison, but after 6 months to a year. I guess by Christmas we'll know the answer!Delete
A very well balanced report .ReplyDelete
Thanks, Legend - that is always the aim.Delete
First West of England seem to have got the better deal. Whilst we're lumbered with Street-whatevers, they seem to be getting the ADL Enviro 400/200 MMCs (twice as many on order as streetxs this year). I hear rumours that First might not be happy with the recent Wrightbus workmanship?ReplyDelete
The fact that the Gemini 1 body has proved to be more durable and longer lasting than the Gemini 2 or 3 (in either guise) speaks for itself. If First have reached the conclusions I reached myself months ago then you have to wonder why they have ordered anything at all from Wright. Stagecoach certainly haven't.ReplyDelete
As for Est of England getting the thin end of the wedge I can't possibly imagine how you reached that far fetched and somewhat bizarre opinion!
Um . . . the seeming joltiness under breaking and changing gear rules them out for me. I was tending to blame inconsiderate drivers, but I'm not so sure now. Other, older, buses don't have the problem (except those damn Volvos on the 100, which have some wretched hybrid technology too). But don't Wright do a roadtest before they let them out? I suppose at least the ride makes me too sick to worry about the decor. Not sure about the thin end of the wedge thing, it just feels like it the way they carry on down here in Essex,(or perhaps don't, it's more like "ain't bothered"). At least having got my driving licence back, perhaps now I don't have to be bothered either! Perhaps that'll please them. One less passenger to grumble. The way they're shedding them, apparently!Delete
Thomas Browne) My friend was telling me that he saw a streetdeck broken down in Norwich the other day. So its only about 2/3 weeks and they are having issues already. And it gets better, he also added and this is the honest truth, that he heard a driver and disabled passenger complaining about the poor width of the entrance for wheelchairs etc. So that really says it all.ReplyDelete
It would also seem that the new pole required under DDA by the wheelchair bay is also causing a few problems if this is anything to go by... http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/it_just_seems_to_be_going_backwards_double_buggy_won_t_fit_on_norwich_s_new_1_8m_fleet_of_first_buses_1_4513372Delete
Wonderful post and lovely photos. Thank you so much for sharing.ReplyDelete