In the last few weeks I have travelled on two Anglian deckers that in my view, and those driving them, have improved almost beyond recognition. When the 3 Scania Omnidekkas arrived from Metrobus last year although they looked great I was less than enthusiastic about most other things. They were extremely rattly, slow, unreliable to the point of it being laughable, and all in all not the greatest of additions to the fleet. Their whole set up was designed for town 28mph work and not Acle Straight/Poringland - Bungay type work. But now 555 and 556 feel like different buses. The most noticeable difference is the speed, which is much improved and they now show traditional Scania power. The ride is considerably better too, which suggests the suspension has been tackled, and even less rattles. A really pleasant surprise and since I'm going to be using the 88 again for a bit quite a relief. Just one thing guys - 555 arrived with a really annoying air leak on the door lock mechanism which produces a loud hiss the moment the bus does over 4mph. A year on and it's still there so please can you get it sorted! Cheers!
|The much improved 555 YN55 PZR seen somewhere last year! No idea where!|
How ironic that the term derived from the difficulties of using transport. It should be mentioned that Lingchi was made illegal in China in 1905. However it is alive and kicking in rural England as bus services are suffering the death of a thousand cuts. Council cuts to be precise, although instead of human blood being spilled it's the lifeblood of communities. This week it hit very close to home again. Today saw the last day of operation of the 196, the little village service between Saxmundham and Leiston, which also incorporates a single 521 journey between Saxmundham and Dunwich. I have often mentioned this bus, as it was my only regular link to the outside world that didn't involve pre-booking, albeit only one journey 4 days a week. It is no major surprise it has gone. In this age of shopping trolleys, buggies and easy access providing a 14 seater slide your own door open Transit minibus with no marketing or publicity whatsoever isn't going to achieve much. But it had its uses and I was indeed going to be using it to get to Leiston tomorrow. Now you wouldn't believe how difficult that journey's going to be.
|The rather blurred 196 last October|
I also asked for information regarding the changes to Demand Responsive Transport serving my village - they said it was good news for me - but was only told to attend one of the launch events taking place in Woodbriidge less than a week before the changes are implemented. Firstly it would take hours to get to Woodbridge and back, especially as the DRT bus is getting increasingly difficult to book for that area, and secondly a week's notice when I know for a fact the minibus I use the most is no longer going to serve my village is not long to make other arrangements. It seems the news isn't good enough to let people know what's happening before its too late to protest. I have asked for maps of the new areas but no response yet. That's bad. Very bad. The cuts are beginning to fester and gangrene is setting in.
Now unless you've been in a cave this week you'll have heard whispers of some new strawberry milkshake coloured thingamajigs (you wouldn't believe my obviously American spell check has flagged up "coloured" but not "thingamajigs") have arrived in Norwich. I attended the launch event yesterday in Norwich mixing with the great and the good of the blogging world and taking a look at the new buses. Now you know how I do these things by now - it only really matters what happens when the wheels start moving and so in due course I'll take a trip on some of the new Streetdecks and do a review. However I'm not setting the bar too high as someone from First told me yesterday he had been on one of them and it was already rattling. Sounds like I'll just be reproducing my post from Scotland last November which wasn't too complimentary about the Wright body. However I can tell you the seats are comfortable, there are no chargers or USB points, there's plenty of room for buggies to clog up the lower deck, the branding looks ok, and First could rent out the excess space in the engine bay which is enough for a fitter to lie down in comfort while tinkering with the Mercedes engine. They will certainly turn heads as they go pass. But I'm not going to post any pictures of them until I do my review next week as I have seen many comments from people saying they are sick of the sight of them already, so here s something far more spring like that I saw on the Isle of Harris last May - cuter than a Streetdeck too and mercifully not nearly as pink! But the event yesterday was good so a big hi to Roy, Zak, Dave, Simon, Cameron, Colin, Steve, John and Dan, but sadly no Chris, who for the first time in living memory missed an opportnity to get his face in the papers!
|£227,960 cheaper than a Streetdeck and a lot prettier! Probably less rattly too.|