Tuesday 25 October 2016

A Fugly Bus Demo & Gas Buses complete Journey

First of all a message for Mrs Borderbus, who informed me today she doesn't bother reading train posts - although there is a loco pic below this is a bus post so carry on reading!!!

In the seedy world of rail enthusiasm all locomotives have a nickname - Class 66's are "sheds", Class 37's "tractors" and so on. Below is a picture of a Class 70, known as a "Fugly". If you need that translated you have a sheltered life and I have no desire to corrupt you - suffice it to say it's not complimentary.

70014 at Ipswich being bombed on the left by Ipswich Buses!
Now for some reason buses don't have nicknames, probably due to a lack of imagination, but if there was a "Fugly" of the bus world surely the Wright Streetdeck is it. Yesterday Borderbus took a Streetdeck demonstrator on loan for a couple of weeks, and it has to be the ugliest bus I've ever seen - it even makes Norwich's pink ones look attractive!

Streetdeck Demonstrator SL15 ZGP
Now long time readers will know I'm not exactly a fan of the Streetdeck. Every time I go on one I'm left feeling somewhat underwhelmed. However, being the eternal optimist I always think I've just been unlucky and the next one I go on will be better, just like winning the lottery. And so I gave this Streetdeck a clean slate, once my eyes had come out of shock, and tried to find some positives. I succeeded!

On this Streetdeck the staircase has been opened up with light, windows now dominating the offside.

The very visible staircase
This is all well and good but just a couple of questions. Firstly if you are a group of ladies on a Friday night out you will NOT want to go upstairs as that staircase will reveal all to anyone who happens to be passing. I'm not sure that design came from a woman. Secondly, and this came from Mr Borderbus, the upstairs windows are narrower to apparently save weight. Replacing half the offside with glass isn't going to do much to help that weight loss. And it's not just the offside that has seen new glass - so has the roof. Two glass roof panels adorn the front of the top deck. Nice idea, or at least would be if it wasn't for a minor detail. I'm not the tallest on the planet, but anyone taller than me is in peril, as demonstrated by my glamorous Borderbus assistant.

If we refer back to that Friday night out, assuming you're in a place with late buses on a Friday night, you've had a few light refreshments, stagger upstairs to exhibit yourself to pedestrians on the offside, and then split your head open because the glass panels are higher than the rest of the roof with ridges in between that need either yellow and black tape or foam strips. The roof is low anyway but to have uneven heights is asking for trouble. The side windows are too high for young children to see out of properly, and then when I tested the bars at the front meant to protect me in the event of a collision it turned out if I was thrown forward my gullet would be pushed out the back of my neck by the bar. Thanks. Note the bus hasn't even started moving yet!

The demonstrator on an evaluation run
As usual when Borderbus get a demonstrator I was taken on a ride, accompanied by Mrs Borderbus and the Heir to Borderbus. We all noted the same thing, power, or lack of it. The Streetdeck is horribly slow pulling away, which is going to make life difficult for drivers wanting a quick getaway from bus stops. Mrs Borderbus and I said at the same time pulling away from Thurton with a decent load is going to hold a lot of traffic up. Overall the ride was bumpier than the Metrodecker, and there is a feeling of cheapness all around, far too much blue scratchy plastic everywhere, and displaying the opposite of the thought put into the Metrodecker. It doesn't feel as solid as an E400MMC, and yet again I struggled to find anything to like about it. Apparently these are not cheap buses. They certainly feel it.

I can report that all of the working ex Anglian gas buses have arrived in Plymouth. I'm grateful to Martijn Gilbert, supremo of Reading Buses for allowing me to use his pictures of the convoy refueling early Monday morning.

Anglian 110, 102 and 107 refueling at Reading Buses        pic (c) Martijn Gilbert

Reading Buses also explain where their gas comes from....

No bull there!      pic (c) Martijn Gilbert
A long journey via M4, M5 and A38 later and in filthy conditions the gas buses arrived at their new home. I'm grateful to Mark Collins, one of the bosses at Plymouth Citibus for allowing me to use his pic of the line up at Plymouth. I am certain the next time we see them they will look very different. I've already been invited by Plymouth Citibus to go and see them once they are in service, and I'm seriously looking forward to that. Might have to combine with a trip to Dawlish.....

10 of the 12 safely arrived at Plymouth
I can also report that Anglian suffered problems yesterday due to vehicle shortages, and their fares go up today. Wasn't even worth opening a book on that was it.

I'm down in Kent for a few days now, but hope to squeeze a couple of trips in, the Scania E400MMC's being a priority, and as long as engineering works don't make it pointless I'm hoping to get to Paddington on Saturday for some HST photography. If anyone is in Beestons territory they have the Orange Metrodecker for 10 days starting yesterday, so try to grab a ride on it if you can.


  1. Andrew Kleissner25 October 2016 at 18:27

    That cow will need to eat a lot of grass ...

    I agree with you about those roof panels, they'll also make the upstairs very hot (or make the air/con have to work harder, which costs). I quite like the stairs idea, reminds me a bit of the curly stairs at the ends of those old open-top trams. (They had a little metal panel underneath which stopped the conductors taking naughty glimpses at the ladies' undercarriages!)

  2. I can think of a number of buses that have had nicknames over the years, some of these came from drivers when I worked for a bus company on the South Coast but some appear to have been invented by enthusiasts.

    Olympians have been known as Oilycans
    Early Solos got nicknamed SoSlows or GHOC (Gutless Heap of ... I'll leave the rest to everyones imagination) by drivers of one of the earliest operators of the type. Later models of Solos no longer deserve that nickname particularly those with alternative engines to Merc.
    Optare Spectras have been known as Spookys
    I have often heard as Darts referred to as Drats.
    Of course the Borismaster itself is a nickname.
    I'm sure there are others I haven't come across (I have a vague recollection that FLFs became known as Flufs).

  3. Lots of bus nicknames amongst staff. Ones I can recall:
    Olympians - Limp-a-longs
    Optare StarRiders - Snoopy (from the long nose)
    Mercedes 608 - Panzer Division
    Volvo B10M/Alexander P - Troop Carrier (from the layout of the seats, all level and in line)
    Volvo B10M/Alexander PS - Improved Troop Carrier
    Volvo B10BLE - Barbie (long before it became the official name for the livery)
    Dart SLF in First livery - Sindy (small Barbie)
    Double Decks in First livery - Ken
    Sloping front Ford Transit - Microwave (due to lack of ventilation)
    Wright/Dart - puddle jumper (from the lively ride)
    Bristol MW - Spaceship (on account of the number of switches in the cab compared to earlier models)
    Bristol FLF - yes "Fluffs" but also "70 seaters"

    Some of these are local names, but all are/were used by staff.

  4. Another excellent post Steve keep up the fun element of your blogs.

  5. I've also heard Class 70s referred to as Predators - again, inspired by one of Arnie's lines in the movie: "You are one ugly mother-"!