Sunday, 4 December 2016

Forget Winter - Da Party Bus Is Here!

A couple of weeks ago I gave the link to a couple of Airport cams - Miami and the hair raising Juliana Airport in St Maarten, which is in the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean. I know that more than a few of you have caught the bug, become addicted to the cams and also passed it on! If so you may have spotted on the St Maarten cam an odd looking bus. It looks like a traditional US school bus with a yellow shed attached to the rear.

MOT anyone?
So I decided to do some research having seen this bus a few times and silly me it's not a shed but a traditional Cajun beach hut! This is Da Party Bus, a tourist attraction that takes holidaymakers on a 4 hour what is commonly known as a pub crawl round the island, charging the modest fare of only $49 per person. Makes Anglian seem value for money!

Anyway the glorified shed does have its purpose - DDA has reached the Caribbean and it houses, or should that be sheds among other things a wheelchair lift. Judging from the reviews and pictures available online it does seem extremely popular, although it seems if you want to go on it make sure no cruise ships are in town.

Da Party Bus in full swing
Now I'm thinking our local operators are missing a trick here. Stick a bar at the back of every 146 and passenger numbers will rocket. Da E200 Party 146 Bus. Sounds good eh? Ok I know we haven't got Caribbean weather so windows can't be completely removed as they are in St Maarten, and rules concerning alcohol and public buses would have to be a tad more flexible but hey - it's all about bums on seats laddie!

How's that for a paint job!
All images are freely available on Google Images but if anyone objects to their use let me know but a name will be required to prevent me ignoring you!

To see full details and more pics of Da Party Bus the official website can be seen here. Good luck spotting it on the Maho Beach Cam.

Also this week I was contacted by former FEC supremo David Squire, soon to take up his new post at RATP Dev UK, who have several bus subsidiaries  including London united and Bournemouth Transport. He has been on his travels again and kindly sent me a few pics from Portugal, including a bus in a rather familiar livery.

Looks familiar?         pic (c) David Squire
David explains; " I'm away in Lisbon and travelled north up the coast to Cascais, the local operator was previously owned by a famous company from Perth and has retained the 1980s style colour scheme under private ownership."

DAvid also likes his trams - RATP Dev UK also run the Manchester tram network - and sent me pics of some of Lisbon's examples.

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"These "elevator" trams are superb although covered in graffiti as they are parked in town overnight. This one swallowed up a crowd plus a wheel chair - it isn't low floor, no ramp and no fuss, the route saves users the trouble of a walk up a steep hill in case you were wondering"

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"Final one is of the red livery used for a tourist route, ten minutes into the trip we suffered a blocked line, this is so common place it is included in the on board commentary"

Actually it wasn't quite the final one as David then sent a pic to get all Daimler Fleetline fans salivating!

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"If readers visit Lisbon, I recommend the 15E tram route to Belem run by a mixture of old and new trams, get off at the Transport Museum (Carris is the operator) it is a working bus and tram depot plus a museum that includes green and orange Daimler Fleetlines, great value at €6 amazingly not a hi viz in sight."

Now have I been watching too much David Attenborough or does the one on the right look like it's mating! Why those top deck headlights? My thanks to David for the pics, good luck in your new job and stay in touch.

Have a good week all.

1 comment:

  1. Andrew Kleissner5 December 2016 at 08:11

    Interestingly enough, Stagecoach ended up operating Portuguese trams themselves, almost by accident. Virtually all the buses were nationalised following the 1974 Revolution, however following a change of Government some years later led to re-privatisation. Stagecoach took over routes west of Lisbon and this included the Sintra-Atlantico tramway (which had actually lain derelict for several years but then re-opened). This is basically a tourist line and I'm sure it didn't fit in well with the normal bus operations. I'm not sure of the subsequent history but do know that today it is in the ownership of the local Council. For many years it has only operated in the latter part of the week and weekends, but I looked at its website yesterday and am surprised to see that this year they're running a winter service (2 return trips, Wednesday to Sunday).

    Those Fleetlines bring back memories, although when I lived in Lisbon in the late 70s/early 80s I didn't use them much (they weren't on "my" routes) and actually I didn't like them much! At that time the Carris was going through massive change, from a fleet of largely British-built traditional buses to much more modern single-deckers from Iveco, MAN and Volvo. I vividly remember a journey I had to make on my second day in 1978. The first section was by an AEC Regent V - just like the British ones, but very Spartan inside and "the other way round" as they drive on the right. Ay a certain point we got off and I was then amazed to see our next md of transport coming round the corner: a Brill double-bogie tramcar complete with open platforms and clerestory roof! It was over 70 years old and one of the very oldest in the fleet - amazingly it was to stay in service for another 15 years or so! At that time the tram system was much larger than it is today and the fleet much more varied. However recent track re-alignments at the crucial junction of Cais de Sodre have paved the way for the reintroduction of the much lamented service 24, although I don't know where Carris would get the cars to operate it.

    The bus fleet was fascinating too, the best route being the short but steep 37 which ran (and still does) to the Castle. It was operated by 1948 vintage AEC Regal III single-deckers which ground their way up the hill and over the cobbles very, very slowly - but always got there! They ran until the 1980s, at least.