The Newsletter of the Omnibus Society Inc.,
Warm good wishes for Christmas and the New Year from your Editor and the Committee of the Omnibus Society
A FURTHER REMINDER that the Society’s website, masterminded by Mike Butler, is now incorporated in RUNNING SHEET’s title heading. Pay it a visit – it’s well worth it! Also, if you’ve missed or lost issues of this newsletter, back numbers are available on the website.
Subscription unpaid? Some subs are still unpaid. Treasurer, Morris Moller, would appreciate hearing from you. Sub forms were sent out earlier but, if you need one, ask either Morris (475 9467) or Henry (476 7278) to send you one. Subs are $25.00 per year or $12.50 for non-earners.
BOOK & CALENDARS… First come, first
served! ONE COPY ONLY of Graham Stewart’s new book “
OBSERVATIONS..Thanks to Mike Boyton, Henry Brittain, Neil Brown, Bryce Pender, Ian Robertson, Nick Stoneman
INFRATIL BUYS STAGECOACH – After a period of wonderings and rumours,
it became known in the third week of November, that Lloyd Morrison’s investment
company, Infratil, had bought Stagecoach
NZ for $250.5 million. At one stage, the favoured rumoured buyer was
Singapore-based group, Comfort-Delgro, who, I noticed recently, had bought
Lloyd Morrison has a reputation as an astute
investment banker and is a patron of arts and music. As Marta Steeman pointed
out in The Dominion Post, he has a strong streak of national
interest and pride in him, too. He started a debate on NZ’s national flag last
year and has spoken of “buying back the family silver” as a metaphor for buying
Stagecoach. As Infratil have five years’ use of the Stagecoach name and striped
livery in NZ, could we perhaps have local area liveries again? (How about
yellow buses in
Among Infratil’s holdings are power company Trustpower,
two thirds of
The service is provided by Ritchies,
using new Scania buses with Designline bodies. Every second
Express continues to the
My impression is that no effort has been spared to provide the best facilities for passengers at both interchanges. There are glass-enclosed waiting areas to enable passengers to wait in comfort while still being able to see bus movements. There are toilet facilities and good timetable information. While I have no first-hand information from drivers, it appears as though the approach roading provides easy access for buses, especially with dedicated on and off ramps to the Motorway, without conflicting with car traffic.
(Relevant to the above, is an article in the BCA circular for Nov.2005 with the title “Scania’s Urban Expansion”, reporting that Ritchies have received all 17 of their order for Scania L94UB SLF buses for Auckland. The first three are 3-axle buses bodied by Kiwi, but the rest – seven 2-axle and seven 3-axle – are by Designline. Both fleet livery and MAXX Northern Express livery are carried – I do not know how many of each, but the latter colours look very handsome. – Ed.)
(On my visit to
Citibus 316/AZZ908 MAN/Designline SLF. Photo: Stan White
OTAKI – Neil notes that October was a time of change here. I’ll leave him to
tell it in his own words: “As you may have noticed, from
“It still rankles a bit in that, earlier this year, the existing local operator, Thompson’s Passenger Service (TPS), a commercial operation, was pressured off the route by the Wellington Regional Council and our taxpayers’ money frivolously wasted to subsidise another operator (Tranzit) to operate the same service when a better approach could have been an approach to TPS asking would they run on the other days they were not operating for a running subsidy until future tenders were finalised. From this route 70 affair and the new ‘Metlink’ branding effort, I get the impression that the WRC public transport department officers are more interested in justifying their existence than having a realistic attitude to expanding our transport network.
“October saw the restructuring of the Geoff Willmott businesses; Silver ‘n’ Gold Shuttles and Xtreme Buses to becoming a Co-Op Shuttle operator as Silver ‘n’ Gold Shuttles Ltd, the same name as used for their Otaki Taxis. I assume the Nissan Civilian was traded for the Ford Transit minibus now used. His Otaki house is for sale.
“The other Otaki Co-Op Shuttle operator
Dave Glover had his failed
“And finally the last all
RAETIHI – this rural town, 11km from Ohakune, is home to Dempsey Buses Ltd. who supply school services, charters, Mt Ruapehu trips and some mill workers’commuter services. They have recently taken delivery of a new vehicle that is very much in the tradition of the NZ rural operator (or, for that matter, of many other areas of the world where low purchase price, simplicity and ruggedness are qualities needed for continued operation). The vehicle is featured in the BCA circular for November and is a very attractive multi-purpose school/charter bus built by Kiwi Bus Builders, Tauranga, on a Hino FG truck chassis. It is tested and commented upon by John A. Murphy who finds it compares exceedingly well with purpose-built bus/coach chassis. Dempsey Buses already run an earlier Hino and an Isuzu, both bodied by Kiwi. (Having a holiday house in the area, I’ve seen this new Hino myself – it looks even better than in photos. – Ed.)
WELLINGTON – Metlink has, since early October, replaced the former label Ridewell as the name for Greater Wellington (theRegional Council’s) transport network, covering all bus, train and harbour ferry services. The identities of the individual companies providing transport in the region will remain distinct but all vehicles, timetables, bus stops and relevant advertising and literature will carry the Metlink logo and colours, with vehicles having it applied discreetly on the liveries as they exist now. There is a website for public transport information www.metlink.org.nz Also there are pocket timetables and network maps, txtBUS for timetable info via mobiles, 21 bus stop info displays in Central Wellington, Explorer bus/train tickets that allow a child to go free, bus stop numbers for txtBUS users, Metlink station carpark signs and some additional services on selected routes.
Stagecoach – All 2400s have been delivered – 2489 to 2496
are all with
A number of Hutt
Valley routes have shown considerable growth recently, Wainuiomata Commuter
Route 80 by 48%, Route 115 Pinehaven by 45% and Route 121 Valley Heights by
39%. Also the improved 80-group routes to
Mana Coach Services –
Porirua Depot – Michael reports two new Volvo B7RLE buses arriving in the first half of November from Kiwi, Tauranga. They will run from Newlands Depot and are 146/DAG246 and 147/CZW692. He also notes that the MCS (ex-Newlands) Leyland fleet further declines, with ex-Invercargill 1982 Leopard 145/NCS45 and 1985 Tiger 138/NCS38 being sold “up north” around the beginning of November. 138 was to be replaced by a Dennis Javelin (not new) to be based at Newlands. (See also under Kapiti.)
Newlands Depot – see note under Porirua. New here is 37-seat Volvo B7M coach, 137.
Kapiti Depot – Ex-Invercargill 1982 Leyland Leopard/Hawke 144/NCS44 departed sold from here in early December – I do not know whether or not it has gone where 145 and 138 have. It has been replaced by Hess-bodied ex-DCT Leopard 166/NCS66 on school services. The Leyland count on the Coast is therefore still three, the other two being 3-axle 1985 Tiger/Designline coach 135/NCS35 and Leopard/CWI Ranger coach 136/NCS36. Returned to the fleet here is bodily refurbished Hino RK 30/NA7377, looking good in Jamaican lime as does similar bus 42/NA7360, refurbished some time ago. No. 42 retains its side destination box, though, whereas 30 has had this feature panelled over. Also returned, after bodily refurbishment, is 143/NCS43, 1989 Hino RG197, 33-seat coach with Designline body.
Editor’s Self-indulgence Spot….
I can’t resist Nimon’s No. 4, a Nuttall-bodied Seddon, so here it is. Photo: Stan White, July, BCA Conference
OBITUARIES…of Graeme Butler who sadly died on the
Thanks to Peter Rendall and Graeme Inwood for these.
It is with sadness
that we report the death of Graeme Butler, Stagecoach Wellington's
engineer. While his death is not unexpected, as he has been suffering from a
nasty form of cancer for some time, it was sooner than we had foreseen. Graeme
will be remembered as the person who did the technical work to ensure that
Yesterday Graeme Butler, Stagecoach's Number 1 trolley bus engineer died. Graeme rebuilt 264 to test out new equipment for the next generation of trolley bus.
Graeme was told
last Christmas that he had terminal cancer. He did expect to last another year
at least. On the 20th of August this year Graeme and his wife left on a trip to
Left: Trolley 301 outside St.Paul’s Cathedral during Graeme’s funeral and Right: Graeme behind the wheel of a Volvo. ( Note 301’s destination programmed to show “Farewell Graeme”.) Photos: Graeme Inwood
The thoughts of the Committee and members of the Society are with Morris and his family in their loss.
SHEEP PEE AS FUEL? Kindly sent to me earlier in the year by Graeme Inwood is this interesting and amusing article by David Adam, science correspondent of The Guardian of Friday, June 10, 2005. It’s clearly serious, though, with Stagecoach and Cummins involved.
A British bus company is testing a new secret weapon that it hopes will help forward its push to cut its polluting emissions - sheep urine. Stagecoach has fitted a bus in
The urine is collected by the fertiliser industry from farmyard waste and refined into pure urea, which is then sold on to be used in the green engine technology. Ammonia from the urea reacts with nitrous oxides in the exhaust fumes and converts them to nitrogen gas and water, which is released as steam.
Mr Dyer said the idea was no laughing matter. "I got some laughs when I told a transport conference in
New EU regulations to be introduced in October next year will bring tighter restrictions on emissions, he said. The urea-injection system was developed by Darlington-based engine
manufacturer Cummins. Andy Wren of Hampshire county council said: "We are running many anti-pollution initiatives, but the sheep urine idea gets the attention."
BUSES IN BRITAIN … Some personal observations, 2005, by Society member, David Donald. Many thanks for these interesting impressions, David. I’m happy to publish anyone’s “Buses Elsewhere or Offshore” experiences. It’s what we often chat about, after all.
In the middle of
this year I was lucky enough to spend five weeks in
What a wonderful
time to put ‘faces’ to buses and coaches that I had read about for years in Ian
Allan’s ‘Buses’, ‘Buses Focus’ and many other British bus publications! Firstly,
I had to put into perspective, when doing comparisons between
The number of
companies supplying bus and coaching services is endless and since deregulation
and the virtual demise of the NBC the race has been on, to take over, amalgamate
and rationalise .The ever-present monopolies people ensure that no company gets
too dominant and that in itself can be a problem. The tendering process is
complicated and ruthless, particularly in
companies are, of course, Stagecoach, Arriva and First, but becoming
increasingly dominant is Go Ahead which is the only major operator to retain
individual fleet branding and local control. Fleets vary dramatically in
condition. Of the big three, First is ‘worst’, Stagecoach sits in the ‘middle’
and Arriva is ‘tops’. In
The choice of chassis brand and body builders is almost endless which makes the fleets a bus nutter’s paradise and all companies have their likes and dislikes as to bus type selected. If a particular vehicle just does not measure up to expectations it is cascaded, or sold off as there would appear to be little room for compromise.
My favourite bus
company would have to be Lothian Buses of Edinburgh in
I was also lucky
enough to be introduced to the Megabus.Com operation of Stagecoach in
buses is minimal in the
Another big and ever-growing phenomenon is “park and ride” which has become essential in some areas where there is such congestion in towns and cities. It is a great system and works well.
For one of our weeks in England, we went on a “Globus” coach tour to South Western England and stopped at places of significant bus interest…Bristol, Brighton, Plymouth, Canterbury to name but a few. Our coach was a (K) Setra, a year old and M/B powered. It was supplied by Redwing and painted in Globus colours. Superbly comfortable, great driver and equally great courier/guide. Highly recommended.
In spite of the ‘majors’ The U.K. is well served by independents and some may be ‘one bus’ companies running a 709D in and around a small village, but providing a great service and too small to be generally ‘gobbled up’.
Another feature of
On the question of liveries the British bus livery for Stagecoach is great on double deckers and new buses but is not so hot on older buses and repaints. It is complicated and must be a nightmare to apply. I was interested to see it on a range of vehicles and came to the conclusion that NZ was wise to stay with the ‘armchair’ livery although it is probably due for an upgrade and simplification. Arriva has a clean and fresh and simple livery whilst First can’t seem to make up their mind as to what they want.
My favourite vehicles would have been the Wright Gemini double decker and the Wright Volvo single decker of Lothian. Lothian is also currently trialling bendy buses and even put their own decals and signage on the demonstrators which stay for some months on loan.
PLAXTON/DESIGNLINE?... The November BCA circular mentions that Designline is to market the attractive Plaxton (UK) Primo SLF 28 seat midibus in NZ. The Primo is 7.9m long and is powered by a 135hp Euro III Cummins ISBe 4-cylinder engine with an Allison automatic gearbox. A demonstrator will be in NZ from late December.
VDL?...What do these letters mean? Well, for those who don’t already know, the bus brand they are was better known as DAF. As the BCA circular makes clear the old Dutch brand is now part of Volvo and apparently the initials stand for Volvo, DAF and Leyland. Titan Plant Services market VDL in NZ. The VDL vehicle currently in NZ is for the Turley-Murphy joint venture between Hamilton and Te Aroha. The VDL is below Volvo’s B7 in the model line-up and intended as a lightweight 2-axle bus. This means it is aimed at the MAN 12.223.
ROUTEMASTERS….Many media sources have mourned the passing
from everyday regular service with TfL (Transport for
Routemasters in their native habitat. Photo: BBC
ENQUIRIES… Does anyone know the whereabouts of the
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