The last few weeks I've been commuting to work on the bus due to the taxi having a few issues with the steering box. Sitting on these all singing all dancing low floor Breeze buses, you can't help but think whether they'll last long enough to reach preservation. Stagecoach are already having huge problems with the chassis on their N, P and S reg Volvo Olympians which are cracking BIG time. Apparently, so I'm told, this was due to Volvo making the chassis out of recycled metal which has created imperfections which have grown into cracks. With the Enviro 200s and the earlier generation of Dennis Dart there are problems with rot in the rear of the chassis. The Scanias that are the previously mentioned Breeze buses have also had a few mechanical issues as of late too. Is there any type of modern vehicle that is built to last? The chassis cracks in the Olys is bad news to Stagecoach and also the dealers who would sell these 86 seat buses on for further use - mostly school buses. This would've lengthened their service life considerably, many finding use with small bus and coach companies up and down the country. This won't happen now with most of them destined to be used as spares and/or broken up by dealers. The low floor double deckers tend to have lower seating capacity so aren't as useful to the smaller operator (unless they do rail replacement work) - this proven by some having been withdrawn from London and getting scrapped! So I wonder if these modern wonders will have the 15-20 year life span of the older vehicles, the VRs that plod on forever and the faithful Atlanteans and Fleetlines? Somehow I doubt it.
Not so much fleet news this time but have you ever looked at more modern buses and wondered who would take them on in the future? I can't help but think this sometimes as I'm driving around in my Volvo B7, B9 or Enviro at work. You see, at one time, people would've said the same of the buses that currently are in our collection. Compared to working on an AEC Regent V, a Bristol VR must've seen totally high tech! How many times were the words 'I can't see anyone want wanting to preserve one of these things' uttered when a nice shiny National turned up instead of an old beloved PD3? Of course we need to conserve the past and look after the Guy Arabs, Titans, and Lodekkas but at the same time we must not forget the future. This kind of happened in the 1980's with halfcabs coming out of service left right and centre. Think how many halfcabs there are in preservation compared to early Atlanteans and Fleetlines. The DMS was a hated bus but as they were withdrawn at the same time as RMs (the first time around) everyone wanted an RM and not a DMS.
Where are the early Ford Transits and Sherpas that reformed the industry and helped win many deregulation bus wars? There are a few around but compared to how many were built, it must be under 3% have survived. So what you're travelling on today, as you read this on your smart phone, will be what graces the rally fields of tomorrow. Volvo Olympians are still modern vehicles to me but time and finances available, I'd not think twice about buying one from service. Will YOU be dragging a rotting Enviro 200 out of a hedge in 2055 and rejoicing with delight because it's the last surviving Stagecoach one?
Sometimes in the bus preservation movement there can be a lot of unfounded criticism of peoples preference of vehicle. The end of the day, we are all out to do the same thing, maybe for different reasons, but we all want a vehicle we can be proud of and show off. People who take on the DMS' , Transits and Enviros in the future will certainly have my respect, after all, they could've gone out and bought a RML or GS (not that there's anything wrong with either) instead and left a huge gap in the story of public transport.
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