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 The DMS was a hated bus but as they were withdrawn at the same time as RMs (the first time around) everyone wanted an RM and not a DMS.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.
This is Bernard's Mercedes Minibus (N306XRP) which last saw service with Stagecoach United Counties. He's owned her for nearly 2 years now but what with everything else going on the work was trusted to a garage which worked on her as and when! Finally she's been done, MOT'd and repainted into a different livery - more on that at a later stage. I've always been a big fan of these Mercs when I used to drive them at Stagecoach East Kent. This one differs from our local Kent ones by having coach seats. Just one remains at East Kent now (as far as I know) and that is N933NAP although there are a few in use with our local independents. A future classic for sure and in another ten years we will be wondering where they have all gone. Considering the huge part minibuses played in turning the flagging industry around, they are very poorly represented in preservation. Imagine if the same had happened to the Bedford OB??? I would've liked to have acquired an early Transit- in fact I owned one for a while which was a works van having been an ex welfare bus with Hackney Council - to restore as an ex EK Minilink or Southern Vectis Wanderer. If you know where any old Carlyle, Robin Hood or Alexander bodied Ford Transit is, I'd love to know... although I'm not holding my breath!
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