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so aren't as useful to the smaller operator (unless they do rail replacement work) - this proven by some having been withdrawn from London and getting scrapped!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.
More from my files. This one goes back to 2000 when the first Herne Bay Rally was organised to mark the garage's closure. Fortunately the garage (and the rally) are still around. Although at the time of this first show I own 7681, she was not on the road and Thanet not having any Bristol VR's left I decided to take 7122 an ex Selkent Leyland Olympian with late ECW bodywork. We had four of these things at Thanet and although lovely to drive they were totally unsuited to life outside London with (this particular one) having a top speed of 40mph! One was even slower 7134 which would bomb along at 36mph - perfect for the 18 mile drive to Canterbury! Also the front doors with its split level step caused many a local in Thanet to hit the deck. They lasted a few years from what I can remember and the next imports from London, the Northern Counties bodied Scanias were a bit more successful.
Going through my picture collections I stumbled across a shot of this Stagecoach East Kent Unibus liveried Volvo Olympian seen in Pin Hill, Canterbury. Although only taken a few years ago, the Olympians have now been replaced on this service by 'Transbus' Tridents in an orange, brown, white and blue livery (which from the front looks very Greater Manchester PTE!). With the surviving Volvo Olympians becoming preservation prospects in their own rights, I wonder if anyone will preserve one in this livery. It's certainly not a classic but would make a change from standard Stagecoach colours.
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Owner of 5807, 5809, 5137, 7656, 7681, 7041 & 40301
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