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Old news 2001 to 2003

Last update
30th April 2011


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Semi-regular news updates which would be of interest to the enthusiast have been provided on this site since 2001. This page contains the updates published between 2001 and 2003 inclusive. It should be read in conjunction with the route change history page. 

29th December 2003

At the end of 2002 we mentioned the numerous new operators responding to the need for contracted services, and those springing up to provide competitive services. It was perhaps inevitable then that 2003 would see a number withdraw from the town. In addition to First, mentioned on the 1st December report below, there are another four names that no longer feature.

Most evidently different from a visit to the bus station a year ago is the absence of Buzz, and the characteristic smart yellow Marshall Minibuses. Financial difficulties ended a deregulation dream here.

Of a smaller presence, but ending a familiar sight nonetheless, Metroline have retracted commercial operations, and chose to lose the 310B in the process. 

Stort Valley Coaches, operators of the London commuter coaches, sold out to Olympian. Finally, London Transit, re-inventing themselves as Stansted Transit in the process, withdrew from Herts County Council work, 354 included, and so ended a short connection with Harlow.

The one new operator to appear was Excel Coaches, seizing the opportunity to replace most of the Stansted based work abandoned by First, including the long standing (largely) full route of the 333.

On the gain side, SM, and particularly Olympian have stepped up services both to replace Buzz, and to compete with Arriva in town. TrustLine have increased their presence from two to 5 vehicles in the town on any given day, thanks to the introduction of the C4 here, and through contracts gained on the 354 (Mon-Fri) and 500 (evenings).

The biggest gains, and in a real reversal of the practice driven a few years ago by staff shortages, and perhaps against the current expectation of any "big group" company, is the growth of Arriva. Routes B1 and B6 started at next to no notice to replace Buzz, route 333 has provided an improved service to a number of key destinations along a competitive corridor, and finally, route 59 moves Arriva to being the main provider along another corridor. There have also been local service improvements, proving that local knowledge can still be used to good effect even in a major organisation.

On the infrastructure side, huge numbers of Adshel bus shelters have continued to replace what ever was previously in place. Sensibly, materials more practical than glass are also starting to feature lately.

Finally, from the enthusiast perspective, 2003 vehicle variety would without doubt rival many a town or city of significantly greater size. In addition to the normal diet detailed on the pages here, hires, especially the regularly changing ones from Locallink, have made for an ever changing scene - see the fotopic site for more!

*** ***
A very merry Xmas season and Happy 2004 to all readers of this site. Please remember that all input and suggestions are most welcome.  
*** ***

1st December 2003

An era ends for Harlow on 6th December, when the last bus operated by First, still known to most as Eastern National, will run through Harlow. Route 59 has the honour of being the last service, coming not long after the operator surrendered their other main daytime service, the 333. Fortunately, there is no shortage of willing operators in Harlow, and in this case ECC and Arriva have together come up with a more regularised service. In recent times, First have operated the once-a-day 354 and even performed a 3 month contract on the 392/3. Going back a short while further, most Sunday services were in the hands of either Eastern National, with the 851-4 group of town services, or fellow group member Thamesway, with the 200 and 500. There are other services in the area that can trace their roots to Eastern National services, as examples, the 47/146/147, although not using exactly the same number group.

Imperial will be recreating a bygone era during December, when vintage vehicles will stand in for the regular OPO double decks on commercial services on both Monday 22nd December and Saturday 27th December. Full details of vehicles and times will be published in LOTS "The London Bus" December edition.

Onto more routine matters;

A couple of new entrants into local service with
Arriva. Dennis Dart 3414 (P334HVX) from within the Shires and Essex fleet, joins the many Plaxton Pointer bodied similar vehicles operating in the existing fleet. 3818 (H368XGC), once part of a number purchased with Oxford, and with less than usual 8.5m Wright Handybus bodywork, is the other. The latter example has yet to gain blinds.

A second Metrobus has appeared as part of the
LocalLink regulars on the 410. M218 carries Go North-East livery, and joins M1095, still in Arriva training colours. Coming much more up to date, Transbus Mini Pointer Dart demonstrator SN03LGA has been a regular on ECC contracts through October and November. This would seem to have seen off the last ex-London United Plaxton Pointer Dart hires. 

One operator to have undertaken a clean-up of the fleet is
SM Coaches. A third ex-Reading MAN/Optare Vacta to enter service is K805DCF. All three are now in regular service and in fleet colours. It would seem that the three Volvo B6/Marshalls (L655/7/9MFL) have left the fleet, together with two solitary vehicle types of London origin, namely Metrobus M677 and Titan T266. The departure of the latter two  eliminates all over red livery from the fleet.

Our usual overview of another very busy year will appear just after Christmas. 

3rd Novem
ber 2003

The Leyland National is back! Trustline have been using this National II in service during October. The livery is of "Go Gateshead", seen above at Harlow Town Station on the 392. Nationals were generally ousted from that service in 1992, when Arriva's current Darts in the K406-414FHJ range were introduced.

Unusual arrivals at SM Coaches are two ex-Reading buses MAN/Optare Vecta's. L806FRD and L808FRD have been seen on schools services, and on town routes T10 and T15 alike. Fleet colours and electronic number displays (unfortunately unable to display the "T") compliment smart interiors.

have built up the number of operational Iveco/Marshalls in the fleet to six. The latest additions, ex-Arriva again, are M731AOO and M736AOO. The start of the new service pattern on the main Katherines service has seen the introduction of Olympians first own-design blind sets, which feature smart and comprehensive two line displays. Front, side and rear number repeaters are carried on five of the six, and commendably are in use. The early Dart continues, but appearances from Mercedes minibuses on town services seem to have stopped. The coach fleet has also had a boost, details will be updated under the Olympian section shortly. 

LocalLinks Mini Pointer Dart, EU03EUD has appeared in the new fleet livery. The blue and yellow colours are complimented with a grey skirt. Striking in a quite different way when seen on the 410 was ex-London Metrobus M1095. This vehicle is in Arriva training livery, complete with adverts. The fleet list on this site has been updated. 

Over at
Excel, a couple of unusual appearances include elderly Mercedes L608D/Reeve Burgess F71SJX. This has worked alongside ex Metrobus Darts in their former owners livery during the month. 

1st October 2003

There are a
couple of new arrivals at Arriva this month. Firstly Dart/Carlyle 3098, which retains high-back seating. Then there is 2140, another Mercedes/Beaver from a batch well represented in the existing Harlow fleet. 

Although route to vehicle allocation is generally quite fluid, there have been a few noteworthy operations this month:-

DAF/Plaxton Prestige 3448 from the Green Line liveried 724 batch was noted on the 510 the 8th, whilst standard Dart/Pointer 3360 was on the 724 on the 17th. The prize however must go to Optare Alero YS02UBY which worked on the 4 during the morning peak hour of 9th. 

Finally, not so much an unusual operation, but route 505, solidly minibus for so many years, now plays host to Darts following the change of routing at Chingford. 

A recent arrival at Excel, and seeing service on the 333 is Dart/Plaxton Pointer 
K709KGU. This has operated in Metrobus colours, but with excel logos added.

Another ex-Arriva Iveco/Marshall has seen service at
Olympian Coaches. This time it is N742AVW. Meanwhile, appearances from the Mercs have diminished with the only regular vehicle noted being G96ERP. SMs Titan LUI5578 (ex-T266) has seen service on the R1.

Another ex-London Dart/Pointer has joined the TrustLine fleet in full livery. KKZ3475 joins the vehicle noted last month (below).

1st September 2003

Things have been relatively settled at Arriva, but an unusual sight was that of ex-London DNL119 (now 3399) operating town services, and also the 501.

The Imperial vehicle mentioned last month is Metrobus SND116X.

LocalLinks Olympians CWR508Y and CWR522Y both now carry a white based over-all advertising livery on 3 sides for Harlow Radio Station Ten-17. Blue/yellow fronts are carried.  Ex-London Dart/Pointer DR107 continues in service.  

Olympian Coaches have placed another Ex Arriva Iveco/Marshall in service. M735AOO has entered service in full Olympian colours. The R2/3 services have played host to some of SM's B6�s during the summer holidays.

TrustLine have placed ex-London Dart/Pointer KKZ3474 in service - full TrustLine livery is carried. More unusual was Phoenix Student Travel Lynx 5011 seen in service on the C4 in late August. 

3rd August 2003

Two brand new vehicles which are destined to see regular service in Harlow have been introduced by
TrustLine. Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointers LN03AYL and LN03AYM have been introduced to take up a number of Hertfordshire County Council contract services from 28th July, of which the once a day 354 on Mondays to Fridays is a part. They are also operating on the new Essex County Council evening service on the 500, taken up from the same date. Fleet numbers DLP1 and DLP2 are carried.

Arriva, one rogue double decker continues to operate regularly on town services 2 and 3. Following 5082 in May (see below) and then 5386 (former L class South London Olympian) in June, July has seen Alexander bodied 5827 in service. An unusual livery red based advertising livery for TravelWise is carried, and like the two predecessors, no destination blinds are carried. 

SM Coaches have placed another former Arriva Iveco/Marshall minibus in service. M159RBH carries full SM colours, and retains its dot-matrix front blinds and electronic side and rear repeaters. It looks like the former Arriva programming is also still carried, and so the vehicle seems to have been route bound on the T10 service (displaying a 10 panel) so far.    

Olympian Coaches, who like SM, also have a pair of ex-Arriva Iveco/Marshalls in service, have acquired a good number more. At present these are yet to see service, but may well replace the Mercedes vehicles operating currently, over the coming weeks.

Imperial have placed in service what is unmistakeably an ex-Manchester vehicle (details to follow). Like Metrobus M3, it has a purpose made set of white on black blinds, and has seen service on the H1.   

Excel Coaches new 333 operation has continued mainly in the hands of the livery dedicated vehicles, but support has been provided during July by sister vehicle L319YDU in purple 308/9 branded livery, all-white Dart/Plaxton K108SAG, and more unusually by Stephensons fleet Olympian/ECW TSO15X.


8th July 2003 
(updated 10th July)

Both new 333s started on 7th July, and the new order appears to be Mercedes minibuses with Alexander bodywork. Arriva appear to have taken three into the Harlow stock (2282/3/4), the former two are L709Ds with Sprint bodywork whilst the later is a Vario with ALX100. They are not necessarily operated on the 333 which  produced existing Mercedes/Plaxton Beavers  2125, 2139 and 2108 on the first day. Stephensons, are using the brand name excel for their new operations, Excel Coaches Ltd being set to become the formal local company name under which the services will be registered. Former Stagecoach vehicles L313-5YDU are part of an 8 vehicle allocation at Stansted, and carry dedicated branding for the new 333 service on a modified version of the newer "swirly" corporate livery. Finally, and possibly as something of a swan-song, the last day of the old First 333 service unusually produced corporate liveried coach N602APU.

In other news, at
LocalLink, a new acquisition is a fifth Olympian B913NBF. This has appeared in blue/yellow livery, to a simpler design (see above) than previously used. Sister CEF230Y has also been repainted, whilst CWR508Y has had a frontal repaint, retaining advertising for Micro Direct on the other three sides. Hires of ex-London United Darts have continued with former DR68 and DR107 both seeing service in June. A newer Dart to appear has been all white MPD EU03EUD, whilst Dart/EL2000 L910JRN has been fitted with an LED front display - a first for Harlow.

Recent expansion at
TrustLine has brought back Metrobuses to regular service. Regulars have been former London M265 (BYX265V) and M233 (BYX233V). the latter vehicle having seen service in the town with Arriva in 2002.  

3rd June 2003

Unusual addition to the town of late is Roe bodied Olympian 5082

A couple of route changes are worthy of mention, as they spell an end to two of the first competitive commercial services to have been registered in the London Country area. Firstly the 310B which ended on 31st May, along with sister service 310A. These routes opened up competition on the Hertford Road, even though operations had been more co-ordinated in recent years. It is also the end of suffix operations in the town, even though its partial replacement, the C4, introduces another prefix, to join B, H, R, T and possibly ZIP which are presently in use. Secondly, the 333 operated by First, the direct successor to Eastern National, which started out running from Loughton, but has operated a stable pattern from Epping to Stansted for many years. In this case the route number will not be disappearing by any means, and may provide yet more interest still.

On the vehicles front, at Arriva, Wright bodied Dart 3353 (J403XVX) has re-appeared, other new arrivals (whether permanent or not) are Mercedes Vario/Plaxton Beaver II 2373 and, unusually, ECW bodied Olympian 5082 (B272LPH).

Meanwhile at LocalLinks the three ex-London United Darts continue in regular service in LU colours, joined recently by one time West Midlands Lynx G105EOG in a light purple shade.

Olympian have expanded the fleet with the addition of another vehicle of local origin. Ex-Arriva Iveco/Marshall L723PHK  is now in service with full fleet livery and blinds

Finally some
site news. We have always described the local vehicle scene in terms of the current operations on the operator pages. Over the next few weeks we will be opening a sister site purely for the images that have passed into recent history. This will be in the form of a fotopic site, and will contain the pictures from Buzz, London Transit and Metroline, none of whom operate in the town any longer, as well as many other images of existing operators showing vehicles or routes that can no longer be seen. The site is functional now, however, most of the content will be built progressively by operator over the coming weeks. There is a new link on the left, or alternatively, click on http://harlowride.fotopic.net

1st May 2003

At Arriva, the uptake of the former Buzz services has resulted in a number of internal transfers to Harlow. Now operating are Mercedes Vario/Plaxton Beaver II 2248 and 2172, Volvo/Plaxton Derwent 3081, and Mercedes/Plaxtron Beavers 2238/9. Unusual 3081 has tended to stay on the B1, alongside other standard single decks, whilst the B6 has normally drawn on standard Mercedes/Plaxton minibuses. A surprise return of double deckers on the 2/3 has been provided courtesy of Olympian loans from Ware. 

At LocalLinks there has been something of a change around. Four Olympians with ECW bodywork are now in service, operating regularly on the recently expanded 210 (see above) and 410. All are from UK North whose livery they retain at present; full fleet details on the LocalLinks page. Taking up the more rural duties, and replacing various hired minibuses are three ex-London United Dart/Plaxtons (J107DUV, J128DUV, J157GAT).

Olympian Coaches have expanded the operational fleet with former local Arriva Iveco/Marshall M152RBH. Livery is full Olympian white with blue skirt and branding. The dot matrix display has been replaced with conventional front blinds. 

In a similar vein, SM Coaches now have Iveco/Marshall L722OVX. Livery is standard white with maroon skirt. 

TrustLines Dart/Carlyle registration G56TGW has been reregistered to 481EXO.

1st April 2003

The main event for the months was the sudden and unexpected failure of Buzz Cooperative. This well known and locally respected operator, having survived all manner of challenges in its reign since just after deregulation, together with its smart fleet and staff, now passes to history after 25th March 2003. 

Picking up the pieces very promptly were Arriva, Olympian and SM Coaches. The B1 and B6 numbers have been taken up by Arriva, and started on the day following the collapse. From 27th, a 5 vehicle operation was set up to provide a similar level of service to that previously offered on the southern arms of both services. A number of drafted in vehicles are evident.

Olympian commenced the R1 just as quickly, starting a 3 vehicle operation that mirrors closely the connections previously provided by the B1 to the town station and industrial areas, in addition to also serving the main town centre service. No doubt additional vehicles will be required. At present SM spares have filled the gap.

Finally, SM themselves have introduced the T6, full details of which are awaited.

In other news, at
Imperial superb looking early production Metrobus M3 has featured almost every day on the H1. It retains the three-piece front destination boxes with full white on black blinds fitted.

Meanwhile at LocalLinks, Mercedes/Plaxton Beaver K878UDB continues alongside the  other regulars detailed on the now updated page. 

A new arrival at
TrustLine is that of Dart/Dartline G56TGW. An ex-London machine to add to the increasing number on the local scene. Meanwhile, both MAN/Optare Vectas now feature cherished registrations. 

6th March 2003

February was a quiet month. At LocalLinks
two welcome new vehicles operating on the network throughout most of February and into March were Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointers P698/9RWU. These are in the orange and white livery of Armchair, where they have operated since new. Lynx F273AWW is now in Blue and Yellow. Also operating during February were Lynx E685LBT, and, as in January, Mercedes/Beaver K878UDB. 

5th February 2003

A little vehicle news from around the operators:

Stability abound at
Arriva. Olympians released from LT service 142 and 340 duties at Watford are now regular visitors to Harlow depot where mechanical support is provided to the operation at Ware on the 310 and 310A, but their usage on town routes 2 and 3 at the start of the year was unusual.

First, there have been increasing and regular instances of Beaver minibuses on the 333, although Darts with Plaxton Pointer bodies do still dominate  

Olympian Coaches have been gradually applying more route branding to vehicles used on the RoadRunner sevices R2 and R3. A new addition to the fleet is Mercedes/Dormobile G96ERP. This vehicle entered service in Northern Blue livery.  

continue to add interest with hires. Recent times have seen Bristol VR's in Supreme and CountryLiner liveries, and, the smallest vehicle to see service with the operator to date, Mercedes/Plaxton Beaver minibus K878UDB in white livery with lilac skirt. The Olympian/Marshalls have seen some service on ECC rural services.

An unusual sight on Imperials H1 was of former London M132. The type is of course common, but this vehicle retains a basically red livery, but with a green skirt. 

TrustLine have extended the use of cherished registrations, with an Opatre Vectra, believed to have been P911SUM, now appearing as P20TLS.

Regal have added more former London double deck interest to the town with the use of former M140 on route 503. Immaculate livery and blinds were evident.

28th December 2002

Another year passes in the life of Harlow bus operations, and so time for some reflection! This year, possibly more so than at any time since the early days of Buzz in the mid-late 80's, this has been the year of competition. Contracted services have continued to pass to independent bidders, bringing Regal (381/2), TrustLine (392/3) and London Transit (354) to the town. Meanwhile competitive commercial operations have been developed and later expanded upon by Olympian Coaches, with links in town around Staple Tye (first as OC2/3, now R2/3), and also by LocalLinks in the form of local services between Harlow and Old Harlow, and following up the Stortford Road (1, 210, 410). The difference this year has been that Arriva would appear to have responded; increasing the frequency on the 4 cannot be unconnected with the disappearance of the SM20, the 2/3 have been stepped up in what must be a response to the Olympian developments, the 510 has been speeded up. More pro-actively, there is a restored direct link to Potter Street (6). No doubt 2003 will  see much continued evolution of the network.

Of all of these changes, perhaps the most significant developments are with LocalLinks, now separate operationally from Stort Valley, they have been successful with rural services (47 group/347/8), Sunday services (200/1/500), schools services (802/3/9) a shoppers service (202) and commercial services (above). These add to the existing peak hour service on town route 5, and incredibly, can all be worked by a mere handful of vehicles. Even so, hires have been a regular feature in has enabling the network to be maintained.

Imperial, Clintona and Myalls have continued as before, whilst there has been some retraction at Buzz and SM. Firsts dependable and stable 333 service still shows no real sign of being "barbied" yet, and has strengthened its positioned slightly.

For the second year running, with the exception of the Herts CC owned Optare Aleros, no brand new vehicles have entered service locally, although this didn't stop a couple of demonstrators featuring (Solo, MAN/ALX300). Marshall bodywork on Iveco Arriva minibuses has disappeared (SM still have two), but that coachbuilders work has emerged on Darts, B6's, and even Olympians with other operators. 

Most local companies continue to advertise regularly for staff, but as cancellations seem to have been less noticeable in 2002, one can only assume that the position is eased somewhat over that of one year ago.

The bus station has been well maintained, and now offers a very good selection of information for the passenger on the majority of local services, and beyond. Not only has service information at the stops been kept largely up to date in a constantly changing network, but timetable leaflets are now once again available for the taking in the waiting lounge adjacent to the enquiry office. One oddity, the right turn into Terminus Street from Velizy Avenue is still not operational, over 18 months after the junction was altered to accommodate it. Perhaps this will change with the much discussed second half development of the bus station. On the other hand, the political position of the local council has altered for the first time in very many years, and so too might have the agenda in relation to transport matters.

3rd November 2002

New vehicles and a new class at Arriva this month with the arrival of two Optare Aleros for the Sawbridgeworth minibus scheme. Unusually these are not in Arriva corporate livery, and have the slogan "I SAW A BUS" on the front coupled with a route plan of the three new services on the sides. Rather more mundane are a further two Mercedes Mercedes L811Ds with high back seated long Plaxton Beaver bodywork. 2108 and 2111 join the two existing similar vehicles. 

Two former Yellow buses Olympians with Marshall bodywork are now part of the
LocalLink fleet. Regular hires continue with a one of this months regulars being Lynx E266WUB in Red and Cream.

26th September 2002

Changes to the Arriva fleet have seen the disappearance to two significant classes of vehicle. Firstly, the remaining double decks, consisting of two Metrobuses and one ECW Olympian, have now left. Also, the pioneering low-floor Dennis Lances, purchased for the former 502 service have also moved on to a new home within the Shires fleet. LOTS reports that these are destined for, if not already at, Luton for service 61 between there and Aylesbury. 

LocalLink the 210 has continued to see Trustline Metrobuses and Titans, but in recent weeks has also been supported by one time Yellow Buses vehicle.

3rd September 2002
(updated 14th September)

A most unusual occurrence at Imperial, when on 24th August, Ensign stepped in to operate the H1 service for the day using MkII Metrobuses. This to enable Imperial staff to attend a funeral. No fares were charged on the H1 for the day.

Olympian Coaches new OC3 service started on 27th August. An early Dart with Duple Dartline bdywork (G350GCK) has now joined the regular service fleet, although it seems mainly to be found on the OC2 in practice..

At LocalLink the 210 has been in the hands on Metrobuses and Titans assumed to be on hire from TrustLine. Otherwise the three East Lancs Darts have settled to be the mainstay of the local services. 

Regal Busways have recently increased their Essex based commitments, taking over Waltham Cross based services 211/2/3. As a result, white Mercedes Vario/Beaver IIs have featured on the 381/2.

Finally, a feature of recent summer holidays that has not materialised this year is that of double deck workings on Arriva local services.

4th July 2002

New arrival at Arriva is Dart/Marshall 3103 with cherished registration number L300BUS. This vehicle was inherited by "The Shires" when they took over the Lucketts of Watford bus operation. 

The pair of DAF/Optare�s, 3328 and 3329, have both now acquired route 510 sign writing.

At SM Coaches, a trio of new vehicles in white/maroon SM Coaches bus livery are Volvo B6/Marshall L655/7/9MFL. These were once operated by Stagecoach Cambus. They have now had their electronic destination equipment replaced by conventional roller blinds and fleet names applied. Route SM20 is the regular haunt.

A modernisation of the coach fleet sees Iveco Eurorider35 S234HGU in silver/blue coach livery with a more modern style of fleet-name also introduced. Also in that livery is brand new and extraordinarily striking new Iveco Maxim2 FN02VBK.

Olympian Coaches are now on-line at www.olympiancoaches.com 

LocalLink continue to provide fleet variety. An ex-Reading Titan (YJB68T) was active through most of June in GoldLine colours, whilst a more recent sighting is a brand new Optare Solo demonstrator.

Leyland National operation has been confined generally to occasional appearances from LocalLink. There was a small boost on Saturday 29th when
Imperial used �LS130� (VIB8319) on the H1.

4th June 2002

At Arriva, Iveco/Marshalls 2360 and 2364 have continued to operate throughout May, now joined by sister 2361.

2190 is another Mercedes Vario/Beaver II to join the small fleet, whilst DAF/Optare Delta 3328 has now been joined by sister vehicle 3329 in returning home.

A number of vehicles have now received new blinds. These are in pre-DDA style (i.e.capitals remain for destinations). They use a bolder font, with typically only one via point in lower case, but preceded by the word VIA in capitals. Town displays are changed too, often with one line in each of upper and lower case (e.g. "STAPLE TYE" in upper case on the first line, followed by  "& Bus Station" on the second). Noteworthy here is the return of �Bus Station� as a destination rather than �HARLOW Centre�
Moving to
LocalLink the MAN/ALX300 would seem to have been returned off hire. Joining DEL1 in full fleet livery is sister DEL11. Other vehicles seen regularly on the local network have included Dennis Jevelin/Plaxton coach R129XWF in Jetlink livery (minus all sign-writing), Leyland Lynx D109NDW (in Burnley & Pendle livery), and Wright bodied Dart JDZ2350 in a previous operators livery of light blue, dark blue and white.

Metroline single deckers now seem to be regulars on the 310B. Dennis Darts with standard Plaxton Pointer bodies such as EDR22 have been noted during May.

TrustLine have introduced a new breed on the 392/3 in the shape of two MAN/Optare Vecta�s in full Trustline livery. P910SUM and P911SUM carry fleet numbers VM910/1 respectively. These would seem to have replaced the standard ex-London Dart/Pointers.

3rd May 2002
Correcting the report below, at least two Iveco/Marshall minibuses are still operating at Arriva in the shape of 2360 and 2364 (former MB740 and MB744). Former Wests Coaches and ex-Harlow Optare Delta 3329 has been operating in late April on a variety of routes. 

At LocalLink, smart and comprehensive blinds are now fitted to DEL1.

22nd April 2002

At Arriva, the Iveco/Marshall minibus is now eliminated from town work, replaced in part by the Mercedes/Plaxton Beaver combination, although a pair of Mercedes Varios have brought that type back to the town too. 

7th April 2002
The service changes went ahead as planned. Joining the existing vehicles used by LocalLink is a former London Central Dart/East Lancs 2000 (DEL1). The Regal vehicle has turned out to be a Mercedes after all, but as expected, Trustline are using two standard ex-London Dart/Plaxton Pointers.

31st March 2002
The Easter weekend sees the change-over of a number of services. Regal Busways, Trustline and London Transit are all new operators to Harlow, whilst the operations of Stort Valley's LocalLink expand considerably.

Staying with new operators, a vehicle update will be provided on 7th April, but the following is expected. Regal should use Metroriders on the 381/2, Trustline will use standard Darts on the 392/3, but have ordered two brand new Optare Solos for use in about six months time. Stort Valley have a nearly new MAN/Alexander on board ready for their expansion on rural services. 

At Arriva, the last non-corporate liveried vehicle (5379, ex LR9) has left, completing a process which has been underway for a good while. The Iveco/Marshall minibus fleet, although still appearing daily in the town, is now down to the last remains as far as serviceable and operational vehicles are concerned, with all those not sighted in service in March now removed from the fleet list. The Mercedes/Plaxton Beaver now dominates the minibus numbers for the first time. 

25th January 2002
Departures from the Arriva fleet have seen the DAF/Optare Delta's move on, and the number of Iveco/Marshall minibuses considerably reduced. None of those with electronic displays now remain in normal service. A side effect of this reduction is that Olympian 5379 (LR9) is now the only non-corporate liveried vehicle still in service at with Arriva at Harlow. The low-floor Dennis Lances, having been made redundant from their role on the former 502, remain employed on various routes, but can most predictably be seen on route 501. 

Stort Valley's Locallink operation on route 5 has produced a Leyland National II, supporting former London Titan T1006. Both are now in a striking livery of blue with a yellow front and diagonal side flash. Both vehicles now carry full front destination blinds. Although not featured on the main site, these vehicles work positioning journeys to/from work on the 5 in service from Stansted as route 210. 

Finally, a couple of unusual workings. On 24th January Arriva Metrobus 5363 worked in service on route 510. A seemingly more regular happening is for Imperial to use one of their Mercedes/Alexander minibuses on route H1, seen on a number of occasions during January. 

30th December 2001
As the year draws to a close, the picture of the towns route network has once again been revised somewhat. Although overall the amount of services being provided are similar to recent times, the alterations to the 392/3 service and part of route 5 sees an increase in the proportion of supported services provided by Essex County Council, caused no doubt in no small way by the on-going driver shortage problems. Also supported is the new Saturday service on recently introduced route H1, which now provides the only link to Debden and Loughton. The H1 itself is an example of the increasing proportion of services being provided in the town by independent operators. Besides Imperial, SM/Olympian, Clintona and Stort Valley have all increased their presence in 2001, whilst Myalls is new, even if with a limited presence. 

No brand new vehicles have entered service this year, but in general the age-profile is still reasonable, and vehicle quality and maintenance standards are generally high. Another new trend has seen Titans or Metrobuses, absent from the town for so much of their lives, arrive in various forms through Arriva, SM, Imperial, and Stort Valley.

The recent Arriva service cuts will no doubt see the departure of some familiar vehicles, whilst the possibilities of further vehicle movements as a result of cascaded changes to London routes must also be a probability. All in all, I guess the vehicle scene will continue to change at a reasonably high rate next year, just as it has during this.  

The last remnants of the County bus green and cream livery can still be seen, but only now on three vehicles, and so early 2002 will surely see this eliminated. SM have had a bit of an identity change this year, with the normal vehicle name now shown as SM Coaches (replacing SM Travel) and the Olympian name now featuring a little stronger, although the red double deck vehicles remain unbranded. 

Although Buzz have withdrawn from the innovative and well-run B4, overall, the main picture remains one of stability and reliability. Vehicle shortages mid-year were handled properly, and would now seem to have been overcome.

In terms of infrastructure, the bus station is at last organised and functional, although clearly it will need constant upkeep, something which was very much missing at first. Also likely to require upkeep and maintenance are the towns numerous new bus stops that have been installed recently. Finally, the electronic service indicator at the town station now display departures for many services (not just route 10), but its partner in Church Langley Way, having displayed "sign under test" for some months, has now altered to the equally useful "please use the timetable".

4th November 2001
Metrobuses have arrived at Arriva with two now operational. 5363 from Ware and 5259 from Colchester (who's strap line it still carries) are former London M233 and M1289 respectively. Use has been for these vehicles on school services, but there have also been plenty of town service appearances, including routes 2, 3, 4 and 10A. Blinds are not available, and so hand-written windscreen slips have had to suffice.

Other changes to the Arriva fleet have seen the arrival of more older Mercedes/Plaxton Beaver vehicles and the departure of the newer Mercedes Vario/Beaver II

SM Travel minibuses are now carrying the name SM Coaches. This seems to apply to both private hire/schools and T15 vehicles. The red double deck fleet still carries no fleetname.

The bus station continues to develop, with the half-container that has acted as a travel office for some months now seeming ready to be replaced. Additionally, the bus stands have been re-laid out and good timetable information has now appeared for most services, including non-Arriva services, and supported by a summary of departures for each stand, in departure time order.

1st October 2001
A quiet month after the considerable changes to the scene last month.

The Arriva vehicle mix has altered a little, with an increase in the native Dart/Plaxtons and Iveco/Marshall minibuses running around the town, meanwhile Wright bodied Darts and Mercedes minibuses increasingly feature on routes from Debden.

Route SM20 has materialised (on blinds anyway) as the S20.

Finally, the bus station, which had been a complete disgrace for the last month or so, has now been cleaned and ceremonially opened, rendering it fit for use by bus passengers once again. Sensibly, it is now closed after 7.30pm and all day on Sundays.

8th September 2001
Quite a change has taken place to the vehicle and service pattern provided by independent operators over the weekend of 1st-3rd September. 

Firstly, new route H1 has been started Imperial. Route details are on the main site, but the vehicle allocation is particularly interesting. One Metrobus operates alongside two Titans. The two Titans, both in route branded livery are, named pride of Loughton, and pride of Harlow. I believe that this is the first time a Titan has operated in service in Harlow town in the 22 year history of these magnificent vehicles. As if this wasn't enough,  Routemaster RM641 was used on the first day, complete with crew operation and home made blind dispalys on front, side, and rear.

Next, SM Travel have started route SM20. This service expands on what were a number of school journeys and utilises the vehicles to provide a Monday to Saturday service to most of the areas served. The three Metrobuses already owned by SM have been bolstered by, extraordinarily, another Titan. This time it's former T266. Custom route displays have been created for each vehicle. Replacing one of the Metros on school duties to Bishop Stortford is a real touch of luxury - a Neoplan Skyliner registration MJI2374

Finally on the independent front, Clintona are now operating a revised ECC Sunday network. Full details are on the main site.
Eastern National, adding to the considerably increased double deck activity in the town, have used an Olympian frequently on the 59 of late.

A number of the operator pages have been updated. The next update should be on time on 1st October.

19th August 2001
The townlink name is dead! Well on vehicles anyway. Optare Delta 3329, which was the last vehicle in regular service to carry the name, has been repainted into Arriva national livery. Only a handful of vehicles remain in green and cream County bus livery now, being the two "LR" Olympians, and four Iveco/Marshalls, some of which have been notably absent from service recently.

A further addition to the Mercedes minibuses listed as having joined the fleet is 2158 with Plaxton Beaver bodywork.

A number of updates have been made to the Arriva fleet list to reflect vehicles movements out of the area.

30th July 2001
(updated 4th August)
New vehicles at Arriva have added more variety to the local scene once again:-

A trio of  very smart Carlyle bodied Darts have arrived in the form of 3091, 3092 and 3096. They have been seen on town and country routes, although route 501 seems favourite and has seen at least one each day.

Mercedes L709D minibuses have returned (after only about one months absence!) Plaxton Beaver bodywork is featured on 2116, 2124 and 2125. A little more unusual is 2226, another Mercedes, but this time with Alexander bodywork.

The former "route 363" Mercedes Varios 2186/7/8 have been seen operating on normal Harlow routes, with a preference for route 505. None yet have Harlow front destination blinds, and the electronic side and rear numbers are also not in use.

Iveco/Marshall 2090 has not been seen during the last two months, and has been removed from the fleet list.

SM Travel have acquired former London Buses Leyland Titan T266, whilst Leyland National JNJ194V has been sold. More vehicles are due shortly.

Finally, as we are now in school holiday season, double deck operation has returned to town services once again. Although routes 2 and 3 would be favourites here, 5378 (LR17) was seen on low floor metro 10 on 25th July, and 5376 also appeared on 28th.

1st July 2001
More repaints at Arriva during the month, including Optare Delta 3328 and Iveco Marshalls 2342 and 2362, mean that just 8 vehicles at Harlow now remain in County Bus green and cream. These are the two 'LR' Olympians (5378/9), Optare Delta 3329, and Iveco minibuses 2350/2/3/7/8.

Mercedes/Dormobile 2072(K578YOJ) has not seen service this month, and is now removed from the fleet list. Despite this, the Iveco/Marshall minibus domination is still not total as Mercedes Vario/Beaver II vehicles 2186/7/8, stationed at Harlow, and mainly used on London service 377 (Ponders End to Oakwood), have seen some service in the town during June.   

Buzz have continued to use all white Mercedes Vario/Beaver II V253 BNV and Mercedes/Autobus 'coach' L768XLK on town services throughout the month.

SM Metrobus KJW318W has joined 'M677' in all over red livery.

Work on the bus station, now in its second year, continues.

2nd June 2001
Recent repaints at Arriva have seen 2338,2340,2341,2351 and 2355 move into national livery, leaving just six in the old Townlink colours. Newly arrived is 2361 (ex MB741).

Buzz have been operating a Mercedes Vario/Beaver II on town services in late May. Registered V253BNV, it is in all over white livery. The dot matrix front destination box is not being used, and so paper slips in the windscreen suffice. Another Mercedes/Plaxton (P684HND) was seen earlier in the month.

SM Travel are now using former London Metrobus M677. This has replaced JBO75W on school duties, and retains its' former red livery.

Other local news, Gale Motors have now painted former Arriva Iveco/Dormobile K709FNO into their own livery, whilst Golden Boy have introduced a simpler all over white livery with Red/Orange fleet name.  

1st May 2001
Buzz would seem to be suffering a shortage of serviceable bus fleet vehicles at present. Admirably, services have been maintained with Mercedes/Autobus 'coach' L768XLK seeing regular service in the last two weeks, supported on occasions by some of the full size coach fleet.

At Arriva, Mercedes/Dormobile Routemaker 2072 (K578YOJ) continues in service as the only minibus outside the Iveco/Marshall standard.

The town station terminus seems to be complete, and work now continues in ernest on the bus station.

14th April 2001
(amended 22/4/01)
A few notable vehicle movements in the Arriva fleet have prompted this interim update.

A number of the more unusual vehicle types seem now to left the area. The four DAF/Ikarus Citibuses (4335-7/9), the two Iveco/Mellor minibues, and singleton vehicle Iveco/Keiss (2233) have all gone.

In terms of replacements, two standard Darts with Wright handybus bodywork (3352/3) have been seen around town.

The Arriva fleet page has been updated to reflect these changes.

1st April 2001 (updated)
The Sunday service takes on a new look from today, with the 200 and 500 (also 201) in the hands of Imperial of Rainham, and town services 851-4 allocated to Clintona.

Imperial turned out three Mercedes O814 minibuses with Alexander ALX100 bodywork. Two were in an immaculate and striking (if a little traditional) livery of green and cream, close to what would have been Maidstone and District colours I would suggest. Clintona offered Iveco Minibuses in blue and white fleet livery, one with Marshall bodywork, and the other two with Mellor.

A few "old friends" have come back to Arriva at Harlow in the form of some Iveco/Marshall Minibuses that had originated here, but then later moved on . 2360/2/3 and 4 (once MB740 etc.) are now back. By contrast, the unusual Mellor bodied Iveco's 2235/6 (N935/6ETU) seem to have gone.

The Townlink name may still appear on a number of bus stops, but unless anyone can tell me otherwise, I believe Optare Delta 3329 is now the last vehicle to carry the name on the actual vehicle.

New technology would seem to be arriving in the form of electronic timetables. The system was not yet in use when photographed here at Harlow Town Station. So far this and one in Church Langley Way are the first to appear.

timesign.JPG (10446 bytes)

1st March 2001  (updated 4th March)
New on the scene now are another two Iveco/Marshall minibus from Luton. 2099 (M159RBH) joins its sisters from the same batch, whilst 2231 (M291AJC) is in Arriva livery, with "serving The Shires" strapline, and also carries a super rear advert.

At SM travel, a third former Arriva EH&E Iveco/Dormobile Routemaker from has appeared in the form of K708FNO. This time blind information is a little poor with no destination blind fitted, the side and rear boxes removed, and like its sisters, no "T" on the front number.

Recently repainted into Arriva national livery is 3363 (DPL413). This completes the class, and leaves only the two Optare Delta's, the two 'LR' Olympians, and 11 Iveco/Marshall minibuses in the old green and cream livery of the county bus era.

A couple of recent strange visitors at Arriva have seen Debden based 3474, an Alexander ALX200 bodied duel door Dart operating on the 510 on Saturday 17th February, whilst one of the LR's performed for a day on 15th on low floor route 10.

The next update will be on 1st April, and will see something of a change of format. Watch this space!

4th February 2001 (updated 6/2/01)
Recent changes to the fleet (incorporated above), have seen the removal of all Arriva Leyland Lynx's, many to neighbouring Colchester. Also no longer operating  with Arriva are the Dormobile Routemakers, although a further two (K707/8FNO) have appeared with SM Travel, and are now in white and maroon. Only one Mercedes (2072) now remains.

Arrivals have seem more Iveco/Marshalls, and 2233, an Iveco/Keiss.

The town station interchange is now nearing completion, and would seem to have enhanced this much neglected area considerably. The bus station is still undergoing further works.

A couple of new operators to the town have emerged from recent changes, even if on a rather limited basis. Arriva Colchester now operate some morning journeys on route 59 (arriving 07:03 (MF) and 08:48 (MS), departing 07:05 (MF). C.G. Myall & Son now operate the single journey 354 route on Saturdays (arrives 09:55, departs 12:10). The Monday to Friday EN service is unchanged. Finally, yet more negative publicity in the local media, service reliability and the bus lanes being the main topics. The next update will be on 1st March 2001.


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