Last update
30th April 2016

This page

Brief history

Townlink Routes

Townlink Bus Fleet

Townlink Coach Fleet

Other pages

Bus route maps
Bus route details 
Links & contacts  
Enthusiasts Main Index



Townlink Buses (previously SM Coaches, earlier SM Travel) was a Harlow based independent which operated buses in the town between 1986 and 2016. It was closely linked with the Olympian/Roadrunner buses also in the town. Both ran their last on 26th February after a ruling by the Traffic Comissioners

The story started in a small way just post deregulation when as SM Travel, route T15, then a peak hour ECC contract linking Potter Street with the industrial area at Templefields (omitting the town centre) was taken on. The route evolved into being a commercial operation providing an all day service on Monday to Saturday serving the Town Centre and had numerous extensions, deviations, withdrawals and reincarnations over the years. Expansion in general had been progressive for a number of years, and reached a peak in 2010 with intensive competition against Arriva and also Centrebus. Although this retracted and essentially settled, competitive flare-ups in Harlow are regular. Townlink had both private hire work and schools services, and a fair size coach fleet was also therefore maintained under the same name.

The traditional SM fleet livery was of white with maroon skirt and sign-writing, but when the SM & Olympian bus operations effectively merged a few years ago for a while, this gave way to the white with blue skirt and sign-writing livery previously carried by Olympian. By this time the name had morphed from SM Travel into SM Coaches. In November 2013 the Townlink name came to replace the SM branding and route and vehicle registrations almost at a stroke. 

As far as vehicles are concerned, the volume of changes, and sometimes unusual choices always made for a very interesting scene. The recent building of a fleet of Dennis Dart SLF's signalled a change of thinking. This may have been influenced by what would seem to have been a little difficulty in operating and selling the more unusual fleet members.

A long-established, well equipped and fair-sized depot at Burnt Mill operated the Townlink fleet, and supported the Olympian/Roadrunner operation as well. It was often packed tightly at night with lots of parking on public roads in the vicinity. The Olympian/Roadrunner operating base is still used to store a reasonable number of non-operational vehicles of both Townlink and Olympian.


All routes served Harlow (now discountinued):
19/20/21 Harlow to Warley - major commercial trunk service, Mon to Sat. PVR = apx. 10. Note that the Ongar to Brentwood section did not run in the last weeks)
524/A Harlow to Hertford - Half-hourly commercial service, Mon to Sat. PVR = 2
T15/A Harlow to Potter Street circular -regular commercial town service, Mon to Sat. PVR = 2



Dennis Dart SLF/Alexander ALX200
A new type to arrive in some quantity in summer 2012, 12 having entered service then, Y344FJN and the S-reg vehicles are 2014 additions. Normal fleet livery and logos are carried. All are ex Stagecoach examples. Front LED's have been fitted, but side and rear displays are still those inherited from the former operator and are not used. The whole fleet is stood down, many parked up at the Roadrunner premises.

LX51FFW lays over at Harlow Bus Station. This was the first in full livery, which at the time included the SM Coaches name. (R Hudson) 
    Y351FJN shows the new fleet-name on the front. With neither fleet-name, or any route/destination information on the side, the vehicle does look a little bare.  (R Hudson) 


Dennis/Plaxton Mini Pointer Dart SLF
A batch of these vehicles started arriving with both the SM and Roadrunner fleets from November 2011, which reached 10 in total. Eight were from Go North-East, including the 3 initial SM examples. Initially three appeared in the all-over yellow of their former owner. The vehicles are now all in fleet livery, the SM examples having been completed since early after entry into service. A serious accident occurred in November 2013, V189ERG was involved and has not returned to service.

The first into fleet livery was V193ERG, seen on the 19 at Harlow Bus Station. (R Hudson).

A rear shot of V193ERG shows the less common strip rear destination display. This is not back in use with SM at this time. (R Hudson).
    The Townlink name has now been applied, as seen on V191ERG, also on the 19 at Harlow Bus Station. (R Hudson).

Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointer 2
In the SM/Townlink fleet, a number of these vehicles have come and gone. Three examples moved in from Olympian in 2013. The latest arrivals in May 2014 (the s-reg examples) are former Arriva vehicles. 

V808KAG is one of the 3 moved in from Olympian/Roadrunner. It displays the new fleet-name here at Harlow Bus Station  (R. Hudson)
    Townlink S316JUA Former Arriva vehicle S316JUA, one of 3 obtained in 2014, seen without fleet name at Harlow Bus Station  (R. Hudson)



Iveco Maxim2
An unusual looking and reasonably rare midi-coach.  The vehicle is in all-over silver livery.

Townlink FN02VBK

(picture to follow)


Iveco Euromidi 95/Indicar Eco-3

(R Hudson)


Iveco EuroRider/Beulas
Iveco chassis dominate the SM and Olympian coach fleets. Spanish bodybuilder  Beulas also features in the case of both fleets, as on the two in the SM fleet below. Both of the SM vehicles are now in silver livery. LKD carries branding for a London to Stansted Airport service. 


(R Hudson)


Iveco EuroRider/Irisbus C33


(Picture to follow)

Please note that this is an unofficial site, and whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, no claims can be entertained for losses caused by any errors or omissions here, or through any shortcomings on the part of the operators themselves. We would be grateful if any errors could be notified to us, in order that we can make a prompt correction. Any suggestions, comments or other forms of feedback are most welcome by e-mail. This site acknowledges the support provided by local operators, but is not directly linked with any operator.

[Top of Page][HarlowRide Main Index] [enquiries]