Trivia: What's the biggest disparity in vehicle quality on the same route?

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py_megapixel

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A lot of operators now have fully route-branded networks with a dedicated fleet for each route, meaning that the buses are always pretty much the same. But a lot of other operators don't do this, so what turns up is a bit of a surprise. And this usually means that there is a variety of different buses on the same route, which of course means that some vehicles will be higher quality than others, either from the perspective of either a driver, a passenger, or an enthusiast.

To start, I'd like to nominate Stagecoach Manchester route 11. It can seemingly produce pretty much anything from the fleet, from the fairly old Enviro 200s - which are now quite tired-feeling and being single-deckers can get rather crowded - right through to some of the newer spec Enviro 400MMCs, which are hugely nicer. (I'm not sure if any of the ones with the new blue interior have made it onto the 11 yet but I'd assume they have).
 
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cactustwirly

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Reading buses 17/13/14

Mostly new 66/17 plate buses, but there's always a 54 plate grey double decker out on these routes
 

AB93

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When Arriva The Shires "upgraded" service 321 (Watford - Luton) to Sapphire spec, they replaced Citaros with StreetLites (so essentially, a downgrade apart from perhaps chargers).
However, for reasons that can only be explained by themselves, the spare ratio was covered by refurbishing the old order - and so branded Sapphire Citaros ran alongside the new StreetLites. You can't get much wider of a gap in quality than that.
 

TXMISTA

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Bristol’s 349 - operated by Abus and some journeys by First WoE. The difference in fleet quality is enormous. Until recently Abus were still using Optare Spectras
 

hst43102

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Stagecoach Northampton's 1, 4 or 16. Anything from 2004 Tridents, 2008 ex-London E400s and Lothian Gemini, E300s, MAN/Scania E300s, E200s or E400MMCs.
 

TR673

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Pretty much any route run by Stagecoach in Lincoln, since they allocate anything anywhere. The most extreme example would be the a full length 1 from Lincoln to Grantham, where you could get anything from a 53 plate Dart (which I'd say is least suitable) to a 2010 registered E400 Scania with high backed seats (which I'd deem the most suitable).
Other stuff that can occur include 67 plate E200 MMCs, E2/300s and Tridents of various ages and most commonly (but not exclusively) 2007 Enviro 400s with normal bus seats.
 

jammy36

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Based on some recent workings (presumably whilst some of the usual vehicles are off the road) I'd nominate Stagecoach South West's "Falcon" service. Usually in the hand of Plaxton Elite coaches, but how about Plymouth to Bristol in an Enviro 200 which has occured a few times recently, with two in service on the route on one day:

 

cnjb8

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Based on some recent workings (presumably whilst some of the usual vehicles are off the road) I'd nominate Stagecoach South West's "Falcon" service. Usually in the hand of Plaxton Elite coaches, but how about Plymouth to Bristol in an Enviro 200 which has occured a few times recently, with two in service on the route on one day:

This is temporary, the Elites are receiving the 'schoolbus' Stagecoach livery
 

Roger1973

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Reading buses 17/13/14

Mostly new 66/17 plate buses, but there's always a 54 plate grey double decker out on these routes

And until a year or so back, the X registered anonymous blue Dennis Tridents (not my photo) could turn up on anything (and at that time, route 9 was a midi-bus route!) In theory they were supposed only to appear on school bus workings and football services (although some of the schools workings seem to do one or two journeys on regular routes before / after the school run.)

If it's not stating the obvious, I understand Reading's policy is to have only just enough route branded / coloured buses for each route, with grey buses to cover for any off the road, rather than have spare route branded buses which will invariably end up on the wrong routes (although the latter seems to have got more common than it used to be even before the odd allocations / workings generated by the Covid emergency.)
 

Citistar

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Bristol’s 349 - operated by Abus and some journeys by First WoE. The difference in fleet quality is enormous. Until recently Abus were still using Optare Spectras

Bit of a harsh criticism when First Bristol still have plenty of very tired double deckers of their own of a similar vintage doing all day on high profile city and country services. The evening 349 journeys which First perform interwork with the X9 allocation, so usually 14 year old 373xx Volvo/Geminis. I don't think the average passenger will exhibit any preference between the two providers.
 

ValleyLines142

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National Express West Midlands.

The 5 (West Bromwich to Sutton Coldfield) can be anything from 03-plate B7 Geminis to 64-plate Enviro 400s.

The same goes for the Platinum routes, with the E400MMCs. More often than not a ALX400 Trident or a Gemini will turn up.
 

Cambus731

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Back when Wilts & Dorset were management owned, most routes seemed to have everything and anything drop on it. One journey could be say a VR, then the next could be an Optare MetroRider, then the one after that could be an Olympian, probably with coach seating, or a DAF DB250/Optare Spectra.
 

CBlue

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In the early 2000s I was a regular traveller on the then Service 113 out of Cambridge. The usual allocation was a batch of Plaxton President bodied Tridents, but due to their unreliability anything from step entrance Darts to Volvo B10M coaches could be found operating the route. At one point on a Sunday it was even a regular Mercedes minibus turn despite being 'decker worked for the other six days of the week.
 

lxfe_mxtterz

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Stagecoach's "KITE" service between Guildford and Aldershot:

The usual offering is a randomised mess of Enviro 200s, ADL Darts (or whatever they're called) and ALX 400s. Quite often though, anything from Optare Solos (both non-SR and SR versions) through to Stagecoach Gold Enviro 400 MMCs turn up!
 
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Flange Squeal

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The Farnborough to Fleet Stagecoach route 10 can produce a variety of Aldershot's vehicles. Anything from small 13 year old Solos and 7 year old Solo SRs, to saloons such as 8 year old Enviro 200s and 15 year old Darts, and even deckers such as 17 year old Tridents and 4 year old 'Gold' specification Enviro 400MMCs. Really is a bit of everything!

Edit: Seems @lxfe_mxtterz was typing at the same time with a route from the same depot! :lol:
 

Redmike

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A lot of operators now have fully route-branded networks with a dedicated fleet for each route, meaning that the buses are always pretty much the same. But a lot of other operators don't do this, so what turns up is a bit of a surprise. And this usually means that there is a variety of different buses on the same route, which of course means that some vehicles will be higher quality than others, either from the perspective of either a driver, a passenger, or an enthusiast.

To start, I'd like to nominate Stagecoach Manchester route 11. It can seemingly produce pretty much anything from the fleet, from the fairly old Enviro 200s - which are now quite tired-feeling and being single-deckers can get rather crowded - right through to some of the newer spec Enviro 400MMCs, which are hugely nicer. (I'm not sure if any of the ones with the new blue interior have made it onto the 11 yet but I'd assume they have).

Quite a few of the 20 reg E400MMCs have made it on to the 11. A few Stockport routes seem to run with a mixture of single and double deckers.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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The recent introduction of the Bath Clean Air Zone has seen the pensioning off of older machines. Before that happened in March, you had the 18/19 Bath to Cribbs Causeway service that could have either 03 plate B7TLs or 67 plate Scania e400s, the latter being 77 seat dual door examples, with evening journeys also being run with 25 seat 68 plate Solos.
 

Dai Corner

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Newport Transport seem to allocate their fleet fairly randomly, meaning a given route might have a 52 plate Dart and a 70 plate Yutong battery bus out at the same time.
 

A0wen

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Stagecoach Northampton's 1, 4 or 16. Anything from 2004 Tridents, 2008 ex-London E400s and Lothian Gemini, E300s, MAN/Scania E300s, E200s or E400MMCs.
TBF to Stagecoach Northampton, that's a fairly recent phenomenon since Covid which has seen alot of older vehicles put out in service and cascaded in due to social distancing.
 

WM Bus

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National Express West Midlands.
The 5 (West Bromwich to Sutton Coldfield) can be anything from 03-plate B7 Geminis to 64-plate Enviro 400s.

The same goes for the Platinum routes, with the E400MMCs. More often than not a ALX400 Trident or a Gemini will turn up.
Depends what route the BC X12/X70, 23/24, X20/X21/X22 and X1/X2 normally seem to be largely platinum. So not more often than not. Even if a non platinum is used its more likely to be an E400 than a Trident.

The 12/13 is one though joint PN/WB ran as that sees a big variety.
The 55/94 between them Which combine to every 4 mins City Centre - Ward End see any double decker from BC/PB Gemini, Tridents, 09 plate E400, 2012/2013 E400, platinums and sometimes an Omnicity.
 
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LUYMun

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The Farnborough to Fleet Stagecoach route 10 can produce a variety of Aldershot's vehicles. Anything from small 13 year old Solos and 7 year old Solo SRs, to saloons such as 8 year old Enviro 200s and 15 year old Darts, and even deckers such as 17 year old Tridents and 4 year old 'Gold' specification Enviro 400MMCs. Really is a bit of everything!
Same goes for the routes 7 and 9 when they interworked with the 10.

However, Stagecoach Gold route 1 gets the gold award for this thanks to a random selection of E400MMCs alongside Darts, Tridents or E200s - for some reason this often happens on a Saturday. I do recall on the day after Stagecoach's announcement on their new livery that the 1 was allocated by almost every Trident Aldershot garage had!
 

DunsBus

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The former First Scotland East service 86 between Edinburgh and Midlothian. Upgraded with 15 new Volvo B7TL/Wright Geminis In 2005 it wasn't long before these started to appear on other services and the 86 reverted to being run with whatever was left in the depot.
 

chiltern trev

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685 Carlisle to Newcastle particularly the Carlisle to Brampton section.

The usual vehicles from Stagecoach are Solo (1), E300 (1 or a MMC) or MMC (2 or 2+E300).
Arriva - should be Omnicity (3 or 2 with an E400 afternoon schools) or now usually Pulsars (3 or 2 with an E400).

This week Stagecoach also put out a Versa.
 

LancasterRed

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Preston Bus 8, 16, 35, 89. Modern hybrid deckers or Solos can turn up, as well as grottier deckers. I don't know the names of the buses used.

Stagecoach Lancaster 4, 40, 41, 42, 100, N1/2 (whichever) is similar in that the odd Versa turns up on some routes and older messier buses rotate with modern buses. Again, unsure of the names.
 

Jamesrob637

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A few years ago the 142/143 "Magic Bus" in Manchester could produce a V or W reg old thing, a 51 or 02 reg double-door ex London marginally nicer one, or one of the current fleet of 08 reg buses from the Stagecoach division itself on which you felt a bit smug knowing that you were getting very good value for money. They all seem to be 08 to 13 reg nowadays, and although some of these are nearly as old now as the V and W reg were back when I regularly used them, they are in much better condition albeit with occasionally noisy engines, but that is to be expected of a 13-year old bus with likely several hundred thousand on the clock!
 

py_megapixel

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A few years ago the 142/143 "Magic Bus" in Manchester could produce a V or W reg old thing, a 51 or 02 reg double-door ex London marginally nicer one, or one of the current fleet of 08 reg buses from the Stagecoach division itself on which you felt a bit smug knowing that you were getting very good value for money. They all seem to be 08 to 13 reg nowadays, and although some of these are nearly as old now as the V and W reg were back when I regularly used them, they are in much better condition albeit with occasionally noisy engines, but that is to be expected of a 13-year old bus with likely several hundred thousand on the clock!
Last time I was in Manchester, Magic seemed to be running with entirely cascaded E400s - presumably Stagecoach's oldest ones and released by the gradual delivery of MMCs across Manchester. They do feel a bit the worse for wear of course but ultimately they're similar to the non-Magic (umm... muggle?) buses.
Very different as you say to a few years ago where I'm pretty sure a lot of the vehicles would not be considered remotely acceptable to put on the "proper" Stagecoach-branded services.
 
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