London Extravaganza: Part Two

Oxford Tube Astromenga 50283 at Victoria, with a fellow sister behind
Following on from Part One of my thoroughly enjoyable day in London on Tuesday 7th July, I am now pleased to have finally finished putting together the second part of the report.

Following the next drop off at Picadilly Circus for a theatre show, I walked down towards Hyde Park to make my way to Victoria. I was particularly interested in photographing the Oxford Tube, which in my mind is the "crème de la crème" of longer distance commuter services. Operated by Stagecoach in Oxfordshire, the Oxford Tube is operated by a fleet of prestige VanHall TX27 Astromenga double deck coaches. The coaches boast a glass panoramic roof, free wifi, transmitted 4G signal, USB power sockets, air conditioning and increased legroom. At the service's peak, you can expect a coach every 10-12 minutes, with departures every 15 minutes through the day, 20 minutes in the evening and (Equally as impressive) every 30 minutes between 20:10 and 03:10. Services then pick up again more frequently from 04:10, three hundred and sixty five days a year. I love the Oxford Tube for the reason that, compared to other long distance services, there are no unnecessary stops in housing estates and villages on route - it runs point to point, with stops at Hillingdon and Lewknor - both principal towns on route. A same day return from London to Oxford is just £18, or £20 for a return pass valid for three months.

Arriva London LT517 working the 8th most busiest route in London.
Following ten or so minutes around Victoria Coach Station, I headed next door to the Victoria bus station. Since my last visit in October last year, there appears to be a much greater presence of Borismasters. Photographed on the 73 to the right is Arriva LT517. Journeys on the 73 take just under an hour end to end from Victoria to Stoke Newington, with principal stops including Hyde Park Corner, Marble Arch, Oxford Circus, Tottenham Court Road, Kings Cross and Islington. The 73 is regarded as one of the best Transport for London bus services to see the sights on, with it passing The British Library, Selfridges and Clissold Park. In May, the 73 was converted to Borismaster operation - having been operated by all of London's most iconic bus types, including the Routemaster and Mercedes Benz Citaro O530G. As I love my numbers when it comes to special reports; the 73 dates back some 101 years and today operates a peak frequency of every 3-4 minutes, using 53 buses as its peak vehicle requirement; the entire Anglianbus fleet sits at just below 50. Official statistics for the route show that, between 2012 and 2013, an average of 34,339 passengers used the service. If we divide this by the capacity of a new Routemaster, which is 87, that's 395 full buses a day. This makes it the 8th most used bus service in London, with the top place being taken by the 25 - conveying almost double the number of passengers of the 73.

One of the stunning Dennis Condors heads along Regent Street
I then began the walk back to Picadilly Circus, obviously with photographs on route. I was pleased to finally get a decent photograph of, excluding the heritage Routemasters, one of the eldest types still running in London. Seen to the right at the bottom of Regent Street, just by Picadilly, is G953FVX - a tri axle Duple Metsec bodied Dennis Condor. The bus dates back to 1989, when it was delivered new to Hong Kong Citybus. Just visible beside it is a much newer equivalent, either a Chinese built Anhui Ankai HFF6161-GS3 or an Optare Visonairre bodied Volvo B9TL - both of which are incredibly smart buses.

Picadilly Circus is served by six Transport for London tendered services plus two additional night services, accompanied by the network of tour bus services passing through the area - which is illuminated by the six electronic advertising screen on once darkness hits. The sheer amount of buses crossing the chaos is Picadilly is an amazing scene to watch; quite literally there a buses of all shapes in every direction possible. The area is serviced by routes  9, 14, 19, 22, 38 and C2, plus night services N9, N19, N22, N38 and N97. Notably, the 38 is London's most frequent bus service; at peak times you can expect a bus departing every 1 minute, with the frequency 'dropping' to approximately every 3 minutes during the day.

London General WVL31 on Picadilly; which is notable for being
one of the widest roads in central London.
It is always fascinating to see how what would be considered the more modern buses in East Anglia are among the eldest services buses to still be running the streets of London. For example, the Wright Gemini bodied Volvo B7TL - in East Anglia, the type (and the newer B9TL based equivalents) look extremely modern - but in London, when put against the likes of new Routemasters and Wright Gemini 3s, they look extremely outdated. The Wright Eclipse Gemini was drafted heavily into London since their introduction in 2001, and at the type replaced the likes of Leyland Olympians and Titans, as well as the tradition AEC Routemasters. In some areas, Wright Geminis have began to be cascade out of London to other operations within the big groups.

And with that, its the end of our London Extravaganzas. More photos from the day are appearing on Flickr and over in our Facebook Group.
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About Kieran Smith

Norwich Buses Blog was founded in December 2013 by Sam Larke after he left another popular blog, Norwich Bus Page. Since it's launch, the site has grown dramatically, especially whilst written solely by Kieran Smith during 2015. The blog is now in it's third year and we look forward to more success and growth in the future. If you think you'd make a good writer for Norwich Buses Blog, please do get in touch via email: samuel.larke@gmail.com
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