|First 702 'Green Line' - To London...|
We were due to meet up with Matthew Wooll of First Group – a photograph opportunity before the off. However, just prior to that news came to us (well, a text actually) that we had a shout out on Chris Evans radio show… he must have heard we bussed past his house! When Matthew turned up, it was not going to be a simple photo of us getting on the bus. Our bags were taken and duly packed onto the bus, hands were shaken and we met not only Matthew but the driver, Andrew, and Simon Goff, the General Manager.
|... or John O'Groats|
Having said it was a long journey, we were accompanied - from Hamersmith - by Andy Grey. Andy is more used to scheduling Croydon trams these days but I did get the full story about how he replaced Michael (when he left First Group for Omnibus).
|Sir Peter Hendy and the 11 to Bank|
Waiting for us at Victoria was Sir Peter Hendy (CBE). Peter is the Transport Commisioner for London, so it was a big deal to get a photograph with him. He was also my ticket across London – with a donation of an oyster card he had loaded in a limited edition wallet for me. After a short chat between Michael and Peter (they go back a fair way) our route plans were altered… perhaps I should let scheduler Michael write the next bit to explain:
The original itinerary involved a 24 to Tottenham Court Road to travel on a New Bus for London then on to a 25 to Stratford. Given it was rain – and since the route was planned the New Bus For London was now to be found on route 11 we hatched a different plan. Catch an 11 to Bank and then the 25 on to Stratford. No problems – and that is what we did. Traffic was slow but, this is London, traffic is slow and everything is rush. Changing at Bank we caught a 25 which claimed to be going to Manor Park. That was fine as that was beyond Stratford. On board we were assured it was an Ilford Bus …. Until Whitechapel where the bus changed destinations.. or so the announcement said. “This is now a bus to Bow Church. Please change for destinations beyond Bow.” OK, this is London – things do change – but now we needed to as well. Alighting at Bow Church we soon boarded a 425 that came up behind which took us through to Stratford Bus Station.
|25 to Stratford... or was it???|
|and the 425 that took us there!|
Having dealt with all that we decided that, as traffic seemed slow so should press on toward Romford and caught an 86 to Romford in the rain some 10 minutes or so earlier than planned.
Jez back again. For what it is worth, I want to say that I really enjoyed my trip across London. OK, Londoners seem a sickly lot – plenty of sniffles and Vicks going around. But then this is as bus as I have seen the buses. The Boris… new bus for London looks and rides like a dream. With all it’s gizmo’s and electronics – it starts off almost silently on electrics which is very weird. It does feel iconic – some may disagree but I can see this being a ‘routemaster 2.0’ with time. What is wrong? Well, the windows seem small and, upstairs at least, it all feels narrow, small and long. However, it fits. And I enjoyed it despite this.
|Stagecoach 86 - Stratford to Romford|
Stay tuned for the next part of our day… though as things have turned out it is 11pm and I need to be up at 5am in order to correct the consequences of the rest of the day. Perhaps over a coffee I can catch up…
Our planned itinerary for tomorrow looks something like this. If it is anything like today, please don’t take it as gospel!!:
06:22 – Depart Capel St Mary on Carter’s (93x)
06:50 – Arrive Ipswich (again)
07:00 – Ride around on Ipswich buses, have photographs and anything Ipswich demand of us – as long as they bring coffee and breakfast!
08:00 – Depart Ipswich on First Bus (88)
08:49 – Arrive in Stowmarket – Market Place
08:55 – Depart Stowmarket on Galloways (384)
10:05 – Arrive at Bury St Edmunds Bus Station
10:35 – Depart Bury St Edmunds on Stagecoach (11)
11:42 – Arrive in Cambridge – Drummer Street
11:45 – Meet up with Alison McCalpin, Omnibus PR guru who will let us know of things we have forgotten to do (or take photographs of)
12:45 – Depart Cambridge (with flea in ear) on Stagecoach (8)
14:44 – Arrive at Peterborough Bus Station
14:46 – Tea and Coffee with Route One Magazine
15:40 – Depart Peterborough on Kimes (9)
17:10 – Arrive in Oakham
17:15 – Depart Oakham on Centrebus (19)
18:36 – Arrive in Nottingham
18:38 – Hopefully meeting up with Trent Barton to do a bit of UK bus industry PR
20:20 – Depart Nottingham on Trent Barton (Red Arrow)
20:50 – Arrive in Derby
21:03 – Depart Derby on Arriva (44)
21:09 – Arrive at Pride Park
21:11 – Sleep… no beer… honest!