Following the disastrous flooding of Carlisle Bus Depot (and a lot of
the City) on 8th January 2005 and the amazing variety of buses seen in Carlisle
afterwards, Stagecoach announced the purchase of a fleet of brand new low-floor
buses for Carlisle City routes. These were officially launched (bad choice
of word?) on 30th June, complete with "Carlisle Citi" branding, and with most
of the buses carrying route branding for individual routes both internally
and externally. The publicity seemed to be good, but rather selective, as
the other local and interurban routes were ignored almost totally. I hope
that the money invested by Stagecoach on this exercise will be beneficial,
but the problem of the daily traffic jam that is afternoon in Carlisle means
that the reliability of the service is severely compromised, regardless of
the buses used. The City and County Councils need to do something more than
a few bus lanes, one of which is rendered inoperative due to being full of
police vehicles displaced from their previous abode by the floods and the
others seem to be ignored by motorists. There is no point having bus lanes,
box junctions and parking restrictions if the motorists of Carlisle are free
to ignore them at will, with no visible enforcement. I hope Stagecoach makes
a big fuss.
Enough ranting. My first encounter with the new look in Carlisle was on
Friday 1st July. Above is the first picture I took, at the start of a day
trip to Preston and Blackpool (the results of which should appear online soon),
at Durranhill terminus (guess which is my local bus stop!) 34719 is numerically
the last of the 39 buses for Carlisle, and is one with general branding.
Inside the buses there is a lot of information about the services, tickets
available and where the City Centre stops are. All very commendable, but
to a large extent is it merely preaching to the converted?
Time to accentuate the positive, however. After a month my guess would
be that passenger numbers are up, and the low-floor feature has attracted
many pushchairs. And the new buses look good. The individual route brandings
are 34681-34685 (routes 60/60A), 34687-34695 (routes 61/61A), 34696/7 (routes
62, 62A, 62B), 34698-34701 (routes 63/63A), 34702-34710 (routes 67/68) and
34711-34715 (route 76). 34686 and 34716-9 do not carry any specific route
branding, and turn up as required on any route.
On 4th July I took advantage of a £1 Day Rover offer to explore
the suburbs of Carlisle and photograph buses in places other than the City
Centre and Durranhill, only to curse when I discovered that for only the second
time in over 20 years my SLR camera had let me down, and no photos survived.
The next opportunity I had to photograph the new buses was 11th July, and
so it is that the first picture worthy of inclusion is a B10M with Alexander
bodywork! 20944 is seen on West Tower Street, having worked in from Cockermouth,
and is an ex-Manchester vehicle. As is my way I managed to snap it with the
scrolling display showing only the route number.
Another ex Manchester B10M is 20904, seen on the same road, and operating
an infrequent village service, on 11th July 2005.
And also on West Tower Street is new Dart 34711, route branded for service
Not a brilliant photo, but at least a different angle. 34686 is seen
on rout 68. Behind the bus are the traffic lights just seen above the water
line in the picture at the top of the Carlisle after the rain page.
Parked up in the Bus Station are two of Carlisle's mnibuses, 40395 and
40397, both Mercedes 709Ds. A few new minibuses might have been nice, as these
(and most of the rest of the Carlisle based ones) are getting rather old
Seen leaving the Bus Station is another ex Manchester B10M, 20977. The
few remaining native B10Ms have been augmented by some of the examples sent
from Manchester after the flooding. As these are newer than what they replaced,
it is a good thing.
Also seen leaving the Bus Station is Volvo Olympian/ Alexander 16653,
bound for Whitehaven on route 300 with appropriate route branding. This bus,
and several others of the same batch replaced some Northern Counties bodied
examples last year.
On The Crescent is new Dart 34697, route branded for service 62 to Kingmoor
It is not the case that I have a fixation with ex-Manchester B10Ms,
just that they klept appearing at opportune moments. This one is 20959, again
with scrolling screen shownig number only. Timing is everything! Just behind
the bus can be seen the bus lane turned police vehicle park, which is doing
nothing to aid the efficient operation of bus services in Carlisle.
And another ex Manchester bus, this time with Northern Counties bodywork.
20994 is seen leaving the Bus Station on a 685 journey to Newcastle, which
is normally operated by coaches.
Not a brand new low-floor Dart is Leyland Olympian 14261, which found
it's way onto route 76 and took me home in the early afternoon. Congestion
in the City Centre was already causing problems, as evidenced by the Dart
behind. The 76 has a frequency of every 15 minutes during the day, so to get
two at once indicates a big problem somewhere en route.
The Dart behind was 34714, and inevitably I waited to photograph it.
Pity about the shadows.
Back into the City later in the day, and the bus lane on Lowther Street
can lead to some good line-ups, such as this one. 34718 is seen at the head
of a queue of Darts, with something different just visible at the back of
the line. My notes suggest that the buses behind 34718 are 34707, 34685, 34714,
34690 and 52134.
And here is 52134, carrying Bluebird fleetnames, and what exactly is
Northumbria as a destination? I was unable to get to the other side of the
coach to check the legal lettering, so I am none the wiser. Can anyone enlighten
Still carrying Stagecoach in LAncashire fleetnames is Leyland Olympian
14260, about to take up a journey to Annan on route 179 (and take me to Kingstown
Broiadway). Two top deck rides in one day in Carlisle, and one different vehicles.
A rare event.
Something of a surprise was Volvo B6 30460. I thought it had perished
in the flooding, given it's non-appearance afterwards, and the arrival of
two Mercedes Varios carrying route branding for Hadrian's Wall service AD122,
so to see it on 11th July was a real surprise. It is operating route 38 to
Silloth and Skinburness, nowhere near Hadrian's Wall.
And here is one of the "new" AD122 buses, 42559, with defective screen,
on West Tower Street.
On 25th July, thankfully overcast and hence more suitable for photography,
MAN 18.220/ Alexander 22804 put in an appearance on routes 67/68, and yet
again I got the wrong bit of the scroll! One of two MANs which escaped the
flooding, it has clearly been retained in Carlisle as a back up, being low
floor. The whereabouts of the other survivor, 22813, is unknown to me.
Also on 25th July, 34717 was photographed on route 38 to Silloth. The
non-specific branded Darts can turn up on any route, including the country
routes. They are regularly seen on routes 79 & 179 across the border.
As evidenced by 34716, seen loading outside the Market Hall for Dumfries
on 25th July.
Seen approaching the underpass beneath Castle Way is Dart 34704, in the
miraculous situation of having no other traffic in view (other than in the
car park behind the bus).
The 1600 hours departure for Annan on route 179 is usually a double deck
turn, as it was on 25th July, 14261 doing the honours. It is seen approaching
the underpass from the other direction to 34704.
The 555 service to Keswick is often double deck operated, as demonstrated
by Olympian 14265, seen approaching the Market Hall stops and with one of
the Hadrian's Wall buses behind.
A recent addition to the Carlisle fleet is 42000, an ex-Western Mercedes-Benz
Vario with Plaxton body, seen on Lowther Street on 27th July.
Another of the Darts is 34699, branded for routes 63 and 63A, and seen
on Lowther Street, about to turn into Lonsdale Street en route for the Bus
Loading on route 60A outside the Market Hall on July 27th is Dart 34684.
Demonstrating the mess the traffic in Carlisle can make to the City services
is 34707, seen loading on Botchergate in the early afternoon of 29th July
on route 67, with a bus on route 68 behind (the interval should be 8 minutes).Further
back in the queue of traffic are two buses on the 60 and 60A respectively,
which should be 15 minutes apart. Not long after, three 61s appeared nose
Turning from The Crescent into English Street, starting point for route
64 (since withdrawn and replaced by a rerouted service 179) is unbranded
For several days in a row, the 1610 departure from Carlisle to Galashiels
on route X95 was in the hands of First Edinburgh Olympian 31684, a recent
transferee to the Borders. It is seen arriving in Carlisle on 29th July.
Another shot showing the congestion problems. 34702 and 34707 are seen
at The Courts, both heading for Belle Vue on route 68 (nominally 15 minutes
apart) on the afternoon of 29th July.