Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith,
This page created 11th October 2002.
DAF Optare Deltas
The Dutch DAF SB220 chassis appeared on the British Bus market in 1988,
and was stylishly bodied by Optare as the Optare Delta.
Aimed at the Leyland National market, the Delta was remarkably similar in concept
and indeed overall shape,
but the Optare design team gave it their inimitable sense of style,
producing a remarkably good-looking bus.
Power is provided by a rear-mounted 11.6 litre engine, cooled by a front radiator.
Seating is up to 53 with a single doorway and quadruple seats over the wheel arches.
London Buses borrowed a 53-seat demonstrator in March 1989:
F370 BUA worked from Plumstead garage on route 180.
This was followed in April 1989 by DA1, with a single doorway and 49 dual-purpose seats.
DA1 went initially to Selkent district at Bromley, where it
was promptly reregistered with an old RM mark, VLT400.
It was set to work on the B1 between Eltham and Coney Hall
- a bit different from the route's origins with FS minibuses, but a step in the route's
transition to the 314. It stayed there only until the following January,
when it transferred to Thornton Heath (South London) for use on the 109.
After five months it returned to Bromley in June 1990.
Its one-off nature saw it transferred once more in February 1991, to Plumstead's hire fleet.
For this work it received an inverted livery in October 1991: white with red stripes.
But after a year it was on the move again, to join the East London DA's at Seven Kings
(losing its cherished registration on the way).
But even there it stuck out like a sore thumb, with its single doorway,
and after four months it went to join the single doorway fleet with Westlink.
DA2: B30D+52, later B49F
DA2 was a London special: a dual doorway 30-seater that was tried out on Red Arrow services
alongside Mk2 Leyland Nationals from July 1989. Another special feature was a dot-matrix route display.
But the Nationals persisted on Red Arrow,
and were eventually transmogrified into the Greenways. DA2 also received a body change,
losing its centre doorway and gaining an extra 49 seats after just a year in its first guise.
The rebuilt bus, still with dot-matrix, went to Westlink for use on route 110 alongside DA3-9.
These seven buses were fairly standard Optare offerings, seating 49 with a single entrance.
They were bought for route 110, operated by the Westlink unit, from April 1990,
and received their dark red with turquoise and white go-faster stripes/flashes.
They were among the first London buses privatised when the unit was sold in January 1994,
and avoided being asset-stripped by West Midlands.
London United took them over with the company in September 1995.
They were all shifted to route 81 late in 1995 when Westlink won the route.
Some received the new Westlink livery before their subsequent sale during 1999.
London Buses bought two batches of DAs for East London work.
DA10 was a demonstrator, with dual doorway but dual-purpose seating,
and went on loan to Seven Kings garage early in 1991.
It was taken into London Buses' stock in July.
DA11-29 arrived the following spring, also for use at Seven Kings, primarily on routes 129 and 148.
They wore a startling new livery of silver grey with red skirts and stripes,
which suited their lines if not the politicians.
DA30-35 arrived in 1993,
after the earlier batch had been moved en masse to Barking for use on the 169,
and new supplemental 369, in March.
They all went to Stagecoach East London on privatisation in September 1994,
and donned the company's London livery of unadorned red.
Two, DA13 and DA15, had a break from London duties when they were transferred to Stagecoach South in Winchester for use on South-West Trains feeder services.
For this they received South-West Trains livery. They returned in April 2002 to take up training duties..
The remainder of the class remained at Barking
until they were taken off bus duties in the spring of 2001.
All were transferred to training duties, all over the Selkent and East London area,
with some in red (with new Stagecoach logos) and DA13/15 in Stagecoach white/n/stripes.
DA11 is one of Bromley's trainers, and I spotted it in the garage compound in July 2001.
I waited a while, but it refused to turn round.
I was luckier with 26024 (DA24), which was wearing the lime green version of training livery in Bromley garage yard in April 2004.
But a purple-liveried DA trainer (probably DA35) gave me the rear-end treatment at Catford Garage in January 2005.
R&I, MTL London, Metroline DAF848/9
The MTL group acquired a pair of Optare Deltas from Ogden, St Helens.
One was sent to R&I coaches in London.
In the autumn of 1995 that one, plus another,
were transferred to MTL London at Potters Bar for use on the commercial 310A/B routes
between Enfield and Hertford/Harlow. With standard three-track roller blinds they used route number cards in the front windows,
with 310 on the rollers.
Some destination displays also incorporated a large number suffix letter to complement the adjacent number blinds.
Livery was MTL's dark red overall, with MTL logos.
They were repainted red/cream in April 1997
in a joint marketing scheme with County Bus
for the 310 group of routes, and route-branded.
In due course they were taken over by Metroline (1998)
and replaced on the 310A/B by Metrobuses(!) in 1999.
Wests, County Bus OD621, OD760, Arriva Herts & Essex 3328/9
Independent operator West of Woodford Green bought two Optare Deltas,
one in 1989 and another in 1992, to use on route 201, operated on Essex County tender.
West's bus services, and the reregistered DAFs, were taken over by County Bus in August 1997
and the buses exchanged their red and white livery for cream and dark green.
County Bus used them in Harlow.
Presently County Bus came into the orbit of the Cowie Group and Arriva,
and the two buses were renumbered 3328 and 3329 in the Arriva Herts & Essex fleet.
They worked from Ware in 2001.
Seamarks of Luton was another long-established coaching company that took advantage
of bus deregulation to tender for local bus services.
They won a Hertfordshire contract to operate the 307 and 321 during the non-competitive hours: weekday evenings plus Sundays,
and in autumn 1989 acquired four DAF Optares for the jobs.
One was the original Optare Demonstrator,
that had previously visited Metrobus of Orpington and London Buses.
Seamarks lost the 321 Sunday contract in November 1991, but sub-contracted to Red Rose Travel for Sunday work on the 322 and 501.
Another Optare demonstrator was on loan for a while.
Three of the buses passed on to Universitybus at Hatfield in March 1999
when Universitybus was covering some of Seamark's contracts.
Universitybus disposed of two during 2000.
White Bus Services, Windsor
The White Bus Company operates three 49-seater Optare Deltas on its services from Windsor,
through Windsor Great Park to Sunningdale. The secondhand Deltas took over from Bedfords in 2003.
Even the Deltas needed to have the road camber altered before they could exit from the Great Park safely,
so there is little inclination to try to replace them with low-floor buses.
S158 JUA was operating through Windsor on 14th May 2006.
That day the services were extended to Slough Bus Station
to fit in with the Slough and Windsor Running Day.
The Purfleet bus and coach dealer bought four secondhand Deltas in June 2006, two from Go-Northern
and two from Reading Buses. They were repainted in Ensignbus silver and blue livery,
and branded for use on the X81 between Chafford Hundred, Lakeside, Bluewater and Gravesend, using the Dartford Crossing.
They moved on in 2007, 638 and 640 going to Acorn, Tamworth in May, 605 being rear-ended by a truck in the Dartford Tunnel and scrapped,
and 606 going to Alder Valley Travel in August.
Ian's Bus Stop
DA main text.