This page created 5th January 2009
by Ian Smith
Optare Spectras SP1-25When MCW closed down in 1989 after production of the Metrobus ceased, it was not the end of the Metrobus saga, just a change of chapter. The design rights were bought by Optare and DAF. The upshot was the DB250 double-deck chassis, which took elements of the successful DB220 single-deck chassis (as used in the Optare Delta and DAF Ikarus buses), and combined it with a Metrobus drive-line and rear axle assembly. They had a new low-emission 8.65litre DAF engine and a ZF gearbox.
DAF and Optare produced the double-deck Spectra, with a revolutionary body using the Alusuisse extruded aluminium sections and bolted assembly, with bonded glazing, to produce a rather different looking bus.
SP1: pre-production single doorSP1 was supposed to arrive early, as the evaluation bus for the single-doorway version. In the event it arrived at the same time as SP3, in September 1992. It was press-launched by Stephen Norris MP at the Imperial War Museum. Allocated to London Central at Camberwell, it was put to work as a trainer, then on route 40 (Dulwich - Camberwell Green - ldgate) to iron out any teething problems, before taking up its intended role on route 3 (Crystal Palace - Oxford Circus), replacing Routemasters, in early 1993.
SP2: pre-production dual doorSP2 was destined to remain unique. The two-door bus was sent in September to Edgware as a type-trainer, and then went to Cricklewood to work alongside Metrobuses on the 16 group from November 1992. It was almost immediately damaged in the rear, and returned to Optare for remedial work. It came back to London in April, to Camberwell, where it was tried out on the 35, 45 and 45A. Then after three months it went into store at Potters Bar, before being tried out on the 607 by Centrewest at Uxbridge. A trial with London General at Merton saw it on the 280, and at with London United at Fulwell the 267 and 281.
Then in November 1993 it found a home with East London at North Street,
where it was used for private hire, the 449 and the commuter 723X.
Stagecoach took it on privatisation, and sold it in 1997.
SP3-25: single doorThe production batch arrived immediately after the first one, in September 1992. They too were put to work by Camberwell on the 40 until taking up the 3 in the new year.
They stayed on the 3 until February 2000, when Connex won the route at re-tender. They then all moved to Go-Ahead North-East, including SP14, which had gained national notoriety for diving off Crystal Palace Parade into the old High Level Station in 1999. It was now only suitable for spares, of course. The rest lasted with Go North East until 2007, when most were sold for further service.