Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith, This page created 6th April 2018. Best on 800*600.
Arriva London DLAs
DLA1: 10.6m long, 4.2m highDLA1 was the first example of a new generation of low-floor double-decker buses. There had been Bristol Lodekkas of course, and low-floor single deckers, but this was the first attempt at a new double-decker with step-free low floor. It faced challenges. Even at 8ft 3in wide getting a standard wheelchair between the front wheel-arches was not easy, and required smallish wheels. With the low floor those arches could not be used for longitudinal seats, either. A wheelchair space and London-specified straight staircase and dual doorways just ate up the internal space, leaving precious few seats in the downstairs low-floor zone. The lower saloon seated just 17, most of those in the raised-floor section behind the central doors. The staircase was in the centre too, and with the solid bulkhead behind the driver gave a claustrophobic feel to the interior. Public reaction was not overwhelmingly enthusiastic, especially among the section of the public that was the all-day population - the elderly and infirm. There were still not many wheelchair users, but the wheelchair space produced a revolution in buggy usage. No longer did mothers have to struggle aboard with a folded wheelchair under one arm, shopping in the other, handbag/purse in a third and a child hanging on to a fourth. Non-folded buggies proliferated, and got bigger and trendier. Buggy wars became an issue too, as two or three ladies battled it out for the space. A wheelchair ramp was installed under the centre doorway: something else to get used to in terms of driving technique and bus-stop dwell-times. There was a lot more to low-floor introduction than just making the chassis work.
Brand new DLA14 ventures down Tottenham Court Road in December 1998.
That chassis was a DAF DB250, a lineal successor to the Metrobus. The choice of DAF by Arriva was due to their commercial links with DAF-Hughes and a dealership. Bodywork was by Alexander - the ALX400 - that became a standard on various chassis (DAF, Volvo, Dennis). In this case the buses were built to 4.2m height and 10.6m long. Presumably the thinking was that the low floor obviated the need to reach up to the standard height of 4.39m.
DLA1, a pre-production example, arrived at Wood Green in June 1998, and was used for familiarisation of drivers and maintenance staff. It was tried out on routes 29, 144 and 221.
Livery was London red, with a yellow coach line above the skirt, and a cream/white horn from above the windscreen.
DLA2-123: 10.6m long, 4.2m highProduction models followed, initially to Arriva London North: DLA2 arrived in October 1998, to Clapton for the 242. More followed, to Clapton for the 242 (from November 1998) and Wood Green for the 221 (from January 1999), in both cases displacing Metrobuses.
Arriva London North East took 238-247 (DLA38-47) at Stamford Hill. In their quirky way they received numbers in line with registrations, without the type code. From January 1999 they were put to work on the 168. This route was a sub-contract from Arriva London North, and reverted to them in March 2000. It was reallocated to Tottenham, along with the DLAs, which were then renumbered as DLA38-47.
January 1999 also saw Arriva London South take on DLA48-64 at Thornton Heath, in place of Olympians, on route 250, although the route transferred to Brixton (with Ls) in February 2001 before coming back to DLA operation at Thornton Heath in September 2001.
DLA39 approaches its southern terminus in October 2005. By now this is Fairfield Halls rather than Katherine Street. DLA39 still wears its original livery, including Easy Access logos. Two years later, in October 2007, DLA50 is still stationed at Thornton Heath. Here it is on the 198 to Shrublands, pausing at Sandilands.
DLA65-96 were a further allocation to Arriva London North at Wood Green, in spring 1999, where they supplanted President-bodied DLPs fronm route 29.
297-315 were another batch for Arriva London North East at Stamford Hill, again numbered in ALNE style. They were put to work in May 1999 on the 188 - a long way from Stamford Hill, but it was important to get modern low-floor buses onto the routes to The Dome before January 2000. The route, and buses, were shifted to Tottenham in March 2000 when the Stamford Hill garage was closed. The buses were then given their DLA numbers.
298 (alias DLA98) stands at The Dome (North Greenwich Station) in March 2000.
Enfield was the unusual recipient for DLA116-123 in July 1999, unusual in that Enfield was mainly a DLP shed (ie Plaxton Presidents).
The last two of these long squat DLAs, 124 and 125, did not come direct to Arriva London. They went as demonstrators (in plain red) to Dublin Bus, where they were DA2 and DA1 respectively, with Irish registrations. They came back to England in June 2000, to Wood Green and reclaimed their original UK plates.