Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith,
This page created 16th August 2000, updated 9th December 2015. Best on 800*600.

The Reeve Burgess / Plaxton Darts

Part Two: 9.0m, DRL, DP

London Buses DRL Cute as the 8.5m buses were, their 28 (or 24) seats were a limitation on serious routes, or for anywhere with a commercial rather than a tendered service. Operators quickly found that the next size up, 9.0m, offered most of the advantages of the short bus, and an extra bay of seats: that is, 32 (or 28). They were suitable as an urban bus, a suburban bus, or a country bus. Yes, you've got it, the RF had been re-invented, only with rather fewer seats in its thirty foot length, and several tonnes lighter.
Plaxton production boomed.

London Buses bought 171 before privatisation, and the process continued afterwards with some of the companies under the new dispensation. Independents also found the 9.0m Dart useful in the London tendering environment, and the old London Country companies found it fitted their requirements better than the short one.

London Central: DRL1-16

London Central DRL The first sixteen of the slightly longer Darts came in September 1991 to London Central, who used them from Peckham on the P11 and at weekends on the P12:
  • P11: Waterloo Stn - London Bridge Stn - Rotherhithe - Surrey Quays - South Bermondsey - Peckham
  • P12: Peckham - Nunhead - Brenchley Gardens
They wore London Buses' red with grey skirts and white tapes, with "hoppa" fleetnames. Four were named after characters from BBC's "Only Fools and Horses" sitcom. They were all privatised to London Central, which occasioned the loss of the London Buses roundel and a change of legal lettering. In 1995 they moved on to Bexleyheath, where they saw use on the 178 and B16.
  • 178: Woolwich - Kidbrooke
  • B16: Kidbrooke - Eltham - Welling - Bexleyheath

Mid-2000 saw most of them sold, displaced by newer DPLs from London General. They were snapped up by Southlands Travel (see below), Birmingham Coach Company, and Wilson's of Gourock, where they had lives about as long as they had had with London Buses.

London Northern, MTL, Metroline DRL17-37;

Metroline DRL Chalk Farm took 21 DRLs for the London North business of London Buses in August 1992, using them on the 274 (Marble Arch - Camden Town and 46 (Kensal Rise - King's Cross - Farringdon Street). They wore Midilink fleetnames on their red with grey skirts and white tape (as above).

They moved in July 1973 to Holloway garage. MTL London Northern took them at privatisation in October 1994, and then they stayed on through the further takeover by Metroline. One (DRL17) was transferred to MTL in Liverpool.

The DRLs were used with the company's other Darts, continuing on the 46 and 274, based at Holloway (HT). The 274 route was extended to Islington. Livery changed first to overall red, with MTL London flashes, and then to Metroline red/blue after a further takeover.

R&I/MTL London Northern/Metroline DP234-241, DP273-276

R&I DRL R&I Tours, a coaching company, started into bus tendering using midibuses on the 268 and H2 in North-west London in 1989. Then in 1993 the company bought six replacement Plaxton-bodied Darts for the 268 (Golders Green Stn - Hampstead - Swiss Cottage - Finchley Road Stn). These were painted in R&I's distinctive blue and silver (with red). A further two acquired in 1994 wore a different livery wirh red fronts and blue/silver rears.

MTL London Northern took over R&I's buses June 1996, and repainted them in a deep red, with blue/white MTL flashes.

MTL London Northern added another four DRL-types, DP273-276, in May 1997.


The takeover by Metroline initially saw little change, other than the gradual repainting into red and blue livery, and the acquisition of DP prefixes by the ex-R&I buses. They worked alongside the Metroline DRLs from Holloway on the 46 and 274:

  • 46 : Kensal Rise Stn - Queens Park - Swiss Cottage - Hampstead Stn - Kings Cross Stn - Farringdon Street
  • 274: Angel Islington - Barnsbury - Camden Town - London Zoo - Baker Street - Marble Arch

Route 214 (Liverpool Street - Highgate Village) went to Metroline in 1998, needing 15 DRLs.

DRL37 at Kings Cross Stn, April 2000 DRL37 at Kings Cross Stn, April 2000

DRL37, one of the MTL originals, sports Metroline colours as it takes a turn on the 214 at Kings Cross in April 2000.
However, a shuffle caused by new low-floor Darts on the C2 in May 2000 put DNLs onto the 214, and caused an efflux of the DRLs to Potters Bar for use on the 383, PB1 and W4, displacing shorter DRs. The DPs found a new raison d'etre on the 112, (Ealing Broadway Stn - Stonebridge Park - Neasden - Brent Cross). DRLs and DPs were both used on the C11 (Archway Stn - North Cricklewood - Brent Cross ). A few DRLs went to North Wembley for the PR1 and PR2 in 2001. DP239 at Kings Cross Stn, September 2000 DP275 at Harrow, April 2004
The ex-R&I Darts in September 2000 wore unrelieved dull red, as shewn by DP239 threading through the traffic at Kings Cross on the 214.
Some gained Metroline colours, like DP275 working from Harrow Weald on the H14 in April 2014, substituting for a DLD.
The ex R&I DP Darts stayed on at Holloway on the 274 until May/June 2001, when another influx of low-floor buses sent them out to the less-fussy suburbs of Potters Bar. Early 2002 saw the Metroline batch from Potters Bar heading north to dealers Holt of Bolton.

However, the four youngest buses, DP273-276, found further use, latterly as staff buses and trainers. DPL274 and 275 became the meal-break buses, fitted with tables and chairs, for use at the East Acton terminus of route 7. These faded to pink, and were repainted to all-red in late 2014.

Leaside Buses / Arriva London South: DRL38-52

Leaside DRL Leaside Buses took fifteen DRLs at Wood Green in October 1992, replacing DWs on the 84A (Barnet Church - Bounds Green - Turnpike Lane). They wore red with a grey skirt, white cantrail tape and route branding below the windows.

Leaside naturally took them on at privatisation in September 1994. The Cowie Group stamped some of them with its trademark yellow diagonal flashes and dashboard.

Tender changes saw some of them transferred within the Cowie group, some to South London in April 1996, with more going to County Bus in December. The latter were repainted in County livery of cream with dark green skirt and Cowie bars, with Townlink lettering for use at Harlow on the 804.

1998 saw them concentrated to Arriva London South, both those from County (Arriva Herts & Essex) and those remaining with Leaside (Arriva London North).
South London used them as part of its pool of DRLs and similar Darts, (see below).

London General DRL

London General / London Central: DRL53-95

Twenty-one DRLs (DRL53-73) came to London General in November 1992, for use on tendered service 295 (Ladbroke Grove - Clapham Junction). As they were on a tendered service they were not part of the London Buses Streetline network, so had just a yellow band on their red and grey livery, without Streetline branding. They operated out of Victoria Basement (GB) until that closed in January 1994, when they moved to Battersea Base, an outstation of Stockwell.

DRL75 in Buckingham Palace Road, February 1998

A further twenty-two DRLs (74-95) followed in early summer 1993. which London General used on the 211 (Waterloo-Victoria-Hammersmith). This was operated from Victoria Basement until December 1993, when it relocated Stockwell. These buses carried Streetline branding. The generous allocation for the 211 allowed spares to be used in the Streetline pool alongside DRs on the 39, 170, 239 and 265 from Putney and Merton.

DRL75 on the 211 in Buckingham Palace Rd, February 1998.
A solitary DRL operated on the 293 from Sutton.

DRL79 at Lewisham Bus Station, February 2001 The initial Streetline branding was replaced by London General orange flashes as buses went for repaint.
Both primary routes stayed with the privatised London General until the end of 1998. After the tender losses some of the DRLs moved to London Central at Peckham for use on the P12 and P13 and New Cross for the 278 (Lewisham - Lee Green - Kidbrooke Stn). Some then returned to London General at Putney, Sutton and Merton.

They were mainly sold during 2002, in their tenth year of London service.

DRL79 on the 279 to the Ferrier Estate, Lewisham Bus Station, February 2001

London United: DRL96-108

London United DRL London United received two batches of 13 DRLs, the first for Hounslow routes. They arrived to start work from Hounslow (AV) in April 1993. They wore the regular London Buses Harrier scheme, of red with grey skirt and white roof-line. They took over a number of routes from hard-pressed 8.5m DRs, soon appearing on the H22, H23, H91, 111, and 120. Privatisation saw them stay with London United. Only slowly did they gain the London United livery of red with grey skirt, pale grey roof and white lines. At first the only obvious sign of privatisation was the loss of London Buses' roundels.

They moved around the garages, having stays at Fulwell, Kingston, Hounslow Heath and Tolworth, as the company's Metrobuses and MetroRiders reached the end of their working lives and Dart SLFs made an appearance.

After they were displaced from London United by Dart SLFs they gained employment elsewhere, although three (DRL96, 99 and 101) stayed in the vicinity with Tellings-Golden Miller, on training and contracts. They were taken over by Travel London, and renumbered DH25, DH39 and DH16. The last was burned out in a fire while at work (everyone escaped), but the former two became 8896 and 8892. DRL96 went on for a further career as a schools bus with Emsworth & District.

Stagecoach East London / Selkent: DRL109-146

East London hoppa  DRL East London had 38 of the London Buses DRLs. They were delivered in East London hoppa livery: red with white lines and the prominent fleetname. They were scattered around East London's garages - Upton Park, Barking, Romford North Street, Stratford, mainly on short estate-penetration routes. Some wore the CH garage marking for a while - for Cambridge Heath - that did not relate to the allocation reality.

Five years after delivery they were being displaced. Most went to the provincial arms of the Stagecoach empire: Newcastle Busways, Western Scotland, United Counties, Devon & Cornwall, Cheltenham & Gloucester... but sixteeen were transferred to Selkent for use at Catford on the 124. They hung on there, as the narrow roads of the Downham estate made replacement by anything wider distinctly difficult, and they stayed on through 2000 despite the delivery of Dart MPDs (short SLDs) supposed to replace them, until the summer of 2001.
DRL134 at Grove Park, March 2000 Selkent DRL

Catford's DRL134 turns short at Grove Park Bus Station in March 2000. It acquired a non-standard rear window late in 1999 after being stolen and used for a ram-raid, requiring a new back end. This became one of the very few in preservation, after a sojourn on Tyneside.
Alongside, for comparison, is Northern-Counties bodied 3140 of Arriva Kent Thameside, also turning short, but on the 126.
DRL134 at Grove Park, March 2000 DRL134 at Grove Park, March 2000

South London / Arriva London South: DRL147-158

Connexions DRL The first five of this batch (DRL147-151) were actually delivered to Hounslow, presumably to cover for late deliveries there. But they swiftly moved to South London at Norwood (N), for use on the 322 (Crystal Palace-Elephant & Castle), taking over from StarRiders. They were given "Connexions" fleetnames on their red bodywork with grey skirt and white cant-rail tape. They also worked alongside DRs and EDRs on the 249 (Crystal Palace-Tooting Bec).
London South DRL After privatisation Arriva South London treated them to the insipid red with deep ice-cream scoop livery. The 322 was lost to Connex in April 2000, and the early DRLs from Norwood, by now allocated to the 410 (Crystal Palace-Wallington), were transferred to Croydon with that route. They moved on again in September 2001 to Beddington Farm. Some moved away to Wales, others stayed at Beddington farm as part of the DRL pool, and some went to Edmonton with Arriva London North in 2004. Those still with Arriva London in 2005 were sold off, most going to McKindless in Wishaw.
DRL148 at East Croydon, Sept 2000 DRL152 at East Croydon, Sept 2000
DRL148 displays a fresh application of the "inner-London" Arriva livery, while DRL152 sports a faded version of the outer-London livery. Both were on route 410 on Monday 11th September 2000, at East Croydon.

London United: DRL159-171

London United DRL London United's second batch, DRL159-171 (London Buses' last purchases) arrived in the winter of 1993-94, to continue the modernisation of buses at Hounslow, replacing midibuses. They wore Harrier livery initially - red with grey skirt, white tape along the sides of the roof, a Harrier name and symbol in orange, and a London Buses roundel. At privatisation in October 1994 the roundels disappeared, but the rest remained, at first. Some of the buses (DRL167-171) were for a non-LT set of routes, the 555/6/7 Heathrow Connection. This had been won by London United on a Surrey County Council tender in 1993. 1995 saw the buses dedicated to this group given a new Heathrow Connection livery and branding, as part of British Airport Authority's Heathrow Freeflow initiative. They were replaced on this group of routes by new long dual-door air-conditioned low-floor Dart SLFs in March 1999, and returned to other duties, displacing DTs.

They joined the others in service at Hounslow, Stamford Brook, Hounslow Heath and Fulwell, with a few seeing service with Westlink (Kingston) and Sovereign (Harrow). Most went on to further use with other operators after they were displaced by low-floor buses. One went to Trustybus in Hertfordshire, then on to Centrebus at Harlow. Another went to Carousel at High Wycombe. Two went to Sullivan Buses at South Mimms. Others went elsewhere, including a sizeable number to McKindless in Glasgow.

DRL159 of this batch (like three in the other LU batch) was bought by Tellings-Golden Miller and used for training and contracts at Byfleet and Fulwell, and was taken over by Travel London, becoming DH48 then 8893 until 2008, when it moved on.

London South DRL

Leaside Buses / Londonlinks (164-172)/ ALS / Blue Triangle: DRL201-209.

The Cowie Group bought a batch of Plaxton-bodied Darts in 1995, some for Leaside Buses and some for South London. The Leaside examples moved on to the Londonlinks operation in 1997, and when that disappeared went to Arriva Surrey & West Sussex, and then remained in the Arriva London South pool at Beddington Farm (BF) when ASWS in turn disappeared. Livery 'progressed' from Arriva red through Arriva turquoise and cream to Arriva "ice-cream scoop" or "cow-horns" style.
In October 2000 Arriva sub-contracted the twisty 367 route to Blue Triangle for six months (after which it went to Metrobus). With the contract went these nine DRLs which worked on the route from Blue Triangle's base in distant Rainham (the other side of the Thames). Some of the buses had their Cowie-horns painted out (rather patchily on some), with Blue Triangle fleetnames and legal lettering added on the sides. Some had cream bumpers and front bands.
  • 367: Bromley North - Bromley South - Shortlands - Beckenham - Elmers End - Shirley - East Croydon - West Croydon.
DRL201, Bromley (Widmore Road) November 2000 DRL208, Bromley South,  November 2000
DRL 201 wears Blue Triangle cream bumpers and cream roof band, with Blue Triangle fleetnames in the advertising frames, on the 367 in Widmore Road, Bromley in November 2000. On the same day DRL208 still wears Arriva cow-horns, with Blue Triangle fleetnames, at Bromley South.
After the contract expired in April 2001 the DRLs returned to Arriva London at Beddington Farm. Some were added to Croydon's complement for the 410 in overall red, and went to Enfield, where they were repainted into red cow-horns livery for use on the 497 until new buses arrived in the summer.

They eventually migrated north, displaced by low-floor buses, to Arriva North-East, Arriva North-West/Cymru and Arriva Scotland West.

South London / Arriva London South: DRL210-218

DRL210-212 came to Cowie's privatised South London in December 1995, to replace StarRiders on the 450 (Crystal Palace-Purley). They were the first to wear Cowie's London livery of red with twin yellow diagonals at the rear.

DRL213-218 were outdated by the time of their delivery in September 1996: most non-London operators were buying SLFs by now. But these six went to Thornton Heath to fulfill a contract on the 455 (Old Lodge Lane - West Croydon - Wallington), replacing the West Croydon - Old Lodge Lane section of the 450, which now became West Croydon - Crystal Palace - Lower Sydenham. They initially wore the new livery of red with yellow Cowie stripes. This became red with cream horns or cream scoop as time progressed.

DRL210-215 went to Arriva Scotland West in 2002-3, and DRL216-218 went to Arriva North-West and Arriva Cymru from March 2005.

DRL212 at East Croydon, Sept 2000 DRL214 at East Croydon, Sept 2000

Also at East Croydon (hub of the South London Dart universe) on Monday 11th September 2000: DRL212 is on the 455 while DRL214 slides past on the 367. These photos were taken within minutes of those above: I must have seen several dozen Darts in half an hour.

Londonlinks DRL

Londonlinks / Arriva London South: DP160-163.

These four Darts were bought by Londonlinks in 1995, and used on the Croydon - Purley 407. The June 1998 reorganisation saw them remain at Beddington Farm (BF) as part of Arriva Croydon & North Surrey, which subsequently disappeared into Arriva London South. They continued to operate from BF alongside DRLs as part of the Dart pool collected from several sources.
DP161, Bromley March 2000 South London ended the century operating a number of DRL routes from Beddington Farm, Croydon and Norwood:
  • 166: Croydon - Purley - Chipstead Valley
  • 255: Pollards Hill - Clapham Common
  • 367: Bromley North - Shortlands - Eden Park - Shirley - West Croydon
  • 410: Wallington - Croydon - Norwood Junction
  • 412: Purley Cross - Selsdon - East Croydon - Norwood Junction
  • 450: Lower Sydenham - Crystal Palace - Thornton Heath - West Croydon
  • 455: Wallington - Beddington - West Croydon - Purley
DP161, having lost the brilliant London & Country livery in favour of the lack-lustre national Arriva version, performs a back-road suburban turn on the 367 from Bromley North to West Croydon, in March 2000.

Grey-Green / Arriva London NE: 934-941

Grey Green DRL Grey-Green bought eight 9.0m Darts in 1993, for use on the 173.
  • 173: Goodmayes -Becontree Heath - Dagenham - East Beckton
They were based at Ripple Road, Barking. Arriva reorganisations saw them relabelled to Arriva London North-East, and repainted red, and then reorganised into Arriva London North.

December 2000 saw them all banished to Arriva North-West when new 10.7m low-floor PDL Darts took over the 173.

Centrewest: DP1-32

Orpington Buses DP Centrewest bought thirty-two 9.0m Dart Pointers for use on route 297, and also for their Orpington Roundabout routes R1 and R11. They were plainly decorated in overall red with local fleetnames. In 1996 they added the R9 and 336 to their Orpington operations, and moved their base from Swanley (SJ) to St. Mary Cray (Y).
  • 297: Willesden - Neasden - Wembley - Alperton - Ealing Broadway Stn
  • R1 : Bromley Common - Farnborough - Green St.Grn - Orpington - St Paul's Cray
  • R11: Green Street Green - Orpington - Sidcup
  • R9 : Orpington Stn - High St. - Ramsden Estate
  • 336: Bromley North - Bickley - Southborough - Bromley Common - Locks Bottom

DP8, Bromley (Widmore Road) November 2000 DP13, Bromley Garage, July 2001

DP8 was on the 336 in a shady Widmore Road in Bromley in November 2000, while DP13 was enjoying the sunshine in July 2001 as it passed Bromley Garage on the R1.

Loss of the 297 at re-tendering at the end of 1998 saw the transfer of DP18-32 from west London to First Beeline, where they became DP218-232 and later DP49618-46932 at "national renumbering".

DP46928d at Uxbridge on 51, April 2004 DP46928d at Uxbridge on 51, April 2004

First Beeline DP46928 was on the 58 between Cippenham and Uxbridge in April 2004.

London General / London Central: DPL1-16

DPL 10, Victoria, April 2002 London General bought a further sixteen 9.0m Pointers in 1995, for use at Merton on tendered routes 200, 201:
  • 200: Raynes Park Stn - Addison Morley Hosp. - Wimbledon Stn - Merton - Mitcham
  • 201: Mitcham - Streatham - Tulse Hill Stn.
Loss of the tender in mid-2000 saw them moved to London Central's Peckham garage, displacing older DRLs. They all moved again in May 2001, this time to Putney, displacing short DRs.
DPL10 was on the 239 passing Victoria in April 2002.

TransCity DRL

TransCity / Kentish Bus

The 286 (Eltham - Greenwich) was won by tender by TransCity of Sidcup in 1992. Nine 9.0m Dart Pointer were bought for the service, painted mid-green with yellow stripe and TransCity Link logo. They were delivered with UGY registrations, and were reregistered to HGY - who wants to ride the UGY-bus!
TransCity was taken over by Kentish Bus in October 1993, and the Darts acquired first vinyl fleetnames, then repaints into maroon and cream, with numbers 100-101, 103-109.

Two (100, 101) were used on Londonlinks services, then passed on to Maidstone & District in August 1997, while 103-109 were sold to Metrobus in January 1996.

Metrobus 735 on 354, Bromley North, April 2003

Now Metrobus 735, J225HGY on 354 to Penge, Bromley North, April 2003.


Metrobus DRL228 Metrobus DRL716
Metrobus #228 (ex Kentish Bus and TransCity) and #716 display two varieties of the bright yellow and blue company livery in March 2000, while resting at Bromley North between duties on the 351.
Metrobus of Orpington, having enjoyed their experience with 8.5m Dart Pointers, ordered nine of the 9.0m version in 1992, for use on the 358 route. They entered service in November, and were kept on the 358 until 9.8m Darts arrived the following year. Since then they expanded their repertoire of routes, and were often found on the 351 and 246.
  • 358: Crystal Palace - Anerley - Penge - Elmers End - Eden Park - Bromley - Farnborough - Orpington
  • 351: Penge - Anerley - Birkbeck - Beckenham - Ravensbourne - Bromley
  • 246: Bromley - Keston - Biggin Hill - Westerham - Edenbridge - East Grinstead
  • 284: Lewisham - Catford - Downham - Grove Park
Metrobus bought another seven second-hand in 1997, from Kentish Bus, and a further ten in early 2000 from the Isle of Man. These mostly went to the "Country Area", at Godstone and Lewes. Back in town tender changes saw the loss of the 284 to Stagecoach, and newer buses on the 358, and then the 246.

Meanwhile the 138 lost its over-crowded Metroriders, and the narrow roads of the Downham estates were found to be negotiable by the narrow Darts. It did not last. In May 2003 new trials found that the speed bumps could now be negotiated by overloaded low-floor Darts, and that they could squeeze between the parked cars. The step-entrance Darts gave way, and headed for the country.

  • 138: Catford Bridge - Downham - Bromley - Hayes - Coney Hall
Metrobus 712 on 138 Metrobus 711 on 138
9.8 metre Darts on the 138 in April 2003: 712 heads for Catford Bridge along Southover, while 711 pauses at Bromley North Station on the way to Coney Hall.
Quite a few of them departed for different climes in autumn 2003. Late 2004 saw most of the remainder retired even from country duties, and sold via Ensign Bus.

Thamesway / First Capital

Thamesway Buses DRL

Thamesway brought badgers back to the streets of London when they won the 214 by tender. For this they bought a batch of 9.0m Darts, in Thamesway livery complete with badger logos over the rear wheelarches, denoting their place in the Badgerline fleet.

  • 214: Liverpool Street Stn - Islington - Kings Cross - Kentish Town - Parliament Hill Fields
The badgers disappeared with the second livery, a bold affair of yellow with pink sashes. The 9.0m Darts occasionally appeared on other routes, such as the 307 and W13.

Thamesway Buses DRL The 214 passed to MTL London Northern in January 1998, and initially the Darts were hired to MTL to continue on the 214. Presently the Thamesway fleet was reorganised, with six of the Darts going to First Capital, and others to First Eastern Counties
DLR DRL While the Docklands Light Railway was being extended to Lewisham during 1999 part of the line was closed. First Capital operated a replacement bus service over the Canary Wharf to Island Gardens section. For this they used six of the ex-Thameway Darts, repainted into a special DLR livery.

These Darts were subsequently given First Capital's red and yellow livery.

County Bus: DP301-313, DP318-323, DP324-334

Lea Valley DP DP301-313 were bought by County Bus, then owned by the Lynton Travel Group, in November 1991, for use on services in the Lea Valley based on Edmonton garage (Gibbs Road). The TfL routes were the 444 (Turnpike Lane Stn - Chingford Stn) and the W16 (Chingford Mount - Leytonstone Stn) Livery was County Bus cream and green, with Lea Valley fleetnames.
The first batch, now operating under the LeaValley name, were transferred to Arriva London North in October 1998 along with Edmonton garage and its routes. They gradually acquired Arriva red livery. Seven of this batch were bought by Stansted Transit in 2004-5 for Stevenage operations, some surviving until Stansted Transit's demise in June 2009.

County Bus DP DP314-DP323 were added in August 1992, but this time went to Grays for the 256 and 346, with ThameSide fleetnames.

They joined the Thameside fleet, at Grays, in the new Cowie-style livery of cream with dark green skirt and Cowie-stripes.

Four later moved to Harlow, where in the usual way with Harlow garage they had a long life on the 250 (Epping Station -Debden/Waltham Cross). They appeared on other Harlow routes as well, including the supposedly Greenline 724.
County Bus, newly acquired by the Cowie Group in February 1996, added another eleven step-entrance Darts, DP324-334, to its fleet for use on London contract routes 346 and 256.

This batch had relatively long careers with Arriva Southern Counties, on both sides of the river, settling into niches that suited their dimensions. Of particular note were Tunbridge Wells' route 282(TW to Rusthall), Harlow's route 250 (Debden - Waltham Cross), and Tunbridge Wells' use on the Sevenoaks and Edenbridge area services when Arriva had a tender win in that area. Several became the last step-entrance Darts in their areas, and so were much photographed.

DP327 (Arriva 3407), after a long career with Southern Counties at Grays, the Medway Towns and Northfleet, was taken on by Go-Coach at Knockholt in 2010, and then by Nu-Venture in 2012, outstationed at Otford for the 404.

Red Rose

Red Rose of Aylesbury bought an interesting third-hand Dart from Stagecoach Devon. N744 XDV had originated with Hong Kong Citybus, and then had a decent working life with Stagecoach at Barnstaple, wearing both the earlier white and stripes and later the corporate blue/orange/white/red livery.

Red Rose repainted it in red with a yellow diagonal slash and black skirt, and used it for nearly two years.

White Rose DRL89

White Rose

White Rose of Thorpe, in Surrey, extended their fleet of ex-London (and new) buses during 2000-1, including the acquisition of five DRLs (69,86,88,89 and 90). These were repainted in fleet livery of LT red, with white front bumpers and a white roof line. The company used an LT-style garage code - ST - and operated a number of tendered routes.
Newly-acquired and repainted DRL89 was a guest at RF50 in June 2001.

Southlands DRL8 at Westerham

Southlands Travel

Southlands Travel, separated off from Metrobus as a coach company, also acquired some bus contracts in Kent - notably the 285 at Tunbridge Wells - for which they bought three second-hand DRLs from London Central: DRL2, 8 and 14. Livery was yellow with a dark blue skirt.

They subsequently found employment on the 404 and 401.

DRL8 on arrival at Westerham on a Sunday morning 401 from Sevenoaks, in April 2003. It heads towards the Station to turn, having connected with a Metrobus 246. Yes, there are still connections at Westerham!

Southlands DRL8 at Swanley garage Southlands DRL8 at Swanley garage

DRL8 comes back to the Southlands Garage at Swanley after a Saturday turn on the 404 at Sevenoaks, in June 2002.


Centrebus of Leicester took over the Sovereign local operations in St.Albans in January 2004, then combined forces with other operators in the Luton and Dunstable area: LQT, Refresh Solutions and Lutonian Buses. The combined fleet contained a number of Darts of different shapes and sizes, including a half dozen or so with 9.0m bodies. They gradually acquired Centrebus orange and blue livery. One of them, 144, ex DRL34, was then transferred to Uno when the St.Albans operations were passed on again in March 2008.

DRL34 (144) on 304 at St.Albans City Stn, Jan.2007 DRL34 (144) on 304 at St.Albans City Stn, Jan.2007

DRL34 (Centrebus 144) at St.Albans City Station on 304, January 2007. A year later it was performing the same duties for Uno Buses, still in the same livery.

Stansted Transit

Stansted Transit DP Stansted Transit bought seven 9.0m Darts from Arriva London North in 2004-5, that had originated with County Bus (Lea Valley). They were DP302-4 and DP306-9. Stansted Transit used them to enter the Srevenage bus market. Some at least were initially used still in Arriva red with cream horns, with normal blinds. Then some were repainted in white with blue skirts, and branded for Stevenage route 1 between the Bus Station and Chells. To reinforce the route branding, blinds were dispensed with in favour of blue on white front displays.
Stansted Transit DP308 at Showbus 2004
Stansted Transit DP308 and DP306 at Showbus Duxford, September 2004.
Metrobus 710 and 715 were bought in January 2005, also for use in Stevenage.

Some of the buses survived with the company until its demise in June 2009.

DRL histories. DRL photos. Part 3: 9.5m EDR, DP, D, DS

Ian's Bus Stop Dart index. DR. DRL. EDR.