Centrebus' London fringe: Dennis Dart SLF
Centrebus, a middle-England bus company with operating bases in Leicester and Grantham,
moved into the London fringe in January 2004, associating at Dunstable
with Refresh Travel Solutions and LQT, and taking over the buses and routes of
Sovereign in St.Albans.
This instantly gave them a large Dart SLF contingent, with the "country" Pointers 501 and 502
plus the local St.Albans Pointer2s 563-569 and 571-578, as well as the two MPDs 582-583.
At first Centrebus left these in the good-looking Sovereign livery, but with the red band changed to orange.
This produced a livery with components of blue, white and orange, Centrebus' colours,
if not in the standard format. The Sovereign fleetnames on the cant-rail and front were covered over with vinyl patches
stating "Serving City & District, St.Albans".
501 and 502
These were Sovereign's original pair, 501 being their only original 10.6m Pointer,
and 502 originally their Cavalier bus at Huntingdon, a 10.7m Pointer 2.
502 had been repainted shortly after transfer to Hertfordshire,
into an advert for Intalink Explorer, the county's group explorer ticket.
It initially was given a Sovereign-liveried front.
The pair soon transferred to Dunstable to work on Luton routes, often being found on the 88 between Hitchin & Luton
501 gained a repaint to proper Centrebus livery in August 2008.
It transferred to Stevenage after Centrebus started local operations and opened a base there at the end of 2006,
and was then often found on the 178 to Shephall.
502 received a Centrebus liveried front on its Explorer livery, and then received an updated advert livery, still for Explorer tickets,
in July 2008.
501 threads a way from Hitchin to Luton on the 88, June 2005. 502 wore Intalink liveries.
563-569, 571-579: the ex-Sovereign 10.7m Pointer2s
When Centrebus took over the St.Albans operation from Sovereign in January 2004 it acquired the seventeen 10.7m single-doorway Pointer2s
that worked there. Like 501 and 502, these very quickly had their fleetnames covered over
with the new City & District stickers, and the red bands changed to orange.
After that Centrebus seemed content to let them continue as they were for a while,
operating the St.Albans local services as well as some further afield, such as the 320.
But some repaints did occur: 564 and 574 were repainted into Centrebus' standard orange with blue skirt and white roof in May 2004,
while 566 had to wait until April 2007.
574, repainted in Centrebus livery, stops in St.Peters Street on St.Albans S1, January 2006.
Others started to wear a collection of Superside or overall adverts, either with Sovereign-style fronts or repainted Centrebus fronts.
564 wears conventional advertising on its Centrebus livery on the S2, January 2007.
577 and 578, then the regular buses on the 320 route, were given "V for Value" stickers on the front of their Sovereign livery in August 2004.
571 gained a sides and rear advert in lime-green with white lettering, for Plus-Bus add-on tickets to rail travel, in December 2004.
572 was given yellow adverts for Papa John'd Pizza in January 2006, but kept its Sovereign front.
569 and 573 gained nearside adverts for Hatfield Galleria in March 2007, 569 after five months with Centrebus front and Sovereign sides!
578 runs up the Lea Valley near Batford on a 320, in June 2006, showing its "V for Value" stick-on.
572 wears Superside advertising for Papa John's Pizza with a Sovereign-style front, at City Station on the S3, January 2006.
571 displays its Plus-Bus advertising livery with Centrebus front, St.Peters Street, Jan 2008
Others stayed in the ex-Sovereign livery until March 2008, when Centrebus sold the St.Albans operations,
with its buses, to Universitybus under its new trading name of Uno Buses. All but one of this batch
were involved, the odd one out being 566, which had moved to Dunstable in October 2007.
582-583: the ex-Sovereign MPDs
The two MPDs that Sovereign had bought for the tighter St.Albans routes were also taken over by
Centrebus in January 2004. They gained orange bands and City & District stickers,
and in August 2004 gained front and side vinyl panels as the Cottonmill Cruisers for the S4 and S5.
Their rears bore a route diagram. In January 2007 583 had a brief change of scene
when it was sent to provide cover after Centrebus suffered a fire at Woodside depot.
In November 2007 582 gained a nearside Superside advert in purple for Hatfield Galleria,
but retained Sovereign-style livery elsewhere.
Both were transferred to Uno with the St.Albans operation in March 2008.
January is an unkind month for buses (and photographers). 582 was at City Station on the S7 on a wet day in 2007,
and 583 climbing Holywell Hill in front of an RT on a dull day in 2006.
611, 619 (later 511, 519): the ex-Limebourne Caetanos
In April 2004 Centrebus reinforced the operations of associated company LQT at Dunstable
by transferring a pair of Caetano Compass thirty-seaters from their Leicester operations.
These two were originally with Limebourne (Independent Way), who bought them in 1999.
Centrebus bought them in January 2004. Now they were to be used on the rambling 366 route
(Luton - Harpenden - Wheathampstead - Welwyn Garden City - Hatfield))
as well as the 307 and Hemel Hempstead local routes, alongside the fleet of step-entrance Darts..
Livery was Centrebus orange with blue skirt and white top.
Later use has included the 88 to Stevenage and the X31 to Milton Keynes.
They were renumbered into the Dart SLF 5** series as 511 and 519 in March 2008.
351, 922 (later 521, 522): The Lutonian MPDs
In June 2004 Centrebus bought Lutonian Buses.
This had previously been taken over by Arriva, who were forced to restore its independence by the Monopolies and Mergers Commission.
Now Centrebus snapped it up. Along with the company came a pair of MPDs.
351 had been new to Lutonian in March 2001. After takeover by Centrebus it stayed initially in Luton,
then spent a little while at St.Albans, where it was numbered 551.
It returned to operate the Harpenden town service.
In February 2007 it was severely accident-damaged, and was not expected to be seen again.
But two months later it had staged a marvellous recovery.
It re-emerged in overall orange with a pink cummerbund
(uugh!) and branded as the Chiltern Rambler service, the 327,
on which it started in May 2007.
In 2010 it was repainted again, receiving an overall green ad for Plus-Bus tickets.
922 started with Connex in April 2000, and then went to Liskeard & District.
Lutonian bought it in November 2002, and painted it with orange front, white middle and blue skirt/rear.
Centrebus took over in June 2004, and 922 was repainted as 522.
It was damaged in the depot fire at Woodside in January 2007, but was repaired.
Interloper at St.Albans: Dunstable's MPD 522 in full Centrebus livery at St.Albans on the 34 from Dunstable in January 2009.
555: the new Pointer2
Centrebus bought a new 10.7m Pointer 2 in September 2005.
It went north to Grantham in October 2007.
362,366 (later 512, 516): the ex-Epsom Pointer2s
Two of Epsom Buses' MPDs (SD16, SD20), which were displaced by new Solos in January 2004,
were bought by Centrebus Leicester in March 2004, becoming 362 and 366 respectively.
362 was transferred to Dunstable in September 2005 for the 44/45,
and 366 followed in January 2007. They were renumbered 512, 516 in March 2008,
and settled at Dunstable. Their livery gradually changed - they lost the yellow bus-line,
and the fleetname changed from upper case to mixed, and from red to blue.
584, 585 (later 352, 353): MPDs for St.Albans
Centrebus Leicester bought a pair of MPDs in January 2003,
and three years later sent them on loan to St.Albans for the S7, S8 and S9.
In March 2006 the loan was formalised as a transfer. In May 2007 they were renumbered as 352 and 353.
The former gained (suffered?) an overall nearside ad for Hatfield Galleria, and they were both included in the March 2008 sale to Uno Buses,
where they quickly donned purple and pink and new numnbers.
503: the ex-K-Line SPD
This extra-long (11.3m) Super Pointer Dart was new in 1998 to Dart of Paisley.
After service there it went to Ireland for a while,
then returned to the UK with Merseyside operators.
It found its way to K-Line of Huddersfield in June 2004,
and from them came to Centrebus at Woodside in October 2007.
I presume that its capacity was needed on some school journeys.
It found a niche on the X31 service between Luton and Milton Keynes.
985, (later 585), 594: Caetano Nimbuses
Lutonian Buses bought a single-doorway 10.7m Caetano Compass (or Nimbus?)
in April 2003 that had been new to Dart of Paisley in 2000.
They put it to work on the 89, and showed it off at rallies and shows.
Centrebus took over in June 2004, and fairly quickly sent it north to Leicester.
It came back to Dunstable in July 2008, and worked the longer-bus routes.
Caetano Compass 585 pauses near the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Welwyn Garden City, on the long and rambling 366 route, September 2009.
Centrebus also acquired a very long (11.0m) Caetano Nimbus in June 2008.
This had started with Amos of Daventry in autumn 2000, and then had worked with Burtons in Colchester.
After some time in Leicester this came to Dunstable in June 2008.
530, 531, 509: the ex-Ipswich Sprytes
Ipswich sold some of its Spryte SLFs during 2009, and Centrebus ended up with three.
The first, 530 was bought directly from Ipswich in February, and 531 followed in June via Stephensons of Rochford.
The third, 509, was bought first by Trustline, who repainted it in their Trustybus livery of red, yellow and blue.
Centrebus acquired it with the Harlow area takeover in August 2009.
All three were quickly repainted into the new Centrebus livery with a brilliant white scoop,
deeper orange body and blue skirt.
530 was initially at Stevenage, 531 at Dunstable and 509 at Harlow,
but 509 went north to Huddersfield in January 2010, followed by 531.
541, 542, 544: the ex-Trustline Pointer2s
In August 2009 Centrebus took over Galleon Travel of Harlow, better known as Trustline or Trustybus.
The deal included their routes, premises and buses, including a number of Dart SLFs both new and secondhand.
Amongst the new were three Pointer2s, two 10.7m that had been DPL1 and 2,
and an 8.8m MPD that had been DPS3. So far Centrebus has left them in Trustybus livery,
working on their tendered routes - the Hertfordshire 351 group for the longer buses and the Cheshunt C2 for the short one.
543, 545, 547, 548: the ex-Trustline Evolutions
Also taken over were four 10.8m Dart SLFs with MCW Evolution bodywork.
Two, DML4 and DML5 had been new in early 2006 for the C3 (Harlow - Upshire),
and the other two (DMA7 and DMA8) later in spring 2006 for the 700 (Stevenage - Stansted Airport).
DML4 had almost been sold in summer 2008, and had been repainted in silver before reinstatement.
Centrebus quickly repainted that one (now 543) and then 545 and 547 in new style white/orange/blue.
Centrebus too found that it did not need 543, and moved it to Grantham in April 2010.
Reliveried 545 on the 700 Airport run, in June 2010 in Baldock, and June 2010 at Stevenage Bus Station.
510, 562, 584: the ex-DLD/LDP Pointers
Trustybus also used some older Pointers acquired from London companies, which passed to Centrebus in August 2009.
510 had been DLD41 with Metroline, and was only acquired by Galleon Travel two months before the takeover.
Nevertheless it was repainted in Trustybus red/yellow/blue and deployed on the Upshire C3.
Repainted in white/orange/blue, it was sent north for the start-up of Centrebus Huddersfield in January 2010.
Likewise 562 and 584 had been bought just a month before the takeover.
They had been LDP62 and LDP84 with Go-Ahead London.
513, 514, 515: the ex-Trustline Marshalls
Perhaps less welcome in the takeover were the elderly Dart Marshalls that had originated with MTL London in 1998.
DMS22, 28 and 11 became 513-515 respectively. Nevertheless, Dart SLFs they were. 514 and 515 were sent north to Huddersfield, freshly repainted,
but 514 was quickly sent for scrap there. 513 has stayed in business with Hertford local services.
Ex-Trustybus Dart 513 (once Metroline DMS22) was repainted in Trustyline colours, and still sports them
two and a half years after the Centrebus takeover. It is at work on the C3 at Hertford Bus Station on 21st January 2012.
597: a short-term early Pointer
597 was an elderly 10.6m "shoebox" Pointer that was acquired from Stephenson's and pressed into service in September 2010.
The need was urgent enough for it to be used at Stevenage still in green and white. It moved on
to Grantham in early 2011.
581, 591, 550, 551 (529) 554, 564, 595, 596: more secondhand Pointers
During the winter of 2010-11 Centrebus accumulated more secondhand elderly Pointers for both Dunstable and Stevenage,
displacing mainly step-entrance Darts. Some of these originated with Thamesdown, some were ex-Stagecoach SLDs,
and some ex-Metroline DLDs. The ex-Londoners had been converted to single doorway before arrival,
and painted in orange/white/blue. Some had come from Centrebus in Leeds. 551 for some reason wore number 529.
505: ex Epsom SD24: an Alexander MPD
In April 2011 Centrebus moved 505 from Leicester, where it had been taken over from
Woods of Wigston, south to Harlow, where it began work on Country routes such as the C3 and 388.
This was a distinctive vehicle, short, with a tall roof-mounted air conditioning pod that made it look even stumpier than other MPDs.
505 rests in Hertford Bus Station in January 2012, between journeys on the 388.
528,553,556,558,563,: ex Stagecoach Alexander ALX200s
In the summer of 2011 Centrebus moved towards standardising the Dart fleet at Harlow (the old Trustline fleet),
bringing in five 10.2m Alexander-bodied SLFs that had been with Stagecoach in London.
They had been converted to single doorway in Leicester, and repainted in Centrebus livery before moving back south.
563 in Hertford Bus Station in January 2012, passing through on the 333.