Connex Dart SLFs
DP60-65 & MPD hiresConnex took on route 322 (Crystal Palace - Elephant & Castle)from April 2000. The ordered Dart MPDs were not ready in time, so Connex hired a collection of short Dart SLFs (plus the odd step-entrance Dart). Some of these were given Connex fleetnumbers as well as legal lettering on their white dealer livery. Most were 8.8m MPDs, some of them doing the rounds of short-term hires for companies awaiting new buses. One was 10.2m long and did not appear on the 322, at least in April.
Once the proper buses arrived the hires were returned, except for DP62 and DP63, which were sent to Plumpton to use alongside older Dart/Carlyle's on the new Lewes - Uckfield Railway Link. They were soon branded (route 60) for this, and given a blue and white livery.
Connex took over route 315 (Balham - Streatham - West Norwood - Norwood Garage)
in December 2000 at short notice, on sub-contract from Arriva London South.
Connex put the two Dart SLFs from Sussex (DP62 and 63) onto the route plus another two hired Darts,
numbering these DP64 and DP65.
Then DP62 and DP63 helped out on the 405.
The other three were used for a while on various duties, and as spares, and at the Sussex operations at Newhaven, but DP62 became a regular on London routes. While DP63-5 were sold off DP62 was retained and repainted into red in July 2002.
DA1-18The DAs did start to appear in June, going straight onto the 322 to displace the hired Darts. DA1-14 were Alexander-bodied 8.9m single-doorway Dart SLFs, in red with a very dark blue skirt and yellow cheat line. They were "garaged" at Beddington Cross (BC).
A further four DAs (DA15-18)arrived in April 2001 for route 315 this time arriving in plenty of time for the contract renewal to Connex.
In September 2003 the 322 route DAs were swapped with the newer DPs, going onto the G1.
In January 2004 they moved with the route to Battersea (QB).
They were all taken over by National Express (Travel London) in February 2004,
and DA1-14 were replaced by new MPDs DP21-30 in April 2005.
Travel London found them a new home with Travel West Midlands.
DA15-18 were retained by Travel London, and had a remarkably long career with the company. They were renumbered as DA5-8 in May 2006, when route 315 was lost. DA5-7 moved to Fulwell, filling in where required on the H20, H26, and H28, and DA8 went to Byfleet for the Wisley Gardens service. DA7 and DA8 returned to the "red" area later in 2006, DA7 initially to Battersea before both settled at Beddington Cross. The quartet became 8005-8008 in 2007, and were taken over by NedRail/Abellio in 2009. The two at Fulwell were offered at auction in July 2011.
DPL11-14: Route 405Route 405 (West Croydon - Purley - Coulsdon - Merstham - Redhill Bus Stn) also began in April 2001 at short notice, when Arriva abandoned its East Surrey operations. For it Connex redeployed DP62 and DP63 from the 315, and acquired four longer (10.7m) Dart SLFs. DPL11-14 were not new, being nearly two years old, but had not worked on UK public roads before. (Two had worked for Airport Handling at Manchester Ringway, and all four for Bus Eireann). They were dual doorway B37F or B39F, in Connex red and dark blue.
DPL14 on 405 at Redhill Bus Station, September 2002.The quartet stayed on the 405 until the route was lost to Metrobus upon retender in September 2003. They were then withdrawn for sale.
The Limebourne takeoverIn July 2001 Connex took over the bus operations and most of the vehicles of Limebourne (Independent Way), including the Battersea garage (Silverthorne Road). There were a number of step-entrance Darts, but also thirty-four Dart SLF/ Caetano Compass buses seating 31 or 30, dual-doorwayed. These continued to be deployed on the 42, 156 and 344. They were DCL401 - 437 (with gaps). Garage codes (QB) began to appear, and from September they began to be repainted in all-red with Connex logos and DCL fleetnumbers, Limebourne's green skirts disappearing.
The Caetano's did not prosper with Connex. The 156 frequently had double-deckers on it, included the ex-AVE trial Olympians L1-L3., and so did the 344. The 42 was due to be taken over by Durham Travel Services in April 2002, but Connex sub-contracted it to DTS three months earlier, in January 2002. Some of the DCLs were loaned to DTS for use on the 42, pending the arrival of their new buses. In the summer they began to be sold off, some going to East Thames Buses for the 108 and 132, in place of Excels, and where they turned up again on the 42 when Durham Travel Services failed. Others were sold to Bob Vale for onward sale to a variety of users. Others were kept by Connex as trainers and spares, and passed on to Travel London in February 2004.
DP1-12 for G1Connex bought another twelve Alexander-bodied MPDs late in 2001 for a January 2002 start on route G1 (Streatham High Rd - Tooting Bdy - St George's Hosp. - Wandsworth Common - Clapham South - Clapham Junction - Battersea). They replaced the Carlyle-bodied DTs and Plaxton-bodied DRs that had been loaned from Arriva. Presumably there was a maintenance spare among the twelve, for one at a time turned up at Battersea (QB) to appear on the 211, C3 or 344. So, for instance DP6 spent most of February 2002 at QB.
They were returned off-lease in September 2005.
Travel London takes overIn February 2004 National Express returned to London bus work by taking over the Connex operations together with their bus fleets, routes and garages. The fleet was relabelled as Travel London, with an all-red livery.