Durham Travel Services (Easylink) Dart SLFs
BackgroundIn many ways this page should never have existed. Durham Travel Services had opted for Scania OmniTowns for their takeover of route 42 (Liverpool Street - Aldgate - Tower Bridge - Elephant & Castle - Camberwell - Denmark Hill) in April 2002. But they took on a sub-contract to start early on the 42, so they needed to hire buses for the January-April period. In addition, Tower Bridge was closed during this period, necessitating a detour via London Bridge.
Hired Darts: DE130-134, DP135, DE136 and DP137So DTS hired eight Dart SLFs from Dawson Rentals, six with East Lancs Spryte bodies and two with Pointer2 bodies. Seven were in dealer white, while the other (DP135) was in First Manchester's "tomato soup" colour. They were 10.6 or 10.7m long.
Hired Darts: DCL404, 406, 421, 422, 424-426The other seven hires were from Connex Bus, and were no strangers to the 42. They were Caetano Compass Dart SLFs that had been bought by Limebourne (Independent Way) for the 42 back in 1999, and taken over by Connex Bus in 2001 - for the 42. They received Easylink fleetnames on their red livery.
Delays and collapseThe OmniTowns did not arrive in time for DTS' formal takeover of the route in April, and most of the hires continued. The OmniTowns started to arrive in July. Just four were in service by 21st August, when the company ceased trading mid-afternoon. Fare paying passengers suddenly found themselves as unsecured creditors as they were dumped at the nearest stop, the company having been advised that they were no longer insured to carry passengers. The buses were returned to the garage. The Caetanos went back to Connex, and those Dawson hires still with DTS were removed to Ash Grove Garage for safe-keeping. As Tommy Cooper put it: "Just like that".