Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith, This page created 29th December 2012, updated 20th March 2017. Best on 800*600.

S.M.Travel, RoadRunner and Olympus: Dennis Dart SLF

SMT: Leased new Darts

SMC Nimbus S.M.Travel of Harlow was another midibus operator that graduated to Dennis Dart SLFs. In May 2006 it leased three new Dart SLFs, two 8.9m Caetano Nimbuses, and an 8.9m Plaxton MPD. These, initially in white with maroon S.M.Coaches fleetnames, went to work on Harlow route 15.

These three quickly acquired maroon skirts.

But the two Nimbuses only stayed five months. Whether it was a problem with the Nimbus design, or whether they just proved too small I don't know, but they were replaced by a pair of 10.7m Pointer 2s. These too went to work on route 15, in white with maroon fleetnames, alongside the retained MPD.

SMC Pointer In the spring of 2008 S.M.Travel underwent a reorganisation involving previous offshoot Olympus Bus & Coach and associated Roadrunner Coaches. These companies had a number of secondhand Dart SLFs, which presumably sparked a rationalisation, with the almost new (and therefore expensive) leased long Darts being returned off-lease. Several of the other companies' SLFs sported a new livery of white with blue skirts and SMC fleetnames.

The MPD continued with SMC until September 2008, when it went to Central Connect in Birmingham, being replaced by a elderly Marshall-bodied SLF (see below).

Olympian / SMT: Thirdhand Pointers (later 201-205)

In September 2007 Olympian Buses of Harlow - an offshoot from S.M.Travel - bought five 10.0m "shoebox" Pointers from Stansted Transit. These had originated with Armchair at Brentford. They had gone to Dawson Rentals in August 2002, and had been hired by T-GM for Byfleet routes for three months or so. Stansted Transit had acquired them at various times in 2003-4.

In the spring of 2008 they began to appear in white with blue skirts and SMC fleetnames in blue.

SMC Pointer P678RWU SMC 10.0m Pointer

P678RWU heads out of Hertford towards Harlow in June 2009.

SMT: Elderly Marshalls (later 207-208)

In the autumn of 2008 S.M.T. acquired a pair of well-travelled Marshall-bodied SLFs, which it put into service on Harlow local routes in the now-standard white with blue skirt.

SMC P830BUD, Harlow SMC P830BUD, Harlow

P830BUD stands in Harlow Bus Station, April 2011.

SMT: Leased Nimbuses

Two middle-aged Nimbuses (KU02 YBD/YBF) were acquired from Dawson Rentals in January 2009, as the "Harlow bus wars" geared up. These were 10.5m buses that had originated with Mitcham Belle, then Centra. YBD had also been leased by Docklands Buses and CTPlus. They had gone by mid-2010, as they turned up in Tyneside as spares for the Quaylink service.

SMT: ex-London General Pointers (later 206, 209-211)

Four more "shoebox" Pointers were acquired in January 2010 from London General, where they had been LDP41, 76, 81 and 85.

209, Harlow 209, Harlow

209 at Harlow Bus Station, April 2011.

S.M.C. separates from Roadrunner

Although they continued to share the same operating base at River Way in Harlow, the Roadrunner and S.M.C bus fleets were operated separately from August 2010. The S.M.C fleet was numbered, the SLF Darts becoming 201-211, and was route-branded using a coloured band above the windows bearing a route description. These matched the timetable leaflets: routes 1 and 31 wore red, and had 202, 209-211; route 18 had green on 203-5, and route 524 had bus 208. But the rate of change at Harlow meant that the branding was soon abandoned, and the buses reverted to plain white and blue.

The Roadrunner buses (belonging to Roadrunner or Olympus) began to wear Roadrunner logos and fleetnames, but did not have fleet numbers. The Dart SLFs were R477LGH, R479LGH, T408AGP and T418AGP.

211, Harlow 211, Harlow

211, in plain white and blue, at Harlow Bus Station on 14, April 2011.
ex-Abellio MPD for 7/7A

Roadrunner acquires two MPDs (ex Abellio London)

A pair of 8.8m MPDs was acquired from Abellio London (8021/2) in February 2011 for Roadrunner routes 7 and 7A. They worked the route in red livery for a year, and then received white/blue livery and Olympian fleetnames for general use. They were sold to Ensign Bus in July 2012.

Lea Valley loans

In February 2011 Lea Valley Travel (Gemma Smith) separated its operations from Travel with Hunny, to operate the 255 and 555 from Waltham Abbey. Five Dart SLFs from S.M.C and Roadrunner were loaned (201 - which had first gone to TWH, 202, 203, R477LGH and R479LGH). Meanwhile 204 had gone to TWH and been damaged by a rear-end fire, and 205, fire-damaged in August 2010, was scrapped.

By May 2011 the Dart SLFs had been returned, along with similar Y862TGH, ex LDP162, all going into the Roadrunner fleet. Those Dart SLFs that had been repained with LVT red skirts were repainted in plain white with blue skirts, without fleetnames.

Lea Valley went into administration in July, and routes 255 and 555 passed to Roadrunner, along with a number of Volvo B6s.

ex-LDP79 on 255, Loughton, Feb 2012 ex-LDP79 on 255, Loughton, Feb 2012

Ex-LDP79, was still working the 255, at Loughton, in February 2012, still without fleetnames.

ex-Hong Kong air-con SLF

Roadrunner acquires three ex-Stagecoach SLFs

With the Harlow "bus wars" raging, three more SLFs were acquired by Roadrunner in August, these being fourteen-year-old 10.6m buses from various parts of the Stagecoach empire (two had originated in Hong Kong, one with Cambus). These were painted white with blue skirts, and no fleetnames (at first). These helped displace the low-floor Scanias.

Roadrunner/Olympus and SMC acquire ex Go North East SLFs

V191ERG on 524, Hertford Roadrunner MPDs
V191ERG at Hertford in June 2012 on the 524 (Hertford-Harlow)
Four MPDs came from Go-Ahead North East in November 2011, one to Olympus and three to S.M.C. More followed, one in December for Roadrunner, and another six for Roadrunner in February/March 2012, the last two of these being ex-Arriva Northumberland buses. The S.M.C buses quickly went into fleet livery of blue and white, with S.M.Coaches fleetnames. The Olympus Bus & Coach pair likewise went into white and blue, but with fleetnames. Roadrunner decided that it might as well keep four of its set in the GNE yellow that they were in, as route branding for the Roadrunner routes, but gave the other two white and blue with Olympian fleetnames for the 255, where they had displaced the Volvos from TWH.

More LDPs for Olympus

Another four LDPs, two 9.3m and two 10.0m, came from Go-Ahead London in February 2012. The single doorway short pair were repainted in blue/white with Olympian fleetnames. One of the longer buses had been with Travel with Hunny, and was in drab red with a black skirt. I suspect that this was used for spares. The other, still two-door, was also repainted in blue and white for Olympian.

Y971TGH on R1, Harlow Roadrunner MPDOlympus 2dr LDP

Y971TGH enters Harlow bus station on 18th February 2013 on a local R1 service.

Roadrunner/Olympus move garage

In June 2012 Olympus and Roadrunner moved to a new garage site at Plot17 Parkway in Harlow Business Park, vacating premises at Temple Bank and Debden, which had become overcrowded as the fleet expanded. S.M.Coaches was located at Burnt Mill.

S.M.C takes ex-Stagecoach Alexander ALX200 SLDs

In summer 2012 S.M.C replaced its remaining step-entrance Darts, Irisbus Agoralines and three leased EnviroDarts with twelve ALX200s from Stagecoach London. These were converted from B30D to B35F with the removal of the centre doorway, and were repainted ready for service during July to September.

LX51FHL on 21, Harlow LX51FHH off 20, Harlow

LX51FHL and LX51FHH at Harlow bus station on 18th February 2013, on the 19, 20, 21 group of routes.

Olympian takes ex-Metroline DLDs and ex-Stagecoach Alexander ALX200 SLDs

In November 2012 Olympus and Roadrunner between them took over the Harlow routes of Centrebus, so in October the companies bought seven 10.1m Plaxton DLDs from Metroline and six 10.2m Alexander-bodied SLDs from Stagecoach London. The Stagecoach buses were hurriedly converted to single doorway and repainted. Some of the Metroline buses were converted, others retained as dual doorway.

A clear-out of the Augean stables saw many of the older LDPs sold.

Y672NLO off C3, Harlow

Not the most elegant of single doorway conversions, Y672NLO at Harlow bus station on 18th February 2013, off the C3.

Y237NLK off 511, Harlow Y667NLO on C3, Harlow

Retaining dual doorways, Y237NLK and N667NLO at Harlow bus station on 18th February 2013, on 511 and C3.


At the end of 2013, the day after a Public Enquiry, SM Coaches transferred their routes and buses to Townlink, and their buses began to wear the new Fleetname, still on white with blue skirts. Just in time, for the Public Enquiry disqualified SM Coaches from holding a licence for three years. By the time that this finding was made public SM Coaches had disappeared, and Townlink was holding the bag.

Roadrunner Coaches was also disqualified from 16th June. They had used buses from Roadrunner Buses to operate their routes, as well as their own. Roadrunner Buses, with no routes of their own, were given a five day suspension, which they took in April. Olympus Bus & Coach, with a mixture of routes and schools contracts, was also suspended for seven days (chosen for the school holidays in April).

Y531FJN on 19, Harlow

Y351FJN wears the new Townlink fleetnames on route 19 at Harlow bus station in March 2014, in company with TGM Essex' Solo 1458 and Volvo B6 3251.

The end

Friday 27th February 2016 was the last day of operations for Townlink, Roadrunner and Olympus. Buses of all three companies were placed in their Parkway base, and the entrance surface dug up to prevent their removal.

Bus Stop SLF index. SMC text. histories. photo refs.