The Metrobus MANs: 701-705
East Lancs Esteems for R2:When Metrobus took over the Tellings-Golden Miller (Crystals) routes in 2005, they held on to the four Caetano Nimbus-bodied Dart SLFs used on the R2 (Petts Wood - Orpington - Locksbottom - Keston - Biggin Hill). These were due off-lease in May 2007, so Metrobus ordered some replacements. They had taken delivery during 2006 of Dart SLFs with 9.0m East Lancs bodywork. The Caetanos to be replaced were a little larger, but not as long as the Scania OmniTowns ordered during 2006. Perhaps that was why the 10.2m MAN A76/12.240NL chassis was selected. Perhaps Metrobus got a good offer. Perhaps they were just feeling adventurous.
The five buses were due for delivery in December 2006, but the first arrived at Green Street Green in April 2007. They went straight into service on the R2, but were soon suffering from faults. Two had to be returned to East Lancs for rectification.
Late delivery of the buses for the T32 saw three (703-5) transferred temporarily to Croydon, while Darts filled in on the R2.
They did not gain a good reputation for reliability. Latterly they became common-user single deckers, and appeared on other Green Street Green routes, such as 181, 284 and 358 .
They were sold to Ensign Bus in December 2017.
MAN Enviro200s for T32: 706-708Metrobus took over First's Orpington network in December 2008, including Tramlink route T32 (Addington Village) which they worked from Croydon garage with Metrobus vehicles. Metrobus then received the tender award for the route, and needed three new buses. Again MAN chassis were ordered, giving a slightly longer bus at 10.7m. Bodywork this time was the new offering from Alexander-Dennis: the Enviro200, as seen on very many E200 Darts.
Again delivery was late - very late. Due in June 2008, they did not arrive until late December. They went into service on the intended T32, plus the 130, in January 2009.
They had occasional forays elsewhere, especially to the 202, but the T32 required all three buses. The route lasted until October 2015, when it succumbed to changes on routes 64 and 130. The three MANs went into Croydon's general single-decker pool, wherever routes could use buses of this length, such as the 130 and 359. The 202 and 293 saw them too.
706 and 708 were sold in October 2017. 707 was transferred to Bromley, where it appeared on the 126 (Bromley South - Grove Park - Mottingham - Eltham) and 181.
MCV eVolutions for 202: 709-724The third batch had yet different bodywork: 10.8m by MCV, the eVolution. Again they were late. Required for the 202 (Crystal Palace - Sydenham - Catford - Lee - Blackheath), they were due in November 2008, but delivered from February 2009. In the meantime double-decker Scania OmniDekkas had been used instead. 202 operation was from Croydon garage (C).
Some of them spent a little while during autumn 2010 on the T32 and 130, while a carefully calculated temporary swap-around provided shorter single-decker buses for the 293 (Morden - Epsom Hospital) instead of its new Scanias. Omnidekkas were again used on the 202 during the swap period.
Three of this batch of MANs (721-723) were swapped with Darts from Crawley from September 2010, and used on the 465 (Kingston - Dorking), for metered fuel consumption comparisons.
The 202 was double-decked in September 2013. Most of the MANs went into the general Croydon pool of single-deckers, but some were transferred to Green Street Green for the 246 (Chartwell - Westerham - Keston - Hayes - Bromley South - Bromley North). I don't know how well (or otherwise) they coped with Westerham Hill, but there were several swaps of buses between Green Street Green and Croydon. They also appeared on other MB routes, such as the 126, 181 and 284.
Some were refurbished and repainted, gaining London style bullseyes and Go-Ahead logos instead of Metrobus. They lost the eVolution markings from the front. Some were sold, one or two at a time over the next few years.
Route 359 (Purley - Selsdon - Addington Village) was extended and intensified from one Dart to three of the Croydon MANs from September 2015.