Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith,

This page created 8th May 2000, updated 19th October 2005

Country Area Metrobuses

London Country and its immediate successors did not buy Metrobuses new, but once the Cowie group bought up most of the old London Country companies redundant Ms from the Central Area companies started to make their way into the peripheral fleets.

County Bus / Arriva East Herts and Essex

Lea Valley Metrobus County Bus, in the old London Country North-East area, acquired some Metrobuses from Leaside Buses in 1997 for use on its Lea Valley services, including the 310. It also received some of the Grey-Green buses. They were repainted in a nice red and pale cream livery (including Cowie stripes), with Lea Valley branding, and initially numbered in a separate M series.

Arriva East Herts & Essex has continued to buy second-hand buses, and uses some - based at Ware - on the 310/311 services from Hertford, in "outer London" Arriva livery of red with deep ice-cream scoop.
M988 at Hertford, September 2000 M290 at Hertford, September 2000

The end came in early 2003, when Arriva London's Olympians became available to displace the Ware Metrobuses, and by March they had all gone to Ensign Bus for resale.

Arriva Surrey & West Sussex

M521 at Sevenoaks Stn, March 2000 M521 at Limpsfield Common, March 2000 The old London & Country company received some of Arriva's South London cast-offs during 1999 and 2000, and painted them in their national turquoise and champagne livery. Early arrivals were converted to single doorway and internally refurbished, but the drivers still referred to them as the buses from the scrap-heap.

But even the use of clapped-out Metrobuses couldn't make Surrey bus operations pay the kind of return demanded by Arriva, and in spring 2001 they took their ball away: Surrey would have to make do without them. A last brief fling in Surrey was their hire to Metrobus, who took over at Crawley: thirteen received Metrobus fleetnumbers for the brief hire during April 2001, until Metrobus' replacements arrived.

Above: M521 was in use on the 410 route (now Sevenoaks to Redhill) in March 2000.

Below: A few days later it was the turn of M520. Both are refugees from South London.

M520 at Sevenoaks Stn, March 2000 M520 at Sevenoaks Stn, March 2000

Arriva characteristically found something to do with the old Metrobuses. Having been forced by the regulator to divest themselves of the Gillmoss depot and workings acquired when they took over MTL on Merseyside, they sold it off together with the dumped Metrobuses from Surrey.

M493 at North Weald, June 1998

Arriva Colchester

Yes, I know Colchester wasn't in the old London Country Area, but Arriva treats it as part of its London peripheral zone, and it was an early recipient of refurbished single-door Ms from London, in mid 1998.
Freshly refurbished M493 was on show at North Weald Rally in June 1998..

Smaller Independents

The modern practice of totally closing railway lines during track and signalling renewals has provided an extra source of revenue for bus operators, both large and small. It is ideal for the small operators who can use the same buses for tendered schools services, contracts, and competitive peak hour "extras". Second or third-hand Metrobuses have found a niche in this market.

Blue Triangle Metrobus

Blue Triangle

Blue Triangle of Rainham, bus dealers and preservationists, keep a number of Metrobuses for contract work, rail work and for peak hour duties on route 1.
They also put in an appearance on troubled route 60 during 1999, when operations had to be sub-contracted to a number of companies when Capital Logistics did not live up to their name, having won the tender.
Blue Triangle Metrobus

May 1999 saw Blue Triangle take on a London tendered route with Metrobuses (at first). The 474 (Canning Town Stn - North Woolwich - East Beckton) was operated with Metrobuses both in the red and cream livery, but also some in mainly red with cream bands.

M228 at Bromley North Station, March 2000


Imperial Buses of Rainham have a small, nicely turned out fleet of buses for contract work, including railway replacement duties. Their fleet includes at least one ex-London Metrobus, and at least two from Greater Manchester.
Newly repainted M228 was at Bromley North Station on a Saturday in March 2000, acting in place of the Bromley North to Grove Park train service.

M228 at Bromley North Station, March 2000 M228 at Bromley North Station, March 2000

Ensign Bus

Ensign Bus is a second-hand bus and coach dealer of renown, based at Purfleet. It has resold hundreds of ex-London buses including Metrobuses.

Ensignbus MkII Apart from its bus resale business, Ensign also uses some licensed stock on rail replacement and other contract work. From time to time it has expanded into local bus operations. Thus it was the source of Capital Citybus, which grew out of the successful Ensignbus operations at deregulation. More recently it grew the Ensignbus fleet again on local tendered routes, including routes 324 and 348 between Romford and the new large out-of-town shopping developments at Lakeside and Bluewater, taken over in February 1999. Metrobuses featured largely on these routes, appearing in a nice blue and silver livery, some with route-branding (for BOTH routes).

Ten months later, in December 1999, their local bus operations were again sold...

Town & Country

Town & Country bought the local bus operations of Ensignbus in December 1999 and acquired a number of Metrobuses with the business, which included the 324 and 348 routes.

T&C returned a number of the Metrobuses to Ensign Bus in early 2000. Others were repainted into two-tone blue. Town & Country then disposed of much of the acquired business to Arriva, including the 324 and 348, and returned to much the size that it was before.


The Millenium Dome at North Greenwich is rather dependent on the Jubilee Line for shifting its multitudes home at the end of the Amazing Day. Just in case the Jubilee Line fails for some reason, a fleet of buses has to be maintained on emergency stand-by. Thorpe's is one of the companies contracted for this work, and has added a couple of Metrobuses to its nine Leyland Nationals, just waiting for that day...

However, the Jubilee line has proved reliable, and the standby fleet has been stood down, before someone could ask awkward questions in the House about the Dome absorbing precious bus-drivers in a time of shortage. (Besides which, the fleet was needed elsewhere, like providing a local train-replacement service on the Hatfield and Hertford lines following the October 2000 rail crash).

Nostalgiabus, Northdown Motor Services

Nostalgiabus added several Metrobuses to its portfolio for contract and rail replacement work. These were eventually sold on to a variety of other operators, in and out of the old London area, before Nostalgiabus ceased operations. M922 at Lewisham, 28Oct2000 M755 at Lewisham, 28Oct2000
Nostalgiabus M972 and M755 take a break at Lewisham bus station in October 2000, before heading off for Connex Rail work.

Carousel Buses, High Wycombe

Carousel took quite a few Metrobuses for its expanding services in the High Wycombe area. Some were cannibalised for spares before rapidly passing to scrap merchants, but others have been extensively refurbished. Livery is a very London red, with a Carousel symbol very much like the London Country flying polo.

M1386 at Cobham Museum, April 2002 M1386 at Brooklands, April 2002 M1432 at Cobham, April 2002

Carousel provided several very smart Metrobuses for the April 2004 Cobham Museum Open Day, working the service between Brooklands and the Museum. Here are M1386 and M1432, in different versions of Metrobus livery, and with M1386 showing the Carousel logo.

Bus Stop Part 2. Part 3. Part 4: Trainers. bus histories. photo refs.