The Durham Travel Services O-Towns
DTS and the 42: SE05-08
Durham Travel Services had dipped their toes into the shark-infested pool of London bus tendering in 2001, initially claiming the 185 (Victoria - Lewisham), and then taking over route 42 from Connex. They ordered fourteen new buses for the 42: Scania Omni-Towns with 10.6m East Lancs bodywork. The bodies had Myllenium style fronts and rears, with Esteem dual doorway bodies in between. They were late. The temporary hires of Darts made by DTS had to be extended. Four of the new Scanias, numbered SE05-SE08, were delivered in July 2002, and began to operate on the 42, from a base in Old Kent Road. They wore Easylink fleetnames on London red.
But it was dawning on Durham Travel Services that operating in London was not at all what they had expected, and abruptly on 21st August the Receivers were called in. Buses were contacted and told to eject their passengers and return to base, as the insurance was no longer valid. The four Scanias already delivered, plus the other ten, were offered for sale.
East Thames Buses and the 42: ELS1-14
East Thames Buses was London Buses' operator of last resort, so they were called in to take up operation of the 42. They used a collection of Dart SLFs that they had actually acquired to supplement the unreliable Excels on the 180 and 132. But in November they began to acquire the Scanias, which were put into Ash Grove garage ready to work the 42 from December 2002. East Thames Buses logos replaced the Easylink transfers, and they were renumbered as the ELS class (but not in the same number order as before).
They were not route-bound to the 42, and made odd appearances on the 185, the 150, the 108, the 128 and the 129. Three (or four) were even involved in the Olympic Torch procession in June 2004, carrying support staff.
The expensive Ash Grove garage was deserted by East Thames Buses in mid-October 2005, with the ELS buses moving to a new site at Mandela Way, Southwark, still convenient for the 42. But the move did curtail their activities on the Ilford routes 150 and 128. Now they began to appear on route 1, substituting for VWL double-deckers. During 2008 they also started to appear on the 201 (Morden - Herne Hill) alongside Cadets. Repaints started in September 2008, and the class lost their cant-rail route-branding for route 42.
Go-Ahead London and the 42: ELS1-14Go-Ahead London took over the operations, bases and buses of East Thames Buses on 3rd October 2009. The ELS class remained at Mandela Way for the 42, until May 2010, when this Mandela Way garage closed and the ELSs all moved to Camberwell, including ELS14 which had had a short stay at Bexleyheath. They were still with the 42. Repaints introduced Go-Ahead's charcoal skirts with yellow cheat-line, although some buses managed to escape repaint and retained all-red. They also gained duty-number holders on the sides and Q garage codes.
For years the only place I saw ELS buses was on the 42 at Liverpool Street. Perhaps that is not so surprising, really. This is April 2014, during the RT75 celebrations.Odd appearances on other routes continued. While the WHYs on route 360 were being rebuilt ELSs were used fairly often, alongside elderly LDPs. The ELSs had their tip-up seats removed in spring 2011, reducing their seating capacity to 29.
Route 42, with all fourteen ELSs, was re-allocated to the other Mandela Way garage (MW) in October 2012. They retained the Q garage codes. The Scanias were proving less than totally reliable by this time, so route 42 saw a wide variety of substitutes, both single and double-deck.
They went back to Camberwell at the end of September 2014, with the contract extended for another two years. But in December the fuel-thirsty Scanias began to be displaced by SOEs from Merton, with sales to Ensign Bus and on to Trustybus at Roydon. The other four became training buses They had the front display covered with a vinyl wrap showing an L-plate and "DRIVER UNDER INSTRUCTION". ELS5 seems to have been based at Bexleyheath, ELS6 at Northumberland Park.These four passed on to Go-Ahead East Anglia, two with Konectbus and two with Hedingham Omnibus.
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