RT3254 on 801, Stevenage White Lion

Stevenage Running Days

Saturday 8th, Sunday 9th June 2013

Prepared by Ian Smith, 10th June 2013.

Saturday morning in Stevenage

Stevenage: the normal bus station

Having spent the night in Cambridge with some of my family, I arrived much earlier than normal at Stevenage on the Saturday morning. I had heard that RT3254 was to be operating the farmers market shuttle between the bus station and Stevenage Old Town, so walked over the bridge from the station to Stevenage bus station. No RT in evidence, but a normal complement of Saturday morning buses. Volvo/Wright 3884 was resting from a route 100 service, Dart SLF 3808 was off the SB2, and Volvo/Alexander 3459 was off the SB4.

3884, 3808, 3459, Stevenage Bus Station

VDL / Wright Pulsar 3751, moved here from Arriva Kent Thameside, was squeezed in next to the tree between turns on SB8. Another of the ex-Sovereign Dart SLFs - 3807 - swept round to the stands to start a turn on the SB3.

3751 on SB8, Stevenage Bus Station 3807 on SB3, Stevenage Bus Station

Yet another of the Superbus routes, the SB1, had VDL/Wright 3412. Centrebus Solo 223 was there as a reminder that this is not just an Arriva zone. It was off the 384: the rambling country route still connects Hertford and Stevenage via Ware, Dane End, Benington and Walkern, five times a day.

3412 on SB1, Stevenage Bus Station Centrebus Solo 223 off 384, Stevenage Bus Station

I walked north from the Bus Station towards the Old Town, and soon found progress blocked by a supermarket. I worked my way round, and crossed under Fairlands Way to the King George V Playing Field. I angled across to reached the High Street, and headed into the Old Town. A familiar sound ahead caused me to look up, to see RT3254 turn down the ramp from Trinity Road onto the High Street ahead of me.

Stevenage Old Town

I passed under Trinity Road, and continued up the High Street towards the bus stops at The White Lion. 2002-vintage Volvo /Wright Renown 3311 came the other way on a 55, followed by 2009-built VDL / Wrightbus Pulsar 3408 on local SB1.

3311 on 55, Stevenage Old Town ATS3408 on SB1, Stevenage Old Town

801: Stevenage Old Town and Stevenage Bus Station, RT3254

Up at the "White Lion" I met Chris Wills and Peter Larkham with Green Line RT3254. They were working a series of 801 shuttles between Stevenage Bus Station and Stevenage "White Lion" on behalf of Stevenage Farmers Market, held monthly in the Old Town (Not that RT3254 appears every month). I climbed aboard just as Peter was about to ring off, and claimed a seat at the nearside front, downstairs.

We went down the busy High Street, where cars parking end-on to the street, cars leaving parking spaces, and cars waiting for soon-to-be-vacated spaces kept the traffic to a crawl. Approaching Trinity Road we had to turn left to reach a little roundabout onto Trinity Road, so that we could cross over the High Street subway to reach the big roundabout on the inner by-pass - Lytton Way. We rocketed south down the main road, rounding another roundabout at the end of Fairlands Way, and using the bus-only lane past the end of Swingate. Beyond the modern station stop we turned left at the roundabout to turn into Danestrete, leading up to stop K, where the bus garage used to be.

RT3254 on 801, Stevenage Old Town RT3254 on 801, Stevenage Bus Stn

Another of the ex-Sovereign Wright Renowns, 3303, left the bus station on SB2.

Stevenage is one of the few towns around London to retain an express Green Line service to London - the 797 - despite having excellent rail connections too. One of the DAF / Van Hools, 4065, came to call at the bus station while we were there. These coaches can accommodate a pre-booked wheelchaired passenger, having a long front overhang and a second front door.

ATS3303 on SB2, Stevenage Bus Stn 4065 on 797, Stevenage Bus Stn

Arriva The Shires at Stevenage now has a preponderance of buses with Wright bodywork. That does not mean a standardised fleet by any means, as the chassis under them come from a variety of builders: DAF, VDL, Volvo and Scania. Representing the last, 3610 came out from the bus station with Wright Solar bodywork on its Scania L94UB chassis.

ATS3610 leaving Stevenage Bus Stn

Mini-Pointer Dart 3493 shows that Arriva is trying to promote its local services with a stronger SuperBus branding on its fresher more-blue livery, having had a period when it could not decide whether to go for the interurban blues or the older insipid turquoise and cream for its new buses on local services.

Centrebus Solo 353, arriving on the 383 shows the impact that a really good livery, well-maintained, can have.

ATS3493 on SB2, Stevenage Bus Stn Centrebus Solo 353 on 383, Stevenage Bus Stn

RT3254 was set up for its short return journey to the Old Town. We perforce circulated through the bus station, then roared back pat the railway station on Lytton Way before turning in to Victoria Road and the OLd Town.

As we approached the stop at the White Horse Arriva 3886 pulled away in the opposite direction on a route 100 service to the Bus Station.

RT3254 on 801, Stevenage Bus Station 3886 on 100, Stevenage White Lion

Not far behind was Enviro300 Dart 3557 on the long 301 route from the Lister Hospital via Stevenage, Welwyn, Hatfied and St.Albans to Hemel Hempstead. RT3254 emptied out opposite the farmers' market, and went round the extended roundabout at the north end of the High Street to pull up at the southbound stop, ready for its next trip to the bus station.

3886 on 100, Stevenage White Horse RT3254 on 801, Stevenage White Lion

I stayed with the RT for another round trip to the bus station and back. This time I travelled upstairs at the front. The high vantage point gave me an excellent view of Stevenage Bus Station as we pulled in. DAF 4065 was just leaving, heading back for London on the 797.

RT3254 on 801, Stevenage White Lion 4065 on 797, Stevenage Bus Stn

Something different in the bus station was ex-Go Ahead North East Dart SLF X508WRG, now with Landmark Bus. This, now in white but retaining its lime green doors, was working the 391 via Weston and Letchworth. Centrebus Solo 353 was resting in the bus station too, as were Arriva's Dart SLF 3810 and VDL/Wright 3407.

X508WRG on 3911, Stevenage Bus Stn 3810 on SB8, 3407 on SB1, Stevenage Bus Stn

We headed back to the Old Town, where I stayed put as we circulated round the extended roundabout at the top of the High Street. A succession of Arriva buses headed north as we re-entered the High Street: an unidentified SLF, 3311 heading north again on the 55, and Volvo/Wright 3887 on the 102 to Luton.

Dart SLF, Old Town 3311 on 55, Old Town

I stayed upstairs for the next foray south, beside a family including an enthusiastic young lady who wanted to practise her ballet steps in her Doc Martins. I gently pointed out that it was not kind to dance on the driver's head. We all alighted at the Bus Station, as it was time for the crew's lunch-break.

After half an hour I returned north on the RT. We turned out of the bus station as Dart 3494 was heading in on the SB6. At the White Lion I alighted, and went in search of my own lunch.

4065 on 797, Stevenage Bus Stn RT3254 on 801, Stevenage White Lion

RT3254 on 801, Stevenage White Lion

Part 2: An afternoon on an RF

Ian's Bus-stop part 2 part 3 part 4 part 5