Prepared on Wordpad by Ian Smith,

This page created 10th February 2024.

First Essex, First London

First Essex operated the 193 with midibuses up until March 2002, from its Romford depot. At that time First Essex bought thirty-six Optare Solos, of which eleven were allocated to Romford for the 193. They wore London red with white/yellow willow leaves.
  • 193: Romford, Oldchurch Hospital - Romford Market - Romford Stn - Brentwood Road - Osborne Road - Hornchurch Road - Hornchurch - Hornchurch Stn - Bevan Way - Hacton Lane - Winkletye Lane - County Park Estate
The route included two Hail & Ride sections. First London took over the 193 route - and Romford Garage - in September 2004.

In January 2007 the route was extended at the Romford end, beyond Oldchurch Hospital to Queens Hospital

In October 2011 the route was converted to operation by Marshall-bodied DMS Darts. The Solos were repainted into the new national First livery and went for duty elsewhere, at first West Yorkshire (Leeds and Bradford) and the West Country (Truro, Plymouth, Yeovil).

First Essex

The other First Essex Solos also made forays into the old London Country area from Essex, such as on the 347 into Hertford. They wore First Barbie livery.
53114 passes through Eastwick on a 347 towards Harlow, June 2011

First Berkshire

January 2004 saw the arrival at Slough of six 9.2m Solos. They were for new route 1 in Slough, (Burnham - trading estate - Slough Stn) and were given a distinctive if not beautiful livery of overall mauve, with Linx branding: white Lin and orange x. Numbers were OOL 53052-53057.

A major revamp took place in 2008. The dull mauve and linx were out, A dull red, emblazoned all over with exhortations to take the easy way to Slough industrial estates, and with large hoppa logos was introduced. The buses now mainly stayed on routes 1A, 1B, 2.

  • 1A: Burnham + Priory Estate - trading estate - Slough Stn
  • 1B: Britwell Shops - trading estate - Slough Stn
  • 2: Burnham + Priory Estate - trading estate - Slough Stn

In June 53053 caught fire on route 335 (Slough - Chalfont), and was withdrawn into store at Slough and then Hayes. After assessment it was sent to Optare, who sent it for scrap.

A shorter 8.5m Solo, 53065, arrived in December 2008, already dressed in the trading estate red livery. It too worked the Slough trading estate routes. But as time went on this particular bus was found on less mundane duties, substituting on premier Heathrow routes 74,75,76,77 and on Sundays on the 51. Unlike the others it was treated to the new post-Barbie First National livery in October 2012. It was intermittently allocated to Bracknell, where it worked route 151 and 151A (Bracknell - Weybridge/Wokingham).

In April 2015 three new Streetlites arrived at Slough, displacing Solos. Slough was still short of buses, and 53062 was recalled from Bracknell to help out. But in May 2015 most of the surviving Solos (53052, 53054-53057) were sent off to First Hants & Dorset at Weymouth, from where they went into service with First Wessex at Yeovil, many still in red with hoppa logos but with the Slough exhortations. 53065, the odd one out, went to Portsmouth for First Solent.

First Capital

Hackney was the recipient in March 2005 of six slim-line 7.8m Solos to replace the ex-Thameway Varios on London route W12. (OOS 53701-53706) The Solos were a distinct improvement! Livery was plain (shiny) red, with just small gold First f to denote the operator. Although just intended for the W12, which required 5 buses Mon - Sat and 3 on Sundays, the buses were given a comprehensive blind set which was scarcely used. (The Varios were shuffled off to Cornwall).

  • W12: Wanstead - South Woodford - Whipps Cross - Walthamstow Central - Walthamstow Coppermill Lane

March 2009 saw a location change, with the six Solos moved from Hackney to Northumberland Park.

In March 2010 the route was taken over by Hackney Community Transport (CT Plus), and the First Solos were dispersed. They went to Optare in Blackburn for refurbishing and painting into First Barbie livery, then on to First Eastern Counties at Kings Lynn. After that they went to a variety of places where their small size was appreciated: the Trossachs, Penzance (including Mousehole) , Kidderminster...

Ian's Bus Stop Solo index Solo text. Solo histories. photo references.